Whether the kayaker in your life is about to celebrate another lap around the sun or you just feel like surprising them, you’ll benefit from the best kayaking gift ideas. It doesn’t have to be a special occasion for you to help that special kayaker be more prepared for their time on the water.
Still, being prepared is about more than just having the right tools at your disposal when the need arises. That is why we strongly encourage all beginners to take a few lessons or sign up for a guided kayaking tour with an educational component.
Taking lessons or an educational tour will teach you the basics of kayaking so that you can make good use of all your kayaking essentials. That way, you don’t just look like a seasoned, prepared kayaker, you actually are one.
No matter whether your kayaking partner has been complaining about wanting to upgrade their PFD or you just noticed that they don’t have a cup holder on their kayak, these kayaking gift ideas will give you a lot of inspiration to give them the right gift–whatever the occasion.
This is the obvious place to start, but if your special someone has been paddling around a kayak since the late-1970s, an upgrade might be just what the doctor ordered. It doesn’t have to be something special, but today’s kayaks are lighter, faster, and come with a lot more comfort and amenities than models of old.
Believe it or not, all kayak paddles are not created equal and, in this case, weight does matter. A lighter paddle will reduce paddler fatigue and allow the person you give this paddle to have longer days on the water with more comfort and less energy expenditure.
First of all, every responsible kayaker should be wearing a properly sized and properly fitted PFD while they are on the water. If your special someone doesn’t have a comfortable PFD to wear or theirs is just looking a little worse for the wear, this is an excellent kayaking gift idea.
The best kayaking gloves are an excellent thing to have on long kayaking trips or even just on days when the sun is struggling to break through the clouds. Insulating and protecting your hands from rubbing on the plastic shaft of your kayak paddle will make anyone’s kayaking experience a lot more comfortable.
As tempting as it is to go barefoot when you’re kayaking on a hot summer day, you just never know when you might unexpectedly end up in the water. If there happens to be anything sharp in the water below you, the person you give kayaking shoes to will be glad their feet aren’t getting all cut up.
Check out these collections to see if you find anything you like:
All kayakers should be wearing sunscreen and commit to reapplying on a regular basis if they are going to spend hours out in the sun. However, a performance kayaking shirt can save you from lathering your entire body in sunscreen and allow you to stay out longer before your skin looks like the shell of a cooked lobster.
Dry bags are an essential item in any seasoned kayaker’s arsenal because they allow you to keep a variety of water-sensitive gear safe and dry until it is needed. Whether you just need a small dry bag for a day trip or a larger one to pack for a kayak camping trip, they will always come in handy.
This resource might help you select the right size dry bags for your gift recipient:
If the person you’re giving this gift to already has dry bags but they still don’t have enough space to keep all of their essentials protected from the elements, a kayak deck bag might be the perfect give to expand their kayak’s storage capability.
Nobody likes enjoying a warm beverage after they’ve been on the water for three hours on a 95-degree summer day. Give the gift of a cold, refreshing beverage by rewarding the kayaker in your life with an insulated cooler that’s made to fit right on the back of their kayak seat.
There are several types of kayak coolers, so these resources might help you narrow it down:
A Kayak tackle crate is an excellent gift for the kayak angler in your life. Instead of constantly worrying about fishing tackle out of an awkward satchel that isn’t waterproof, they can keep all their lures, line, and other fishing essentials properly organized.
Every kayaker has to think about hydration, but the only way to make sure the water you’re drinking out there stays cold is by putting it inside an insulated water bottle. As a bonus, make sure the bottle has a way to clip or secure it to your kayak so it doesn’t float away if you capsize (my favorite solution is a simple carabiner).
Keeping the sun off your face, neck, and shoulders while kayaking will seriously extend how long you can stay out comfortably. You don’t see many folks attempting feats of long-distance kayaking without a full-brimmed hat to protect themselves from UV exposure.
If your special someone frequently kayaks in a location that is susceptible to winds or ocean currents, a rudder kit might be the perfect addition to help them with tracking. Just make sure to double-check that the rudder kit you choose is compatible with their kayak.
There are so many potential uses for a good multi-tool when you’re kayaking that it would take far too long to list them out here. I once employed one to fix a broken rudder on day three of a five-day kayak trip, which would’ve called for someone to go out of their way to pick me up almost a hundred miles away from my destination if I didn’t have my multi-tool.
Kayaking in adverse conditions isn’t for everyone, but it gets a whole lot more comfortable with one of the best kayak spray skirts. Not only does it keep water out of the cockpit of your sit-in kayak, but it also helps to trap your natural body heat to keep the lower half of your body warmer.
If the kayaker you are looking to reward with a gift is always whining that they can’t kayak year-round, this is the perfect gift for them. This drysuit will help them stay warm and comfortable while they head out and kayak and you stay home by the fire.
If the kayaker in your life doesn’t require a drysuit for cold weather, but still needs more insulation than they currently have, maybe a wetsuit is the right gift idea. It’s also great for kayakers that use their vessels out on the sea and like to hop off for some free diving.
As we mentioned above, kayaking barefoot always sounds better than it really is in practice. If you know the person you’re shopping for won’t go for kayaking shoes, then maybe kayaking sandals are the right alternative to let their feet breathe while still offering protection.
This is a must-have kayaking accessory for any of your friends that have a sit-inside touring or sea kayak. If you get any water inside the cockpit on that kind of kayak, one of the best kayak bilge pumps is the most efficient way to get it out.
For the last little bit of water that a bilge pump can’t remove, your friend will also need a proper kayaking sponge. It might sound funny, but this accessory is the difference between a wet cockpit and a dry, comfortable kayaking experience.
If your special kayaker is frequently teaching new people the basics of kayaking, a throw rope is a great gift. While this piece of kayak rescue equipment is more commonly used by whitewater kayakers, it can be employed in many scenarios to help bring a swimmer to a safer location.
As a kayak guide, I have needed a quality tow rope for the latter half of a trip one too many times (once is too many, FYI). That said, a tow rope is really helpful if you kayak with kids because it allows you to help with keeping their kayak straight or keeping them moving when they’re busy taking in the surrounding scenery.
Your favorite kayaker will never lose their paddle again with a quality paddle leash attached to their personal watercraft. The leash gets anchored to a hard point on your kayak and then wraps around the shaft of your kayak paddle to make sure your kayak and paddle stay together, no matter what happens out there.
Mounting tracks are one of the coolest gifts you could give to a seasoned kayaker because they allow them to customize their setup. These tracks can be installed on a flat surface and allow you to attach an almost-unlimited number of kayak accessories and equipment once they’re installed.
A kayak GPS unit is precisely the kind of equipment that attaches perfectly to the right set of mounting tracks. So you might help improve your kayaker’s organization and navigation ability with a pair of the best kayaking gift ideas.
If you really want to go over the top and the kayaker you were shopping for with the previous two choices likes to fish, then a portable fish finder is the way to go. It will put them on fish faster and more reliably than even their honed angling skills can.
For a great gift idea for kayakers that are really getting into fishing while they’re out there, rod holders allow them to bring more rod and reel combinations without them constantly getting in the way, which minimizes the time they’ll have to spend changing bait and tackle between casts.
Here are a few resources to help you shop for this kayaking gift:
If you help your special kayaker add storage capacity with extra fishing rod holders, then he or she might also need a few new kayak fishing rods to put in those holders. Kayak fishing rods are available for many different types of fishing, so you may want to casually get a better idea of what they’re fishing for before you commit to buying a specific rod.
Simply getting your kayak from your car to the water can be quite the chore sometimes, which is where one of the best kayak carts comes into play. These carts are great for paved walkways or maintained trails and they allow you to simply roll your kayak down to wherever you are launching.
If the kayaker you are shopping for loves to seek more remote or rugged destinations, they may not always have the easiest path to get their kayak from the car to the water. In that case, one of the best kayak carts for rough terrain will make life much easier when the path to the water isn’t so smooth.
Let’s be honest: lifting your kayak on and off your roof isn’t always easy. If you are looking to make kayak transportation easier for your special someone, consider getting them one of the best kayak trailers that they can tow.
For a slightly easier and cheaper solution to kayak transportation, roof racks might also be a great kayaking gift idea. There are many different styles, so here are a few resources that might be helpful:
Whether the person you are gifting straps their kayaks onto a roof rack or loads them into the bed of their truck, they are going to need a quality pair of heavy-duty tie-down straps to keep things secure.
When a sit-inside kayak needs to go into storage, the cockpit should be covered to keep out moisture, critters, and anything else that can cause it damage. The best way to do that is with one of the best kayak cockpit covers.
If you are looking for a gift for someone that has an older sit-inside kayak that has seen a little wear and tear, new kayak hatch covers might be the perfect gift to restore their kayak’s waterproof storage capacity.
It’s not a matter of if, but rather a question of when a waterproof first aid kit will come in handy for kayakers.
45. A Kayaking Vacation!
Photo by Kuznetcov_Konstantin via Shutterstock
Finally, there might be no better way to reward the special kayaker in your life than to give them the gift of a kayaking vacation in a destination they have always dreamed of paddling. Some top spots that come to mind for me include The Inside Passage from Seattle up towards Alaska, Isle Royale National Park in Michigan, and Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska.
That said, you know the person you are giving this gift to the best. So feel free to exercise your creativity and go for a thrill-seeking kayak vacation or something more chill and relaxing with plenty of time to soak in the sun.
Photo by yevgeniy11 via Shutterstock
Now the only question is whether you are going to buy just one of the best kayaking gift ideas for that special someone, or multiple.
We hope you have enjoyed and benefited from this collection of kayaking gift ideas and we wish you the best of luck surprising the kayaker in your life with whichever gift you choose!
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Author: Peter SalisburyPete is the Owner of KayakHelp.com. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, he grew up kayaking, fishing, sailing, and partaking in outdoor adventures around the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him skiing in the mountains, reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.
Welcome! I’m so glad you are here :-) I’m Pete. I am the owner of KayakHelp.com. I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, I grew up kayaking, fishing, sailing, and partaking in outdoor adventures around the Great Lakes. When I am not out on the water, you can find me skiing in the mountains, reading my favorite books, and spending time with my family.
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