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What’s in YOUR Emergency Kit?

Updated: Nov 9, 2021

Multi-day ocean journeys—those blissful getaways that take me deep into the wilderness—are one of my favorite aspects of kayaking. I often lose myself in the pace of the islands and waterways I’m traveling on. I find that day-to-day rhythm of paddling through a marine environment seductive. I love the routine and the simplicity of it all; knowing that everything I need to survive is either in my kayak or on my person. It’s empowering!

My eighteen-foot sea kayak can hold a lot of gear, food and water—enough for up to two weeks of adventuring. Quality equipment is one of many components to a successful human-powered trip. My advice is to not skimp—your life could depend on it. But even with quality equipment, things can go wrong. Camping mattresses leak, zippers stick, tent poles shatter, rudders break, kayaks get holes in them— you know the drill. Having a well-stocked repair/emergency kit can certainly help one’s sense of humor when things fall apart.

Below are a few photos and a list of all the emergency items I carry with me whenever I venture out on the water, even if it’s just for a few hours. These items aren’t limited to sea kayak trips as many would be applicable to canoeing, whitewater kayaking, SUPing, recreational kayaking — seriously, whatever floats your boat! They all fit into a watertight Costco-size plastic container that previously held coconut oil. If you scrounge around in your cupboards I bet you can find the perfect container!

Clockwise from top left:

Gorilla tape – better than duct tape!

Flex tape – super strong, rubberized, waterproof tape that can patch, bond, seal and repair virtually anything!

Wire – about a 3’ coil wrapped in duct tape

Cord – about a 3’ coil

Quiksteel – this stuff is amazing! An epoxy putty that hardens like steel and sets in 5 minutes. I pack it as one of several options to repair a hole or gash in my kayak or a crack in my paddle.

TIZIP – zipper lubricant

Allen wrench – specific size for my skeg housing

Leatherman Multi-tool – a must-have!

⅜” Steel tubing – for broken tent pole

⅜” Plastic tubing – for broken kayak carry handle

Air mattress repair kit

Aquaseal – urethane repair adhesive and sealant for repairing rips, tears, and holes in gear. Great on neoprene!

Blue curing light – for the Aquaseal UV cure adhesive

Aquaseal UV cure adhesive – this is a relatively new product I’ve been turned on to. The downside of the regular Aquaseal (non UV type) is that it takes a long time to cure and once you open the tube it often turns rock-hard in a few days. This new UV cure version dries almost instantly, especially with the blue curing light, and the remaining product in the tube doesn’t harden. Brilliant!

Kayak repair kit: mesh fiberglass patch, sandpaper, resin – another option to repair a hole or gash in my kayak.

Butane Lighter



Two Paper towels in Ziploc bag – to dry off your working surface

Zip ties – you can never have enough of these!

Nice and compact! This all fits into a 54-ounce container.

GEAR TIP: These two little gems cost pennies and are priceless in the event of a valve blowout. I use an EXPED camping mattress and if the one-way valve were to dislodge the matt will go flat—but pop one of these in and PRESTO, crisis averted!

We all know that things can go wrong out there at the most inopportune moment. Murphy’s Law, right? It’s important to have the knowledge, skills and tools to take care of any number of scenarios. Be sure to also pack a good first-aid kit in a waterproof bag, and whatever safety and signaling devices you may need to be seen, heard, or found in an emergency situation. And remember, your most important pieces of equipment are your seamanship skills, your brain, and a good dose of common sense!

What drama-saving items do you carry in your repair/emergency kit?


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