Boat & Gear Requirements

Boat Requirements
Gear Needs
What to Wear

Boat Requirements
If you have your own boat, please bring it along! We encourage you to use your own boat and gear, if possible. Learning in your own boat helps you feel more comfortable going out and practicing on your own after the symposium.

We welcome day touring kayaks (boats of 13.5' -15' in length) and sea kayaks (15' and longer) that are equipped with:
  • Sealed bulkheads and/or 2 floatation bags
  • Static deck lines
  • Spray skirt

We require sea kayaks of 15' and longer for Intermediate and Advanced level classes and tours to be sure that you are able to comfortably and safely keep up with the group in potentially rough conditions.

If you're bringing your own boat please also bring:
  • PFD
  • Paddle
  • Spray skirt

Note that PFDs are required to be worn any time you're in a boat on the water, including classes, tours, and demos.

Gear List
Everyone should bring:
  • Water bottle
  • Sunglasses and strap
  • Sunscreen
  • Sun hat
  • Snacks

If you have these items, bring them along:
  • Dry bag
  • Tow belt
  • Compass (deck mounted or hand held), other navigational aids
  • Safety equipment - paddle float, bilge pump, whistle
  • Helmet - may be required for certain classes (surf) or conditions

What to Wear
When kayaking it's important to dress for the water temperature not the weather. Dressing in layers is the key to safe and comfortable paddling. We recommend a combination of these layers depending on conditions:

Layer 1 (wicking layer next to skin)
-Lightweight merino wool, synthetic or silk base

Layer 2 (insulating layer)
-Midweight merino wool, fleece, or pile
-Hydroskins or wetsuit
-Wool or synthetic stocking cap

Layer 3 (outer layer)
-Paddle jacket - closes at neck, wrists and waist to minimize heat loss
-Water shoes or neoprene booties
-Paddling gloves
-Dry suit (if you have one)

Avoid Cotton and Denim - they will not keep you warm when wet.

Please keep in mind that we will be paddling in Lake Michigan and Green Bay. These are very large bodies of water that do not warm as quickly as smaller inland lakes. Water temperatures will likely be much lower than what you may be accustomed to and there will likely be more wind.

Swim suits are generally not appropriate paddling attire for the symposium.

Wetsuits or hydroskins and a wind-breaking layer are suggested for any class and may be required for rescue, rolling or skills challenge classes and for selected tours. Many paddlers prefer dry suits for these conditions. Instructors may refuse to allow participation in a class or tour if the participant does not have appropriate paddling clothing.

Some necessary and replacement gear (sunscreen, nose plugs, hatch covers, etc) will be available for purchase at the symposium in limited quantities. We recommend addressing any gear or clothing needs before the event. If you purchase items online at, we can have your order available for pick-up when you check-in at the symposium.

For more information on gear and clothing recommendations visit Rutabaga Paddlesports in Madison, WI.


"You introduced my husband to kayaking in a better way than I ever could have."

"My biggest thrill... was sharing this experience with my 8-year-old granddaughter, who thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this paddling experience - from realizing her capabilities, paddling in waves and playing games to meeting new friends and working together with other kid paddlers to transport boats and gear."