Kayaking and canoeing gear sure takes a lot of abuse. Add to that the fact that paddlers rarely replace their favorite articles of equipment until they absolutely must, and gear can literally be falling apart before we even realize they are far past their useful life. Here’s an inspection checklist for those canoeing and kayaking gear items that you absolutely must have to paddle, namely the canoe or kayak, paddle, and the PFD. Go ahead and give them a check! You won't be sorry you did.
- Hull: Check the hull for cracks or gauges that you may not have noticed.
- Drain Plug: Make sure it is in the boat, is attached to the boat by a cord or other mechanism, and that the o-ring is present and making a good seal when it is screwed in. Check that all screws are tight and sealed. You can add some silicone or Aquaseal between the screw and the hull to close up any leaks.
- Foot and Thigh Support: Make sure that the foot supports and thigh braces operate correctly and are not coming apart in any way.
- Back Rest: Check that the backrest can be adjusted. Also inspect the buckles, latches, and adjustment points that they are not brittle, corroded, or bound up.
- Hatches: Check that hatches are not damaged, ripped, cracked, or stretched out and that they make a good seal on the boat.
- Deck Rigging: Inspect the bungee lines in and on the kayak. Ensure they are resilient and not compromised. Check the knots on them also.
Inspecting PFDsDon’t ever take a chance with your PFD.
- PFD Material: For PFDs, check for tears, fading, and any signs that the material may be compromised. Fading by itself is not necessarily an issue however if the sun has damaged the material it could easily tear.
- Flotation:Check that the flotation feels the way it should. It should not be compressed in any spots due as a result of storage.
- PFD Adjustments and Attachments: Inspect all straps, buckles, buttons, and zippers for proper function and condition. Makes sure that there is no corrosion or rust. Also check the integrity of all plastic. It is quite common after years of sun, abuse, and even water that the plastic can become brittle and snap at flex points.
Inspecting Canoe and Kayak PaddlesEven though there isn’t much to kayak and canoe paddles, it is still a good idea to look them over.
- Inspecting Canoe Paddle Handles: Inspect the canoe paddle handles that they have not spun and are properly and securely attached to the shaft.
- Inspect Paddle Blades: Check that the blades of kayak and canoe paddles are rotated they way they should be and will not spin or change their position.
- Inspect Paddle Shaft: Make sure the shaft is not showing any signs of stress cracks or damage. Flip the paddle over to hear if there is any water in it.
- Inspect Kayaking Breakdown Paddles: Assemble any breakdown or multi-piece paddles. Make sure they go together and come back apart. Check that the buttons and assembly mechanisms work properly.