This equipment is essential for canoeing:

  • The canoe itself
  • Paddle
  • Buoyancy aid (also known by the cumbersome name of Personal Flotation Device, or PFD)
  • Helmet, usually with holes to allow water to drain freely following a capsize.

The following items may be necessary:

  • Wet suit to keep you warm (this works by trapping a thin layer of water next to your skin, which then insulates your body)
  • Waterproof
  • Spray deck – essential for kayaking once you have mastered the basics, prevents water from entering the cockpit and swamping the boat.

Don’t be put off by the cost of canoes, they can be hired relatively inexpensively or used for free if you join a club with its own equipment. Similarly, paddles, buoyancy aids and helmets should be made available. Specialist clothing is far from essential. Often a pair of trousers and t-shirt is adequate for your first paddling forays.

As you gain confidence and progress, you may decide to invest in clothing, equipment and eventually your own canoe or kayak. The Unsponsored site is an excellent resource, with in-depth reviews and impartial advice on which gear will best suit your needs and your pocket.