Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   




Eight Must-Haves for your Paddling Adventure

When it comes to adventuring on water, paddling a canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard may seem easy enough. What could go wrong? 

Anything. Everything. But when you’re properly prepared, you can handle it.

“It’s clear that many possible mishaps wait just around the bend for even the most experienced paddler,” says Kimberly Sorensen, TPWD’s Boater Education manager. “Small boats are subject to changes in wind, weather and waves — sometimes flipping in an instant. That is why paddlers are required to carry certain safety equipment on board.”

Failing to carry required gear could result in a citation by Texas game wardens, or worse — you could be up the creek without a paddle.

Before you hit the water, remember to grab these essential items.

1 Wear a properly fitting life jacket, because it floats and you don’t. All adults are required to keep an easily accessible life jacket on board. Children under 13 must wear a life jacket at all times when aboard a canoe, a kayak or a stand-up paddleboard.

2 You must have a bright light (headlamp or deck light) from sunset to sunrise. Remember to pack it in your dry bag to avoid being stuck in the dark.

3 Visual and loud distress signals such as flares and whistles are required for coastal excursions and are useful for rivers and lakes as well.

4 Bring plenty of water and snacks because operating a paddle craft requires a lot of endurance and strength. Keep your body’s energy up with protein bars, trail mix, reusable water bottles or a hydration pack.

5 Use a dry bag to hold your possessions. No, not that plastic bag that came with your snacks. A dry bag is often a plastic, vinyl or nylon storage receptacle that will remain dry even if your vessel is submerged. It’s the perfect container for your wallet, keys and extra clothes.

6 Don’t forget light, loose clothing. When it comes to a paddle craft, chances are you will end up wet. Wear something that dries quickly and won’t weigh you down.

7 Sun protection — a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and a high-UV sunscreen — will help you fight the sun’s rays on two fronts: from the sky and reflected from the water.

8 Duct tape, a multitool, plenty of carabiners and the know-how to fix minor accidents can determine if your trip is one for the record books. Attach your gear to your vessel with carabiners or some other method or you may lose it. 

 TPWD STAFF   Maegan Lanham | TPWD

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