Canoeing kit explained

Canoeing gear and equipment explained

Canoeing is a great water sport to get your body fit and healthy, developing upper body strength. However, before you rush into buying the kit for it, it’s vital you know what to look for. A full set of canoe kit is pretty costly, so the best way is to try out lots of equipment before you buy and seek advice.

If you join a canoeing club, you will be able to borrow the essentials such as the boat, paddles, spraydeck and helmet, which will give you the perfect opportunity to try before you buy.

Canoeing kit explained

The canoe
What type of canoe you go for will depend entirely on the canoeing discipline you choose. There are hundreds of different varieties designed to cope with a number of conditions. But beware, canoes are costly — it’s important to make the right choice before you buy. Seek advice.

Most canoes will fit on a vehicle roof rack or you could use a canoe trailer for transportation. Go for a strong roof rack — those with two separate bars are generally the best. Tie canoes on using strong rope across each bar or by self-locking straps. ‘Uprights’ and ‘J-bars’ can also be added to the roof rack to allow the boats to be placed upright on the rack or within a cradle.

Paddles for canoeing
As with boats, there are many different varieties of paddles on offer to suit different canoe disciplines. The length is one of the most important features to consider when buying. To find the one which suits you best, you need to take up the correct grip. The distance from the outside of your hand to the start of the blade should be approximately 20cm (7.9in).

Paddles for white water are slightly shorter than this, while those used for racing or touring on flat water are longer. An alloy-shafted paddle with molded plastic blades is a good choice for a beginner, as it can be used in most conditions. Again, it’s important to seek specific advice on which one suits you, your chosen canoe discipline and your skill level.

Buoyancy aid for canoeing
This is an essential safety item and should be worn for every canoeing activity, regardless of how well you can swim. Canoeing buoyancy aids are foam filled, not air-filled. Look for ones that are brightly coloured and comfortable to wear. Again, make sure that it is approved before you buy.

Canoeing helmet
Helmets are essential for white water, polo or surfing. Make sure the helmet you choose is approved and can be adjusted to fit your head perfectly. Also, check that the chin strap is strong enough.

Spraydeck for canoeing
The spraydeck is an elasticated ‘skirt’ that prevents unwanted water getting into the cockpit of the boat. This is an essential item for rough water and in cold weather. A quick release strap should be fitted in case of an emergency.

Keeping warm while canoeing …
Canoeing is far more enjoyable when you’re too cold, so wearing the right kit is important. The following pieces of kit are great for keeping you warm and comfortable.

Canoeing wetsuit
Keeps you warm if you get soaked.

Thermals and fleeces
Keep upper body warm.

Canoeing cag
Waterproof and windproof with seals round the neck and wrists to prevent water getting in.

Wetsuit shoes
Keeps feet warm and protects your feet when swimming or walking.

Waterproof dry trousers
More experienced paddlers, who are generally less likely to end up in the water, often choose waterproof dry trousers.

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