We love everything about whitewater kayaking. We love packing the car, loading the boats, the first snap of pulling a skirt on and the butterflies the sounds of the first rapids bring. When you begin whitewater kayaking, the price of accumulating equipment can initially be expensive, but then you are set for years to enjoy rivers at home and afar. No matter what your financial situation, saving money on kayaking trips, whether they are an afternoon long or for several days, means you can save up for that new boat you’ve been eyeing or a plane ticket to an amazing paddling destination. Here are our favorite tips.
Carpool to the river
If you’re going paddling with a group of friends, try to bring the least number of vehicles possible. If your run requires a shuttle, you will inevitably need two cars, but try to plan the route from your homes to the river in a way that puts the most number of bodies in each car.
Bring your food
There’s nothing wrong with peeling off your dry top and diving straight into a basket of crisp fries at the local chip truck, but eating a few meals out during your day of paddling can add up quickly. Think about what food and drinks you will enjoy most during and after paddling, and prepare them the night before. Hit up bulk food stores and stock up on your favorite river snacks so you can have them handy all season—think trail mix, granola bars, dried fruit, chocolate and crackers.
Bringing meals to the river doesn’t need to be basic. You make something semi-fancy, like beef and vegetable kebabs and pitas by firing up your camping stove at the takeout parking lot. Get a decent cooler and you will save money throughout the paddling season—and probably be healthier for it.
Make friends with other paddlers
It’s not difficult to make friends with kayakers. We’re a pretty friendly bunch. Going out of your way to be considerate and kind however, can have positive benefits for your paddling funds. We’re not advocating making friends to save money, but it is definitely a by-product of being a nice, outgoing person. Having lots of friends in the paddling community means you will be more likely to be invited to crash on someone’s couch or in their spare room, or be invited to share a homemade meal with them after you take off the river. Just make sure to return the favor, and above all else, always be a good guest.
Be well organized
This is probably the most crucial element for saving money as a kayaker. Being well prepared and knowing what you need or may potentially need on the road can save you a lot of money (and time). Think your paddling trip may go longer than expected? Pack extra food, your sleeping bag, sleeping pad and tent and avoid staying in a hotel. Not sure about the weather? Bring an insulated jacket and rain gear so you don’t end up having to buy new clothes on the road. Anticipate situations that may occur and pack accordingly. There is nothing worse than buying items on your kayaking trip that you already own but forgot.
Learn how to fix your own gear
Gear breaks. It happens all the time, especially if you are a river rat who is hard on their equipment. Educate yourself on what gear can be fixed or temporarily mended. By doing this you can prolong the life of your gear and only buy new items when you really need them.
Be your own barista
If you can’t start the day without a coffee, bring your own set up kayaking. A stove or a jet boil with any kind of coffee apparatus you like will get you your coffee fix quickly. By saving money by avoiding hitting up every café you see, you can splurge on the nicest beans you can find.