PADDLERsmart! USA Knowledge Base

Module 03 - Trip Planning and Preparation



Completing a Pre-Departure Checklist before your paddle trip will provide you with the peace of mind you need to breathe easy and enjoy your time on the water. Use your Pre-Departure Checklist to confirm that you have all the required safety equipment on your paddle craft. It can also be used as a prompt for a safety discussion with your paddle party before you leave shore. This discussion will help improve the group’s level of safety, reduce the likelihood of an accident occurring and increase the level of efficiency in an emergency situation.

Your Pre-Departure Checklist should include the following points:

  • Is everyone wearing a Coast Guard-approved life jacket?
  • Has all of the paddling gear been secured to prevent loss in the event of a capsizing?
  • Does the group have enough drinking water for the trip?
  • Do the paddlers know how to use hand signals?
  • Are whistles attached to every paddler’s life jacket?
  • Are the paddlers dressed for the water temperature and weather conditions?
  • Are the paddlers wearing sunscreen, helmets, hats or footwear, if needed?
  • Have you determined each paddler’s skill level in order to determine your route and pace?

When you’re paddling, water will splash up at you and damp clothes are going to happen. To stay dry, wear clothes made of synthetic fabrics (such as Lycra). They’ll be really comfortable for the activity level required and they will dry quickly if they become wet from the water or damp from sweat.


Campfire Collective truck icon.



Go boldly, tell your story. Campfire is building a collective of ambassadors who share a passion for the wild. If you’re an influencer, publisher or sport expert drop us a line. Let’s hook up and inspire others.

Campfire Collective high five icon.



Stay in the loop. Sign up for our newsletter
to get the latest stories from around the fire.