Kayaking is one of the easiest sports to learn. So, it won’t be long before you master it, particularly if you kayak in flat water. However, some common mistakes make kayaking much harder for beginners. In this article, you’ll go over 10 essential tips for a trouble-free beginner kayaking experience. So, without any further ado, let’s get right into it!
10 Things Beginner Kayakers Should Know First
1. Pick the Right Kayak
Kayaks come in different shapes and sizes. They’re either sit-in or sit-on-top, the latter being the more convenient option for beginners. However, the most crucial factor in deciding which kayak is the best for you is the water you’ll paddle in. Are you paddling in whitewater, the sea, an ocean, or other bodies of water?
For beginners, it’s best to stick to calm water for the first few trips. This way, you’ll find it easier to strike through the water, and the kayak will remain stable. Not to mention, there’s less chance for capsizing. If you still aren’t sure which kayaks to pick for different water types, here’s a quick rundown:
- Recreational Kayaks: These kayaks are more suitable for slow-moving lakes and rivers.
- Whitewater Kayaks: For whitewater, you should choose a heavy kayak with more safety features. So, sit-on-top kayaks are a no-go in such circumstances.
- Sea Kayaks: Such kayaks are somewhere between the former two types. They’re easy to control, can move rapidly, and are less likely to capsize than recreational ones.
2. Don’t Kayak Alone
It’s never a good idea for a beginner to go kayaking on their own. In fact, we don’t recommend going alone, even if you aren’t a beginner. Always have someone around so that you can help each other whenever needed. After all, you never know what might happen when you’re out on the water.
3. Learn How to Rescue Yourself
If there’s one thing that we want you to take out of this article, it’d be to never step foot in the water before learning how to rescue yourself and others as well.
Usually, beginners don’t pick hard water for their first trip, so they’re less likely to flip. But there’s no guarantee it won’t happen. To elaborate, we can think of a few unfavorable situations, including taking too much gear that the kayak goes down, a faulty kayaking technique, hitting some rocks in the river, or a sudden change in the weather.
Undoubtedly, the unpredictability of kayaking is what makes it exciting, but it can put your life on the line, so you should always be prepared.
4. Paddle Effectively
This is a tricky yet obvious tip. It takes time to get used to paddling. But once you do, it becomes a piece of cake. First, make sure you’re holding the paddle correctly.
So, the concave part should be striking through the water as it’s facing you. Your hands should be fixed and about shoulder distance apart. Also, don’t hold the paddle too tight, and don’t loosen your grip more than you should. In other words, you need to find a good balance so that your hands don’t get too tired and you don’t lose your grip.
5. Adopt a Proper Position
Your sitting position affects paddling, so you should know how to sit properly. First off, you need to make sure you aren’t bending over or slouching. Instead, keep your waist and legs at 90 degrees from each other.
Also, rest your feet on the pegs so that your heels are directed to the center and your toes are pointing outwards. You’ll notice that this position forces your knees to be bent a little, and that’s how they should be.
6. Take a Kayaking Lesson
Although it isn’t rocket science, an introductory kayaking lesson won’t do you any harm. On the contrary, you’ll learn all that we’ve been talking about from a professional kayaker, ranging from picking the most suitable kayak to paddling and recovering from a flip-over.
7. Dress for the Water
You might’ve heard this before, but it can’t be said enough. Kayakers should always dress for the water, NOT the weather. So, the air temperature has nothing to do with the right suit for swimming. It could be freezing cold even if it’s a hot summer day. Meanwhile, some lakes are known for their hot water, so always keep that in mind.
8. Bring Extra Clothing
Even if you don’t think you’ll get wet, we can’t tell you how handy extra clothing is. Undoubtedly, you’ll appreciate having a change of clothes more than anything.
9. Don’t Forget the Buoyancy Aid
A buoyancy aid is similar to a lifejacket, but it gives you more space to move around. These aids are pretty popular for kayaking, and you can easily buy them online or from watersports centers. Furthermore, wearing your buoyancy aid is required by law in some states, so even if you’re the best swimmer, wear your buoyancy aid.
10. Get All the Necessary Accessories
You’ll need some essentials to go kayaking, including the paddle, lifejacket, throw bag, pump, rack, sprayskirt, nose plugs, and more. The most responsible way of buying the needed accessories is to set a budget first. Then, you can invest in the more essential accessories.
For instance, you can’t risk your life by settling for a cheap lifejacket or a buoyancy aid. You can, however, opt for budget-friendly nose plugs. You do the math!
As a beginner paddler, you may feel that staying balanced while maintaining effective strokes is a bit strenuous. Nonetheless, we assure you it won’t be long before you have a kayaking breakthrough. Nevertheless, don’t rush it, or you’ll fail to notice the beauty around you. Instead, give yourself a chance to relax and breathe in some fresh air.