Kayaking 101: Beginner's Advice and Techniques

Kayaking 101: Beginner's Advice And Techniques

Kayaking For Beginners

Abigail ScottByAbigail Scott
Updated on 6/23/2022

When it comes to recreational watersports, kayaking is a fantastic opportunity to spend quality time with friends and family while enjoying nature from a unique perspective. We are a group of water enthusiasts who have fallen in love with the experience that an afternoon of kayaking can provide them. Paddling a kayak may be the ideal new activity for you if you're searching for a fun and exciting way to explore the great outdoors. To help you get started, we've compiled a list of the tips and tricks we believe all new kayakers should be aware of.

The Advantages Of Going Kayaking For Beginners

We are confident that you will enjoy kayaking once you give it a try. Even though many other watersports are lovely ways to spend a day away from the dock, we believe that kayaking offers several advantages that distinguish it from the other activities:

  • The sport of kayaking is an excellent exercise: If you're looking for an outdoor exercise program that gives a high-intensity workout with minimal effect on your joints and tissues, kayaking is a perfect choice. Improved cardiovascular fitness and core, arm, back, and shoulder strength are all possible benefits of this exercise regiment.
  • Kayaking may be done in any body of water, including the following: Using a kayak, you may explore the many different environments that our lovely world offers. Your kayak may accompany you to some of the most stunning locations around the globe. Thanks to portable equipment that can be launched from any dock, riverfront, or shoreline. Rivers, lakes, oceans, and more are all available for exploration, and the possibilities are unlimited.
  • It is enjoyable and adventurous, making it an excellent way to spend quality time with friends and family. Gather a group of your closest friends, paddle down a river rapid, or gather the entire family to enjoy a picnic after a quiet coast on the lake. Kayaking can be as demanding or soothing as you and your friends want it to be for you.

WHAT EQUIPMENT DO YOU REQUIRE TO GO KAYAKING?

equipment do you require to go kayaking

Of course, to go kayaking, the first and most important item you'll need is a kayak, which you may find at any sports goods retailer. Additionally, depending on the kayaking excursion you are planning, you will want specific equipment and supplies. When kayaking, there are a few essentials that you should never leave home without.:

  • Paddle: A paddle is just as important as the kayak itself in terms of functionality. It's essential to consider your torso measurement and the kayak's width through which you'll be paddling when selecting a paddle size. However, there are sizing tables available. In general, torso heights more significant than 28 inches will require paddle lengths longer than 200 centimeters, and torso heights less than 28 inches will require paddle lengths less than 200 centimeters.

  • Lifejacket: A personal floatation device is an essential piece of equipment that you should always carry when participating in any water sport. If a lifejacket is comfortably snug, it fits pleasantly and securely without feeling either tight or loose.

  • Bilge pump: A bailer is required if you need to swiftly bail water out of your kayak while paddling.

How Do I Know What Type Of Kayak I Want To Get?

In need of assistance in determining which particular type of kayak you'll require for your adventure? We have a complete guide dedicated to assisting you in selecting the most appropriate one for your requirements. An overview of the various varieties is provided below:

  • Sit-on-top kayaks: This is something that many people are acquainted with. Form of ain the shape of a recreational kayak. Because it does not have an enclosed seat, it is more convenient to get into and out of than other varieties. They are more comprehensive, provide more excellent stability, and generally prefer beginner kayakers.

  • Touring kayaks: Touring kayaks are long with narrow cockpits. Their narrowness and length make them fantastic for a more engaged kayaking experience, such as taking longer journeys across lakes.

  • Recreational kayaks: These kayaks have significantly larger cockpit apertures than touring kayaks. Recreational kayaks are likewise shorter in length and are perfect for calmer paddling sessions.

  • Whitewater kayaks: Whitewater kayaking is a more strenuous endeavor than leisurely paddling around lakes and ponds. There are four main varieties of whitewater kayaks — playboats, river runners, creek boats, and longboats — each of which has advantages based on where you plan to use it.

  • Inflatable kayaks: Inflatable kayaks are similar to sit-on-top kayaks in that they are portable and straightforward. They are best suited for a more leisurely kayaking experience in calmer waters; however, inflatable whitewater kayaks are available.

  • Kayaks for children and youth: Kayaks are available in smaller sizes for children and young kayakers.

GETTING IN AND OUT OF THE KAYAK

Instructions On How To Get Into And Out Of A Kayak.

Before learning how to ride in a kayak, you must know how to enter and exit one. It takes practice to get in and out of a kayak, but we're convinced you'll get it. Said, you'll probably enter a kayak one of three ways: from the shore, from a dock, or deep water. Each choice has pros and disadvantages.

1- The Most Effective Method Of Getting Into A Kayak From The Shore.

Getting into your kayak from the beach is significantly more straightforward and particularly beneficial for people just starting. When paddling along a lakeshore, seashore, or river shoreline, the ideal place to start is by moving the kayak as near as possible to the water's edge. If you want to float on top of the water, you may sit in your kayak and use your arms to propel yourself into it until you reach the surface. Move the kayak into shallow water and get into it if you're worried about scratching your hull on the ground. Keep in mind that the ease with which you can get into your kayak will be affected by the beach from where you are accessing it. For example, you may be launching your kayak from the coastline of a river, lake, or beach.

The technique of getting into your kayak is the same no matter where you are on the terrain:

  • Set up the kayak so that it is parallel to the shoreline.
  • Place your paddle at a 90-degree angle behind the seat to help you maintain your equilibrium. According to experts, you should spend half of your paddle time on the beach. While paddling, the other half of your body should be lying over the boat's hull.
  • While sitting on the paddle section that is closest to the shore, place your feet inside the boat and shut your eyes.
  • To maintain control of the kayak, slide it as swiftly down the paddle and into it while holding onto the paddle below and near your body. When you make this move, the paddle and the boat will bear the brunt of your weight.
  • Take a seat in the chair. Make careful to maintain your weight as low as possible and enter the arena as gracefully as possible. Remember to keep your composure and concentration on maintaining your balance.
  • When you're ready, lay your paddle horizontally across your lap and use your hands to propel yourself away from the coast. If you need to, you may push into the coastline with your paddle, which will offer you an extra dose of confidence.

2- An Example Of Getting Into A Kayak From A Dock

Docks are handy locations to get into your kayak, but it requires a certain amount of skill to do it well. To assist you, follow these steps:

  1. As you lower your kayak from the dock to the water's surface, keep the kayak parallel to the pier.
  2. Adjust the position of your paddle so that it is within easy grasping distance of the seat. Additionally, by putting either end of the paddle on the kayak or the dock, you may prevent your kayak from altering places.
  3. Please note that the higher you go up the mountain, the more difficult it will be to get into your kayak. As a result, you'll want to sit at the lowest area of the dock, as close to the kayak as possible, to avoid getting wet. Starting from seated on the dock's edge, drop your feet into the kayak first, then your arms. Then, lower yourself into the seat with your body swiftly positioned toward the front of the kayak.

Are you looking for a way to make this even easier? Suppose you have a docking system with a connected launch. In that case, this will make getting in and out of your kayak, launching your kayak, and redocking much more stable and substantially simpler for kayakers of any ability level.

3- Getting Into A Kayak In Deep Water

You may need to get into your kayak from deeper water on occasion. This is perhaps the most demanding kayak entry option, but it is achievable with patience. The most crucial thing is to maintain your kayak stable between moves. Here's how to go about it:

  1. First, lay one hand on the kayak’s side closest to you, and put your other hand on the opposite side; therefore, your arm will be stretched over the seat opening. 
  2. Pull yourself up onto your kayak so that your belly button is above the seat. Your legs will still be roughly half in the water.
  3. Next, swivel around to get your bottom on the seat. Your legs will still be hanging in the water, but you should now have most of your body in the kayak.
  4. Make sure the kayak is steady, draw your feet in, and position them in front of you.

Getting Out Of A Kayak

The directions for getting out of a kayak are simple to remember—follow the procedures in reverse. When departing on the beach, paddle your kayak into shallow water or as near the ground as possible. Swing your legs out of the kayak, establish your footing, and stand up. When exiting the kayak on a dock, turn your body to face the port and lift yourself out of the kayak.
Thankfully, today's docking systems can readily accommodate kayakers of various abilities and skill levels. Our enthusiasm for spending time on the water has inspired us to build floating launch systems for your kayak or canoes to make getting in and out of the water a breeze. 

Kayaking Techniques For Beginners

It's time to learn about paddling methods after mastering getting in and out of the kayak. The first step is to choose a paddle that is the correct length for you. Our guide to picking a kayak includes thorough insights into selecting the best paddle length.

As with any sport, the appropriate methods can keep you safe and help you avoid damage. The same may be said about learning how to paddle a kayak properly. For obtaining something, there is a decent technique and a flawed process. Before stepping into the water, all novices should first learn to wield the paddle. The portion of the paddle you grasp is called the shaft. The ideal method for holding a paddle is to position your hands somewhat further than shoulder-width apart on the shaft. Often, one error that beginning kayakers make is gripping the paddle wrongly. The side of the blade that curves in should always be facing you. Cut the paddle's edge straight into the water while keeping your grip on the shaft loose and your knuckles facing up. Maintaining this form will put more force into your paddle without expending more power.

Sit in your kayak with your legs in front of you and your back straight. Make sure that you don't feel bad. Bend your knees slightly and rest them on the side of the kayak.

At the front of your kayak, a set of footpegs may be added. Keep your knees slightly bent and your feet on the footpegs. You may need to adjust your footpegs if your knees are too near your body or your legs are too straight.

To paddle forward, utilize your core to twist your body while leaning forward and putting the paddle into the water near your feet. Then drag the blade towards your seat and lift it out of the water. It's crucial to stroke from your feet to your heart—paddle like this on both sides.

If you wish to halt your kayak, place your paddle in the water and hold it there, and it will drag against the water, and your kayak will slow down and finally halt.

Assume you want to turn your kayak to the left and paddle on your right side if you wish to turn your kayak right, paddle just on the left side.

Paddle Blades Identification Guide

Paddle blades are available in various forms and sizes. You can learn with any kind, but you must know which one you have and how to modify it if your paddle allows it, which most do. Here are some blade words to be familiar with:

  • Matched: Because the blades are parallel, matched edges are easy to master.
  • Feathered: The blades are at an angle, reducing wind resistance on the edge that is not in the water. The swords can probably be modified to match if you're just getting started. Locate a push-button mechanism in the shaft's midsection and spin it until the blades are parallel.
  • Concave: Most blades are somewhat bent or indented. This design allows you to transport more water at once, which will enable you to go faster.
  • Asymmetrical: Your blade is asymmetrical if one side of it is shorter than the other. As the paddle goes through the water, its curvature helps maintain the track straight rather than turning.
  • Symmetrical: With symmetrical blades, both sides are the same length, giving it a distinctive oval form.

While any paddle will get the job done in a kayak, knowing the various blade shapes and styles can help you choose the right paddle for your kayaking, whether it's lake paddling, kayak surfing, or anything in between.

What Are The Most Common Paddle Strokes?

You may now learn fundamental paddling strokes with your paddle in your hand. Forward stroke, backward stroke, sweep strokes, and draw strokes are the four basic kayak paddling methods you should be familiar with. These strokes will allow you to turn around and travel ahead, backward, or sideways in your kayak.

1- Forward Stroke

This fundamental stroke propels you ahead in your kayak.

  1. Place one end of the paddle towards your toes in the water.
  2. Pull the blade back towards your hip to move the kayak ahead.
  3. Rotate your body forward while drawing the paddle blade out of the water and plunging the opposing knife into the water.

2- Reverse Stroke

This stroke reverses the direction of your kayak.

  1. Between your torso and the stern, submerge one end of the paddle in the water (the back of the kayak).
  2. Look behind you as you move the paddle towards your toes.
  3. Allow your body to return to a square sitting posture before repeating the technique on the other side.

3- Sweep Strokes

To turn your kayak, use sweep strokes. To turn forward with a sweep stroke:

  1. Toes against the bow, or front, of the kayak, place the end of the paddle in the water.
  2. Return the paddle to the stern of the kayak in a half-moon arc.
  3. Using the paddle, turn your body.

To turn backward with a sweep stroke:

  1. Place the paddle's end in the water against the kayak's stern.
  2. Draw the paddle forward in a half-moon arc to the kayak's bow.
  3. With the paddle, rotate your body.

4- Draw Stroke

To shift your kayak sideways, use the draw stroke.

  1. Put your paddle blade in the water in the direction you wish to go and spin your body.
  2. Your hands should be above the water with the paddle far enough away from the kayak.
  3. Pull your kayak closer to the blade.

Additional Kayak Techniques And Tips For Beginners

If this is your first time kayaking, or if you're still new to the sport and going out on the water by yourself, we recommend following these guidelines:

  • Choose a quiet, little lake or pond where you can see the opposing coastline. Water bodies with little or no powerboat traffic are preferable since they reduce the number of artificial waves you'll encounter.
  • Launch your kayak from a land-based pier that is visible to onlookers. If you're kayaking alone or with a party that stays on the shore, your kayak will be visible if you need assistance or emergency assistance.
  • Make your first few travels quick and safe. To make your environmental problems as predictable as possible, choose a clear sunny day with no rain or severe winds expected. Also, be aware of your limitations and underestimate the length of time you can kayak safely before becoming exhausted. You don't want to overdo your first kayaking outings and make it tough to paddle back to shore, just as you don't want to overdo other exercises. Limit your initial excursion to an hour, and then go as long as you like.

The Greatest And Worst Weather Conditions For Kayaking.

Kayaking circumstances are ideal when the weather is warm and dry, the water is tranquil, and safety measures are taken. However, you should pay attention to the forecast and other quickly-changing weather signs. While a spontaneous kayaking excursion may be enjoyable, you don't want to be caught in terrible weather or situations above your ability level. As a result, you'll still need to conduct some planning.

Here are some suggestions to make your trip more enjoyable:

  • Plan a journey to a place where the circumstances match your abilities.
  • Before you go, double-check the weather prediction.
  • Wearing life jackets and other safety equipment or a wetsuit
  • Using the buddy system and having a backup plan in the event of an emergency
  • Investigating possible risks such as under rocks or currents that are stronger than they seem

Some of the circumstances you'll want to avoid as a beginning include:

  • Because fog limits vision and muffles hearing, it is dangerous.
  • Waterways have a high volume of boat traffic.
  • Since you fall into it, Polluted water may unintentionally expose you to hazardous microorganisms.
  • Whether it's less than ideal or unstable, you don't want to get trapped in a dangerous storm in a kayak.

How Do You Kayak When The Weather Changes Suddenly?

The weather might vary quickly depending on where you're kayaking. Even if you plan your vacation for a beautiful day, you should know what to expect while kayaking in inclement weather. You may not realize how challenging kayaking in a thunderstorm is until you're stranded in one, but there are a few novice kayaking skills and methods that may help you escape danger and return to shore safely.

Paddling In Windy Weather

Any quantity of wind, from a bit of breeze to a strong gust, can affect your kayak somehow. This is very typical, and you can quickly compensate if you can, paddle with the wind rather than against it to save energy. You may paddle harder, utilize a rudder, or add stroke to your downwind side to make proper wind adjustments.

Don't resist it if you lose control of your kayak. Consider driving along the road and losing power due to ice, gravel, or other treacherous circumstances. Attempting to recover possession of the car too quickly may force you to overcorrect, worsening the problem. Instead, keep as much control as possible of the vehicle and travel in the vehicle's direction. Kayaking is the same way. If you find yourself spinning, move with the kayak and make the necessary adjustments.

In A Kayak, How To Right Yourself

There's also the possibility that your kayak may submerge you. In this situation, being balanced in the kayak and wearing a life jacket would be beneficial. If you turn over without a life jacket, be calm and grasp the kayak and, if applicable, the life vest connected to the watercraft.

If you tip in calm water, hold both sides of the cockpit and turn the kayak over. If you can, hop back in. Grab your kayak and swim back to land or shallow water if you can't accomplish it. Suppose your kayak flips over while in a current. Just use one arm to support it. Face upward to ensure that you can breathe. Backstroke to the beach or shallower water, keeping your body parallel to the water's surface.

Is It Easy To Flip A Kayak?

Said, flipping a kayak is more complicated than it seems. The majority of models are designed to be incredibly stable. It's also hard to believe, yet there may be times when you want to overturn a kayak intentionally. Many experienced paddlers encourage learning to flip a kayak because it increases confidence on the water, especially in challenging settings such as the open ocean.

It's preferable to learn how to flip a righted kayak with the help of an experienced instructor. Almost sure you'll know two different types of rolls. The sweep (or screw) roll is one, while the other is the vertical (or C to C) roll. Though they vary significantly when effectively executed, both sorts of rolls culminate in the same outcome: you sitting upright in your kayak, paddling further — although a little wetter than when you began.

Different Environments For Kayaking

Now that you've mastered a few kayaking tips and tricks, it's time to master some kayaking abilities and methods that you can apply to various water bodies. Each paddling area has its own set of characteristics that will influence how you paddle. A flowing river, for example, may immediately increase your speed, but a stagnant lake may need you to use more energy to go faster.

You may kayak in any body of water you like, and it's a good idea to map out a route ahead of time. Keep an eye out for locations along the coastline where you won't be able to react quickly in an emergency if you're kayaking on a lake or pond. If you're kayaking down a river or stream, find a path where the water is usually calm. It's better to keep away from locations that can become more difficult if you paddle too far, particularly if you're new to kayaking.

It's also a good idea to mark areas along your journey where you can stop for a break, such as bays or accessible shorelines. Bring a nautical map or a compass with you if you get off track. Though GPS and other electronic navigational gadgets are important, a paper map will be a reliable backup if they fail.
When kayaking in both fresh and saltwater, you should be mindful of the many species you may encounter. Sharks and jellyfish may be found in the oceans, inlets, and bays. Where you're kayaking, rivers, streams, or lakes may include snakes, alligators, or other potentially deadly creatures on the shoreline. Discover what sorts of animals you could meet before venturing into the water and how you can safely share the water with them.

After you've mastered beginning kayaking, you may wish to further your skills and ultimately try whitewater kayaking. We can see why: whitewater kayaking is a fantastic activity that enables you to see nature from a unique viewpoint. If you want to accept this challenge, here is some whitewater kayaking advice to keep in mind:

  • Learn to roll your kayak: Your first few whitewater kayaking outings will likely feature capsizing. You'll be safer if you know how to proceed and recover, and learning to low brace can help you avoid rolling in the first place.
  • Make sure you know how to swim in whitewater properly: Whitewater rapids are hazardous, and failing to learn how to swim through them properly might result in harm. If you get out of your kayak, you'll need to learn how to swim to safety.
  • Learn how to escape a hydraulic and traverse an eddy line: A hydraulic is a hole in the river that might trap you. An eddy line is a diving line between currents. Knowing how to avoid these dangers can help you stay safe.

Reminisces And Safety Tips

SAFETY TIPS AND REMINDERS

Paddling out to the middle of your favorite lake and enjoying the peaceful tranquility of nature may be a pleasant experience. Kayaking can also be an exhilarating experience as you put your abilities to the test on a river rife with whitewater rapids. Even though all hobbies provide entirely different levels of enjoyment, all types of Kayaking are dangerous.

Like boating, surfing, and any other watersport, Kayaking may jeopardize a kayaker's health and safety, particularly if the person fails to take proper safety procedures. You may still have a terrific time with your kayak despite the hazards. Making and sticking to a safety checklist will help you have a safe and enjoyable day on the lake.

Important Safety Checklist

Ask yourself these simple questions before you go out on the water:

  • Can everyone in your kayaking group swim independently?
  • Have you made a float plan with the names of people who will be kayaking and your planned route and informed other friends or family members about the trip?
  • Are you ready for unexpected weather changes or poor light?
  • Do you have a dependable method of requesting help in the case of an emergency?

Every Kayak Trip Requires These Items

Aside from the kayak and paddle, there are a few items you should always have with you:

  • Sunscreen
  • Paddle spare
  • Dress appropriately.
  • Hat or helmet?
  • Signaling device or whistle
  • Essentials in a drybag
  • Snacks and water
  • appropriate footwear
  • Self-rescue systems
  • Compass or maps
  • Knife for rivers

Critical Requirements For Safe Kayaking

To guarantee a safe voyage, remember the following rules:

  • When out on the open ocean, you should never paddle alone.
  • Wear a helmet and flotation device: an enjoyable ride is a safe ride.
  • Kayak sober: While kayaking, never drink or take drugs.
  • Tell the truth about your kayaking skills: Only kayak in seas that you are familiar with.
  • Always verify the weather forecast and water conditions before kayaking in poor or harsh conditions. If the weather forecast appears terrible, postpone your journey.

While care should always be used while participating in any watersport or physical activity, kayaking can be a safe and enjoyable experience if done correctly. Always bring the needed items, be aware of the weather and water conditions, and make every effort to behave appropriately. Always keep in mind that safe kayaking is smart kayaking.

Can You Go Kayaking Anywhere?

With a big enough body of water, you can kayak almost everywhere. Unlike other watercraft, a kayak may be strapped to the top of your vehicle and taken on a trip. There are peaceful lakes, river rapids, quiet streams, and beautiful oceans to explore. One of the most tempting parts of kayaking is the chance to go on a fascinating voyage both close and distant across the sea. Here are several locations where you should remember to carry your paddle:

  • North America: Lake Tahoe, California, and Nevada: Lake Tahoe is one of the world's oldest lakes and one of America's most iconic bodies of water. With over two dozen beaches, you'll have many opportunities to kayak North America's biggest alpine lake.
  • Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, South America: Explore the natural habitats of some of the world's most amazing animals. This stretch of Pacific islands offers a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see what sparked Darwin's theory of evolution.
  • Southern French Alps, France, Europe: Prepare for an exciting whitewater kayaking adventure on one of the numerous rivers that run through the French Alps. For those skilled enough to manage their waters, the Bonne, Ubaye, and Durance provide challenging rides.
  • Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia: Kayakers may pick from various water types in this coastal area, including rivers, creeks, inlets, and lakes. The Pumicestone Passage offers island hopping, relaxation in the broad expanse of Lake Kurwongbah, and animal encounters near Hays Inlet.
  • Take an exciting paddle around one of Vietnam's most famous tourist sites, Ha Long Bay. Float through grottos and islands while taking in the tranquil scenery.
  • Lake Malawi National Park in Malawi, Africa, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site recognized for its pure waters and stunning scenery. Take a safari unlike any other as you paddle by animals found nowhere else on the planet.

There are many beautiful areas to kayak, including rivers, lakes, and seas right in your backyard, from the shimmering waters of the Caribbean to the mesmerizing waves of the Adriatic. Once you start kayaking, the possibilities for adventure are endless.

*Disclaimer: Board and Kayak earns a commission from qualifying purchases.

Phone :
+1 (571) 250-7318
Email :
info@boardandkayak.com