Paddle: You won't get far without a paddle so make sure that it's handy when you get into your kayak. Choose one that has been designed specifically for whitewater kayaking. There are a lot to choose from but in general, a smaller paddle blade and shorter length will suit a smaller person while taller people may choose larger blades and a longer length. Take into account the type of whitewater kayaking you will be doing; a longer paddle produces extra leverage and force and is suitable for kayaking running rivers and creeks while a shorter paddle is quicker and easier to use and would be best for surfing and hole riding.
Clothing: You will need to dress taking account of the water temperature and not the air temperature. It is recommended that you wear a base layer of a non-cotton material, a wetsuit with skull cap, gloves and booties. On top of that, an additional non-cotton layer and a paddling jacket. It may seem like a lot but if you fall in the water or catch a chest full of spray, you'll be glad of it.
Life Jacket: It's worth investing in a life jacket or personal floatation device that's especially for kayaking as they're designed in such a way that they won't snag on the seat and won't ride up when you're paddling. They usually incorporate useful storage pockets and additional safety features such as reflective tapes for visibility.
Helmet: A helmet should always be worn when whitewater kayaking; if you hit your unprotected head on a rock when you fall out of your kayak then that could be the end of you. Do not get into your boat without your helmet on your head and buckled up correctly. Again, a specially designed helmet for whitewater kayaking will give you the maximum protection possible.
Sprayskirt: The sprayskirt, made of neoprene, goes around your waist and over the kayak cockpit and prevents the cockpit filling up with water; this is essential to prevent capsizing. The pull cord should be easily accessible in case the boat turns over and you need to get out in a hurry.
Drybag: A drybag is a waterproof bag to keep your possessions in, specially designed for boating. The seal should be roll down to prevent water ingress and a D ring should be incorporated so that you can tie the bag to the boat so that it doesn't get washed away in the event that you tip over.
Follow these tips on whitewater kayaking gear for safe whitewater kayaking and don't forget to check that you've got everything before you step into your boat