The best ways to carry drinks when paddling

With the Devises to Westminster race coming up at the weekend I thought it would be a good time to write up the second part of a series I started last month on the best ways I’ve found to carry fluids on the move. The first post covered how to carry your electrolyte drinks when long distance running or doing triathlons. This one covers my second love, paddling…

Drinking when paddling a kayak or surf ski can be tricky because it’s not a good idea to have to take your hand off the paddle in order to grab a bottle, as it slows you down and can make you unstable. Therefore, you ideally need something with a straw or tube that can be fixed near to your mouth so you can reach it with your lips without using your hands at all.

Andy Blow surfski paddling

There is also the question of where to put the drink. If you put the bottle, (or bag/bladder) in the kayak or ski, this helps to keep the weight low and out of the way. However, if you have to jump out of the boat and portage, as is common in kayak racing, or if you’re likely to fall out, as can happen in the surf, you risk losing anything in the boat and tubing linking your mouth to the fluid becomes a major inconvenience.

Andy and his brother at the finish of the DW canoe race

My brother and I know all too well how tough the DW is!

Because of all of that, I’ve generally found that having the drink on or inside your buoyancy aid is the best plan. Many buoyancy aids have a rear pocket that can take a bladder, but having the extra weight on your back can be tiring after a while, especially as you’re trying to maintain an upright posture. Instead, I tend to go for a front mounted water bottle with a straw.

It’s really important to make sure that there is a retaining loop or strap across the top of the bottle to stop it falling out if you lean forward at any point. I lost a bottle or two before I learned that trick!



I prefer a front mounted bottle system (with retaining loop) that keeps the weight of the liquid in front of you, with a straw that you can get in your mouth without having to use your hands.


Best bit of kit for this I’ve used

A Mocke Racer PFD paired with a Raidlight Press-to-Drink bottle with flexible valve.


Raidlight press-to-drink bottle 


The large front pocket on the vest with a Velcro fastener is perfect to keep the bottle secure and in the right place to get the straw in your mouth. 


Best of luck everyone doing the DW race this weekend!


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