Camping, Equipment

12 Things to Know About Kayaking Before Hitting The Water

Hey, it’s not uncommon to haul a kayak along as part of your camping gear.

In fact, kayaking is a load of fun and can be a great Plan B on those particular camping trips when the fish aren’t cooperating. It is a nice, relaxing form of exercise and although it looks extremely easy, it isn’t if you don’t know what you are doing.

That’s why we are going to take a look at a number of beginner kayaking tips this time around. So stay out of the water until you read them!

1 – The First Lesson Is To Get A Lesson

So how hard can it be to paddle a kayak, right? Well, if you’ve never done it before, you can easily end up just paddling in circles and after awhile the scenery gets a bit old. Probably the most valuable part of a kayaking lesson is learning how to recover from capsizing. Yup, it is gonna happen and the more you know about righting yourself when this happens, the more fun you’ll get out of kayaking overall. Plus, lessons are an inexpensive investment in your hobby. Learn more in this guide.


2 – Bikinis And Shorts Are Meant For The Beach, Not Kayaking

Okay, there’s no doubt that there is something really sexy about gliding through the surface of a smooth, undisturbed body of water with your tanned hard body on display for all to enjoy. However, kayaking requires that you dress for the water and not so much for the weather. In other words, it could be great tanning weather but the water you are floating on could be ice cold. Capsize and you’ll be wishing you didn’t ditch the wetsuit so you could work on your tan.

Pick your dresses for the water, instead of the weather

You might pick a hot and sunny day to go for kayaking. You might be considering wearing tees and shorts for indulging in these water sports. However, there are high chances that the temperature of the water has turned out to be icy cold.

You should ensure to pick the clothes that make you comfortable in the water. Choosing your dress, according to the air temperature is certainly not a good idea. You might consider wearing kayaking gloves, wet suit as well as waterproof cagoule, instead of summer clothes to enjoy kayaking to the fullest.


3 – There Is No Such Thing As A One-Size-Fits-All Kayak

It’s true. There are many different styles of kayaks. They are typically meant to address your own style of kayaking and range from long, narrow racing boats to what is commonly referred to as squat little freestyle playboats. If you are looking at just your basic paddling on a lake-type kayak to kill time before the bbq is ready or to explore around the lake you’ve set up camp at, you’ll be fishing (pun intended) for a flatwater boat. Sit-on-tops are beginner boats.

The market is filled with a wide assortment of kayaks. You can opt for a tiny squat freestyle play boat or a long narrow racing boat, according to your needs and preferences. If you want to learn kayaking, it is recommended to choose a recreational kayak which is ideal for the water, in which you are going to paddle.

For instance, if you are considering paddling on the lake, you should ensure to opt for a flat water boat. Sit on top kayaks are regarded as a perfect choice for beginners as they are easy for stabling and paddling.



4 – Always, Always, Always Wear Some Form Of Buoyancy Aid

Let’s get this out in the open right now. That roll of jelly around your belly does not officially qualify as a buoyancy aid. Sorry. You should never go kayaking without an actual buoyancy aid. These are similar to life jackets but are designed to permit a greater range of motion at the arms and neck. Saying you are a strong swimmer and having Olympic medals to back that up is still not enough of a good reason to leave the buoyancy aid back at the campsite.

Wearing the buoyancy aids are considered to be an ideal choice for the kayakers. Whether you are a newbie or a pro, it is a must to wear these buoyancy aids. They are similar to life jackets which allow the movement around the neck and arms which make kayaking easy.

Even experienced and well-skilled swimmers might encounter issues in the water. Kayaking schools offer buoyancy aids. However, if you have been paddling on your own, it is recommended to rent the same from nearby water sports center.

Some additional safety measures:

  1. Have another paddler with you if you are a newbie.
  2. Have someone who’s never out of sight.
  3. Do not paddle far away from the shore.
  4. Do your research about the tides and weather forecast.
  5. Water temperature should be known.
  6. Your PFD should fit you tightly.
  7. Do not use a spray shirt if you don’t know how to pop it off.
  8. Never forget your whistle.
  9. Bring water and lifestraw.


5 – Don’t Forget To Check Your Posture

Yup. Believe it or not, you can’t have as much fun in a kayak as you may think if you tend to slouch. This means you will have to learn how to sit properly which actually makes it easier on you when paddling. All you need to do is sit straight, keeping your lower back at a 90-degree angle to your buttocks. Use the footpegs to rest your feet pointing your toes outwards with knees bent up and out. Sound like fun? It will be once you get the hang of it.

Kayak trip task
Time spent on average
Planning trip 1.9h
Packing 1.4h
Traveling to water 2h
Paddling 3.9h


6 – Get A Grip – On The Paddle, That Is

Um, there is a wrong way to hold the paddle. But to keep it simple, we’re gonna tell you what the right way is. All you do is hold the paddle with both hands a little more than shoulder width apart. The key here is to ensure that the concave part of the blade faces you so that when you dip the paddle into the water, the concave part flows through the water. It’s kind of like your hand if you were swimming the crawl. If you’re not a swimmer, skip that reference.

If you want to master your kayaking skills, you need to understand the structure of the kayak paddle. It features two blades that are attached to the paddle shaft. The shaft is regarded as a certain part of the paddle which is held by the kayaker. The blades, on the other hand, are recognized to be the part that you need to use for pulling the kayak as well as yourself across the water.

Many newbies are known to commit the common mistake of holding the paddles in the backward direction for the first time of their kayaking. If you are a newbie, you might encounter difficulty in understanding the way, to handle the paddle.

But, it might have a significant change in your stroking power. Hence, you should ensure that the smooth or concave part of the paddle blade is facing you whereas you need to pull the face of the paddle through the water.

You need to keep in mind that a plethora of kayak paddles are known to be asymmetrical, indicating that there are a bottom and top to the paddle blade. You must hold the paddle, just in the same way, it is designed.

You need to remember that the top of the paddle should be in a horizontal direction, in comparison to the bottom. If you find that horizontal is written on the paddle, you need to keep it upright, instead of upright down. It will be useful to you in holding the paddle correctly.

If you are a leftie, you should make sure to take the control grip with the left hand whereas righties should use their right hand for having control of the grip. If you want to take the kayaking strokes, you should let the paddle to rotate as well as reposition it in the loose hand to ensure that paddles are entering the water smoothly.

You will not be capable of changing the control grips, once it gets on the paddle. After grabbing the paddle, you should ensure to place the control grips on it at first. Keep your hands on the center of the paddle.

7 – We Told You To Dress For The Water, But Bring Extra Clothes As Well

Admittedly, you shouldn’t enter the water in a kayak with getting soaking wet as a possibility. However, it does happen. On those chilly days when it does – and normally you will capsize on a day when the weather is not pristine tanning conditions – you’ll be glad you stowed away a second set of clothing inside the kayak. It’s not an essential requirement, but get dunked once and you’ll truly appreciate the fact that you did pack a change of clothes.

The swimwear should not be of cotton and should be nonbinding. A rashguard top should be preferred. Neoprene footwear is a must. The hat you wear should be protecting you from sun rays. If you wear a jacket, it should be lightweight fleece or vest. If it’s rainy, a rain jacket should be used.


8 – Save Yourself And Save A Few Others While You’re At It

Should you actually decide to take a kayaking lesson or two, there is one very important thing you will learn first. Spoiler Alert: How to rescue yourself and others. We have talked a lot about capsizing and it is a very serious reality. But if you know what to do when it happens, you’ll be able to right yourself quickly and easily. It’ll also help when you come to the aid of others. Oh, by the way, when you capsize, stay inside of your kayak. It’s easier to flip back over that way.


9 – Keep Your Priorities Straight

In panicked situations, we don’t normally think right. You know, having trouble deciding in a flash if you should save the kayak that’s about to be swept over a waterfall or the two kayakers stranded on the other side of the river just before the waterfall. We get it. That kayak cost a bundle. It was also outfitted with a spare change of clothes and your wallet was in there. However, boats can always be replaced. Your buddies can’t so choose correctly.


10 – Use The Buddy System When You Kayak

Ah, yes. It sure is relaxing out on the water. Just you, nature and your kayak. What could possibly go wrong? Well, hopefully, nothing. However, they are called accidents for a reason – you can’t normally plan them. But you can plan to be ready to respond to one by simply being a second (or third) kayaker in a group. In other words, don’t kayak solo. It may be romantic and all that but if you need help, you’re pretty much hooped if you went out alone.

11 – Stretch Before And After To Stay Nimble

Depending on how long you plan to be circling the lake or how far downstream you figure you’ll go in your kayak, one thing is for sure. You are going to be seated in the same position the entire time. This means you may want to try to prevent cramping up by doing a few stretching exercises before you start your trip and once you get back to shore. General stretching moves for your legs, torso, arms, and neck should be about all you’ll need.


12 – If All Else Fails, Try To Have Some Fun

There is no doubt that if you’ve made it this far that you probably have second thoughts about kayaking. Our point is that while it is a great way to spend time on the water – and not such a bad upper body workout – you have to take it seriously. That’s because it doesn’t take much for something to go seriously wrong. That’s why it’s a good idea to get some lessons or at least work for some time with a qualified instructor. Then you can have some fun out there.

Although we have covered a lot about kayaking in this article, we strongly suggest you do a little more research on your own. There is a lot to know when you are on the water – regardless of it being calm or rough. That being said, nothing gets your heart pounding in your throat quite like kayaking through a river of white water. But that is not territory for beginners. If there is a local kayaking club near you, do yourself a favor and join it.

You’ll learn more from those who have “been there, done that” that will enhance your current knowledge base. Kayaking is also a great hobby for those with limited mobility or little use of their lower extremities. The bottom line is that when you go camping with a kayak strapped to the roof of your Honda Civic, you are sending a strong message. You are telling others that you can’t fish but you sure know how to get around a lake with little trouble.

Kayaking is a lot of fun. But you won’t know exactly how much that is unless you get involved. Hopefully, the tips listed here has piqued your interest and made you look at kayaking in a completely different light. We sure did the first time we capsized but after that, it was fun.


1 Comment

  1. There are a great many different types of kayak on the market all design for specific types of water. Sea kayaking has become increasingly popular, but there are also kayaks for white water kayaking, river kayaking, there are sit-on-top kayaks, sit inside kayaks, surf kayaks, racing kayaks and many many more. Speak to an experienced kayaker if you are unsure of which type to go with.

Leave a Reply