For someone who doesn’t have much – if any – experience with kayaking, choosing the perfect gifts for kayakers can be quite a challenge.
You might think that a kayak and a paddle seem like a great gift idea – that’s what they use the most, right? But I believe that a paddler’s choice of kayak and paddle is way too personal to be given as surprise gifts.
So, what are your options, then? What do they even use – besides the obvious essentials, that is?
I’ve compiled a list of the best gift ideas for kayakers to help you with that! We have included ideas at varying range of price points; from low cost Christmas stocking fillers to serious birthday treats.
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Gift Ideas For Kayakers: 18+ Oh-So-Cool & Practical Kayaking Gifts
You’ll love the following gift ideas for kayakers – and most importantly, so will your friend!
1. Dry Bags
“One can never have enough socks.” If you’re a Harry Potter fan, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with this quote. For those of you that aren’t – or need to brush up on Harry Potter trivia – it’s a quote by Dumbledore.
What do Dumbledore’s quote and socks have to do with kayaking, anyway?
Well, dry bags are a bit like socks – in the sense that you can never have too many, that is. This handy piece of kayaking gear is designed to be waterproof and, as such, is in charge of keeping other items, like clothing, personal belongings, and supplies, dry and organized.
Dry bags are one of those kayaker gifts that you can never go wrong with – even if your kayaker friend already has one, I’m sure they could use a couple of extra ones, especially if they come in different sizes.
For example, Earth Pak’s waterproof dry bag is made from 500D PVC, comes in three different sizes, and includes an IPX8-rated waterproof phone case. Be sure to check it out!
2. Waterproof Action Camera
You could argue that with smartphones capable of capturing insanely high-quality footage, gifts such as a camera don’t make much sense – but you couldn’t be more wrong. Smartphones are great and all, but when it comes to recording entire paddling sessions in not-so-ideal conditions – think whitewater, for example – nothing beats a quality, waterproof action camera.
So, have you considered this as a gift idea for a kayaker?
GoPro HERO 9 is the ultimate waterproof action camera and a perfect companion for kayaking adventures, with a list of ground-breaking features, to say the least. It boasts a new 23.6 MP sensor capable of capturing 20 MP photos and 5K video, a rear touch-screen, front display, HyperSmooth 3.0 video stabilization – and much more!
This thing is a tough-as-nails beast of a waterproof action camera.
It’s not the most budget-friendly gift out there. But if you’re shopping for someone who is a real kayaking enthusiast, the smile on their face when they open their gift will be more than worth it.
3. Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker
Speaking of waterproof kayak-friendly gadgets, a waterproof speaker could be a fantastic gift for a kayaker who likes to “spice up” their time on the water by having their favorite tunes playing in the background.
In this day and age, gadgets like a waterproof Bluetooth speaker probably need no introduction; you’ve likely owned – or, at the very least, seen – one before.
But I’d like to discuss this particular model, the JBL CLIP 3, anyway – if only to show you why it would make such an excellent gift for a kayaker:
JBL CLIP 3 is designed to handle outdoor adventures – and yes, even kayaking – and features an IPX7 waterproof rating. Getting it wet shouldn’t be a problem. What’s more, it’s ultra-portable, on top of being ultra-rugged, which makes it the perfect outdoor companion.
When fully charged, this waterproof Bluetooth speaker pumps out big sound for its size and can keep you rocking for up to 10 hours on the water!
4. Polarized Sunglasses
The glare on the water, especially off large bodies of water such as the ocean or a lake, can be extremely damaging to the eyes, leading to the condition known as UV keratitis – which is, in essence, the on-the-water version of snow blindness.
So, if you decide to get that special someone a pair of polarized sunglasses, you’re doing more than getting them a stylish accessory. You’re helping them protect their eyes from long-term UV damage.
HULISLEM S1 could be an excellent choice for an active lifestyle.
The glasses boast a lightweight but rugged polycarbonate frame and HD-grade polarized lenses with UV 400 mirror flash coating. S1’s protect the eyes from harsh UV rays and eliminate the irritating glare on the water’s surface but do so without distorting colors or depth perception, too.
My suggestion is to pair these polarized sunglasses with a floating sunglass strap, like DriftFish. You can never be too careful with these things when you’re out on the water; one gust of wind or one wrong move, and they’re gone for good.
I would know – I’ve lost more pairs of sunglasses while kayaking than I care to admit.
5. Power Bank
Some kayakers prefer shorter, more casual paddles on nearby lakes – nothing too extreme. But others enjoy longer adventures that can sometimes turn into full-blown overnight kayak camping trips. And if the person you’re buying it for prefers the latter, a power bank will be a must-have item on the list of paddling equipment.
So, why not surprise them with one?
You’ll give them a way to recharge their electronics, such as smartphones or portable speakers, which would otherwise become useless once the battery drains after a day or so.
FosPower is the perfect portable power bank for kayakers – rugged, drop-proof, and backed by an IP67 water-resistance rating, meaning it can withstand up to 30 minutes underwater. Plus, it features 10050 mAh capacity, 2.1 A Type-C and USB 2.1A outputs, and built-in protection from overheating, overcharging, and short-circuits.
And as part of its multifunctional, outdoors-friendly design, it also comes with a built-in compass, LED lamp, and a Carabiner.
6. Deck Pod
Given that I already recommended dry bags as one of the best gifts for kayakers, I’d like to add one more storage solution worth considering – a deck pod.
The idea stays the same; you can never have too many storage solutions as a kayaker. But the thing that makes deck pods worth considering is that it keeps paddling essentials organized and allows for direct access to safety gear while minimizing bulk.
Consider the Gearlab Deck Pod, for example. It boasts a streamlined, low-profile design but can still hold a three-liter hydration bladder, has external holders for a paddle float and a bilge pump, and a long, internal mesh pocket for storing small items.
In short, it will maximize the kayak’s on-deck storage and keep essentials within reach – without getting in the way of the paddle. It’s as practical as deck pods get.
7. Kayak Fishing Tools
If you’re shopping for an avid kayak angler, any kayaking gifts that will help turn their ‘yak into a lean, mean fishing machine could be a great choice. A fishing rod is the most obvious answer – especially if you pair it with a rod holder – but let’s think outside the box here.
With that said, what else could you get for your favorite angler – besides the obvious?
Well, have you considered getting them a fishing tool set, like this one by ZACX? It contains two essential fishing tools that every angler needs on the water:
One is a pair of multi-purpose fishing pliers that can be used for cutting lines and hook removal. The other is a fish lip gripper – a must-have for catch-and-release anglers handling poisonous or toothy fish.
8. Portable Fish Finder
While we’re on the topic of great gift ideas for kayakers and canoeists that love fishing, you might want to consider getting them a portable fish finder.
For those of you who might not have a lot of experience with fishing, this sonar-equipped gadget is designed to help increase your odds of catching fish. How? It utilizes a transducer – scanning sonar technology – to shoot out cone-shaped beams and create underwater imagery.
That’s the simplest way to put it, anyway – but the point is, it can do wonders in terms of helping anglers identify the perfect fishing spots. And as such, it makes a pretty cool fishing-specific gift for kayakers.
I recommend the Deeper Chirp Smart Sonar, mainly because it’s highly portable, cast-able, and wireless, meaning it doesn’t require any drilling or use of external batteries. And unlike the other transducers that use dual frequencies, this one features a CHIRP sonar with three beam scanning frequencies.
You’ll find more top-rated suggestions in this round-up of kayak fish finders, though.
9. Kayak Cooler
Every kayaker could benefit from having a kayak cooler; there’s no doubt about it. Even if you’re not that into kayaking, you probably get the need for a cold drink when you spend time in the sun.
Why not surprise your friend with a kayak cooler that will do just that – keep their lunch fresh and their drinks cool?
On a quick note, kayaking while under the influence is forbidden by law. So, a kayak cooler filled with beer probably isn’t a good idea – but there are other ways to make this gift more exciting:
Pair this YETI Roadie 24 kayak cooler with a waterproof Bluetooth speaker – and you could give your kayaking friend the ultimate kayak-friendly outdoor party package!
Quick, one-handed access, PermaFrost insulation for longer ice retention, relatively lightweight design that still has a 13-inch internal height and 18-can capacity, or 9-10 water bottles – Roadie 24 is a great kayak cooler.
That said, you’ll find more highly recommended options – including high-capacity cooler bags – in my best kayak cooler round-up!
10. Kayak Seat
Comfort is a big deal when you spend any amount of time sitting in a relatively tiny plastic boat – and so is proper back support. So, why not get a new kayak seat for your kayaking friend?
Trust me; they – and their back – will be forever grateful for it!
WOOWAVE’s Kayak Seat is one of those great gifts for kayakers you may want to consider. It’s a universal-fit, four-way adjustable seat with EVA foam cushioning and the contoured, high-back cut, and it includes a detachable waterproof bag as a bonus.
It’s my go-to these days, which means a lot coming from someone in their 40s.
Since choosing the right kayak seat requires some forethought in terms of finding a good fit for the specific kayak, I suggest that you check out this best kayak seat guide for more information. You’ll find more kayak seat recommendations there, as well.
11. Kayak Compass
Maintaining a sense of direction can get a little bit tricky when you’re out on the water – and it’s always a good idea to use a navigation device.
If you’re looking for gift ideas for kayakers that send a message, “I hope you always find your way home safe,” a kayak compass should be at the top of your list.
And before you get a chance to ask why you would get a kayak compass in the age of satellite tracking and GPS navigation devices, remember:
Gadgets can fail for various reasons – from interferences and weak signals to drained batteries and malfunctions.
A traditional compass does not.
On that note, my vote goes to the Seattle Sports Sea Rover Deck Compass.
This tie-down compass features marine-grade construction, a direct-reading dial with two sets of markings for better readability, and a base plate that can be secured – or removed – with ease.
If you’d like to see more recommendations, check out my best kayak compass round-up. You’ll find some great alternatives there!
Some get into kayaking for the workout and the adrenaline rush. And some enjoy spending time outdoors and have a particular interest in nature and wildlife.
Where am I going with this?
Suppose you’re searching for the best kayaker gift ideas for someone who shows an interest in all things nature-related. In that case, a monocular telescope might be one of the ultimate kayak gifts for them.
A monocular works similarly to a pair of binoculars, with the primary difference being that it has one lens rather than two. In essence, it functions as a compact telescope to help bring faraway objects – like wildlife – into sharper, clearer view.
Think something along the lines of Gosky’s 12x55 High-Definition Monocular Telescope:
It has a 55-millimeter FMC objective lens with a BAK-4 prism and 12X high-power magnification and a solid framework with a waterproof, non-slip rubber “armor.” Best of all, it also comes with a smartphone mount. It allows you to not only soak in the sights but snap some shots along the way, too.
13. Kayaking Gloves
You might look at this and think that gloves are a stupid gift idea for – well, anyone, kayaker or not.
But hear me out:
The hands of an average paddler – let alone someone who does long-distance paddling or runs whitewater rapids – go through literal hell. Blisters, cuts, and frostbite, a wonderful side-effect of kayaking in freezing water temperatures, are all part of the experience.
And something as seemingly trivial as a pair of kayaking gloves can – and will – do wonders for protecting hands as the primary point of contact between the kayaker and their paddle.
On that note, consider treating your friend to a pair of quality kayaking gloves, like the KastKing Gil Raker Gloves. Or, if you know they’re into kayaking during the winter when frostbite can be a real issue, go with the Stohlquist Toaster Pogies.
Also, feel free to browse my round-up of best gloves for kayaking for more recommendations!
14. Kayak Life Vest
There are three vital pieces of kayaking equipment every kayaker needs, no matter their level of experience. You can probably guess the first two already – a kayak and a paddle. But a life jacket as the third one, is every bit as necessary.
Every kayaker knows – or should know – that safety comes first when you’re participating in on-the-water activities. And, well, wearing a life jacket is a crucial part of staying safe. Plus, there’s this thing called the law – and PFD regulations are very much a part of it.
So, with that in mind, as far as safety-oriented kayaking gifts go, you can never go wrong with a kayak life vest.
O’Neill Men’s Superlite Life Vest is a great option, given that it’s a USCG-approved Type III PFD designed for a snug, adjustable fit and allows for full mobility with minimal bulk.
If you’d like to see what else is out there, check out my best kayak life jacket round-up for more recommendations.
15. Kayak Carrier
Transporting a kayak can be quite a hassle – but it’s not like you can go without it. If you’re to go paddling, getting the kayak to the water is the first obstacle you need to conquer.
My point is that a kayak carrier, although not one of the most thrilling or unique kayaking gifts, is a beneficial and practical one.
This J-style rack features a multi-position design, oversized rubber saddles, padding, 158-pound capacity, and accommodates two kayaks up to 42 inches wide. And when it’s not in use, the front quick-release handle allows you to fold the J-cradles down to increase your car’s overhead clearance.
If that’s not quite what you have in mind, though, you’ll find more recommendations in my round-up of best kayak roof racks.
16. Paddle Accessories
Paddle accessories are a necessity for anyone who kayaks. The paddle is your primary – and often only – means of propulsion, so making sure that you don’t lose it by accident is a pretty big deal.
And the great news is that any of these paddle accessories can be great gifts for kayakers if you are trying to stick to a budget. They’re generally inexpensive but oh-so-useful. So, feel free to go crazy with this one.
Here are a few of my personal favorites:
- Paddle Leash – A paddle leash is one of the most basic, must-have paddle accessories you could get for a kayaker. This Campingandkayaking kit contains three leashes and an aluminum Carabiner and can be used for the paddle and fishing rods.
- Paddle Grips – Boaton Kayak Paddle Grips might look like a simple accessory but can do wonders for keeping blisters, fatigue, and calluses at bay, without compromising the grip and control. They’re suitable for hot weather and great for those who have arthritis or carpal tunnel problems.
- Paddle Float – A paddle float, like this one by Riverstones, is invaluable for self-rescue after capsizing. Lightweight design, dual air chambers, a mesh screen, and bright-yellow color make it a great choice.
Pick one or get all of them and turn it into a paddle accessories bundle. Either way, I’m sure the kayaker you’re getting it for will be more than grateful!
17. Kayaking Clothing
Despite what you might think as an “outsider,” kayakers have to choose their clothes with care. There’s more to it than putting on a bathing suit, a T-shirt and shorts, and a pair of flip-flops and hitting the water.
Rule number one is to avoid cotton. Other than that, you can get creative with your gifts and get them any – or all – of the following:
- Base Layers – If you’re gift shopping for a kayaker who doesn’t shy away from paddling in cold weather, a base layer designed to be worn underneath a kayak drysuit could be the perfect gift. Check out this Hanes Long Sleeve Cool Dri T-Shirt, made of fast-drying polyester, with a UPF rating of 50+, for example.
- Hat – This wide-brimmed hat by Home Prefer, complete with mesh panels, a neck flap, a UPF 50+ rating, and an adjustable chin strap, is an excellent choice for summertime paddling. It acts as an additional layer of UV defense.
- Neoprene Socks – Remember, you can never have too many socks – especially if it’s a pair designed specifically for kayaking. OMGear’s Water Socks are a great choice, made of 3-millimeter neoprene and complete with anti-slip soles and adjustable straps.
- Water Shoes – Pair the neoprene socks with these highly breathable, quick-dry, low-cut water shoes by Mishansha for the ultimate feet-friendly kayaking clothing combo. Check out this best kayak shoes round-up for more suggestions while you’re at it.
18. Kayak Storage Rack
Sure, this might not seem like one of the most extraordinary kayaker gift ideas out there. Who in the world buys a storage rack as a gift, right?
But if you think about how big of an issue kayak storage is for a good number of paddlers, you’ll see that a kayak storage rack could be a convenient gift for kayakers. To be honest, I would’ve loved it if someone got me a kayak storage rack back when I first got into kayaking.
If the person you’re shopping for is anything like me, they’ll likely appreciate the practicality and convenience of it – even if it’s not a particularly conventional gift.
So, consider adding the Best Marine Kayak Storage Racks to your list of gift ideas for kayakers. It’s a great indoor kayak storage solution, made from heavy-duty powder-coated steel with foam padding to protect the hull.
And with adjustable straps and a 100-pound capacity, it can accommodate most average-sized ‘yaks.
Wrapping Up Gifts For Kayakers and Canoeists (Pun Intended)
Again, I understand the struggles of choosing gifts for kayakers when you’re not that familiar with paddling yourself. That’s why I tried my best to guide you – and, hopefully, inspire you – through this gift-selection process to ensure things go as smoothly as possible – and you end up selecting an item they would love.
And if you start feeling discouraged, remember:
If they love kayaking, they’ll surely love a kayaking-related gift; there’s no doubt about it. And, as the saying goes, it’s the thought that counts, anyway.
So, have fun with it, and don’t stress about choosing the “perfect” gift too much. Any of the items I showed you today should do the trick – and by “do the trick,” I mean put a smile on someone’s face!
You can also check out my round-up of the essential kayaking gear and accessories for more ideas!