The Ultimate Guide to Solo Paddling: Embracing Adventure and Safety

If you’re a female paddler who loves the freedom and independence of exploring the waterways alone, you’re not alone! Many paddlers enjoy paddling solo, savoring the tranquility and personal connection with nature. Occasionally, we might invite friends along for a shared adventure, but there’s something special about venturing solo. Today, we’re sharing some experiences from our community and the essential gear and practices that have made our solo paddling journeys both thrilling and safe. 

(NOTE: Read on to find a link to an Amazon list with a lot of these products for you to make it easier to put your solo paddling kit together.) 

Gear Essentials for an Adventurous Solo Paddler 

When Girl Paddler, Mish, is heading out on her solo adventures, she ensures she has all the necessary gear to keep her safe and prepared for any situation. First and foremost, a dry box containing vital items:

      • First aid kit, medicine, whistle, and bell for emergencies

      • Sunscreen, chapstick, and Vaseline for skin protection

      • A versatile knife

      • Sturdy rope and roll of duck tape

      • Dry tissue, matches, and firestriker for a firestarter

      • Extra waterproof phone case

      • Glow lights

      • If you rely heavily on contacts, always bring an extra pair with eye solution for peace of mind

    A life jacket with a whistle attached guarantees protection on the water and you must stay hydrated during long paddling trips. She carries a full water bottle and an electrolyte drink. She also has a compass for navigation, extra cordage for various purposes, a waterproof speaker for entertainment, and a waterway access permit safely tucked inside a waterproof casing.

    For navigation and weather updates, she wears a watch with a compass and regularly checks the weather outlook for the day and night, including hourly updates on temperature, weather alerts, weather maps, wind speed, UV rating, air and pollen quality, road conditions, fire ratings, and restrictions, as well as sunrise and sunset times.

    Needless to say, she’s our most prepared Girl Paddler and it would be wise to follow in her guidance!

    The Pre-Game Ritual: Planning is Everything

    Before embarking on any solo paddling journey, I perform a thorough pre-game ritual. I conduct a full audit of my equipment and supplies, confirming everything is in working condition or promptly replacing or repairing any faulty items. Familiarity with the areas I’m paddling in is essential, and I refresh my knowledge of local plants, foliage, trees (especially those with medicinal properties), grounds, amenities, and the surrounding environment.

    Before setting foot on the water, I apply sunscreen an hour or two beforehand, wear a wide-brimmed hat, attach sunglasses to a string holder, don bright-colored clothing for visibility, and make sure I’m adequately hydrated. I stretch my muscles, recheck the weather and temperature, tend to any minor injuries and secure my hair to prevent distractions during my journey.

    Observing my surroundings, studying the sky, clouds, water, and wind helps me prepare mentally for the adventure ahead. If I feel physically or mentally incapable of undertaking the trip, I reschedule it for another time. Regular exercise, meditation, and yoga have proven beneficial in enhancing my paddling experiences, and I incorporate light exercises while on the water.

    Vehicle Preparedness: Safety First, Always 

    Some of the best paddle spots are found in very rural areas, and weather can be unpredictable during certain times of the year. It’s important to conduct thorough audits and replenish supplies as needed. For a safe trip to and from a paddling destination, there are some extra supplies to consider carrying in your vehicle for unexpected scenarios.

        • Vehicle assistance such as jumper cables and car jack

        • Emergency flashlight and headlamp

        • Machete or axe

        • Binoculars

        • Hiking sticks

        • Foldable shovel

        • Hand warmers

        • Battery packs

        • Poncho, tarp, and blanket

        • Trash bags

        • Freeze dried food, nuts, and a case of water

        • Phone charger and cables

        • Plant identification book

        • Solar charger

        • LifeStraw (water filter)

        • For post-paddle comfort – extra clothes, shoes, and insect repellent

      Emergency preparedness can never be taken too seriously.

      Communication is Key

      As a solo paddler, this is paramount. Across the board, the #1 piece of advice from the community is to always inform someone trustworthy about your paddling route and estimated return time. This can be as simple as leaving the information on a board in your kitchen or sending a text to a loved one.

      Technology is also a helpful assistant to enhance your safety. There are many apps to track progress and offer various tools like satellites, placing markers, sending SOS signals, and tracking routes.

      Relive, Life360and Alltrails are apps that our community uses regularly. Try a few out to find the right fit for your journey.

      Embrace the Adventure! 

      Solo paddling is an opportunity to find solace and joy in the stillness of nature. The freedom to explore at your own pace and connect with the environment on a personal level is unparalleled. While safety is a top priority, we know that preparedness and a sense of adventure go hand in hand.

      So, whether you’re an experienced solo paddler or considering taking the leap into this rewarding journey for the first time, we hope you find this guide helpful. Embrace the adventure, cherish the moments, and let the waters lead you to your own personal haven of peace and fulfillment. Happy paddling! 💙🛶

      P.S. We’ve compiled an Amazon list to make it easier for Girl Paddlers to find all the solo paddling gear mentioned above! Click below, and shop away! 


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