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The Gear Bag

Securing items to your craft avoids the “paddlers garage sale” syndrome, which sends group members scrambling to recover your stuff as it spreads downstream. Bring drinking water, snacks, and an extra layer. Store these items, along with your sunscreen, bug repellent, and first-aid kit, in a waterproof dry bag. If you wear eyeglasses or sunglasses you’ll need a strap for attaching them to your head. A large car-washing sponge is good for eliminating puddles.

For safety, you may want to carry rescue gear (rescue sling, throw rope, tow system) specific to your craft and setting. String a plastic whistle onto your PFD for attracting attention. Pack a spare paddle. Electronic communication and navigation devices- GPS, cellular phones, VHF radios- are becoming more common, especially in offshore and wilderness settings. Wherever you paddle, know local laws and Coast Guard regulations pertaining to signaling devices and nighttime visibility.

Information on this page is provided through our partnership with American Canoe Association (ACA) by staff writer Becky Molina.

For comprehensive guides on paddling, please visit the ACA website.