Ok, so you have watched friends and hopefully jumped in to one of their canoes/ surfski’s and you have decided that you would like to take this up as a sport.

where to now?

If at all possible go and see your local paddle shop for advice on the different paddles available.

As one paddles more and more your technique and fitness will improve and so too will your paddle requirements.

In the beginning we recommend the following:

  • A multi – purpose paddle that can be used in rivers and the sea. (there are several versions of the lettman design that are very forgiving when starting out)

  • A smaller or flatter blade than you would normally choose. 20 km is a long way to paddle if your paddle blade is too big

  • A split paddle. In time you will want to adjust your paddle length and feather for different conditions – split paddles allow for it. PLUS your mates will be able to borrow your paddle.

  • A fibreglass shaft as opposed to carbon. True carbon is lighter, but it could kill your wrists while you get fit.


For some great deals on paddles check out these websites

Orka Paddles                                  Gara Paddles – Durban

Max Paddles                                   Epic Paddles – try out their “Paddle Wizard” for paddle fitting

Drinking system

There are a number of good systems that can be either secured in your boat or the fit comfortably in the pouch of your PFD. Some are interchangeable from your MTB or trail hydration pack. Just make sure yours is securely anchored on to you or the craft so that you do not lose it the first time you fall out. A system secured in the boat – lowers your centre of gravity. A system in your PFD is easier to run with.

Tool kit

Martin Dryer once showed us how to pack a tool kit into a large plastic bottle that was then secured to the back of the seat of a canoe – simply brilliant. In it he had:

Duct Tape, small tube of contact adhesive, 1m lengths of steering cable wire, copper wire clamps, couple of cable ties, small multi tool, and several squares of paper towel.

Please refer to Emergency Repairs in our drop down menu for ideas on how to fix your craft.

Some people may need to throw in an allen key for their ski.


We all love paddling but sometimes we have to get around a weir or over a hill – -might as well be comfortable. If you have small feet – a pair of old running shoes will be fine. If you have big feet – get a pair with low/ no heel so that your feet do not rub on the inside of the top deck or are not trapped inside the canoe.

Waterproof bag for your cellphone, keys and wet kit.

The million dollar question of what to do with your car keys and phone – pack them in to a waterproof bag and secure on your boat. Who knows you may need your phone.  After your paddle; it is time to take your wet kit home. A black plastic rubbish bag will do; a wet bag or box would be even better.

Good quality roof racks

Craft are expensive and so is your car. Look after both by fitting good quality roof racks to your car. The cheap ones were designed to carry aluminum ladders not R5000 + canoes. We strongly recommend THULE or HOLD FAST systems. If you can afford it try and get the quieter version of whichever system you choose as you will travel miles between events.

For Canoeists

  • Spray covers

Spray covers are the ‘skirts’ that go around ones waist and over the lip of the cockpit. They come in different sizes so do specify which boat you are going to use it on before purchasing one. They are designed ot pop off if you capsize unlike our C1 cousins who have to learn how to Eskimo roll! Get in to the habit of wearing one; we have been swamped by passing ski boats in the middle of a dam.

  • Fuel saver

A cover that goes over ones cockpit while travelling. Saves you fuel and stops the canoe filling up with water if it rains.

  • Buoyancy

By law one should have 10l in the front and 10l in the back. The standard practice is to use blocks of polystyrene jammed in to the front and back. They provide both buoyancy and support for the top deck of ones canoe. Our recommendation if you have extra coins lying around is to buy the inflatable buoyancy. These are great as they are inflated / wedged in to place and dramatically reduce the volume of water that can get in to your canoe.

People also use 5l containers/ beach balls / inflated wine sacks for buoyancy. The BIG problem with these is that they come out of the canoe very easily leaving you without flotation and polluting our rivers.

For questions on equipment submit a  query by emailing or complete our Contact Form

We answer many equipment questions each Issue and those responses can be found in our Q&A section of our blog.