Kayaks come in all sizes and price points. There are sit-in kayaks as well as sit-on kayaks. There are kayaks made for freshwater river and streams as well as ocean-going kayaks. From the pint-size, five footers for kids to the five-hundred foot, gigantic, kayak built by L.L. Bean for its 100th anniversary, there is a kayak for any and every one.
No matter whether it’s for fresh water or salt, no matter how long or how short, nor how expensive or cheap, every kayak shares a common element: the paddle. Paddles are an essential part of the kayak experience and can benefit from accessories—a little customization to make the trip more comfortable.
Some of the more popular and not necessarily expensive accessories are the ones that look good and serve a purpose.
One of the first accessories, I purchased for the paddle I use on my entry-level, ten footer was a pair of Yak Grips. These inexpensive grips slide over the shaft and spare your hands from painful blisters. These are a must have, and are much cheaper than the cost of a doctor’s visit when your blisters get infected.
If your paddle doesn’t come with drip rings, buy some. Unless you want to spend a good part of your day bailing water or sitting in it, these rubber rings are an essential. They prevent water or at least, most of the water, from running down the paddle shaft and soaking you as well as filling up your vessel. Drip rings are a small investment with a big return.
The old saying of “up the creek without a paddle” takes on a new and horrific significance when your paddle floats downstream without you. A simple fix for this would-be disaster is a paddle leash. A paddle leash typically attaches to the paddle with a Velcro closure on one end while the other end attaches to the kayak. In the event of a slip or a spill, the paddle stays close by.
The last paddle accessory is designed for the times when you want to take a break from paddling and just drift with the current. Paddle keepers, clips or holders mount to the side of the kayak and provide a secure location to keep your paddle when not in use. Three of the most common paddle holders are bungee cord kits, clip kits, or the taco-shaped holder kit. Any of them works well and they all run about the same price. Which one to choose simply boils down to a matter of which one looks the best to you.
Any of these four paddle accessories will make a big difference in your personal comfort, but having all of them will let you paddle like a champion without breaking the bank.