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.
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.
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 barbeque 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!