Gift Ideas for Paddlers

Do you have a kayaking, canoeing or stand up paddle boarding (SUP) enthusiast in your life? Here are our top 11 gift ideas for paddlers!

Before we get started, a disclaimer: The items listed below are examples of the types of things we like, but we are not endorsements of any specific item, retailer, or brand. These are just recommendations to give you some ideas.

A sturdy dry bag, life jackets for paddler and pet, and a sun hat make paddling more comfortable and safe. This guy needs a paddle leash!

Waterproof Phone Pouch

Carrying a phone with you while you paddle is a great way to stay safe and capture memories on the water. A waterproof case, especially one that floats, will help you keep your phone from ending up along the bottom of the river. Look for one that has a tough lanyard and allows you to use your touch screen without having to remove the pouch.

Boat-loading Door Step Attachment

It can be a challenge getting your canoes and kayaks situated on roof racks. A clever portable step that attaches to the vehicle door latch makes this quite a bit easier and is more compact than lugging around a small step ladder.

Dry Bag

Dry bags are great for keeping your important items dry. There are tons of options in this category at various price points. It’s generally a good idea to get a bag that’s a little bit bigger than what it looks like the paddler will need.


If you’re going on the water, you’re legally required to have one floatation device in the boat per person. Lifejackets are the best option, and if you have the means, it’s worth getting one that fits properly and comfortably. If your kayak has a seat back, look for a life jacket that has a recessed or cut away back section so you can sit flush with your seat.

Dog Lifejacket

Don’t forget to protect your nonhuman companions when out on the water. Dog lifejackets come in many shapes and sizes so make sure you measure your dog before purchase to ensure a good fit.

Bilge Pump

For paddlers that cross open water or paddle on lakes used by high speed motor boats, a bilge pump is a great device for getting water out of a kayak. An alternative device for bailing water is a sponge. It’s way less expensive and there’s zero chance it will break, but it’s more tedious to use.

Paddle Leash

Even the best of us have been known to drop our paddles. Paddle leashes tether your paddle to a lifejacket, wrist, or anchor to the boat. These are a very good idea to use for paddlers planning to shuffle cameras, phones, or other devices along they’re trip and aren’t able to keep one hand on their paddle at all times.

Spray Skirt

For sit-in kayaks, spray skirts keep rain off the paddler and out of the boat. In cold weather they also help keep some additional body heat in the boat. These are good gifts for hearty paddlers that paddle during cold or poor weather. They are also usually specifically designed to fit specific boats, so make sure you get the right one that fits a particular model.

Sun Hat

It can be hard to avoid the sun when out on open waters. A hat with a 365 degree brim is a great way to keep the sun off your face and neck and will keep you a bit cooler. For extra cooling impact, get one you can dip in the water before putting it on.

Float Bags

For paddlers crossing open water in sit-in kayaks, float bags can be a necessity for safety depending on the design of the boat. Boats that don’t have two substantial, sealed bulkheads fore and aft of the cockpit can get swamped by waves, potentially sinking the boat or stranding the paddler. Sit-on-top kayaks do not need float bags.

Paddler’s Companion Map Flipbook

Last but not least, there is no substitute for a good map made for the intended use. Our Paddler’s Companion map flipbook is waterproof and provides detailed section by section maps of the entire Huron River Water Trail. While carrying a physical, printed map is always the best idea, we also maintain a free web map.