Women Who Kayak
Essentials, Accessories, Storage, Planning & Creature Comforts
Ladies who enjoy paddling face many challenges… The myriad of things to consider; like choosing the proper kayak to suit our individual needs, experience level, planning our trip, transporting and loading. The list goes on (and even more, considering women tend to be over-thinkers!) Then of course, a gazillion more things to consider, such as making sure our skin is protected from the sun, safety, proper outfitting, accessories…..
Then we have the age old issue of using the restroom….As a female kayaker and avid angler, I’ve found and discovered several tips, tricks, options & accessories to make a paddling trip much more pleasurable and a lot less stressful or frustrating. For example, I have found when paddling my Feelfree Lure, Moken 2 or BigFish, I can remove the sonar pod and/ or prop pod and have the stability of the kayak to turn around, cover myself with a towel, or meander to a secluded area, and use the open space within the kayak that houses the box & utilize it as the restroom without having to get in the water. It has literally saved me from busted toes and sinking in mud! But for those who don’t paddle one of these crafts, make sure you have the proper footwear ! (Oh darn, another pair of shoes!)
I feel choosing the right kayak is very important for us ladies; several things must be considered before we break out the credit card for the pretty one you see on sale. Seating is a major thing to consider, for often times, we may encounter back, arm & shoulder discomfort while paddling. (This is why proper paddling technique is definitely something you must learn first) Some prefer to have seating position options, such as a high, low, forwards, etc. Some of us like to sit low and feel cradled. Either way, make sure your back is happy when choosing your kayak!! Then we also face challenges of loading and launching. Also, transporting, loading and unloading is something that must be considered. This is key when choosing the right vessel and accessories! But thanks to wheels, carts, truck bed extenders, trailers, boat rollers and wheel in the keel features, and husbands (wink wink,) it certainly has come a long way from me flagging down a neighbor to help lift my kayak on to the roof of my car!
Ironically many of us don’t know how to properly paddle. We often times see incorrect paddling techniques, which can lead to discomfort and even pain….(I had been doing it wrong for years myself, before I learned the “proper” way to paddle!) …And of course, we’re not in this sport to hurt, or feel pain, we’re in this to enjoy our beautiful aquatic gems!! So its definitely imperative to make sure you learn the proper paddling technique, which involves your core and even your legs. (Which is an excellent workout!) Also…you must know what to do in the case that you or someone else falls out of the kayak. A safety and rescue class is definitely recommended! Many things can happen in the event of a spill, so knowing what to do and how to do it can prove to be a true life saver!
We offer intro to kayaking classes and safety, which entails what to do if you fall in! Many fear the idea of falling out of a kayak, and it definitely is important to know what to do if and when it happens to yourself or others. Self-rescue varies from kayak to kayak, so if you have one, or plan to get one, it’s important to know how to maneuver yourself with your kayak in order to get back in safely. Fortunately, the Kayaks we sell are incredibly stable, so often times, you’ll go in before the kayak flips, however, anything can happen, and you must be prepared and confident with your capabilities. In the event the kayak does flip, I certainly urge you to utilize rod tethers, strap down your milkcrate, tackleboxes, and dry bags!
One of the most essential accessories that I utilize while kayak angling is a milkcrate equipped with rod holders. This allows me to keep everything at an arm’s reach and even my boxes of lures safely and organized. I arrange my rods in the rod holders where the opposite side of my casting arm has my spare rod, the middle has my net, and the casting side is open. This allows me to side cast in tight areas without hitting my own gear. (You know you’ve done it! HA!) I also keep in the crate, additional line, leader, etc that I don’t want to have in my way, but may need to use in a special circumstance. YakGear makes a very useful new product, called the “Yaksak,” and it can be hung on the inner side of your kayak, next to you, or even hang from your seat if it is in a higher position. There’s a water-resistant pocket where you can store your keys, phone, etc, as well as outer pouches where I like to keep my tools, such as pliers, extra lures, tackle, etc. So in the event of a tip, your gear, and personal belongings will not be scattered at the bottom of the body of water you’re in! I’ve also learned that “Less is More” when it comes to accessorizing your kayak. There’s all kinds of gizmos and camera booms to attach to your boat, but when you hook into that big fish that wants to do laps around your kayak, you definitely don’t want all your stuff to get entangled in the line! But I admit, finding the right place to mount a cup holder, and a good place to set up your fish finder is certainly ideal!
We also must protect ourselves from the sun! On kayaks, your shoulders, top of you legs, feet and hands are the first to get burned! Sunscreen is certainly a must, and I always wear a hat, polarized sunglasses, a good SPF shirt, a neck gaiter that I can cover my nose, ears and face with, gloves, leggings with an SPF, as well as some good quality Water Shoes. Also, don’t forget about lip protection!! Many brands of chap stick offer SPF, so use whichever brand you prefer that has one! This is something we often forget,so just keep it in your dry bag!
I have also noticed that not many female paddlers utilize their PFD’s. (Personal Flotation Device) I certainly have experienced the discomfort, bulkiness, and the feeling of being trapped by heat within the PFD, which always used to make me toss it to the side. In order to remedy this, I have found a couple of incredible options that are especially tailored to a woman’s physique. No more smashed chest, or rubbing on the arms! The Astral line of women’s PFD’s are my absolute favorite, for they have a flat back for comfort, vented back, plenty of pockets, as well as support for, “the Girls,” LOL! Also, NRS carries a great alternatives as well. There’s so many styles, brands, materials and options for us now, we just simply have to use them! No Excuses!
Safety is another factor that must be addressed on the water. People are being way too careless nowadays. Unfortunate things happen too much when people just simply aren’t informed of the laws, regulations, as well as the multitude of products to keep us safe while paddling. Its always a must to have a buddy system (when possible) and a flow plan. Let someone know where you’re going, when you should be back, and when you leave. Keep a safety kit with you, and even a radio or gps at least at all times. Practice safe judgement, especially in high winds, channels, and conditions. Be aware of boats and make sure you’re visible to them. (It gives us a great excuse to dress bright)
All in all, it seems like a lot of things to consider when planning an aquatic excursion, but honestly, it becomes second nature once you’ve done it a couple of times. Planning becomes easier, paddling becomes more of an adventure, which in turn, you start to find your inner peace. No more fretting, worrying, forgetting something, or any of that….just breathe, and take in all the wonders that surround us! Good vibes and tight lines always!
Written by: Natalie Manrique