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Whitewater Kayaking Checklist

The Whitewater Kayaking Checklist

Much like a fire, there is something entrancing about whitewater flowing in a river. You can stare at it for hours and feel totally satisfied with how you spent your time; doing nothing at all, just watching the water swirl and shake, listening to the roar of the water.  At some point, the question gets asked, “we could run the kayak down this… right?”

Explorer Kayak Whitewater KayakingWhitewater kayaking is a sport growing in popularity, requiring strength and endurance, but most importantly, knowledge.  The knowledge of how the river works, what your kayak is capable of, and of course, what your abilities are as a kayaker. Without knowing these three things, many things can go sideways, even threaten your life. Now you ask, “is it worth the risk?”.

Just like any sport, there are risks, but most of which can be avoided through proper planning and careful execution. Taking the time to properly plan your trip, however long it is, can give you peace of mind each and every time you head out on the water, giving you a plan to always return home safely.

With knowledge and safety in mind, here is my short list of things to check off that I need to have before I go anywhere on the river systems local to me. This is not the complete list of items to bring, but use it as a starting point and build from it as necessary.

Mandatory Safety Equipment (in my opinion):

  • Knife – keep it easily accessible, you just never know
  • Helmut – one that fits properly
  • PFD- again, one that fits properly is a must
  • Water ready clothing – you’ll end up in the water eventually
  • Whistle – shouting is loud, whistles are louder! I recommend a Fox 40
  • Boat safety kit – a mandatory kit which would include a 50′ floating rope and bailing device
  • Route plan – who, what, when, where and how long you’ll be…and give it to someone not going with you!

Optional Equipment (dependent on the activity):

The following list is some things you may not think of packing with you, but could be found useful depending on the type of trip you are taking. Remember, this isn’t a complete listing, more like a quick reference quide.

  • Repair kit – a ClamSeal, or another quick patch to keep you going
  • Additional rope – it seems to always be in demand
  • Firestarter – homemade or store bought, it doesn’t matter as long as it burns easily
  • Emergency Blanket – if things go bad, keeping all the warmth you have is crucial
  • Candy Bar – whether it’s an energy bar or a candy bar, it’s short term fuel in a pinch
  • Camera – waterproof would be ideal obviously
  • GPS – knowing how far you went and how quick you did it can be fun to know
  • Battery Supply – those slim little compact USB chargers for phone’s etc
  • River Shoes – neoprene booties, old shoes,water shoes etc.

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