Heading to your favorite surf wave with your friends for a playboating session is a great way to enjoy a dynamic river feature. Park and play kayaking is different than river running in many ways but just as addictive. Read on to find out the seven essentials to bring to the river for your next sun-filled afternoon of carving, blunts and loops.
1. The perfect playboat
Always been a creeker? Running big rapids in a high-volume creek boat is a great way to explore new rivers, and the stability in these kayaks feels great. Playboats are a whole different animal, and once you catch your first wave in one you will be hooked. With their short length, small and square sterns and sharp edges, playboats are the ideal kayak for learning to surf. Kayaking in both a creek boat and a playboat will make you a more versatile and skilled paddler. Find your next playboat here.
2. A quick and responsive paddle
There are a lot of different elements at play when surfing in your kayak and pulling off awesome freestyle moves, and the way you maneuver your paddle is a key one. Playboating requires quick and agile paddle movements, and you will want a paddle designed to help you with these techniques. Check out our Paddling Buyer’s Guide here for the perfect playboating paddle.
3. A well-fitted PFD
Wearing a PFD on the water in any activity is an obvious necessity. In whitewater kayaking where you can be at the mercy of river features, it is crucial you are wearing a reliable and perfectly fitting PFD. If you are a river rat who has had the same PFD for years, check the buoyancy by hopping into the water and ensuring it still keeps your head floating above the water. Any rot or degradation of the material may warrant a replacement. Find your next PFD here.
4. Dry wear
Some of the best days on the river are bluebird, sunny days surfing waves with your paddling friends. Even on these summer days it can be nice to have a lightweight dry top or paddling top to keep you a bit dryer and warmer, especially if your surf sessions stretch into the evenings when temperatures dip. If you like to catch burly spring waves, a dry suit is a great investment that can make your park and play days a year round activity. Find your perfect dry wear here.
5. River booties and shoes
Having great footwear for the river will make your park and play days much more comfortable. From long walks through the forest to find that elusive wave you’ve been dreaming about all winter to climbing over rocks after a big swim, solid footwear will keep your feet safe and healthy. Some paddlers prefer neoprene booties while others are partial to shoes with a more solid sole. Whatever your preference, we have you covered here.
6. A dry bag
A dry bag is essential for bringing important items with you at your park and play. Even if your car is just steps away from the surf, it’s nice to have a bag packed with river snacks and a first aid kit, or even your favorite DSLR in a camera-specific bag to make sure you capture great shots of your friends nailing new tricks. Explore dry bags here.
7. Gloves and mitts
If dialing down the number of surf sessions in the colder months of the year is not an option for you, invest in a quality pair of gloves and mitts. Fingers are one of the first body parts to go numb in cold water, and when you are trying to articulate a new paddle movement on a wave, dexterity is important. Find your new gloves and mitts here.