Beginner Guide to Kayaking
Kayaking is a great sport that allows you to explore nature in a totally new way. Whether you’re out on the ocean, going downstream on a river, or simply paddling around a lake, it always leads to an exciting adventure and fun memories.
That being said, it can be intimidating to take up the sport if you’ve never done it before. It’s easier than you think, though, especially if you have some friends to start out with. Here are some of our introductory tips for a great kayaking experience if you’re a ‘newbie’!
How Do You Start Kayaking?
A great way to dip your toe into the kayaking world is to rent or borrow a kayak from a more seasoned friend, or sign up for a tour or class on the water. In the latter scenario, all essentials and materials will be provided for you, along with some basic maneuvering techniques and navigation tips if you take a kayaking class. This will help you figure out if it's really for you before you go and buy all the equipment on your own.
For first timers, the easiest way to enter your kayak is from a shore. In this scenario, you’re able to get your kayak into shallow water, straddle it, and use your legs to push off. Be careful not to drag or scratch your hull too much, and never be afraid to ask a friend to go with you until you’re more comfortable going it alone!
Beginner Kayaking Must-Haves:
Regardless where you’re starting your kayaking adventure (e.g. river, lake, ocean), there are a few essentials that you’ll want to have with you once you’re on the water:
- Correctly sized paddle-- while this may seem intuitive, having a paddle that is correctly sized makes a huge difference in your kayaking experience. You should take into consideration the width of your boat and your height when choosing a kayak paddle.
- PFD (Personal Flotation Device)-- whether you’re on the river, a lake, or the ocean, being properly prepared for an unexpected dunk is key.
- Bilge Pump-- this is a tool used to bail excess water out of the bottom of your boat. It’s helpful in the case of a large splash and handy in emergency situations.
- Dry bags-- these are where you’ll store personal items that you don’t want getting wet. Anything from your phone, spare set of clothes, or safety equipment!
- Weather-appropriate clothing-- whether it’s adding a vest or jacket in the winter or a hat and sunscreen in the summer, be sure you’re protecting yourself from the elements while on the water.
- Rashguard top-- this is a great layer for both warmer and cooler weather, and it ensures you a full range of motion with no discomfort while paddling.
- Safety Equipment-- a first aid kit, water, snack, and navigation tool are essential tools to pack along when you’re preparing to kayak.
As a beginner kayaker, being adequately prepared will help make the experience an enjoyable one. Start slow - to allow yourself to gain more confidence - and with each experience out on the water, you’ll begin to feel more and more like a seasoned kayaker!