posted on November 04, 2009 09:16
Have you thought about buying some new kit? The CKJ (Club Kit Junkie) takes you through the various things you should / could buy and when to purchase them.
If you are a flat water paddler then the club kit is perfectly suitable but as you progress on to moving water you may start to acquire some kit of your own. With all the items though it is always worth asking other members of the club if they are selling or getting rid of anything or have a look on the Kayaking Forums in the For Sale section before you go and make a purchase.
This article will take you through the various things you can purchase and what order I would purchase them in if I could do it all over again. The club can supply you with a boat, paddle, helmet, spray deck, and buoyancy aid so there is no need to go out and purchase any of these straight off. The thing that puts you off most when kayaking is getting cold so the best thing to get is a wetsuit. You will still get cold when you swim but you will heat up a lot quicker.
A long john wetsuit is the best choice as it leaves your arms completely free. Any wetsuit that covers the arms may have a tendency to rub during a hard day on the river. It is important that it fits you as an ill fitting wetsuit will trap too much water between the skin and neoprene which will take a lot longer to heat up.
On your arms you want some quick drying synthetic / man made fibre thermals or fleece. Natural fibres such as cotton or wool trap a lot more water and so should be avoided. Remember that two thin layers will keep you as warm as one thick layer but will dry quicker. You can get designer brand thermals but TK Maxx will do just as well when you are first starting.
Shoes, TK Maxx occasionally do neoprene boots but otherwise any water sport shop will sell boots that are up to the job. You want to get something with quite a bit of grip as you may end up scrambling about on rocks in the river quite a bit. A cheap pair of trainers and a pair of neoprene socks will do just as well.
The next thing I would buy is a kayak specific helmet. In the world of helmets, you get what you pay for so the more you spend, the better the protection it will give you. At the end of the day bones will mend but you only get one lot of brain cells. Everyone’s head is different so it is important to try on as many helmets as you need to find one that fits. There is no point in having a state of the art helmet that slides around or off your head.
You are now toasty warm most of the time but every time you go through any white water you get wet as the club cags have a tendency to leak. Most cags have latex seals that go round your neck and wrists. This will stop the water running down your arms and neck. The club does not supply this sort of cag as the seals are delicate and will soon tear if handled incorrectly. The cag will have 2 tunnels around the waist. The idea is that the spray deck will be pulled up between the 2 tunnels to create a water tight seal.
A paddle would be the next thing on the list. Paddles can vary in cost from between £60 to £350 but I would aim to spend between £100 and £150 on your first paddle. Your own paddle will make a lot of difference to your paddling as it is the way you control the kayak.
Next on the list is a buoyancy aid. They can come with a zip or be pulled over the head. If you are serious about your white-water then you should consider purchasing one with a safety harness on that will allow you to live bait. Live baiting is where you go into the river to rescue someone whilst attached to a rope. These sorts of vests cost more money but save you making an expensive mistake in buying 2 buoyancy aids because you can not fit a safety harness to your first buoyancy aid.
If you start to paddle moving / white water then you should be carrying a throw line and a knife that can be opened with one hand. Never take a throw line unless you have got a knife. You may think that I am always the one being rescued but you never know when someone might slip and need you to help them.
The club spray deck keeps a lot of the water out but in your quest to stay dry a new deck will be required. Most spray decks are made of neoprene although there are cheap ones made of nylon. Most spray decks have latex underneath which helps to form a decent seal on the cockpit of the kayak. Some spray decks have a Kevlar rim on them to protect the spray deck when rescuing or emptying other boats.
When you have got to the stage where you can roll consistently and seldom take a swim then you may want to consider buying some dry trousers. Dry trousers have latex cuffs around the ankles which stop water going up the legs when you are walking around in the river. The inner tunnel of your cag goes over the top of your trousers so that any water that seeps through the tunnels goes over and not into the dry trousers. Some thermal leggings will also help to keep you warm.
By now, you have probably tried most of the boat in the club and had a go in everyone else’s boat. You will now start to think about buying your own kayak which you can then fit out so that it is as comfortable as your armchair at home. You will now know what boats you prefer to paddle and it will now be time to search for something similar. If you look on Playak.com you can compare all the kayaks and look up the details about each boat. Kayaks are not cheap but there is a thriving second hand market if you look on the forums like UKRGB.
If you have more money burning a hole in your pocket then you may also want to get slings and crabs, a drysuit, a second or maybe even a third boat. There is always money that can be spent on stuff. So how much will this all cost me? I have given a breakdown below but this includes buying 2nd hand where appropriate. Never buy second hand safety equipment as you don’t want to risk your life with something that may be flawed or broken. Please remember that you will not be buying this all at once but over several years.
Dry Trousers £80
Kayak (used) £300-400