You can get neoprene socks in any kayaking shop such as i-Canoe or Escape Watersports. If you’re ever buying from I-Canoe you’ll get 20% off if you say you’re with ULKC or if you buy through the club gear order. The higher mm of neoprene, the warmer they will be. If you get really cold, some days it can be nice to wear 2 pairs of these on the river. Wear your neoprene socks with a pair of sturdy, grippy old runners and you’re good to go.
Cags are either “semi-dry” – usually neoprene neck seal and latex wrist seals or “dry” – latex neck and wrist seals. Definitely go for a dry cag if you can afford to. Different cags have different number of layers to the material. The more layers – the more durable it will be. With cags generally “buy cheap, buy twice”. Palm is a good middle of the road mark. Immersion research and Kokatat are a bit more expensive but very good quality. I’d definitely recommend talking to older members for recommendations or getting them to help you pick out something to suit your budget.
Sweet Protection usually do a special offer on their own website once or twice a year where Rocker helmets are reduced from €230 to €150 so you could grab yourself a bargain from time to time.
Not everyone’s head will agree with every helmet so definitely try on some other members helmets to see what’s most comfortable on your head. Loose helmets are seriously dangerous and helmets too tight will give you pressure headaches.
I always find that once my feet and hands are toasty, I’m happy. Most of the year there’s no need to wear gloves or pogies but when it’s really cold these can be a lifesaver. Pogies were definitely my most loved piece of equipment on the Scotland trip last year.
It’s personal preference whether to buy gloves or pogies. A lot of people prefer pogies as they allow direct contact holding the paddle.
Buying Second Hand Gear
I’d recommend joining the following Facebook groups to keep an eye out for gear for sale.
- Canoes and Kayaks for Sale Ireland: https://www.facebook.com/groups/318472144863317/
- Used Kayaks UK
- Canoes and Kayaks for Sale England:
- Used kayak/ Accessories UK
Ebay is also a great place to pick up gear second hand. I usually use this link that’s specific to used kayaking gear when I’m looking for bits. It filters out all the useless and expensive stuff.
The main thing to look out for is that the latex seals and seams are in good condition. It is a hassle to have to change latex seals but they can be bought dirt cheap here http://www.seaskin.co.uk if you decide to do that. If you’re not not sure whether what you’re buying is in good enough condition or suitable make sure to ask one of the older members for advice. There’s plenty gear whores in the club who will be happy to help you.