How to stay safe on a kayaking trip

November 3, 2015

How to stay safe on a kayaking trip

Planning a kayaking trip can be very exciting so make sure you're prepared for any situation that can occur. Below are a few tips to make sure you have a safe kayaking trip.

How to stay safe on a kayaking trip

Safety equipment

Before you launch that kayak, make sure that your equipment is in good condition and is well-suited to the water conditions. Prepare a checklist of all the equipment you'll need during the trip. Focus on mandatory equipment first, as required by Transport Canada. For example, if you use a sea kayak, you'll need a spray skirt, paddle float or bladder, flotation device, topographic map, chart ruler and first aid kit.

Other types of equipment can also help ensure safety. Radar reflectors and a VHF radio enhance communication, while binoculars and a spherical glass compass are important navigational tools.


Consider weather conditions and the possibility of capsizing when you make clothing choices. Clothing made of wool, which retains heat even when it gets wet, or synthetic fibres, which dry quickly, are often good choices. Wetsuits are most suitable when kayaking in cold temperature. Don't forget to bring a waterproof anorak and head cover. Bring some extra clothing with you in case you capsize or paddle in rainy conditions.

Sharpen your skills

Even if your paddling skills are advanced, you still need to assess weather conditions before you leave on a kayaking trip. If conditions could be dangerous, be prepared to reschedule your trip. Practise your bracing and turning skills before going on the trip if you're a novice. If you plan to kayak on a windy day, make sure you are accompanied by an experienced companion and that the wind is blowing towards the shore.

Take a kayaking course to improve your technical skills and learn self-rescue skills before you take your first kayak trip or plan an advanced kayaking experience. There are many local kayaking associations and professional guides in Canada. Guides are well-versed in the topography and water conditions in certain areas and can help you chart your next kayaking expedition.

Share your itinerary

Share your plans with another person, including where you're going and when you plan to return, and check the weather forecast before and during your trip. Nothing beats thorough preparation to ensure a safe trip.

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