I have signed up for the Cherry blossom kayaking in March. I have never done kayaking before and am unsure as to what gear I will need. Any information would be greatly appreciated.


Mary Mooney



Hi @MT !

First, let me say that I am not an REI employee.  I do, however, have some experience in recreational kayaking, especially in and around Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay.  In my opinion, you really don't need a lot of gear to get started in kayaking.  A kayak, a paddle, and a life vest are really all you need.  Other items come into play to enhance the experience.  Proper, or should I say, suitable, clothing. Swimwear, sunblocking, quick-drying are all things to consider.  Water shoes, sandals, or cheap sneakers.  A sun hat and/or sunglasses (polarized are best to block the reflective glare off the water).  Depending on the length and remoteness of your journey, a bilge pump, dry bags, and maybe even a deck mounted compass, may be recommended.  If you want to use your kayak for fishing, you can get fishing rod mounts.

If you haven't tried kayaking before, you might want to get some basic training on paddle strokes and safety practices, and then practice a little in a small, calm waterway before the tour,

Kayaking is a really fun sport with a lot of ways to have fun. Exploring, camping, fishing...

Since you've signed up for the Cherry Blossom Tour, I have to assume you are local to the Maryland/Virginia/DC area.  That's where I am.  We have some of the best paddling available in and around the Chesapeake Bay.  You have the John Smith Water Trail, Mallows Bay and the Ghost Fleet, and innumerable rivers and creeks to explore.

Have fun and be safe out there!

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

@MT Hi Mary! Thanks for reaching out as you venture into a new activity. Here's are a few really helpful articles  that will provide lots of suggestions for getting started with kayaking, including what to wear and a kayaking checklist. Assuming you'll have access to the kayak, PFD and paddle, other things to consider taking with you include: a rash guard, chapstick with SPF, sunblock/bug stuff, sun hat, paddle gloves (depending on the length of your paddle and toughness of your hands), dry bag for your phone and other personal items, sunglasses, snacks and water. Hope this helps and have fun!

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