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Spend your summer paddling with the proper kayaking gear

There's nothing like gliding along a lake or river on a warm summer's day. Kayaking definitely requires some gear, but the necessities don't have to cost a fortune.

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    A couple head out in kayaks to enjoy the Catawba River at the US National Whitewater Center in April in Charlotte, N.C. Find affordable equipment and accessories to enjoy kayaking this summer.
    Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff/File
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What's a fun-loving person to do for recreation and relaxation when the golf course is a desert, bicycling is a death march, and the tennis court is a patch of hell? When the summer heats up, nothing is better than spending some time on the water. Flat-water kayaking (where you don't have to worry about being dumped into swirling water by a nasty rapid) can be invigorating, relaxing, and refreshing.

If you know what to look for and what you need, getting started in kayaking doesn't have to be expensive. And for all the best deals on watersports and more, be sure to check our camping & outdoors deals any time.

Finding the Perfect Kayak

Of course, a kayaking adventure must begin with a boat. Kayaks come in a number of styles for different purposes: whitewater running, fishing, sea excursions, flat-water paddling, and just plain goofing off. For a new paddler, a sit-in model works best. They're lightweight, roomy, and stable. This kind is nimble enough to navigate around deadfalls in the water, yet spacious enough to hold your gear, including food, clothes, and beverages. The average adult can haul one out of the water and lift it onto a car rack.

Set Your Sights on the Proper Accessories

The Paddle

Of course, kayaking requires more than just the boat. A paddle and two arms are required to get anywhere! Double-bladed (a blade at either end of a shaft) is pretty standard, and fiberglass-reinforced polymer blades are light and stiff. Spend a day paddling yourself around a beautiful lake and your arm and shoulder muscles will let you know that you've managed to include a workout in your play.

Personal Flotation Device

There's no denying that kayaking is best enjoyed from the surface of the water, and a personal flotation device is designed to keep your body in such a fashion in the event that you have a close encounter of the wet kind. Be sure to get one made to fit your gender and size (though many are one-size-fits-all), or else it might nor work properly.

A Dry Bag

You'll want to take some things along on your watery expeditions, like extra clothing, sunscreen, provisions, electronics, etc. However many of these items are no use if they get wet, so be sure to invest in a dry bag. These leak-proof bags seal securely to keep the contents high and dry when you aren't, and they can be stuffed into the bow or stern of your kayak.

Dry bags come in a variety of sizes and capacities, and many are now made specificly for important personal electronics.

The Deck Caddy

One thing you'll find as you begin paddling is that there isn't necessarily a particularly convenient place to keep the stuff you might need at hand; sure, you have the waterproof stuff safely stowed away, but what if you want to quickly grab a snack, the GPS, some sunscreen, a map, or a drink of water? For this, you'll want a deck caddy, which is a fabric harness that attaches to the deck of your kayak.

These one-time kayak expenses can lead to many, many hours of fun and relaxation, regardless of the heat. Even so, it's easy to love the summer when you're able to spend it on the water.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best personal finance bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

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