There are millions of water sports out there, but when it comes to kayaking, nothing beats it!
It can help you to explore nature in the best way possible and from a new point of view.
The first kayaking essential you will need before trying this sport is – well, can you guess it? – You need a “kayak”! Once you have got it, you are done with the maximum work. The next set of essentials you need for kayaking are:
- A lot of water for drinking, in bottles, and backup lifestraw.
- Healthy snacks, like peanuts.
- Sunblock and sunglasses
- Maps, cell phone, gps
- Change of dry clothes
- Helmet, booties, lifejacket
- First-aid kit
- Paddle and bildge pump
- Flashlight and headlamp
- Dry bags
After getting a kayak, the first thing you need is a “paddle.” Without a paddle, your kayak is useless. The important thing you need to keep in mind while choosing your paddles is the measurement of your torso, as well as the width of the kayak. Keep in mind that kayaks come in many shapes and sizes. Read this review article.
The sizing charts of kayaks are usually available, but generally, you require a paddle length of around 200 centimeters or more if your torso height is more than 28 inches. On the other hand, if your torso height is less than 28 inches, then require a paddle length of more than 200 centimeters.
- Bilge pump
A bilge pump, also known as a “bailer” is also required in case of emergencies such as when bailing water out of your kayak.
- Lifejacket (it’s a must)
Although lifejacket is not a “kayaking” essential, it is an additional safety necessary to save from unforeseen circumstances. A lifejacket is commonly available in all sports shops. It is a personal floatation device, and you should always have it with you for very watersport. An ideal lifejacket should be comfortable, well-fitted, and shouldn’t be too tight or loose.
- An adventurous spirit
Lastly, one of the most critical essentials that you need for kayaking is an adventurous spirit. You should be ready to accept new challenges and explore new things. Moreover, you also need to have enough courage to go into the open water and let your kayak flow!
Other than these essentials, you might also require safety goggles as splash protection is required for a problem-free trip. You may also consider getting durable shoes as entering and exiting the kayak requires a comfortable walk. Furthermore, you also need to keep a waterproof bag with you to keep your valuable items safe. Some kayakers also keep a safety helmet with them to protect them from any accidents.
A kick rocker is the area of boat where it curves up. The kick is the front and the rocker is back of boat. It allows the boat to glide over waves and give riders a good feel.
The bigger the curve the bigger the waves the boat can handle because it pushes the you up over large size waves.
What if you don’t own a kayak?
If you are new to kayaking, then the chances are that you are not going to have it immediately. In case you want to experience this sport before buying a kayak, you can try one of these options:
- You can borrow a kayak from any of your friends who is already an expert kayaker. You can even learn basic kayaking tactics.
- There are many kayak renters out there. If you don’t want to spend your money on buying a kayak, then all you can do is to rent a kayak from a sports shop and enjoy the experience. It costs about $40 to rent one for 4 hours.
- Next, you also have the option of signing up for a tour. In that case, you get the kayak and all other essentials that are required.
- Lastly, you can even sign up for a kayaking class. Just like the tour, a kayaking class provides you everything.
Main types of kayaking
Kayaking comes with certain variations. Generally, the type of kayak also determines the types of kayaking, but there are two main variations:
Sport kayaking is for the kayaking-fanatics and highly skilled kayakers. It also includes whitewater courses. Sport kayaking is an excellent way to enjoy kayaking and take it to the next level. If you want to join a competition or fasten your heartbeat with kayaking, you need to try sport kayaking. You need to be very cautious about the length of your kayak for sport kayaking.
Sea kayaking is another popular and highly immersive form of kayaking. It involves specialized kayaks that can endure tough and long journeys. Sea kayaking can also go as long as up to seven days. They also come with enough storage space for storing your essential equipment and other essentials. It is also well-suited to face and endure substantial obstacles. You need to have enough knowledge of logistics and terrain and requires enough experience.
The purpose of scupper plug is to let water out of the kayak as you paddle. With a scupper in place, you simply unplug and let the water out.
If you own a sit-on-top kayak or soon to own one, you will notice plugs on the vessel. They are normally found in the cockpit or storage areas. You will appreciate them when on choppy waters and have to let out as much water as possible lest you capsize!
As you paddle on the water, you should expect some water to make its way into the vessel. Whether it is through a paddle splash, spray, or waves, it is normal. What isn’t normal though is having excess water in your vessel which could cause it to capsize.
A spray skirt is a cover to keep you dry. It is made of nylon or neoprene and has 3 parts: tube, desk, and rand.
As you paddle, you may also notice the scupper let in some water. This should not worry you as long as it is not a lot of water.
As good practice before you venture into the water, you need to inspect your kayak and ensure that there are no damages that could prove dangerous on the water. One of the things you need to check is the scuppers. They shouldn’t have any sign of damage and they should be plugged securely in place.
There are more than 320,000 sold per year.
The best material for a kayak is GRP. The next best is rubber, aluminum, wood, and pvc.
The first type of kayak is mostly suitable for beginners. It comes under the category of recreational kayaks, but it doesn’t have an enclosed seat. You can quickly enter and leave this kayak as compared to other types that are available out there. These kayaks mostly come in huge sizes. They aren’t vast, but they are also much stable than different types of kayaks. That is why it can be an excellent choice for beginners.
The second type of kayaks is known as “touring kayaks.” These kayaks are long and consist of a streamlined shape and small cockpits. They are narrow, and their length makes them the best choices for the experts. Thus, if you have enough kayaking experience, then touring kayaks can be your ultimate choice. You can take long trips across the rivers and lakes with these kayaks. However, you must keep in mind here that touring kayaks are not as stable as the other types. That is why you should only opt for it if you are experienced.
As the name suggests, recreational kayaks are designed explicitly for calmer kayaking tours. These cockpits are larger as compared to touring kayaks and are also shorter in length. Thus, it is an excellent option for all those who like to take things slow and enjoy their experience to the fullest.
The next type of kayaks is known as kids-sized. They are available in small sizes and are ideal for the kids and youth.
Just like sit-on-top kayaks, this kayak is also easy to operate and easy to transport. These kayaks are excellent for a relaxing kayaking experience, and that is why it is more suitable for beginners.
The last type is known as “Whitewater” kayak. This type is considered as a challenging attempt as it is challenging to operate. Whitewater kayak comes in four different types, and each type has its advantages depending upon your needs and requirements.
How much to they Cost?
You can get one for $68 up to $1799, more if you add a motor. This is cheap compared to a power boat that needs yearly licensing, insurance, storage, upkeep, and gas. Here is a price comparison chart of a few popular models:
|Make and Model
Perception Swifty Deluxe 9.5
Pelican Trailblazer 100 NXT
Perception Rhythm 11
Field & Stream Blade Tandem
Perception Pescador Pro 10.0 Angler
|Sit on top, fishing
Perception Pescador Pilot Pedal Drive 12
|Sit on top, fishing
|Sit in, inflatable
|Sit on top, fishing
Perception Pecador 12
|Sit on top, fishing
|Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 110
|Sit on top, fishing
|Sit on top
Pelican Premium The Catch 100
|Sit on top
Evoke Navigator 120
|Sit in, 12 ft
Old Town Topwater
|Sit on top, 12 ft
Ozark Trail 10′ Sit-on-top Angler Kayak
|On top, 10 ft
Sea Eagle 3 man Inflatable
|Sit on top
Wilderness Systems Pungo 120
How to ride a kayak?
Using and riding a kayak is a whole new experience. Before you learn it, it is essential to know the basics. Getting in and out of it can be complicated and tricky in the beginning, but once you master it, you will never want to stop kayaking. There are two different ways through which you can enter a kayak:
- Getting into the kayak on the land or in shallow water
- Getting into the kayak in deep water
Both of these options have their pros and cons.
If you are a beginner, then your best option is to get into your kayak from the shore as it is more comfortable, especially for beginners. No matter it’s the lakeside or the riverfront, the ideal way is to move your kayak very close to the shoreline. After doing so, you can then sit inside your kayak and use only your arms to go into the water and push yourself into it. You need to keep pushing yourself until you start floating on the surface. If you are worried that your kayak might get scratched, push it further into the water and then jump inside it. The rule is not to panic and keep calm!
The second way of getting in your kayak is from a dock. It requires much experience and a little more skill. In this method, you need to lower your kayak onto the water surface while making sure that it remains parallel to the dock. You also need to keep your kayaking static and stop it from changing positions. To keep it stable, you need to place the paddle on the dock as well as on the kayak. Next, you need to place your feet in the kayak and then move to the front of the kayak very quickly. Although the process seems easier theoretically, it gets quite complicated as you try it. Therefore, don’t forget to have enough practice before actually going for it.
Like with other similar sports, Kayaking is actually an Olympic sport category with the first showcase happening at the 1936 Olympic games which were held in Berlin, Germany. The primary events for kayaking in the Olympics are the Kayak double event better known as the (K-2) and the canoe singles event which is known as (C-1). Both of these events pit opposing teams of rowers against each other to see who can finish first in a game of coordination and patience.
Do you need to learn paddling techniques?
Once you have arranged your kayak, now is the time to go a step ahead and learn some paddling techniques. The first step is to pick up a paddle of any length you are comfortable holding. The of your paddle that is used for gripping is known as “shaft.” The best way to hold your paddle is to move your hands a bit away from your shoulders and then press the paddle. Don’t forget that the concave side of your paddle should always be in front of you.
Many different types of paddle strokes can be helpful for you in learning the proper techniques.
What are the different types of paddle strokes?
Four main paddling techniques are:
- Forward Stroke
- Reverse Stroke
- Sweep Stroke
- Draw Stroke
The forward stroke is the primary stroke. It is easy to learn. Following are the three main steps:
- Firstly, you need to submerge one end of your paddle in the water.
- Now propel your kayak in the forward direction. The best way to do this is by pulling the blade towards your back or hip.
- Rotate forward while pulling your paddle out of water. Meanwhile, dip the other end of the blade into the water.
The second basic stroke is “Reverse Stroke,” which is used to move your kayak backward. Following are the three necessary steps of Reverse Stroke:
- The first step of this stroke is the same as the forward stroke. In this step, you need to place one end of the paddle in the water. Don’t forget to keep the paddle between your stern and your body.
- Now look behind and move the paddle towards your feet.
- Lastly, rotate yourself back into the previous position in which you were sitting and then repeat the above process. By repeating the process, your kayak will move backward or in the reverse direction.
Sweep stroke is a bit complicated. As the name suggests, this step is used to sweep or turn your kayak. In simple words, it is used to change the direction of your kayak. Follow these steps for sweep stroking your kayak in the forward direction:
- Lower one end of your paddle in the water. It should be right in front of your kayak.
- Now draw your paddle back in the form of an arc (consider making a half-moon shape). You need to pull your paddle towards the stern.
- Rotate the paddle along with your torso and turn around the kayak.
If you want to sweep stroke your kayak in the backward direction, the first and third steps are the same as forwarding sweep stroke. However, in the second step, you need to move your arc not towards the stern but the bow of your kayak.
The last paddling technique is known as “Draw Stroke.” This technique is used to move “sideways.” Follow these steps to use the draw stroke correctly:
- Put the paddle blade in the water in any direction in which you want to take your kayak. Rotate your torso as well in that direction.
- Be very cautious that the paddle should be away from your kayak. The perfect distance is when both your hands are above the surface of the water.
- Lastly, pull your paddle back to draw the kayak in the direction of the blade.
Why should you try kayaking?
Once you start to begin this sport, you will love it! Although there are many water sports out there that can give you fantastic ways of enjoyment, kayaking is one of a kind as it comes with tons of advantages as well.
- It is an excellent exercise
One of the best reasons why you should go kayaking is that it is suitable for health and is a great exercise. If you are someone who doesn’t like working out and hitting the gym, then kayaking is for you. It falls under the category of high energy workout, and it has a significant impact on your tissues. Moreover, it is an excellent exercise for those who have joint issues and are unable to go cardio. Kayaking doesn’t only increase your overall health, but it also boosts your cardiovascular fitness along with strengthens your arm, back, shoulder, chest muscles, and core. A 180 lbs person will burn 425 calories per hour.
- You can go kayaking almost “anywhere.”
We are blessed with a diverse and pleasant environment. The good thing is that we can explore this environment right from the comfort of our kayak seat. If you have portable equipment then you can easily travel with your kayak, launch the equipment from any dock and enjoy the fantastic destinations. Trust us, there are millions of lakes, rivers, oceans, and many more around the world, and you have got endless exploring options. You only need about 3 ft of water.
- Kayaking can be your best time pass
Another benefit of kayaking is that it is the best hobby you can adopt because it is fun. You can grab a bunch of friends and go kayaking or gather your family and enjoy a day kayaking after relaxing on the lakeside, or swimming, racing, fishing.
What’s the best time of the year for kayaking?
Unlike fishing or any other water sport activity, every season is kayaking season. You can take your kayak and just step out in every season, whether its spring and summer or autumn and winter. You can always enjoy a comfortable ride on your kayak without the restriction of weather and season. However, we would suggest you not to step into your kayak during massive storm or rainfall. Many kayakers love to go out in warm weather instead of the colder ones.
Here, also note that winters are generally hazardous for many kayakers and can even get dangerous in many cases. Moreover, cold water may also cause discomfort. If you are living in any location where the temperature falls below zero, then ice can also become an issue for you. Thus, don’t forget to check out the cold in winter.
REI – Getting Started Kayaking – https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/getting-started-kayaking.html
Outside Pursuits – https://www.outsidepursuits.com/how-to-kayak-a-beginners-guide/
Some tips and tricks for the beginner kayakers
If you are kayaking for the first time, we have some fantastic tips and tricks for you. By following them, your kayaking can be more exciting and fun.
As a beginner, it is good to be wise and choose a pond or a small lake for kayaking. Ideally, you should be able to see the opposite end of the pond or lake. Moreover, water bodies where there is less powerboat traffic is also great because it reduces the chances of unnatural waves, and you can move into the water smoothly and efficiently.
Launching the kayak isn’t as simple as you think. As a beginner, you should launch it from the shore and from where you can see other kayakers or speedboaters. Not only you should be able to see them, but you should also be visible to them.
Make sure that your first few kayak trips are short and straightforward. You don’t need to be very hard on yourself. You should instead stay safe and keep your trip short.
As a beginner, you should be very careful while choosing a day for kayaking. The ideal day for you is a bright and sunny day where everything is visible, and there is no danger of rain, hail, or storm. Foggy weather can also be problematic for you if you are new at kayaking. Don’t forget that you are still in the learning phase, so you need to keep the environmental challenges away from you.
Know your limits! You don’t want to end up getting fatigued and tired in one day. Remember, your safety comes first, and you need to reach back before you get bored. Consider kayaking, just like any other workout experience where you take things slower and don’t overdue in the initial phases of your workout. The same is right for kayaking. Make your initial trips easier for you if you want to keep developing an interest in this sport and truly enjoy it. The ideal kayaking time for beginners is one hour.
Keeping a guide with you during the initial phases of kayaking can be helpful.
If a kayak is tracking well that means it is going straight. Tracking a kayak refers to the directions of kayak that how well a kayak moves straight into a lazy river. So, handling a kayak well to the path ahead of you depends on the kayak as well as kayaker’s ability to go straight.
What if the weather changes suddenly during a kayaking trip?
The wind has a significant effect on kayaking. Under such circumstances, you need to learn how to paddle harder. You might also consider learning some extra paddle strokes to fight such windy conditions.
Another problem that you might face in open water is the problem of “rolling-over.” Kayak is designed in such a way that even a slight mistake can roll it over, especially in adverse weather conditions. That is why we advise you to wear a life jacket during kayaking. Your life jacket is vital as it keeps you safe under all situations.
How to go kayaking under different situations and different environments
Now that you are aware of all the essential tips and tricks for kayaking, it’s time to go a step ahead and learn how to kayak in different water bodies. Keep in mind that you are the one who is going to choose an environment for kayaking, and you are responsible for your choices.
That is why we have gathered some familiar environments and how to kayak perfectly in them. According to each environment, the paddling techniques also vary accordingly.
For example, if you are kayaking in flowing water, then the speed of your kayak will increase naturally, and you don’t need to use the paddle very frequently. On the other hand, if you are kayaking in a steady lake, then you need to exert more energy and use your paddle regularly to move faster.
Regardless of the environment, it is always good to choose a routeway before you hit the water. For instance, if you are planning to select a pond or a lake, you need to be cautious about the shoreline and choose such a route where you can easily reach shore in case of an emergency.
If you are going to kayak down a stream or river, then you need to make sure that you choose the route where there are fewer obstacles, and the water is calm. Furthermore, it is best to keep yourself away from any spots that can be challenging, especially if you are new to kayaking.
It is also great to find out the stops on your way where you can take a break. If you find yourself off course during any point of your trip, you need to make sure that you have a compass or a map with you. Although you can always use the GPS and various other navigational equipment, it is essential to keep a concrete plan with you as well to have a reliable backup.
You also need to make sure that any environment you choose might also contain any form of wildlife both in saltwater and freshwater. Oceans, bays, and many inlets also include sharks and jellyfish. Likewise, rivers, lakes, and streams also contain alligators and snakes. Thus, there is much potential wildlife inside the water as well as on the shoreline. You need to be aware of any species that you may encounter and also need to know how to stay safe.
Once you have mastered it, you may want to develop new skills further and then move to whitewater kayaking.
Thus, if at any point you get a chance to accept new challenges and try whitewater kayaking, then following are some tips for it:
- Learn the “rolling” technique
The first trick that you need to learn is the rolling trick. There are many chances that your initial trips will include tipping and capsizing. Therefore, it is essential how to roll your kayak and recover so that you can stay safe. Moreover, it is also essential to learn how to low brace as it is highly helpful in preventing you from rolling.
- Get enough knowledge on how to swim
Whitewater kayaking can be dangerous and tricky. They can be rapids, and if you don’t know how to swim through the water safely, then you may end up getting injured. Therefore, you need to learn the necessary techniques that are required to swim safely.
- Learn how to cross the diving line
The last but the most critical advice for you is to learn how to pass the diving line, also known as the eddy line. Learning to escape is essential to keep yourself away from the hydraulic or the river hole. The hydraulic hole is dangerous, and it can trap you during your trip. Therefore, knowing how to ditch these hazards is vital to keep you safe and sound.
Some safety tips and important reminders
We know that kayaking is an exciting and relaxing experience. It gives you a chance to enjoy nature and explore new surroundings. It can be an adrenaline-filled adventure for you if you know to stay safe.
Similar to surfing, boating, and any other watersport, kayaking can expose you to safety and health hazards. There are over 100 deaths per year. To aid you, we have compiled the following safety checklist so that you can enjoy a fun experience.
Kayaking safety checklist
Before heading out to your kayaking trip, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Can you or anyone accompanying you on the trip know how to swim?
- Do you have the necessary arrangements for weather changes?
- Do you have the equipment for low light conditions?
- Have you informed someone back at home about your kayaking trip?
After you have asked yourself these questions, you need to prepare the following things:
- Sunscreen lotion
- An extra paddle
- Snacks and water
- Physical maps other than GPS
- Compasses and maps, cell phone
- A signaling device (you can also use a whistle)
- A drybag with all your essentials and dry clothes
- Appropriate clothing according to the weather and surroundings
- Footwear to avoid cuts on rocks and debris
Some Important Kayaking Rules:
Like any other sport, kayaking also comes with some set of rules that you need to follow to have a fun and safe trip:
Rule#1-Don’t paddle alone
Even if you are not a beginner, keep a companion with you when you go kayaking. You never know what you might face on open water.
Rule#2-Wear a floatation device or a helmet
There is no fun in kayaking if your ride is not safe. So, always wear a helmet or a floatation device and enjoy your trip.
You need to stay sober and stay away from alcohol before or while kayaking. Wait until you get home to have that beer.
Rule#4-Stay honest about your skills and kayaking experience
It is essential, to be honest about your skills and experience with yourself and others. Moreover, go for kayaking only if you know how to navigate easily and stay away from waterfalls. If on the ocean, do not go out further than you can swim back, for most that is 1 mile.
Rule#5-Never go kayaking in rough weather conditions
Lastly, do not put yourself in danger and keep on checking the weather report before heading out. If the forecast looks bad, skip your tour.
It is always important to exercise special precautions before any physical activity, including kayaking. Your experience can only become memorable as long as you practice safety. Keep your essential gear with you, and be careful about the weather conditions.
Should you hire a guide?
Kayaking is an excellent sport, and if you are a beginner, there is nothing better than hiring a guide for kayaking. If you hire a guide, you get a chance to explore different local areas and learn more about various flora and fauna. Thus, you get an incredible and exciting time. Moreover, a guide can also give you information about the proper equipment that is required for kayaking.
The first time I went kayaking
It was a spur-of-the-moment decision that led to an unforgettable adventure. I had always been drawn to the water, the way it moved and the sense of calm it brought, but I had never actually paddled on it myself. The opportunity presented itself on a warm Saturday morning when a friend invited me to join a group of beginners for a kayaking excursion.
We arrived at a tranquil lake surrounded by lush forests, the water’s surface as smooth as glass, reflecting the clear blue sky. The rental shop near the shore had a variety of kayaks, but for beginners like us, they recommended stable, sit-on-top kayaks. The one assigned to me was a vibrant yellow, about 10 feet in length, and roughly 30 inches wide, ensuring a good balance between stability and maneuverability.
After a brief on-shore introduction to the basics of paddling and safety, including how to properly wear the life vest that felt snug around my chest, we carried our kayaks to the water’s edge. The kayak was heavier than I expected, probably around 40 pounds, and it took some effort to get it down to the shoreline.
I gingerly climbed into my kayak, feeling the wobble as it adjusted to my weight. My heart raced with a mix of nerves and excitement. The instructor showed us how to hold the paddle, a lightweight fiberglass model with asymmetrical blades that sliced through the water with ease. We practiced a few strokes on land before it was time to push off.
Once on the water, I felt a sense of freedom I hadn’t anticipated. The paddle felt awkward in my hands at first, but with each stroke, I grew more confident. I learned to dip the blade fully into the water and pull it back in a smooth motion, propelling myself forward. The initial zigzagging of my kayak gradually straightened out as I found my rhythm.
The group spread out on the lake, each of us in our own little bubble, exploring. I remember looking down into the clear water, seeing fish dart away from the shadow of my kayak. Dragonflies skimmed the surface, and birds called from the trees. The sun warmed my face, and the cool water splashed over my legs, a welcome refreshment.
After a couple of hours, my arms began to feel the burn of muscles not used to this kind of activity, but it was a satisfying fatigue.
Best Kayaking Destinations Around the World
If you are looking for the best kayaking destinations around the world, check out the list given below:
- Iceland is one of the famous destinations around the world where you can enjoy kayaking experience.
- Japan is full of serene islands where you can enjoy great kayaking sports. Moreover, it also has plenty of pure lakes, which makes it ideal for kayaking.
- Bariloche, situated in Argentina, is one of the most notorious locations with amazing mountainsides. It is also an excellent place for kayak photography.
- Lake Garda is situated in Italy. It is the largest lake there that consists of five islands. There is nothing better than exploring these islands and enjoy alpine adventures.
- Norway is filled with some of the profound and unforgettable rides that make it extraordinary for kayaking.
- Hawaii, is wonderful, try the Na Pali coast in Kauai.
- Vancouver Island, Canada is awesome and you may see some orcas.
- Alaska has the Kenai Fjords which are amazing. You may see seals, kiler whales, and black bears.
- Galapagos Park, Ecuador. Known for unique wildlife.
- You local stream or lake, just get out there and do it anywhere you can find water.
- Zilker Metropolitan Park
- Lady Bird Lake
- Lake Travis
- Upper Guadalupe (Texas)
- Boundary Waters Canoe Area
- Cherry Creek
- New River in Ohio
- Potomac River
- Ocoee River
- Glacier Bay National Park
- Salmon River
- Lake Powell
- Lake Superior
- Lake Tahoe
- Abel Tasman Sea
- Milford Sound