A kayaker should fit in his or her kayak like a hand in a glove: you wear it rather than sit in it.  Once you add water it should sit level when you are sitting upright.  It may take an hour or two of adjustment to achieve this fit and trim, but that is time well spent if you want to get the best from your boat. So where do we start?

My most useful piece of personal kayaking kit is my Ouch Pouch.  It is a small waterproof case that fits my buoyancy aid pocket and it contains a few essentials for dealing with the common mishaps that occur on the water.

Before paddling on white water is always a good time to check whether your helmet is still effective.  So go and dig it out and take a good look at it.

Let's start with the basic kit that is necessary for a day paddle on a simple river like the Thames. Even if you borrow your kayak, paddle etc, you will still need your lunch, something to drink and a dry bag to keep it dry. As a responsible paddler I would also expect you to carry a simple first aid kit and orange plastic survival bag.