Always inspect your basic equipment before taking a kayaking trip. Your kayak should be watertight and have all internal flotation and hatch covers properly installed. Your spray skirt should be tear-free and in good working order, and your paddle and life jacket should also be in good shape. Each kayak should have a sponge or pump, unless the kayaks are self-bailing. Bring an extra paddle or two for the group, in case a paddle is lost or damaged. If you plan to go kayaking for more than a few hours, construct a float plan, listing a description of your boat or boats, names of all your crew, all radio and safety equipment carried, and your departure and return dates. Bring one copy of the float plan and leave one with a friend who will meet you on your return. If you do not return as expected, your friend can initiate a search for you.
Like any outdoor trip, a kayaking trip requires a medical and first aid kit, including various bandages, gauze, antiseptics, aspirin, tweezers and any medications required by any group members. In addition, all group members should have basic signaling equipment, such as a VHF radio, signal flares, a GPS beacon, chemical light sticks or a signal whistle. Chemical hand warmers are a good idea, particularly for cold weather or cold water kayaking.
Kayakers on an extended trip should have waterproof maps and compasses. A waterproof GPS system is also a good idea. Binoculars, a tide table and a weather radio are also helpful navigation gear, particularly for ocean kayaking.
Appropriate kayaking clothing varies greatly, based on the location and time of year. Synthetic, warm underwear is a good base layer, which helps you stay warm, even when wet. In colder areas, you may wish to wear a wetsuit or a drysuit; whereas, in warmer areas, you may prefer a T-shirt and shorts. Canvas shoes, sandals or water shoes are appropriate footwear. You should wear a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses and bring sunblock to protect from the sun. As with any outdoor trip, be sure to bring a range of clothing appropriate for any weather you may encounter.