A 6-step Guide To Kayaking Gear For Beginners

September 29, 2021

A 6-step Guide To Kayaking Gear For Beginners

With so much advice out there, it’s hard to know what gear is necessary when starting out in paddle sports. The team at Vaikobi has put together a tried-and-tested list of equipment needed for kayaking and other paddle sports, to make sure you get the best out of your time on the water. 

#1: Invest in a good-quality lifejacket 

A lifejacket is at the top of the list for essential kayaking gear for beginners. In an accident, a lifejacket can mean the difference between life and death. Taking the time to find the most comfortable, fitted, and well-designed PFD will provide the best assurance of safety and quality performance. 

The Vaikobi Paddle + Kayak PFD collection features two designs tailored with a super-soft form-fitting foam, suitable for kayaking on the harbour or a few kilometres offshore. All Vaikobi lifejackets are ISO 12402-5 certified (50N Buoyancy), complying with the highest safety level for PFDs of this nature. 

The V3 Ocean Racing PFD Lifejacket has a super lightweight construction and no side panels for maximum maneuverability when rotating the paddle. Similarly, the VXP Race PFD lifejacket has a sleek profile that won’t ride up and neoprene shoulder straps for extra comfort.

#2: Get season-appropriate clothing before you go kayaking

The best clothes for kayaking depends on the season, the wind chill factor, personal comfort, and the likelihood of falling in the water (and let’s be real here, ALL beginners fall off their kayak at first!)

For Summer: 

A long sleeve ultraviolet-treated shirt or rashie are the best options to prevent sun damage on your arms. They’re also the most breathable materials that won’t rub or cause irritation around the armpits while undergoing physical exercise. Vaikobi’s Men’s and Women’s UV paddle pants will provide the same protection for your legs from the elements and improve circulation for best performance. 

For Winter: 

Priorities for kayaking in Winter are retaining warmth, and reducing the risk of hypothermia if you end up in the water due to a capsize. The Vaikobi VCOLD flex pants collection is specially designed for performance and comfort, with a padded seat and an anti-chafe reverse seam waistband. They also have a plush inner fleece lining and optimised paddle fit (high back, low front waist). The VCOLD Hydroflex top is a super lightweight and stretchy garment designed to trap warmth close to the body on frosty mornings. A VDRY lightweight jacket is an added layer of protection that keeps spray off, regulates body heat, and keeps the breeze out.

#3: Always wear a hat and polarised sunglasses  

Wearing a good quality hat will prevent sun damage and increase visibility for the paddler and other vessels on busy waterways. Similarly, protect your eyes with some polarised sunglasses that will also help to keep the spray out while moving. Get a lanyard for your sunglasses so they don’t fall off your head while looking over the side. 

#4: Keep a whistle on-person 

A whistle is another important safety item on the kayak gear list to keep somewhere on your body while you’re on the water. If you fall out or become separated from your vessel, a whistle will help to attract attention and assistance in an emergency. 

#5: Use a dry bag to keep valuables water-safe 

There’s nothing worse than dropping your phone overboard and watching the little light sink down into the abyss. Just about everyone who frequents waterways has a dry bag that seals away valuables, like your phone, wallet, or keys that can then be securely worn, stored, or tied onto a kayak. 

#6: Always carry water on board: bottles and bladders 

Carrying water, whether in a bottle or hydration bladder, is a vital step when planning your kayak day trip checklist, especially in warmer weather. You should always have enough for your intended distance and slightly more in the event of misadventure. The 1.5L Hydration bladder from Vaikobi is compatible with our VXP Race PFD Lifejacket and can be securely stored in the hydration pocket located on its back. The hose tabs on our lifejackets are also designed to guide and secure your water bladder for easy access. 


Ready to go kayaking?

Kayaking for beginners can seem like a daunting task to plan for, considering the extreme market variety out there. Finding the essential kayaking gear is as easy as heading to the Vaikobi website, where we’ve put together a page featuring all of the best water-sports apparel and accessories. 

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XXS   161 167  54 58 76 81 62 66 78 82
XS   165 172  56 63 82 87 66 70 82 89
S   169  176  61 68 88 96 71 76 90 96
M   174 181  66 73 97 104 77 85 97 102
L   178  185  76 85 106 114 86 95 103 108
XL   183  190  86 95 116 122 96 105 109 115
XXL   187  194  96 105 124 132 106 114 116 122


Size HEIGHT (Feet + Inches) WEIGHT (Pounds) CHEST (Inches) WAIST (Inches) HIPS (Inches)
XXS   5'3"  5'6"  119 128 30 32 24.5 26 30.5 32.5
XS   5'5"  5'8"  123 139 32 34.5 26 27.5 32.5 35
S   5'7"  5'9"  135 150 34.5 38 28 30 35.5 38
M   5'9"  5'11"  146 161 38 41 30 33.5 38 40
L 5'10"  6'8"  168 187 41.5 45 34 37.5 40.5 42.5
XL 6'  6'3"  190 209 45.5 48 38 41.5 43 45.5
XXL 6'2"  6'4"  121 232 49 52 41.5 55 45.5 48




Y-S 132 139 30 34 60 65 56 61 68 72
Y-M 140 148  33 39 65 71 61 68 72 78
Y-L 147 155  40 47 70 76 67 73 77 84
Y-XL 152 162 47 54 75 82 72 79 83 89







    HIPS     (IN)
Y-S 4'3" 4'8" 66 75 24 26 24 26 27 28


4'8"  73 86 26 28 26 28 28 31


5'  88 104 28 30 28 30 30 33
Y-XL 5' 5'4" 104 119 30 32 30 32 33 35

Fit Tips

If one of your body measurements is in between two sizes, order the smaller size for a tighter fit or the larger size for a looser fit. If your body measurements for hips and waist correspond to two different suggested sizes, order the one indicated by your hip measurement.

How To Measure

WAIST: Measure around the narrowest part (typically where your body bends side to side), keeping the tape horizontal.
HIPS: Measure around the widest part of your hips, keeping the tape horizontal.
CHEST: Measure the fullest area of your chest. Stand up straight and breath normally.



Vaikobi size guide