After successfully completing this unit, you will have the knowledge to make equipment, food, logistical and other preparations for participating in a supervised paddling activity of limited duration in controlled conditions.


To be able to achieve the following for participation in a supervised paddling activity:

  • Make suitable selections and preparation of equipment, food, fluid and clothing requirements from a limited range provided
  • Make suitable logistical arrangements.


Equipment needs to be sourced at a suitable time prior to the activity to allow safety checks and adjustments to be made. Craft need to be chosen from a limited range of general craft suited to the activity to be undertaken.

Each individual should select a craft after considering the following factors:

  • Is the craft in safe condition — does it have fitted buoyancy, toggles, sharp edges or holes?
  • Can I fit and sit comfortably in the craft?
  • Can I easily exit the craft if I capsize?
  • Is the footrest (and any other bracing) adjustable to suit me?
  • Have I used this craft before? It can be an advantage when learning how to paddle, to keep using the same craft. Alternatively, the paddler may not like a previously used craft, or may wish to try a different one

Paddles, PFDs and other equipment should be chosen after considering the following factors:

  • Is the paddle a suitable length for me? As a rough guide for a kayak paddles, stand beside your upright paddle and reach up your arm beside the paddle. The top blade should reach your wrist, or the bottom of your hand. As a rough guide for canoe paddles, an upright paddle should reach the centre of your chest.
  • Is the PFD in safe condition: are any zips or straps in working order? 
  • Does the PFD fit properly according to my weight and size?
  • Is a helmet or spraydeck required?
  • Is the helmet adjustable to suit me?
  • Does the spraydeck fit both my craft and me?
  • Does the spraydeck have a secure release strap?

Clothing should be selected according to a given checklist, or after considering the following factors:

  • Is the water temperature cold?
  • Is capsize likely? Immersion in cold water rapidly drains the body of energy and adequate clothing can minimise heat loss
  • What is the likely air temperature range?
  • What is the weather forecast?
  • How long is the activity? Longer activities in colder weather use large amounts of energy and may require warmer clothing. Longer        activities in hot weather may cause overheating and require cooler clothing
  • Is my clothing Sun smart?
  • What time of day is the activity?

Clothing may consist of any of the following according to these factors:

Polypropylene  tops
Multisport top
Polypropylene long johns
Fleece jumper   
Neoprene shorts
Paddling jacket
Skull cap (under helmet)
Dry top
Aquatic footwear
Wetsuit booties with grip soles
Cap and Buff
Paddling shorts
Wetsuits: long-john style
Other shorts over a wetsuit to protect it

Spare clothing should be packed in a waterproof container such as a dry bag, and secured safely behind the seat so that it cannot float out during capsize, or entangle the paddler.


Some paddling activities, particularly those undertaken in cool conditions and those lasting for more than an hour, can require moderate to large amounts of energy.

It is recommended that paddlers eat nutritious food an hour or two prior to the activity, to provide themselves with sufficient energy. Food high in complex carbohydrates provides longer lasting energy.

Food consumed during the paddling activity may consist of lunches and snacks, chosen according to personal tastes and the limitations of space inside the craft.

Warm drinks and food can be desirable at the conclusion of paddling activities in cool conditions.

Food for consumption during the activity should be packed and waterproofed in a dry bag or screw-top plastic containers, and secured safely behind the seat so that it cannot float out during a capsize or entangle the paddler.

High energy snacks such as chocolate and nuts may be placed in pockets of paddling jackets or PFDs. Such snacks are easily accessible, can be consumed while still on the water, and are always appreciated after unexpected capsizes, or if activities take longer to complete for any reason.


In some areas of Australia, river and lake water is drinkable. In other areas it is potentially contaminated with bacteria, farm run- off, effluent, high salinity and other pollution. The drinkable condition of the water being used for the paddling activity should be established before the activity commences.

The fluid requirements for the activity should be planned according to the following factors:

  • Is the water drinkable?
  • If not, where can I obtain water or other drinks?
  • Do I need anything special to obtain drinkable water such as water purification equipment, containers or money to purchase it?
  • How much fluid do I personally require?
  • Is it a warm or hot day?
  • Is the activity long or short?

Drink for consumption during the activity can be carried in plastic drink bottles such as cycling bottles, and secured safely behind the seat so that it cannot float out during a capsize. Some craft have special elasticised drink holders in the cockpit.


Selecting a suitable paddling activity requires a responsible decision by the paddler in consideration of the following factors:

  • What are my objectives? Objectives at this level may include trying paddling for the first time, skill development, enjoying an outdoor experience or reaching a location
  • Does my level of fitness match the proposed activity? Although basic skill paddling activities can provide very gentle exercise, particular sessions and activities lasting for more than an hour can be tiring for inexperienced paddlers
  • Is the location suitable for my needs and/or objectives? Paddlers may need to check the ease of access to the water to suit their personal needs.

Transport should be planned according to local area knowledge. A driver and support vehicle should be arranged, if necessary, to pick-up at the end of the trip.

A dry change of clothes should always be available at the end of a trip. Equipment transport should be planned for, with sufficient space on roof racks or trailers for all equipment to be carried to the entry point and, if necessary, from the exit point of the trip. Sufficient straps or ropes should be planned for too. The equipment should be securely strapped/tied in a manner to prevent damage during transport.

When securing a craft onto the roof racks of a car, cargo straps across the craft, in front of and behind the cockpit, provide a good system. When carrying three or more craft on a car, the most stable arrangement may be obtained by trying to fit the craft as snugly as possible against each other. This may involve positions such as stacking them on their sides or laying them stern to bow on top of each other in pairs.

Land management and relevant organisational requirements should be determined and complied with. These requirements may include payment of entrance fees, designated areas for embarking, minimal impact practices for the area and permit systems.

Risks associated with the activity that the paddler has some control in minimising, should be identified and planned for.

At this level, the risks that should be identifiable are basic risks associated with personal well-being and can be minimised by the paddler taking responsibility for their own well-being.

These risks may include the following examples:

  • Sunburn from light reflected off the water, which can be anticipated and minimised by the wearing of sunscreen
  • Foot injuries from sharp objects on shore, which can be minimised by wearing footwear
  • Getting too cold or hot, which can be minimised by selecting and wearing suitable clothing for the conditions.


  1. List the features of a craft that you would check to determine if it is safe for you to paddle.
  2. Using the rough guide given above, determine the length of a paddle suitable for your use.
  3. Which risks may be minimised by a paddler taking responsibility for their own clothing, food and fluid requirements for an activity?