There’s nothing quite like the exhilaration of ocean kayaking. It is a freeing, satisfying, and wonderfully independent sport; but without preparing for the conditions or having the best kayaking gear, paddling offshore can be extremely dangerous.
Vaikobi has put together the ultimate ocean kayaking guide to maximise comfort while giving you the peace of mind to explore the ocean in your kayak or surfski.
Maintenance: Your kayak and your equipment
Most ocean kayaks are designed to be low maintenance, but like all good boats, require regular checks to ensure user safety. The stakes are high in the vast, offshore environment, so checking for holes, dents, or signs of abrasion before you step into liquid is an excellent habit to develop. Rinse your hardware after use with fresh water after a session in salt, brackish or polluted water for longevity.
Clothing: What to wear ocean kayaking
The best way to ensure your safety if something goes wrong, is to invest in a good ocean racing PFD. Purchasing a life jacket that has been designed for ocean kayaking is the best way to tick off the ‘trinity’ of safety, comfort, and performance.
Spending extended time kayaking off the coast calls for the highest protection available. You’ll want a life jacket that will work with your body in a sport that relies on high mobility and fast response times. The Vaikobi V3 Ocean Racing PFD speaks to these needs with its ultra-lightweight construction, absence of underarm panels for movement and breathability, and a stylish, ergonomic cut.
Vaikobi has got you covered regardless of the season, with the VCold and UV collections designed to regulate thermal control and protect you from harmful sun damage. Paddle pants, shorts, rashies, wetsuit tops, and UV tees are available for all types of sessions.
Sun protection is also a must for all ocean sports athletes. A performance cap, visor, or downwind surf hat are excellent options for ocean kayaking due to their adjustability, visibility, and quick-dry technology. The downwind surf hat is complete with a mesh neoprene strap for the daring paddlers and will stay on your head regardless of your speed, the wind, or the surf.
The VDRY lightweight vest is designed to deflect spray and increase the wearer’s safety due to its enhanced reflective qualities for visibility in darker environments. Its 100% polyester shell is so breathable; you’ll barely notice wearing it.
Weather: How to prepare for a day ocean kayaking
Even with all the best equipment, planning and preparing your session around the weather forecast is vital. Observing, identifying and responding to unexpected or rapidly changing weather patterns is a skill that all ocean performance athletes use.
- Read the sky
Ominous clouds, a sudden temperature drop or slight color change on the horizon are good indicators that a front is on its way. Fronts are usually accompanied by gusty winds, and depending on the direction; you may be caught out and potentially blown offshore. Check a weather app for the expected conditions, and if the weather looks changeable, reconsider your decision or plan to stay close to shore.
- Read the swell and surf
When sticking close to shore or paddling through dynamic surf conditions, reading the swell and timing your entry or exit is critical. Capsizing can be seriously dangerous near rocks, swimmers, and other surf vessels. Check the tide, swell direction, and forecast before leaving.
Kayak Accessories: Other items to take with you
Taking water with you is a good way to sustain your performance during rigorous physical activity, but it's also vital for your safety. In the event that you are blown offshore, dehydration is a significant concern. Vaikobi Paddle PFD’s are designed to include a large pocket and front-facing hose guide tabs for the strategic placement of our 1.5L water bladders, ensuring easy access.
Finally, the Vaikobi Large Keylock Box and the SURFLOGIC Aluminium Bag for Smart Keys are awesome additional products for individual ocean kayakers who need a safe place to leave their keys onshore. They clip easily onto your car and operate securely off a combination lock system, so you can relax knowing your keys are guaranteed to be there when you get back - and not getting wet with you!
Happy Ocean Kayaking!