Learn How to Kayak: Beginner’s Guide


Learn How to Kayak

Kayaking is a fun water sport for those who wish to connect with nature in its backwaters. Apart from helping to appreciate the world around us, it also gives a complete body workout and serves as an excellent leisure activity. Being a versatile sport for singles, pairs, and groups, it attracts many water sports loving enthusiasts towards it. Many people want to try the sport but are reluctant to hit the sea instantly. We hope our guide will help in guiding novice kayakers to take up the sport without hesitance and enjoy the magnificent waters with this cool sport.


Types of kayaks:

Before enduring the sport, it is important to enrich one’s knowledge with some basic kayaking types and some protective gear. Let us discuss some common types of kayaks here so as to help novice kayakers choose their best fit one.

  • Sit on top kayaks
  • Sit in kayaks
  • Day Touring Kayaks
  • Inflatable Kayaks
  • Tandem kayaks


Sit on top kayaks:

These are the priority for recreational kayakers who cruise on the calm waters. This vessel demands a little practice and has the advantage of getting on and off the boat at ease. They are good for kayaking in summer with ample space for storage.


Sit in kayaks:

They are a bit stable and the novice kayaker would feel secure to sit inside the boat and kayak. This is ideal to use in cool climates and has ample storage space too. They offer better control over the kayak and are thus ideal for beginners. Long distance kayaking becomes easy with these kayaks and they cruise best in choppy waters as well.


Day Touring Kayaks:

These are sit in boats and are pretty efficient than their recreational counterparts. They are easier to control and transport and are efficient in long distant kayaking. They track straight and are pretty costly as well.


Inflatable Kayaks:

Inflatable kayaks are space saving and can be put into use when needed. They render the same efficient kayaking experience as with any other kayaks. They are cost-effective, occupies less storage space and are easy to transport as well.


Tandem kayaks:

These kayaks can accommodate two or three people, the third person being a kid in its body. They are ideal for beginners so that they can learn to kayak from an experienced kayaker. They are also cost effective and have ample space for storage.


Kayak safety gears for beginners:

Kayaking is a water sport that demands to stay in the water for a long duration irrespective of its nature. Beginners should first practice the sport in calm waters, before proceeding to rough waters with tides and waves. Irrespective of the quality of the water, the following safety gears are a must to pack for everyone.

1. Spray skirt:

They help in keeping the water out of the cockpit of the kayak. It is an oval or round shaped cover made of nylon along with a bungee cord along its perimeter. It fits tightly around the rim of the cockpit of the kayak so as to create a waterproof seal. The spray skirt also has a tunnel that extends up to the torso of the kayaker.

2. Personal floating device:

These are life-saving tools for the kayaker in the event of the boat turning upside down. These floatation devices are available in the form of waist packs, vests, and even jackets. Inflatable PFD in the form of tubes is available as well as a lightweight alternative.

3. Bilge Pump:

this helps in removing water from the cockpit of the kayak in the event of capsizing. It is an important tool to re-enter the kayak and continue the water activity.

4. Paddle leash:

This simple cord with a clip at one end and a cord with nylon collar on the other helps in handling the boat during swift currents in heavy seas. The nylon collar wraps around the paddle shaft and secures it with the Velcro closure. The other end of the cord attaches with the duck bungee and helps in securing the paddle with the kayak.

5. Paddle Float:

This device slips on the end of the paddle for effective floatation. When the float transforms as a brace for the kayak, it helps with self-rescue even after a capsize.


Some useful tips for novice kayakers:

Kayaking is an excellent sport for beginners. It is simple to learn and pick up and within hours one can find them paddling happily in the cool waters. There are different types of kayaking from flatwater kayaking to whitewater kayaking and irrespective of the type and location of kayaking there are some basic skills sets to adhere.


Learning kayaking basics:

Beginners should equip themselves with a kayaking lesson before heading the waters. Paddling a kayak is not rocket science but it is not easy too without proper coaching. Learning how to paddle will help in saving time and to recover from a capsize. These lessons are not expensive and are readily available with online tutorials


Dressing Appropriately:

It is important to dress for the water and not the weather as even during summer months, the water can be icy cold. In the event of capsizing, which is common initially in kayaking, proper clothes can alone save the person from the cold waters. The ideal way of dressing is to include a wet suit, waterproof clothing, kayaking gloves, etc.


Choosing the right type of kayak boat:

Sit in kayak boats are the best for beginners, they can also learn on a tandem kayak along with a coach. Both of them have ample storage space to store gear, food, coolers and also first aid equipment. Sit on top kayaks can also be considered as they are stable and are easy to paddle.


Always wear a buoyancy Aid:

Wearing a buoyancy aid is a must for all types of kayakers, especially beginners as they are lifesaving gears in the event of water encounters.


Maintaining torso position in the kayak:

Beginners should learn how to sit and position their body in the kayak before starting to paddle. Even though the kayak seat has a comfy backrest, the kayaker should not slouch. The ideal position is to sit up straight with the lower back 90 degrees to the torso. The foot should rest on the foot pegs with toes pointing outwards and the heels at the center. The knees should also bend upwards and outwards for effective paddling.


Learning how to hold the paddle:

Beginners should take the lesson on how to use the paddle pretty seriously so as to row efficiently. Both the hands should be put into use to hold the paddle, with its concave end facing the user. Water seeps through the concave portion of the paddle when it is dipped in the water.


What to pack:

Beginners should not forget to pack an additional set of clothes because nobody is sure of what can happen in the waters. Packing additional clothes always seem rewarding. Other useful gear to store is food and drinks, first aid equipment, some basic tools, and a mobile phone with a navigation compass.


Learning to rescue self:

The first lesson in kayaking is learning how to rescue self and others in the event of capsizing. Accidental fall in the water is not always common in flat and calm waters but still, there is a need to be prepared for the worst. Beginners should not panic and stay close to the boat if it capsizes. Kayaking lessons will also teach how to set the boat right and get back into it again.


Beginners should kayak in groups:

Kayaking alone is not a good idea for amateurs. Teaming up with experienced kayakers helps in learning some useful tips and also keeps one safe in the waters. There would be someone to help if something untoward happens as well.



Paddling a kayak is not that tough if one equips themselves with proper paddling techniques. Beginners have to choose the kayak and the paddle appropriately and have all safety gear handy before setting their paddle on the waters. Attaining a basic kayaking course along with self-rescue lessons will make one a highly skilled kayaker.

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