Top 10 Boating Tips

Liberty Mountain employee, Aaron Smock is no stranger to boating and water. Through trial and error, he’s figured out what it takes to eliminate the hassles, dangers, and inconveniences of boating.

The warmer summer months are right around the corner. During this time of year, people instinctively migrate to water as the temperatures begin to rise. Personally, I find great enjoyment from a day on the river, beach, or lake. The benefits of paddle sports—wildlife, exercise, and an escape from the heat—greatly outweigh the nuisances, e.g., pruned fingers/toes, sand EVERYWHERE, and inappropriate use of the skimpy bathing suits. I am a sea kayaker, but now that I live in the desert of Utah, coastal kayaking is pretty much out of the picture. That being said, the numerous reservoirs and rivers in the Beehive State provide a water oasis for all kinds of fun.

My professional and personal experience has exposed me to all of the good, bad and ugly of the boating world. If you are new to water sports like kayaking or rafting, do yourself a favor and learn from the mistakes I have experienced first hand:


  1. Sunblock isn’t for everyone but you. If you tell your friends that you don’t burn, count on an attack from Karma. When get burned after telling everyone how it never happens to you, people will be happy to see you suffer.
  2. If there is a chance you are going for an unplanned, prolonged swim (a.k.a. falling out of the boat), wear a PFD.  If you hate how a PFD fits or looks, just imagine how your bloated, blue, dead body will appear (a grim image, I know).
  3. Sunglasses need leashes.  If you don’t strap your glasses to your head, the Water Goddess will happily accept your sacrifice (its good luck to lose something in the water and it helps the scuba divers find interesting items on the floor).  Secure everything on your water vessel as if you are going to flip.
  4. Double your hydration. Even though you are on the water, you can never have enough to drink. So whatever you think you’ll need for the trip, double it. It’s amazing how much playing on the water can dehydrate you. 
  5. Lightning = crispy critters.  My rule is to get off the water if I hear thunder.
  6. Bring a human repair kit (first aid) and boat/raft/board repair kit.  Think zip ties, patches, pliers, pump, cam straps, back up paddles, etc.
  7. Dress properly.  Wetsuits and drysuits are to be worn when the water is cold…even if the air is warm.  Since I mentioned clothing, layer up.  After the sun sets and you are wet expect to get cold.  Protect your feet with closed toe shoes.  Sharp rocks, broken glass and aquatic critters can do a number on your feet.
  8. Pirates happen.
  9. Don’t underestimate the power of water.  Remember that time you went to the beach, turned your back on the ocean to pose for a picture and then…WHAMMY!  The surf zone can beat you up, rip tides can spit you out, and rivers will drag you down.
  10. Don’t read top ten lists to learn what you need to know for water safety and fun.  Go with someone who knows what’s up (not to be confused with someone who thinks they know what’s up).

At Liberty Mountain, we distribute a large array of water sports gear from the following brands: Seattle Sports, Riverside Cartop Carriers, Lasso, Kwik Tek, Equinox, RiverStones, Carlisle, Salamander, Advanced Elements, Coleman, Bending Branches, Aqua-Bound, Kong, Scotty, Yakgrips, Crazy Creek, Yakpads, Travel Chair, Suunto, Brunton, Grabber Outdoors, ACR, Gerber, Spyderco, Colombia River Knife and Tool, Kershaw, McNett, WRSI, Granite Gear, Coghlan's, Overboard, Chums, Otter, Pelican, Witz Sportcases, Aquapac, Loksak, GSI, Dry Pak, Seirus, Chota, Seal Skinz, Glacier Glove, Atlan, Neo Sport, Revere, Stearns, MTI, Cascade.

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