1. PFD (life vest). You shouldn’t just carry one; you should wear it.
2. Rope – Preferably a tow rope. You never know when you will have to tow someone, or tie up your kayak. Carry at least a 25’ line. A throw bag or tow rope will give you what you need with a convenient carry case.
3. First aid kit. Even just having basics like band-aids can make a big difference when someone gets injured on the water. Tip: put a bottle of Visine in your first-aid kit so you can flush the sunscreen out of your eyes. (One of the most common issues with kayaking).
4. Repair kit. Duct tape and a Leatherman multi-tool should be all you need to fix just about anything that goes wrong with your kayak.
5. Spray skirt. The water may be totally calm when you start out, but a swift moving storm can quickly kick up waves that will swamp your kayak.
Think like the Boy scouts and always be prepared.