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Paddling Accessories

Top Picks

How we choose: The best paddling accessories highlighted here were selected based on 21 reviews of 20 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

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Cascade Creek Yakgrips

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

We are reviewing the Yakgrips Comfort Kayak Paddle Grips made by Cascade Creek, designed for take-apart paddles. We use kayak paddles for solo canoeing and kayaking, and have found these grips to be an easy to use accessory, making paddling more comfortable. The company does make a grip with velcro , that can be used on solid shaft paddles.

Reasons to Buy

  • Easy to use
  • Comfortable
  • Fit various shaft diameters
  • Inexpensive

Reasons to Avoid

  • Can be tricky to get in place

We had not gone searching for these grips, but rather stumbled upon them at a Paddlesports husband immediately realized that they could be the solution for an issue he has...very large hands and grip, on a standard size paddle shaft. I checked them out and saw that they could be nicely accommodating for my CMC joint arthritis, and my tendency to get blisters on long paddle trips, more effectively than the paddle/bike gloves I had previously used. These inexpensive grips slide onto the paddle shaft (be sure the paddle and the grip are very wet, or you will get frustrated trying to slide them into position).

Read more: Cascade Creek Yakgrips review (1)

Advanced Elements Rapid Up Sail

user rating: 4 of 5 (1 review)

When you are looking for that extra little push during a long day on the water the Advance Elements Rapid Up Sail provides. Having attached this to both a single and tandem kayak, the Rapid Up Sail can produce enjoyable speed with favorable winds.

Reasons to Buy

  • Durable materials
  • See-thru viewing windows
  • Handy zippered case
  • Multiple attachment rigging
  • Solid stitching
  • Foldable

Reasons to Avoid

  • Large, even when folded
  • A little cumbersome
  • Attachment clips pull off line

Living on the coast in SW FL, I am surrounded by water, so I spend a great deal of time paddling...both kayak and canoe. Over the years I have seen some pretty elaborate and expensive canoe/sail setups, even on kayaks...but that's not what I was looking for. On several Algonquin paddling trips, we jury-rigged our tent fly between spare paddles for a makeshift sail...and "jetted" our canoe across Opeonga Lake during high winds. But I always longed for something simpler, streamlined, lightweight and durable.

Read more: Advanced Elements Rapid Up Sail review (1)

Top Bilge Pump

Harmony High Volume Sea Kayak Pump

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

This pump is used in our canoe (and sometimes kayak), for those times when we get a bit more water in the boat than a bilge sponge can easily handle! It is inexpensive, but works well without much effort, and quickly removes water from the floor of the canoe.

Reasons to Buy

  • Works well
  • Expels lots of water
  • Easy to use
  • Reasonably priced

Reasons to Avoid

  • We have not noted any since we have not cpmpared to what may be higher volume pumps

Paddling season is just about here in Vermont, so we are engaged in our annual pre-season gear checks. One little item, that has traveled with us for the past two years, and which is holding up well, with no signs of corrosion or deterioration, and had become an important part of our kit, is this handy Harmony bilge pump. We decided to get a small bilge pump to carry with us on our canoe outings, after a few incidents of taking on water while paddling in some very rough conditions, and frustratingly trying to empty the boat using a handmade milk-jug bailer.

Read more: Harmony High Volume Sea Kayak Pump review (1)

Top Portage Pack

Duluth #3 Original Duluth Pack

user rating: 5 of 5 (2 reviews)

For canoe travel, packs and other gear need to easily stow in the canoe. If there are portages, containers that are easily carried are also a requirement. These two needs are well blended into the classic Original Duluth Pack. These simple packs have proven themselves over more than 100 years.

Reasons to Buy

  • Extremely durable
  • Comfortable to carry
  • Large volume
  • Keeps contents dry

Reasons to Avoid

  • Expensive
  • Not lightweight

Background: At a summer party a number of years ago, I had just returned from another trip into Canada’s Far North. As I waxed poetic on the beauty and mentioned my mode of travel, a friend commented that in his youth as a Boy Scout, he had paddled in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota and had nothing but disdain for his experience and the Duluth Pack he was forced to carry. He complained of the bugs and the tumpline on his forehead. “On your forehead” I questioned? Over the years, I have encountered a number of people who have been turned off the outdoors in their youth by negative experiences.

Read more: Duluth #3 Original Duluth Pack reviews (2)

Top Paddling Light

ACR Firefly PRO Solas

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

Lightweight and practical! A serious consideration for safety!

Reasons to Buy

  • Lightweight
  • Affordable
  • Waterproof
  • Multi Tasking
  • Comes with Velcro strap to attach to backpack

Reasons to Avoid

  • Somewhat bulky
  • For maximum lightweight, uses Lithium batteries that are expensive

I purchased this a few months ago from ACR where I had previously purchased their PLB. This is a very bright strobe light that can be activated for rescue in dark woods, at night or during the day. It weighs a little over four ounces with alkaline batteries and even less with the longer lasting and lighter lithium batteries. Up to 56 hours of strobe and about 20 steady light on. Visible up to three miles! Has settings of strobe, steady-on, and sos.            

Read more: ACR Firefly PRO Solas review (1)

Surf to Summit Bungee Paddle Leash

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

A paddle leash is ESSENTIAL kayak safety gear! Many, if not most, kayakers often overlook getting one, which is a very bad idea. This leash has an excellent good functional design, which is simple to use. -- Writing and gear photos still in progress, please check back soon. --

Reasons to Buy

  • Simple design, attaching paddle to my boat!
  • Stays out of the way, stretching as I paddle

Reasons to Avoid

  • More expensive than a simple rope or shock cord, but very functional and stronger = safer)
  • Could tangle me (but is unlikely due to the design)

The leash (for life) ...  Imaging losing a paddle on big water! Imagine losing a boat on big water! I've done both at the same time, in fact in big salt water, with live coral and potential predators present! See the Rabbit Island Rescue Hawaii story below. One could make a simple kayak leash with rope alone, but longer ropes tend to tangle up, and shorter ones won't work well. A stretchy cord-based design is a much better idea. And this leash is a great one. Our Sea kayaking location at Rabbit Island, just off the SE coast of Oahu Hawaii (not my video).  Rabbit Island, also known as Manana Island is about ¾ of a mile (1.2 km) off of Kaupo Beach, just northwest of Makapuu Point.

Read more: Surf to Summit Bungee Paddle Leash review (1)

Northstar Canoes Clamp-On Tandem Yoke with CVCA Pads

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

A well-made, clamp-on canoe yoke with comfy wrap-around shoulder pads. Adapts well to Ally folding canoes.

Reasons to Buy

  • Adapts to canoes with 28- to 27-inch beams
  • Works with Ally folding canoes
  • Springy, wraparound CVCA shoulder pads

Reasons to Avoid

  • Clamp slot not finished, could soak up water

  Back when I was young and foolish, I would portage our 60+ pound Old Town Penobscot canoe, often with paddles and lifejackets lashed inside, over rough terrain and distance sometimes up to 2.5 km / 1.5 mi, using just the unadorned, slightly off-center yoke that it came with. You can rest assured I took a few breaks along the way. But I’m older and wiser and I guess a bit wealthier now and have moved up to a 17 foot Ally folding canoe weighing in at 20.5 kg / 45.2 lbs., in the same general weight class as Kevlar canoes.

Read more: Northstar Canoes Clamp-On Tandem Yoke with CVCA Pads review (1)

Top Marine Compass

Brunton 58 Kayak

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

A standard for kayak navigation.

Reasons to Buy

  • simple
  • easy to use
  • portable
  • accurate

Hands-free orientation is a must when kayaking, so forget the hand-held compasses used for hiking. Also, I wouldn't bother with a lighted is one more thing that can break and is not needed if you just use a headlamp. This is the perfect size, is easy to read, accurate, functional, and simple. I may eventually get the mounted version but the portability results in many benefits too. If kayaks are stored outside, the compass can be removed and stored inside to protect it from damage.

Read more: Brunton 58 Kayak review (1)

L.L.Bean Sit Backer Canoe Seat

user rating: 4 of 5 (1 review)

Yes, my somewhat indulgent, lazy paddling canoe seat! I really do like it, though, and it is nice to have on those days when I may want to recline a bit, or when I want to cinch it up and have more back support. This is actually the GCI Outdoors SitBacker Canoe seat; I do have the one with the L.L. Bean logo, since that is where I purchased it. It is the exact same seat as that sold under the GCI brand name.

Reasons to Buy

  • Easily adjustable
  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Carries easily

Reasons to Avoid

  • The contour seat is a bit rigid, but still comfortable

I purchased this canoe seat, since I often canoe at sunset, or pre-dawn, on quiet waters, when I may just want to sit and have a cup of coffee while enjoying the view. It really is not necessary for paddling, but with the adjustable seatback, I can position the seat for relaxing, or paddling...yes, lazy, I know! I do not use it all the time, depending upon the conditions, or how much gear I have in the boat, but I am really glad I purchased it. I have also found, that if I relax the adjustable back support straps, I can lean back a bit (while still having some support), which provides a bit more room for my dog who sits in front of me as I paddle.

Read more: L.L.Bean Sit Backer Canoe Seat review (1)

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