Kayaking Safety Gear – River Shoes and More


So I know the last blog we went over ten river safety tips.  Well, a few people have asked me “what is the right kayaking safety gear” and “why are river shoes so important?”  The gear really depends on what type of boating your doing.  I am going to go over a few pieces of safety equipment that I don’t leave home without, whether I’m kayaking or rafting.

Throwbag — A throw bag is a must have on ALL river outings.  For multi-day trips I carry a few different types of bags.  In my kayak, I carry a smaller, 50’ bag that fits nicely in the back of my boat.  You will pay a bit more for spectra rope but it will have a much higher strength than poly.

Pin Kit — 2  prusik slings, 2 pulleys, 3 locking carabineers, anchor sling

Flip Line / Tether — Attached to PFD for towing kayaks and flipping rafts

River Knife — Attached to PFD.  Try to get a knife with a blunt tip.

First Aid Kit –– I usually pack one that I can fit in the stern of my kayak

Whistle — Attached to PFD.  Important for river communication and safety.

Repair Kit — Great to have for any raft trip.  Tear Aid is a great option for temporary on river repairs as well.

River Shoes

In my opinion, river shoes are really important.  Maybe it’s the coach in me, but I teach students good habits from the beginning.  Yes, some of this is more advanced river thinking, but it’s worth considering.

River shoes are essential in preventing foot injures, river rescue, and walking from the put-ins to the take-outs.  It’s really hard to scout, portage or walk along the river bank with flip flops or bare feet.  Flip flops are slippery and are no use in a rescue situation.  If you have to climb up a steep bank or go for help you won’t regret having a good pair of river shoes that you can easily walk or run in.

There are plenty of decent types of river shoes out there.  Sport sandals are good for rafting but are too bulky to fit in most kayaks.  Also, I try to avoid wearing river shoes that have lots of straps in my kayak.

Kayaking safety gear is a broad topic so if you have any questions or suggestions I would love to hear them!


Like this blog by one of Missoula’s legendary kayakers?  Check out these other blogs by Jason Shreder, owner of Zoo Town Surfers: Go with the Flow and Get in the Know or Kayaking the Lochsa River or The Sellway River – A Preason Kayaking Treat .

You may also want to check out our page on Missoula Kayaking, Canoeing, and Rafting.

See Jason Shredder’s “Go With the Flow” archive.


Jason Shreder, owner of local whitewater company Zoo Town Surfers. I love Missoula, the great community, and all the awesome water that surrounds it.  I’m constantly moving and 90% of that movement involves kayaking, rafting, working, and hanging out with my awesomely supportive girlfriend and dogs.