kayak essentials

Kayaking Essentials for the New Yakker

Kayaking is my newest and most fun hobby right now! Actually, it must be a lot of people’s new hobby because the stores are selling out of kayaks like they were toilet paper at the beginning of the 2020 pandemic! Since I moved to Tennessee where waterfalls are a huge attraction, I’ve been outdoors constantly. We have a beautiful waterfall nearby, called Burgess Falls, that you can only get to the bottom of by kayak so naturally, we had to kayak down there to check it out!

kayak burgess falls

(All of the links in this post are things I personally have used and recommend!)

Choosing a Kayak

Choosing a kayak seems like tough business. There are sit-on kayaks and sit-in kayaks, singles and doubles, even inflatables. Which kayak you choose often varies depending on whether you plan to fish or go white-water rafting with it. We were able to test out a bunch of different kayaks because we went with a tour guide (thanks, Kayaking Adventures of Tennessee!) who supplied the kayaks for the tour. Using that service was great because we also got to learn our way to the waterfalls for when we go on our own. It was a perfect way to get started!

Since stores are so frequently selling out right now, I recommend checking Facebook Marketplace for used kayaks or wait until off-season, if you can. Some stores do offer a pick-up option so the minute that they’re in stock, you are able to purchase online and then go pick them up.

We recently bought a tandem kayak, which means that it seats two people. Our tandem, the Pelican Challenger 130t, actually has a small third seat which makes it perfect for bringing along a child or a dog. People often refer to a tandem kayak as a “Divorce Boat” but our sit-on tandem handles very easily and makes it a lot easier for us to spend quality time chatting together while we go on our adventures.



Kayaking Accessories

1. Vinyl name: It’s still a boat so it most certainly needs a name! If you have a Cricut or Silhouette and want to make the decal yourself, check out dafont.com for free fonts. I used Restu Bundah, I thought it cut really well and looked perfect on my kayak! You definitely want to use Oracal 651 as it holds up well in water and wear.

2. Active camera: This one might be purely selfish because I just love watching kayaking videos! I’ve seen some crazy videos, like the guy who got caught in the waterfall. You might want to capture videos of your adventures. GoPros can be pricey so if that’s not where your budget is, let me suggest the AKASO E7000. It comes with a backup battery and waterproof case. I’ve been using mine for three years and love it! I took it ziplining and scuba diving in Mexico and I’m thrilled for the memories!

3. Waterproof camera case: If your GoPro or off-brand camera doesn’t come with one, get yourself a waterproof camera case. Read the reviews and maybe even get a handheld flotation device to go with it.

4. Camera mount: The last nifty piece of equipment for your camera is the mount. You can mount your camera onto your kayak so you can keep your hands free but still capture all of the action. We just put a few screws into it (not blocking where the camera slides in) and some E6000 for added security.

5. Carabiners: Most kayaks have a storage spot with cords over it so that you can slide in a backpack securely, but it’s a good idea to have carabiners handy to secure other loose items that may be inside your boat, like a phone or dry case. That way, if and when you flip, your items won’t be lost.

6. Stretchy cords: To give a little extra stretch to those accessories, I like having spiral cords attached to my carabiners. I basically attach every single thing I have, just in case.

7. First aid kit: Just in case of any injuries, it’s always good to carry a first aid kit on your outdoor adventures. Bandages, pain relievers, and creams are just some of the items you may want to have available to you.

8. Life jackets: Not only do you legally need a life jacket in most places, your pup should always have one. Our dog’s life jacket was inexpensive and works great to keep her safe and floating!

9. Waterproof case for your phone: I always bring my phone for additional photos and video and for years, I’ve used the Joto case for that. Don’t be like me and take it out of the case, however, or your phone may end up meeting its end at the bottom of the river. I also suggest either wearing it around your neck or securing it to the carabiners.

10. Sunscreen: Even on a cloudy day, you may think that you don’t need sunscreen but you absolutely do! A lot of kayaking locations leave you right out in the middle of the water directly under the sunlight. Even with sunscreen, I do get burned pretty badly if I do not repeatedly apply!

burgess falls climb

11. Water shoes: You want your feet to be protected but able to safely get wet. I wear waterproof sandals, some wear waterproof hiking boots. Whatever your preference, have something comfortable and waterproof ready for your shoes and any walking or climbing that you may need to do!

12. Dry bag or case: After reading some iffy reviews on dry cases, I decided to go with a dry bag for my things. We keep all of our important stuff inside of the dry bag in case we flip over or get very wet!

13. Sunglasses holder: I don’t know about you, but I wear expensive sunglasses after having bought so many cheap pairs that broke in the past. I bought a very secure sunglasses strap before we went to Mexico and it held perfectly, even through ziplining.

14. Sun shade: Like I said before, it gets SUNNY out there. I’m on the hunt for a good sun shade or I may make my own with PVC pipe. At that point, I think I could just lay out there in the shade all day long and enjoy the view!

kayak burgess falls

If you’d like to follow along with our kayaking and other adventures here in Tennessee, find us on Instagram @thequirkymomnextdoor and our couples adventure Instagram, @thequirkyexpedition!


kayak essentials

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