Christmas and Birthday Gift Ideas for Paddlers

Kayaking Gifts - Christmas and Birthdays

We all have that person on our holiday shopping list who stumps our best efforts to be creative.

Maybe you just don’t know what gifts to give a kayaker or paddleboarder. Maybe you’re shopping for a paddler that already has the best of gear, and you’re just stumped for ideas. Either way, we’re going to run through a list of a few creative and unique ideas that would make great gifts for kayakers this holiday season.

Things to Consider When Buying Kayaking Gifts

When I buy gifts for people I love to get as personalized as possible but, with few exceptions, it can be difficult or impossible to guess the right fit for certain items. Things like clothing, PFDs, or wetsuits may be difficult gifts to get just right and might be better left for the user to purchase themselves. Consider giving a gift card and allowing the recipient to make their own purchase of these more difficult items.

Accessories and more universal fit, color, and style items are a sure-win if you’re not totally in tune with your recipient’s desires and needs. Things like dry bags, phone cases, or even paddles in some cases can be good choices with little room for error.

Remember to shop around and try using online outfitter websites with outlet stores or sales to maximize the distance of your dollar!

Our 10 Best Gifts for Kayakers and Paddlers

Canoe and Kayak Magazine Subscription

Is kayaking dangerous? Let's look at the top hazards to be aware of.

This is an awesome gift idea which won’t break the bank and is sure to appeal to any paddler. It’s a recurring gift which will bring information and inspiration to your friend once a month all year long.

I know that I often get distracted from some of my most favorite hobbies and passions until one of my magazines, emails, or subscriptions comes through and reminds me – then I’m all excited again!

REI Membership

REI Membership Makes a Great Gift for Paddlers

With great return policies, stores in most major outdoor locations, and impressive product selections it’s hard to beat an REI membership. Oh, did we mention that you also get cash back every year up to 10% of your total yearly purchases even on things you buy at a sale price? Yeah, it’s pretty sick.

I’ve been using REI for years, though I shop selectively. Their reputation for service and no-hassle returns really can’t be beat.

Dry Bags

Adventure Lion Dry Bag

Any paddler needs an assortment of dry bags. These little goodies are designed to keep items inside completely dry, and they’re great for storing phones, extra clothes, or even camping gear if you’re going on a longer trip.

If your gift recipient doesn’t have one yet, it’s a must-have they’ll fall in love with. Even an experienced paddler can always use more. Don’t forget that a good dry bag can even be used for hiking and camping.

Waterproof Phone Cases

JOTO CellPhone Dry Bag Pouch

There are tons of choices for waterproof phone cases these days, and even the new Samsung Galaxy S7 and Apple iPhone 7 are featuring integrated waterproofing technology.

Try to sneakily check what model of phone your gift recipient is using and snag them a waterproof case.

What’s that? They’ve already got one? If it’s an old waterproof case, you might want to get them a new one anyways – they tend to start leaking after a year or more of use.

Neoprene Socks

FUN TOES 2.5mm Neoprene Socks

It can be easy to overlook socks, even when traveling to a friend’s house or a short camping trip. They’re easy to forget altogether or just dismiss as unimportant. For kayakers, however, this tends not to be the case.

When looking for great kayaking gifts, you might surprise everyone when your gift turns out to be neoprene socks designed to keep wet feet warm!

These seem weird the first time you hear of them but trust me, they’re pretty useful.

Wetsuit Top

O'Neill Wetsuits UV Sun Protection Mens Basic Skins Tee Sun Shirt Rash Guard

It’s amazing how much difference a good paddling shirt can make. I recommend something like this O’Neill basic wetsuit top to get started. If you’re shopping for a lady, there are equally great female options.

Part of being a great paddler is looking cool – this is a scientific fact backed by absolutely no real research or evidence. Seriously, though, I might heavily consider purchasing a long sleeve version of the shirt for extremely sunny days – avoiding sunburn can be intrinsically rewarding.

Board Shorts

O'Neill Men's Boardshort

Again, it’s critical to look awesome when kayaking or paddleboarding. Not to mention a nice fitting pair of board shorts can be a universal staple of summer life for casual wear.

Can’t figure out what size shorts your recipient wears? Have a friend distract them while you rifle through their pile of dirty shorts to find a size tag – problem solved.

Board shorts are perfect for tossing in the suitcase on your next vacation, taking to the lake with family, or hitting some gnarly ocean waves.

Paddle Grips

Cascade Creek Yakgrips

These little guys are a genius solution to hot spots and blisters on your hands from paddling. Slide a paddle grip down over your paddle shaft and hold on to the paddle grip for a cushioned and comfortable hand hold which slides freely as you rotate the paddle.

Seriously cool little trinket that will surprise your recipient and improve their paddling experience in the future.

This would make a great stocking stuffer and, honestly, I’d be pretty stoked if someone gave these to me!

Camping Meals

Freezer Bag Cooking

Freezer bag cooking is a style of cooking while camping which involves simply heating a cup or two of water and rehydrating your meals by letting the hot water sit with the ingredients as they reconstitute.

Instead of buying expensive dehydrated meals, give the gift of knowledge with Sarah Kikconnell’s book “Freezer Bag Cooking”. For those with dietary needs, often creating your own freezer bag meal recipes is the only good way to get the food you’ll need.

Paddle Leash

Paddle Leash

In some situations, it can be annoying, dangerous, or just a huge hassle to be separated from your paddle. A paddle leash is designed to keep your paddle attached to the boat if you drop it or flip and can save you from having to walk a mile downstream to find your paddle after you’ve flipped and lost your grip.

These are handy and, if you’re crafty, you might even be able to make a highly personalized one out of some shock cord, paracord, and a few YouTube videos.


Sometimes it’s just difficult to figure out what to get for that person on your gift list. We sit around, think, brainstorm, and just straight up fail to generate a cool, crafty, or unique idea for the holidays or a birthday.

Hopefully you’ve found something on our list that stimulates the idea generator, or just buy one of these kayaking gift ideas, and it’s job done.

Don’t forget a gift receipt in case you guessed wrong and always put extra time into personalizing the wrapping – it really goes the extra mile. A bland gift will become special and meaningful if you put your own touch on it for the recipient.

If you’re still looking for ideas, then check out the kayaking bucket list. Chock full of unique kayaking experiences, it’s sure to start spurring on cool ideas for kayaking adventures or day trips you can organise for the kayaker in your life.

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