Are you looking for some basics and handy information to help you learn more about kayaking?
Is it really helpful to read kayaking tips from those who have experienced kayaking before?
How much can you learn from checking out lists of tips like this one?
When you’re getting started as a new kayaker or you want to brush up on your skills as an experienced paddler, it can be beneficial to read through tips and give yourself an idea of what to expect on the open water.
Tips don’t, however, take the place of real life experiences. Despite this, they can give you some framework of understanding and make it easier for you to put good safety habits and other information into practice when the time comes.
Check out our list of top kayaking tips below to help you learn some of the basics. From here, the next step is to take your kayak out onto water (in a calm lake or a swimming pool) and start learning in a more hands-on way.
Have fun and stay safe!
***LEARN HOW TO SEA KAYAK TODAY: Learn about kayak paddling in the ocean with our sea kayaking tutorial feature. Ocean Kayaking.
Option #1. Choose the right kayak.
Pick a kayak that is made to handle the kinds of trips you want to take. Choose touring, angling, or speed kayaks, depending on how you plan to use your new watercraft. And be sure to pick a kayak that can support the proper weight capacity for you and your gear, too.
Option #2. Choose the right paddle.
Although you may be tempted to buy a cheap paddle when you’re a beginner, splurging on a better quality one can make a big difference in your comfort and ability to paddle for longer stretches of time. Pick a durable, lightweight, long-lasting paddle of the right length for your height.
Option #3. Buy the kayak accessories you need, but don’t buy too many.
There are a lot of kayak accessories out there! But for a beginner paddler, you really only need to worry about a seat and a seatback, some storage bags or other storage options, and safety gear. From there, you can add on more as you grow and develop as a paddler.
Option #4. Dress appropriately for the trip you’re taking.
If you’ll be kayaking in cold water, you’ll need a wetsuit and water shoes. If you’re paddling in hot climates, bring plenty of sunscreen and insect repellant. Don’t forget to have a change of clothes handy for after your time in the water, too!
***LEARN HOW TO WHITEWATER KAYAK HERE: Discover the basics of white water river kayaking with our whitewater kayak beginner's guide. White Water Kayaking.
Option #5. Plan appropriately for your kayaking adventure.
It’s never a good idea to just show up at a body of water with your kayak and no plans in mind. Plot your course ahead of time and check the weather frequently, too. If you’re going on a tour, schedule ahead of time as well. And always tell someone back on land where you’ll be.
Option #6. Learn how to transport your kayak safely.
Transporting your kayak on your vehicle can be a challenge. You will need a roof rack designed for the type of vehicle you have. Be sure to pick up one that can support the weight and length of your kayak, and learn how to tie your boat down securely.
Option #7. Learn how to store your kayak properly.
Store your kayak indoors in a garage or basement whenever possible, to protect it from the elements. If you absolutely can’t do this, keep it outdoors but cover it securely to protect it from insects, water, and harmful UV rays that could weaken or damage the plastic.
Option #8. Be sure to clean and maintain your kayak as needed.
Kayaks need to be cleaned out and wiped down regularly, since water builds up inside the hulls from normal use. It’s also important to check your kayak for any signs of damage so you can repair them early on, before they grow to become bigger issues.
Option #9. If you’ll be kayaking with kids, pay attention to their safety needs.
There are many kayaks on the market that will allow an adult to bring along one or more children in the same boat. However, you should always pay attention to the safety of your kids in this situation. Keep flotation devices on your children at all times, and make sure no little hands get in the way of the kayak as it’s moving through the water.
Option #10. Buy a children’s kayak for kids who want to paddle on their own.
Some kids like to paddle their own kayaks. If your child wants to try this, purchase a lightweight, small-sized kayak meant for children. This will make it easier for your child to push the kayak through the water, and safer as well.
***HOW TO DRESS FOR KAYAKING: Learn what clothing to wear while kayaking in our overview guide. What To Wear Kayaking.
Option #11. If you’re kayaking with pets, plan accordingly for them, too.
Pets can join you on your kayaking excursions if they are well-behaved on the watercraft. Plan to bring water and food for your pets, and for best results, keep a lifejacket on your pets while they’re out on the water, too. Make sure to have your pets’ tags on hand, and consider microchipping.
Option #12. Remember that ocean kayaking is not the same as freshwater kayaking.
Ocean kayaking is a lot more challenging than freshwater kayaking. It’s also more dangerous. For this reason, it’s a good idea to have some previous experience before you go out on the open ocean, unless you’re going with a tour group that is meant for beginners.
Option #13. Don’t start with whitewater.
Whitewater is the most difficult kayaking experience of all. Beginners should never start on rapids. However, once you’ve had some experience and know how to operate your kayak, you can start working your way up the rapids ranking ladder. Someday you may even be paddling down Class V rapids!
Option #14. Learn how to recover if you capsize.
Knowing what to do if your kayak tips over is a crucial safety skill, because everyone’s kayak will tip over at some point or another. Learn the steps you need to take in order to recover safely and make your way to shore if this should ever happen to you.
Option #15. Learn how to safely roll your kayak before you ever try whitewater.
When you know how to roll your kayak safely, you’ll be a lot safer in rapids. Rolling is a difficult skill to master, and it’s important to practice it in swimming pools and calm waters before you go out on the rapids. Knowing how to roll can also give you confidence when you do make it onto whitewater.
Option #16. Always be alert to your surroundings.
Pay attention to everything around you at all times while kayaking. You never know when you might run into a swimmer in the water, pass a point where you meant to stop, or even spot a shark or alligator lurking in the water.
***LEARN HOW TO KAYAK FOR BEGINNERS HERE: Learn the basics of how to kayak and other paddle tips in our beginners tutorial guide. How To Kayak.
Option #17. Don’t kayak solo the first few times.
The first few times you go out, you should always have another person with you. Ideally, that person should be more skilled at kayaking than you are, and capable of helping if something should go wrong. You may also choose to take your first few trips as part of a guided tour.
Option #18. Don’t push yourself or overdo it physically.
Know your own limits! And if you don’t, then be sure to give yourself plenty of breaks and chances to stop for the day if you wear out sooner than you thought you would. Overdoing it can lead to injury of yourself or those around you.
Option #19. Always bring more than one form of map and method of determining where you are.
Keep several maps available, on your phone as well as physically, and don’t forget a compass! You may also want to mount a GPS to your kayak or bring a waterproof one along for the ride in the dry storage compartment of your kayak, too.
Option #20. Always, always wear your personal flotation device!
In many places, it is illegal to kayak without a personal flotation device on at all times. Even in places where this is not illegal, however, it’s a good idea to stick to this rule anyway. This way, if you capsize, you’ll have something to help you make it back to the surface of the water without causing injury to yourself.
Remember that results will vary. Although these tips work well for some paddlers—and may even work well for the vast majority—that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll work for you in the same way. These are good, solid tips to remember, but not all of them will apply to every kayaking trip, and that’s okay!
You should, however, never cut corners when it comes to wearing your flotation device or learning how to practice safe kayaking techniques in the water. If you’re nervous about practicing recoveries and rolls in open water, try out these maneuvers in a swimming pool first to get the hang of them. And don’t be afraid to ask a tour guide or an experienced friend or family member for more help with any maneuvers you don’t quite get, too!
By remembering these tip, you’ll be well on your way to a better, safer, and more efficient kayaking experience every time.