Paddling Gear List - Day Trips 

I keep a written list of all the gear I might want to bring on a day trip. The list includes gear for cold weather and other special circumstances, basically everything I could think of. When I'm packing for a trip, I just scan the list and bring whatever's appropriate for the current trip.

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Kayak and Related Gear

Klepper bags - The first bag looks like a golf club bag and contains all the long wooden pieces. The second bag looks like a big rucksack and contains the hull. There is a third smaller bag that contains the bulkheads and seat; I usually put this bag in the hull rucksack.

Paddle - A Werner Camano take-apart paddle. I usually put the paddle in the long Klepper bag. By the way, my right wrist is not very strong, so I always paddle unfeathered so I don't have to keep flexing my wrist.

Paddle leash - I made a very effective paddle leash out of a length of webbing and two cam buckles. The webbing is about three feet long, and came with a cam buckle on one end. I loop the webbing around the Klepper bulkhead closest to me, then through the attached cam buckle. This keeps the webbing firmly attached to the boat. On the other end of the webbing, I thread the webbing through the adjustment slots on the other cam buckle, around the shaft of the paddle, and back into the cam buckle mechanism. This keeps the paddle firmly attached to the webbing, but I can quickly and easily release the cam buckle near the paddle shaft to free the paddle.

Klepper boat cart - This is the "Mercedes Benz" of boat carts. It's very well built and sturdy and is very corrosion resistant. It also has built-in straps for securing the boat. The wheels easily come off and the frame folds flat, so it's easy to store in the kayak. I usually store it right behind the seat once I get the boat in the water.

Heavy-duty black rubber bungie with S-hooks - These are made to hold down tarps on trucks, but I use it as a carrying handle when transporting the kayak on the boat cart. The kayak itself doesn't have a lifting handle but it does have a metal fitting (with loops) at the bow and stern. Once I have the kayak strapped onto the boat cart, I hook both bungie S-hooks into the metal fitting at the stern. Then I lift up the stern by lifting the middle of the rubber bungie. This also holds the stern at the proper height so the boat is level.

Mooring line - I have a 50' length of 1/4" polypropylene line that I tie to the bow fitting in case I have to moor the boat. This is also useful for launching and recovering the boat; if I hang on to the line I know the boat can't get away from me. I coil up the excess and stow it below, but you have to be careful to keep it away from your feet. If you take a spill, you don't want to become entangled in the line.

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Safety Gear

PFD (Personal Flotation Device) - By Extrasport, with two webbing pockets. In one pocket, I keep a whistle and a small personal strobe. In the other pocket, I usually put my wristwatch. I wear paddling gloves to avoid blisters, and the wristwatch gets in the way of the tight-fitting gloves. I always wear my PFD because I'm not a great swimmer. But I don't usually zip it up all the way—I just clip the strap together at the bottom to keep it from falling off.

Whistle - A small plastic "emergency" whistle.

Personal strobe - A small strobe light with built-in flashlight. It uses one alkaline C-size battery. I test it before each trip.

First-aid kit - Not much—some bandaids, antibiotic ointment, moleskin for blisters.

Space blanket - This is a sheet of foil-faced mylar that is folded into a small package (about the size of a pack of cigarettes). If it's chilly and/or windy and there's a risk that I'll get dumped out of the boat, I bring a space blanket to wrap around me (once I get out of the water) to reduce the "wind chill".

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Hat - I think a hat is very important, plus it should have a brim. The brim keeps the sun out of your eyes and the hat keeps the sun from roasting your head. I have a few hats that I can use. If it's temperate and not windy, I wear a lightweight nylon full-brimmed hat by Columbia. The hat brim is not at all stiff, so if it's windy, the brim lifts up in the wind so it doesn't work well. But the hat is vented and very comfortable. If it's cool or windy or there's a chance of rain, I wear a heavy brown waxed fabric hat, called a "New Zealand Sheepherder's Hat". It's waterproof and stiff and has a full brim, so it works well in the wind or rain. Both hats have chin straps, which I use only if it's windy. I have a few cold-weather hats. One is an Outdoor Research hat with brim and fold-down earflaps. This hat also has a separate fleece liner that is a close-fitting skullcap, which I can wear with the hat or by itself. I also have a fleece-lined wool "watch cap" that is very warm and comfortable, but it doesn't have a brim. And for the coldest days, I have a fleece balaclava, which looks something like a ski mask. Since the fleece doesn't stop the wind, it needs an outer shell (usually my anorak hood).

Gloves - I always use gloves, to keep from getting blisters. I don't always paddle enough to build up a good set of calluses, so I tend to get blisters instead. In temperate weather, I use a nice pair of fake-leather paddling gloves from NRS. They have a raised pattern on the palms for a non-slip grip. For cold days, instead of the paddling gloves, I sometimes use woolen gloves. These are actually sold as "driving gloves", and they have leather-lined palms. This provides a good grip on the paddle shaft. I also have a pair of thin lycra glove liners. I can use these inside the paddling gloves or the woolen gloves for more insulation. I have to take off my outer gloves to operate the controls of my camera. The glove liners are thin enough that I don't have to take them off, so I can still have some insulation. I have a pair of curved-grip neoprene gloves, but I find them to be uncomfortably stiff.

Footwear - One of my biggest problems in cold weather was keeping my feet warm. Before I solved this problem, after a few hours on cold days my feet would be numb. This was as much from the lack of exertion and lack of circulation in my legs and feet while sitting in the kayak as it was from the cold. Once I finished the trip and got the car heater fired up, it would take up to a half hour for my feet to thaw out. I experimented with several techniques and now have a pretty good way of handling it. If it's warm enough, I wear a pair of lightweight "water shoes". These have rubber bottoms with porous nylon mesh tops. If it's cool or if I have to walk far, I wear a really nice pair of neoprene booties from NRS (All-Terrain Booties). These have a sturdy sneaker bottom with a tread pattern for traction, and have fairly high zippered neoprene tops. They are very comfortable to walk in, plus they provide insulation for cool days. If it's chilly, I wear the neoprene booties, but I add a pair of fleece socks (which still work when wet). I have two kinds of fleece socks: regular-size and knee-high. On really cold days, I wear long johns and fleece pants and socks, then put on a pair of 5mm neoprene waders. Since these waders don't have tread on the feet, I wear an oversized pair of low-cut neoprene booties. The waders are bulky and stiff enough that it makes it hard to get in and out of the kayak. But at least my legs and feet stay warm. The waders don't keep me dry, though. Perspiration accumulates inside and I am always damp (if not soggy) when I take them off. Instead of waders, I once tried using a pair of ice-fishing boots—they were certainly very warm but were so big I could hardly get my feet into the kayak. By the way, the Klepper cockpit is big enough that I can just sit in it from a standing position with both feet in the water. This is how I get in if the bottom is very muddy. By plopping my behind into the seat while keeping both feet outside (with my legs hanging over the coaming), I can swish my feet around in the water to clean the mud off before tucking my legs into the kayak.

Rainwear - I have a few things that I can wear. I have one bright yellow rainsuit from Columbia (top and bottom) that I also use for camping or general use. They are relatively inexpensive but work reasonably well. The jacket has a good drawstring hood with visor. The pants have an elastic waist and cuffs. I also have a nice paddling rainsuit (top and bottom) but unfortunately I "outgrew" the bottoms (I got too wide). The paddling rainsuit works better than the Columbia rainsuit.

Outerwear - I have several things that I can wear, either alone or with something warmer underneath. I have a really nice lightweight anorak that I got on-sale at EMS. It has a drawstring hood with visor and zippered pockets, and is water repellent (although it's not really "rainwear"). It's good for cool or windy days, and makes an excellent outer layer on top of fleece for cold days. It's what I wear most often. For temperate but windy conditions, I have an ordinary lightweight nylon windbreaker, with stowable hood. If it's a little cool, I have a medium-weight jacket that has a nylon outer layer with a thin fleece lining only for the torso; the sleeves are unlined.

Warm inner layers - For chilly days, I have a medium-weight fleece jacket that I usually wear under the anorak. Very comfy. I also have a separate set of fleece pants and a fleece shirt—these are so warm they are only for the coldest weather. There's always some other outer layer, since the fleece doesn't stop the wind. Fleece close to the skin is an excellent way to wick perspiration away from your skin to keep dry. It really works—on multiple occasions, I have removed my outer shell to discover a film of water on the outside of the fleece, but my skin was dry. For chilly days, I wear a set of long johns. They are especially good for keeping my legs warm without a lot of bulk.

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Other Gear

Klepper repair kit - The hull of the Klepper kayak is made out of hypalon, a flexible rubberized fabric. Since it can get punctured (although this has never happened to me), the repair kit contains some patches and glue. I don't usually bring the repair kit, since it's really for making permanent repairs after you get home. In the field, I use...

Duct tape - The all-purpose repair material. I keep a roll of it, in a zip-lock bag to keep it dry. Instead of duct tape, you can carry a roll of radiator hose repair tape. This is as tenaciously sticky as duct tape, but is also designed to withstand water, pressure, and heat.

Light line - I carry about 25' of 3/16" light line just in case. In theory, this is for repairing the long wooden pieces of the Klepper, by tying broken ends together with a splint (although this has never happened to me).

Bailing cup - I made a bailing cup by cutting off the bottom of a 2-liter soda bottle. I poked a hole in the lip and tie it to the frame behind the seat with about 3 feet of line. I can use this cup to bail out the boat, and can also use it as a piss cup if I have to "go" but there's no place to get out of the boat.

Bilge pump - I have a hand-operated bilge pump (the kind that looks something like a bicycle tire pump), but I don't usually bring it. I rely on the bailing cup instead.

Inflation adapter - The Klepper boat cart has pneumatic tires, which is nice, but they have a weird inflation valve. I made an adapter out of an air compressor end-fitting and a rubber grommet so I could use a bicycle tire pump to inflate the tires. I don't bring these items in the boat, but might put them in the car.

Leatherman tool - A very nice multi-purpose tool, including a knife, pliers, file, screwdrivers, bottle opener, etc.

Camera - I always take my camera; taking pictures is one of my favorite hobbies. It's one of the reasons I go paddling in the first place—to take pictures out on the water.

Mini-tripod - This is a tiny folding camera tripod with ball-joint head designed for backpackers. I bring it so I can take self-portraits when I beach the boat somewhere. It can be mounted on the ground, plus it has a velcro strap so you can attach it to a small tree.

Lexan case - I have a small lexan case that I got from L.L.Bean that I use for my camera. It is quite sturdy and is waterproof (it has a gasket). Nowadays, I use this case instead of a dry bag because it's easier to open and close the case than the dry bag. When I'm paddling, I frequently stop to take pictures, and it was a nuisance to struggle with the dry bag every time. That encouraged me to cut corners by not fully closing the bag, which defeats the whole purpose of carrying it. The case is easy enough to use that I don't have that problem.

Binoculars - I enjoy observing nature, and I frequently bring a pair of 7x35 binoculars with me. These binoculars are designed for birdwatching, and have an wide field of view and are light weight.

Weather radio - I have a small weather radio from Radio Shack. I don't usually bring it in the kayak, but if I'm going camping somewhere for a few days of paddling, I take it with me. The NOAA weather forecasts are usually pretty good for the present day's weather and the next day's weather. If you're near the seacoast, you can also get pretty good marine weather forecasts. They usually report the current conditions at numerous places; this can give you important information about the wind strength and direction.

Wind gauge - This is not an essential item, but I sometimes bring it just for fun. It's a pocket-sized battery-powered anemometer from Speedtech called the Kestrel. I have used it to become a better judge of wind speeds. When you hear the weather report say the wind is 15 miles an hour, just how fast does that look out on the water?

Knot meter - This is not an essential item, but I sometimes bring it just for fun. It's a small battery-powered knot meter from Speedtech that I have used to measure my paddling speed. My top speed is over 5 mph, but that requires very energetic paddling at an unsustainable rate. My slow "poking around" cruising speed is about 2 mph, while my typical "getting from here to there" cruising speed is 3.1 to 3.8 mph. The speed depends on whether I have a headwind or tailwind. The wind seems to affect my speed by about 1 mph if I don't compensate, but I usually paddle with more effort into a headwind so the effect becomes less. My long-term average paddling speed is about 2.2 mph. I computed this by looking up in my paddle log and dividing the total miles I have traveled by the total time it took. This takes into account stopping to take pictures or have lunch, etc. Naturally, if I stop frequently on a particular trip, the average can be less than 2.2 mph. But it is rarely much higher, since I like to travel at a relaxed pace and enjoy the scenery.

Compass - I have this item on my gear list but I almost never bring a compass. Navigation is always by reference to landmarks and by counting the twists and turns in the waterway, and noting the corresponding position on the map.

Map - I almost always take a map, unless I am going to a favorite place where I've been before. For the Maryland area, I have several county map booklets from ADC (Alexandria Drafting Company). These maps have good detail (the scale is the same as 7.5-minute topographic maps) but the booklets are paginated in a way that makes them difficult to use in a kayak. Instead of bringing the whole booklet, I photocopy the desired pages, then cut and tape the photocopies together so I have a continuous piece of paper with the waterway of interest. I store this in a gallon-size ziplock bag, folding the map once if necessary. The goal is to have all the map detail visible without having to open the ziplock bag. I also have some DeLorme state maps that I use the same way, but they are smaller scale without as much detail.

Permit - Some areas require a permit, either annual or day-use. Also, some areas have a fee for launching, or an admission fee for park entry. They might require you to carry the receipt, to prove you paid.

Lock and cable - I usually assemble the kayak once I arrive at the put-in, then disassemble it after I take-out at the end of the trip. Sometimes I might be camping at a park that has good paddling, and I don't want to keep assembling and disassembling the boat. In that case, I use a lock and cable to lock the assembled kayak to the roof rack on the car, or to a picnic table at the campsite. There's no security fitting on the Klepper, so I just thread the cable through the wooden frame. As with most anti-theft devices, the lock and cable won't stop a determined thief.

Cartop straps, ropes, and padding - I don't take these in the boat, but I bring them on camping/paddling trips so I can transport the kayak on my roof rack when I don't feel like disassembling it. I use two webbing straps from side to side, and one rope each on the bow and stern. For the bow and stern, I tie the ropes in a triangular pattern going to the corners of the car. I use two small "rag" rugs as padding on the roof rack bars, since the Klepper hull is vulnerable to chafing and scrapes.

Dry bags - I have several dry bags of different sizes and shapes. I have two small slotted-bar-top bags that each can carry enough stuff for a day trip. I might use one just for my camera, film, and binoculars and keep that one in my lap. I would put everything else in the other bag and stow it forward of my feet. I have a much bigger "lap bag" which I don't usually take with me on day trips. I have a few bigger buckle-top bags that are for clothes, but I don't usually take these on day trips. Occasionally, I'll pack some dry clothes if there's a risk of getting dumped from the boat.

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Personal Items

Water bottles - I always bring several water bottles, since I tend to sweat a lot and I don't want to get dehydrated. If I'm bringing tap water, I use some Rubbermaid bottles with screw-on tops that have a flip-up tab for drinking. I also have saved some sport water bottles that I occasionally use. If I'm bringing spring water, I always get Aberfoyle spring water at Wal-Mart. If you buy it by the case, it comes out to 25 cents per bottle, and the 1/2 liter bottle is a handy size for stowing in the kayak.

Lunch or snack - Typical snacks are pretzels, crackers, granola bars, or honey-nut Cheerios, carried in a ziplock bag.

Sunscreen - I have fair skin that is easily sunburned, so I always bring and use sunscreen. Wal-Mart sells "No-AD" SPF 30 sunscreen at a decent price.

Insect repellent - If it's buggy, I bring a small squeeze bottle of 100% DEET insect repellent.

Paper towels and wipes - I keep a few paper towels and pre-moistened towelettes in a ziplock bag for cleaning up, or as a substitute for toilet paper (just in case).

Towel - I always bring a small towel about the size of a dish cloth. When it's hot, I sweat a lot, and there's nothing worse than having sweat (plus sunscreen) dripping down into my eyes. I use the towel for mopping my brow or cleaning up.

Sunglasses - I consider sunglasses to be essential, since it's very bright on the water due to reflections. With polarizing sunglasses, you can look into the water to see fish. I wear a retainer strap so I don't lose them. I refuse to pay more than $6 or $7 for a pair of sunglasses, since I think that's all they're worth (and I usually break them eventually). A good source of inexpensive polarizing sunglasses is the "fishing gear" section of Wal-Mart. Fishermen like to use polarizing sunglasses, and the fishermen that shop at Wal-Mart don't like to spend a lot of money.

Wristwatch - I like to time my trips so I can write the duration in my paddle log. Some put-ins or ramps have limited operating hours and lock the gate afterwards, so you need to keep track of the time. Also useful for noting when the tide will change.

Pad and pencil - I sometimes bring these to take notes, especially if I'm going birdwatching.

Nature books - I frequently bring a bird book, either A Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern and Central North America by Roger Tory Peterson, or Field Guide to the Birds of North America by the National Geographic Society.

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Internet Links

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