How to Get into a Kayak in Deep Water? [Step by Step Guideline]

When kayaking, one crucial skill to learn is getting into a kayak in deep water. You never know when waves hit and your kayak capsizes. Getting out of cold water fast can save your life. Sometimes maybe you just want to cool off. This means jumping out for a few minutes and getting back to your kayak.

The question here is how to get into a kayak in deep water? If you find yourself in deep water, stay calm and seek help. If you’re alone, hold onto the kayak paddle and grasp the edge with your hands. Pull your legs over and push yourself inside.

If you’re separated from your kayak, try and swim ashore. However, the best option is to always get back in your kayak. If the shore is a long way off, swimming there can be difficult. Furthermore, the nearest beach might be rocky or swampy, making it difficult to get on land.

Continue reading below, and I’ll show you how to get into a kayak in deep water.

How Deep Does the Water Have to Be for a Kayak?

How to get into a kayak in deep water

You’re not going to kayak on just any water depth without grounding. To safely kayak, you need the water to be at least 5 feet deep. Kayaks and canoes float effortlessly on the water with even weight distribution.

You don’t need a lot of water to enjoy kayaking. On average, a canoe or a kayak sits 6-8 inches deep in the water. However, this can vary depending on the water buoyancy, canoe’s weight, and construction material.

Kayaks/canoes have weight limits. The limits don’t usually include the actual weight of the kayak. For example, a 50-pound kayak can support 500 pounds without adding its weight.

Apart from the indicated weight capacity, the kayak’s construction material and size can determine how kayaks hold up in the water. For example, foam canoes have better buoyancy than air-filled canoes.

In addition, you also need to understand your kayak’s beam and waterline length (LWL). Waterline length is the length of the kayak that sits at the water level. It is the portion in contact with the water.

A kayak beam is the kayak’s width, while a waterline beam (BWL) is the maximum width at the waterline. The longer the LWL & BWL, the more weight a kayak can hold.

Understanding these factors will help you know how much your kayak can support at different water levels.

How to Get into a Kayak in Deep Water?

How to Get into a Kayak in Deep Water

Getting inside a kayak in deep water is something you need to master. It is a crucial skill that can save a life. You need mental and physical skills to get into a kayak in deep waters.

Falling into deep waters is the biggest risk for any beginner. However, practice makes perfect. At first, it can be wobbly, but with practice, you can master it.

Getting into a kayak from a dock or a rock is quite different from getting into one from deep waters. In this section, I’ll focus on getting onto a kayak from deep waters.

The skill is quite crucial if you capsize. Here are the steps to follow.

Step 1: Be Calm

You need to stay calm. This is where your mental strength comes in. The shock from cold waters can get your body into panic mode. You can make a wise decision when you are calm.

If there are people around, ask them for help. Panicking will affect your judgment.

Step 2: Flip Your Kayak

Flip Your Kayak

If your kayak turns over, you need to flip it over first. Stand at the kayak center and hold the edges with both hands. Try and pull the kayak towards you before flipping it over.

You can also flip it over by kicking it with your legs and using your body momentum to get to the hull. Use your body weight to pull the kayak over and flip it.

You need to act first before the water fills the hull. If the kayak fills with water, try and push it ashore to empty it.

Step 3: Hold the Paddle

Hold the Paddle

Make sure you get hold of your paddle. You’ll need the paddle once inside the kayak. Make sure the paddle is nearby before you get on the kayak.

Step 4: Pull Yourself inside

Pull Yourself inside

With your kayak in position and the paddle close, you need to pull yourself inside. Grasp the kayak edge and pull yourself towards the cockpit. Do this while kicking your feet for propulsion.

Put your abdomen over the cockpit and swivel around, placing your legs inside. Adjust yourself and have the correct paddling position.

Re-entering a kayak in deep waters is not difficult if you have the confidence and know the steps to follow.

How Do You Properly Sit in a Kayak in Deep Water?

How Do You Properly Sit in a Kayak in Deep Water

Learning kayaking skills is a lifetime experience. You’re never going to learn everything in the first few weeks. However, there are a few basic skills you need to master from the start.

One such skill is appropriately sitting on a kayak. So, how do you properly sit in a kayak in deep water? Before paddling, you need to adjust the kayak backrest and footrest. You must feel comfortable and sit upright.

With the kayak set up and already inside, ensure your butts are comfortably in the seat contour. Next, adjust the backrest to provide optimal back support. Make sure your back and butts are at a 90-degree keeping you sitting upright.

You should never lean backward or have the backrest forcing your torso forward. If the backrest can’t adjust properly, get out and make necessary adjustments.

Next, you need to adjust the footpegs and ensure the legs are in the most comfortable position. Have the heels angled towards the kayak center and the toes pointed outward. You need the knees bending outwards and upward to apply pressure on the thighs.

With everything set, try and move sideways as you test the seat comfort. Make sure the back, leg, and foot are in position and comfortable.

Do Kayaks Flip Easily?

Do Kayaks Flip Easily

The short answer is NO. Kayaks don’t flip easily. The design of kayaks prevents them from flipping easily. But, still, some kayaks flip over. This depends solely on the kayak and the water conditions you paddle on.

For example, it is rare for a well-balanced kayak to flip over in relatively calm water. However, chances of flipping are high on rapid waters with an ultra-light kayak.

It is pretty obvious you’ll fall out if a kayak flips over. So, taking necessary measures to prevent a kayak from flipping over is recommended.

How to Prevent a Kayak from Flipping?

How to Prevent a Kayak from Flipping

Technically, you cannot prevent a kayak from flipping. But, you can take steps and reduce the chances of a kayak flipping. Here are 5 tips to prevent a kayak from flipping.

Tip 1: Even gear distribution

You need to spread your gear evenly on a kayak. Make sure the weight on the kayak is evenly distributed length to length and width to width.

In addition, make sure you sit straight. It’s rare for a balanced kayak to flip.

Tip 2: Pick the right conditions

Weather plays a major role in kayak safety. Use common sense and kayak when the conditions are right. The chances of a kayak flipping on strong winds are high.

Make sure you plan your kayaking trip on calmer days. There is always next time. Wait until the conditions are right.

Tip 3: Learn the Low brace stroke

Learning the low brace stroke can prevent your kayak from flipping. A low brace stroke is an instinctive move when the kayak is about to flip.

Take the correct posture and paddle across the kayak and close to the hip and chest. Tip the paddle on both sides to regain balance.

You can also move your hips with the paddle in the horizontal position to regain control. Your body weight combined with the paddle stroke should help prevent the kayak from tipping.

Tip 4:  learn the high brace stroke

The high brace stroke places the paddle at shoulder height and the elbows underneath. Keep the paddle front blade parallel to the water.

As the kayak starts tipping, lean over. Once the blade hits the water, move your hips towards the blade to balance it.

Tip 5: Paddle directly into waves

As opposed to paddling around waves, paddle directly into them. Waves hitting a kayak from the sides are likely to flip it instead of hitting it from the front.

You need to practice these tips and always stay alert in the waters. You should see when a kayak is about to flip over and act immediately.


Getting into a kayak from deep waters is the most challenging skill for kayakers. However, it is the most crucial skill to learn and one that will give you the confidence to go kayaking.

Our guide might appear simple, but doing it practically can be challenging. You need to practice getting into a kayak in calm shallow waters.

Falling out of a kayak can be dangerous. However, staying calm and knowing how to get back can save the situation.

Enjoyed reading? Now share this with your fellow kayakers!