Kayarchy - the sea kayaker's free online handbook


Kayarchy shopping (4)

Clothing, accessories, magazine & book publishers, parts & materials, sailing kayaks, sailing canoes

Pile of kayaking kit


Most of these suppliers are in the United Kingdom. For the USA and Canada, see www.kayarchy.com. Continued from previous page about:
Sea kayak shops
Sea kayak suppliers
Surf kayak suppliers
Paddle suppliers

Sea kayak clothing


Jackets, spraydecks, buoyancy aids, etc

Smaller manufacturers or importers who sell direct to the public:

The big boys, who we think sell only through retailers:


Typhoon International (established 1947, world's largest manufacturer of drysuits for military, civilian, diving and surface applications). www.typhoon-int.co.uk. Also Kokatat, see above. As far as we know, they both sell only via retailers.

Direct sales from:

Personal buoyancy

Most sea kayakers use buoyancy aids which are available from every kayak retailer and are easy to buy in good used condition on eBay.

If you prefer a lifejacket, be careful, because the standard lifejacket that you see everywhere these days has a surprisingly short shelf-life. Please don't buy a used one from eBay!! Most modern lifejackets are just a cheap nylon waistcoat containing an even cheaper inflatable bladder made of polyurethane-coated nylon. The coating pretty soon starts peeling off the nylon, and the seams (which seem to be heat welded) soon start to fail where the deflated bladder is folded to fit inside the waistcoat.

If you want a comfortable, supple lifejacket that's hand-made from excellent materials and will last you ten or fifteen years, buy a neoprene-coated nylon model like the Slimline lifejacket made by Vacuum Reflex in Colchester, which was happily used by a generation of sea kayakers. VR discontinued the Slimline some time ago but continued to make the Royal Navy Type 9 and hazardous duty lifejackets. When we asked in April 2010 the cost with VAT was about £68.50. We think VR may recently have ceased trading, which would be sad if true.

Apres-kayak clothing

See Kayak Shops and Crafts, Books, Jewellery, Etc

Roof racks

See Transporting Your Kayak.

  • Thule, Sweden. Thule makes a wide range of sturdy products, including some specifically for kayaks. Available from retailers throughout Europe. www.thule.co.uk
  • Kari-Tek. Scottish engineering firm which makes some nice easy-loader roof racks for sea kayaks. Not cheap but definitely worth a look if you've ever struggled to get your kayaks back up there. www.kari-tek.co.uk

Water purification

For multi-day trips kayaking or backpacking, you can't easily carry all the water you need for drinking and cooking. Unless you can expect to find a tap or a clear, clean stream, you need a good filter which can rapidly produce a couple of pints of drinking water minus the chemicals, bacteria and smaller virus-sized pathogens.

Drinksafe Systems logoSo that your filter does not get clogged up with mud and bits of vegetation, it is a good ideal to sieve the water first through a high-capacity pre-filter. You can buy pre-filter and filter systems direct from www.drinksafe-systems.co.uk


Other accessories, parts & materials



Woodworking tools in the UK

For all woodworking hand tools, power tools, machine tools, abrasives, adhesives and books, Axminster Power Tools. www.axminster.co.uk

Boatbuilding wood in the UK

Timber for paddles and cedar strips for strip-plank construction:

Marine plywood:
If you want plywood which is both good and environmental, you'll have to make some telephone calls. See Which Plywood?

Polyester resin & glassfibre reinforcement suppliers in the UK

Epoxy resin suppliers in the UK

To buy boatbuilding epoxies, East Coast Fibreglass Supplies and CFS Fibreglass Supplies, above. For budget epoxies you could try Robnor Resins at www.resins-online.com

See also Biocomposites. For technical information about epoxies from the big boys:

Skin materials for skin-on-frame boats in UK

Metric fabric weights are given in grammes per square metre, abbreviated to gsm or g/m2. Most suppliers of heavy uncoated fabrics are unwilling to supply small quantities to private purchasers. In Britain, major industrial suppliers include Lows of Dundee who have an enormous range but generally supply only 50m-100m lengths of fabric. British Millerain and Multiple Fabrics also prefer to supply fairly hefty quantities. As a result, most British kayak builders either use a natural canvas product or buy a nylon or polyester fabric from one of these US suppliers who know exactly what kayakers need:

  • George Dyson. As far as we know, he does not have a website. Polyester and nylon fabrics in 270 gsm to an amazing 985 gsm (8 oz to 29 oz). Dyson, Baidarka & Co, 435 West Holly St, Bellingham WA 98225. Tel: 360-734-9226 FAX: 360-671-9736.
  • The Skin Boat School a.k.a. Spirit Line. Nylon fabrics in 240 gsm to 475 gsm (7 oz to 14 oz). www.skinboats.org

We have found some suppliers in Europe who have relevant fabrics and are happy to accept small orders:

  • Extrem Textil in Germany speak excellent English and they have an English-language website. They have a 310 g/m2 (9 oz/ sq yd) ballistic nylon. "Uncoated, unimpregnated and uncoloured polyamide in plain white ... is far easier to paint, print and coat. Perfect for building skin-on-frame boats". Here's a link to this particular product.
  • Point North have an uncoated 336 g/m2 (10 oz/ sq yd) ballistic nylon which has been used for SOF construction. Last time we looked they had green or blue but no white. www.profabrics.co.uk. Also a wide range of other fabrics.
  • For flax canvas, cotton canvas, polycotton canvas and acrylic canvas, whether natural, uncoated but proofed, or coated with polyurethane or PVC, try Attwoolls Tents at www.attwoollsmanufacturing.co.uk, Whaleys of Bradford at www.whaleys-bradford.ltd.uk or Protective Textiles at www.protectivetextile.co.uk
  • Kayospruce. Canvas, sailcloth, PVC coated fabrics and all sorts of other materials. www.kayospruce.com. Generally a trade supplier so it helps to know what you want.
  • Fantastic Fabrics, Unit 4 Sherborne Trading Estate, Sherborne Street, Manchester M8 8LR, phone:0161 835 1115, chcross@btinternet.com, no website. They have stocked a 9 oz, 86 inch wide ballistic nylon although when we rang them in 2013 the heaviest uncoated fabric they had was 7 oz.

Sealants for skin-on-frame boats in UK

When you've put a skin on your SOF kayak, you need to make it waterproof. See Skin-On-Frame Materials In Europe.

Materials for inflatable and dry bags in UK

Neoprene for wetsuits

See Wetsuit Material. Want to make a tuiliq or similar accessories? The quality of foam neoprene is very variable, and a cheap one from an unknown Chinese manufacturer may quickly wear through or delaminate.

  • In the UK:
    Pennine Outdoor sell single sheets and half-sheets of double-lined neoprene foam. www.pennineoutdoor.co.uk
    Point North sell single sheets of single-lined 3mm wetsuit material from an unstated manufacturer. Single-lined fabric has nylon reinforcement on one side only, so it's less resistant to abrasion but it's more flexible, and a wet neoprene garment is warmer if the outside is unlined. www.profabrics.co.uk
    Lomo / ewetsuits retail several kinds of neoprene from an unstated manufacturer
    And finally in the UK, sheet neoprene made by Sheico is often available on eBay.
  • Elios Sub in Italy will supply single sheets of neoprene foam by reputable manufacturers to a huge range of specifications. www.eliossub.com
  • Extrem Textil in Germany sell small quantities of neoprene in 1.5mm, 3mm and thicker.
  • Macro International in California will also sell single sheets of clearance stock. www.macrointlco.com

Online yacht chandlers (fittings, rope & paint) in UK

Online camping and rock-climbing supplies in UK

Online military surplus shops in UK

Shell dressings for First Aid, Buffalo / Montane clothing, cheap Gore-Tex bivouac bags. Both of these companies have been trading since WWII:

Waterproof and insulating fabrics, webbing, buckles etc in UK

  • Point North, England, www.profabrics.co.uk
  • Pennine Outdoor, England, www.pennineoutdoor.co.uk
  • Kayospruce, England. www.kayospruce.com. Generally a trade supplier so it helps if you already know exactly what fabric you want, and how to cut it, sew it, glue it, etc.
  • Extrem Textil in Germany sell technical fabrics and also buckles, webbing etc.
  • Seattle Fabrics (US firm willing to supply to other countries, but you'll pay VAT and customs charges on larger orders), www.seattlefabrics.com

Books & magazines

Kayaking publishers & bookshops

  • Le Canotier. A bookshop for kayakers. Their stock and their website are in both French and English. www.canotier.com
  • Pesda Press, www.pesdapress.com. British Canoe Union kayaking books and others.
  • Cordee Ltd. Some kayaking books, lots relating to other outdoor pursuits. www.cordee.co.uk
  • For "Instruction in Kayak Building", H C Petersen, published by the Greenland Provincial Museum & Viking Ship Museum, 1982, order online from www.atuagkat.com or www.qajaqusa.org.
  • Qajaq USA sells some sea kayaking books and publications including "The Little Kayak Book" by John Brand.

Sea kayaking magazines

Sea kayak booklist

Paul Caffyn, kayak circumnavigator and writer, has kindly provided us with his list of books about kayaking and canoeing. Who knew there were so many? Click here to view.

Sailing kayaks & canoes


Add-on sailing rigs

Kite power

Sailing canoes in UK (plans and boats)

Take a look at the website of Kruger Canoes, Michigan. They make the Sea Wind, Dreamcatcher and Cruiser, which have probably been more extensively tested than any other 50:50 paddling-sailing canoes intended for use on open water.





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Paul Caffyn's booklist

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