While I miss quite a few things about New England, one of the things I love about the Midwest is that we are surrounded by water. There is literally a body of water every which direction you look which means you can kayak a different lake every weekend for a year and more. When we first moved to Wisconsin, we were closest to Lake Geneva, which boasts 5,262 acres and is 135 feet deep at its deepest spot. To sum it up, Lake Geneva is huge and a ton of fun if you have a large boat or know someone with a boat. However, it’ s not necessarily the best lake for a kayaker, or at least a country girl kayaker that is used to glass-like water and silence. So for the fiarst few years, I rarely took the Kayak out on the water in fear of being capsized and eaten alive by the giant walleye fish and apparently plate-size bluegills that the locals talk about.
Once we moved further out in what people consider the country, we came across a plethora of smaller lakes that were still great for our Bayliner, but are also perfect for the kayaks, especially early in the morning when the fog is just coming off the water. While I had a kayak for over 10 years, the hubs just took the plunge and traded in the canoe for a Field and Stream angler kayak and he couldn’t be happier. The kayaks that they are coming out with are loaded with accessories and perks now, where mine was cool back in the day because it had dry storage!
We of course have different uses for the kayaks, so my very simple and sleek kayak is perfect for paddling around the lakes and sneaking up on wildlife with the camera. His angler kayak is designed to house dry storage, tackle, rods, reels, bait, fish and anything else he needs to catch a big one. It’s doesn’t matter which direction you choose to go; there are a few awesome accessories that any kayaker would love to own!
Kayaking isn’t just for the summer months; if the water isn’t frozen, it’s ok to take the kayak out on the water. You just need to be sure to dress for the weather, and that includes dressing your boat. A full spray skirt is good for any season, but is especially good for the colder months. There is a natural spray that comes off your paddles, and that can drop onto your lap, which could cause you to get sick if the weather is cold. This skirt actually covers the entire opening and then has elastic that wraps around you to keep the water out, and the heat in the boat. This is also great for anglers that swear by fishing in the rain. It will keep the rain out of the boat, and for the most part off from you as long as you dress accordingly.
More commonly, you will see the half skirt on kayaks in any season because it works great for spray and also doubles as protection from the sun if needed. It also adds some needed storage to the boat such as mesh pockets and zip pouches that are easily accessible.
This next item is less than $10, and worth a million bucks; no joke. I mentioned before that I have a very simple streamlined kayak without any bells and whistles; not even a cup holder! Yes, most fancy kayaks will already have this feature, but the smaller kayaks and the recreational kayaks do not feature paddle snaps or paddle holders. I love to take my photos when I go kayaking, and having a DSLR means that I need two hands to take a photo. Balancing a paddle with your elbows while trying to be quiet, keep the boat still and focus an image is a wicked pain in the ass. Trust me, this $10 purchase is a must, and if it’s a gift, your kayaking guru will LOVE the paddle holders.
Sometimes things that make a huge difference are overlooked because people feel like they don’t need them, or they are just added crap and nothing that will really make the kayaking trip ‘better’. Well, these paddle grips, another great invention at a reasonably price making a world of difference in the world of blisters.
Coming in at under $15, these puppies will help on long and short trips aiding in reducing calluses, blisters, cramping, fatigue and the overall experience.
When people are part of a niche community or they are proud of what they do in their free time, they like to slap a bumper about it! While it may be enough for most to have the kayaks mounted on the top of the jeep, or the paddles sticking out the side windows, other like to take it that step further and slap a bumper sticker on their truck.
It’s a great gift because it’s a spontaneous purchase. Most of the time, if people are anything like me, they don’t think, “oh, I need to go buy that bumper sticker online today”, I think to buy it when I’m in a store and it’s right in front of me. Since I’m not often in a store that carries bumper stickers specifically for kayaking, I don’t end up owning a bumper sticker unless someone buys it for my birthday.
Last, but certainly not least a dry pack that floats made specifically for electronics is a must-have, yet, you will find a lot of kayakers do not own one. Once again, this is a very low-cost gift for your kayak friend, but something that in the end could save them hundreds.
It’s so funny that I say every time I go kayaking, “I really need to invest in something to protect my phone” and then I jump in the kayak and head out into the drink with an unprotected phone. It’s one of the best gifts you can give and your kayaking friend will love you for it. You can also get floating boxes that are perfect for the camping kayaker that brings packs along.
Whether you have a simple kayaking friend or a friend that is an avid angler, these gifts are sure wins! Now, get out there and start Yakkin!