Kayaking for Beginners (A Helpful Illustrated Beginners Guide to Kayaking)


Kayaking is a great outdoor activity, but if you are a beginner, you may think kayaking is harder than it really is. With the proper knowledge and willingness to learn some basic but essential tips, anyone can kayak. In this article, we are going to talk about just some of the essential tips that a beginner kayaker needs to know to start. We will break this beginner’s guide to kayaking down into three parts: Essential safety equipment, type of kayaks and which ones are right for the beginner kayaker, and some basic instruction on how to navigate your kayak.

Essential Safety Tips for Kayaking

The following safety tips apply not only to the beginner kayaker, but they apply to the pro kayaker as well. We want to stress that these safety tips are not the only kayaking safety tips you need to follow. Use common sense and know your abilities at all times. Beginner kayakers often believe they are better than they really are but they quickly realize their inexperience when put into a situation that is above their skill level and requires accurate split-second decisions.

Kayaking Safety Gear: Life Vest.

Outdoor activities always involve some sort of risk that you don’t face in the comfort of your home. But when you add water to that outdoor activity, the dangers and risks are magnified. Thus having the right kayaking safety gear is extremely important. The first piece of safety equipment you will need is a life vest.

A properly fitting life jacket or safety vest can save your life if you ever find yourself in the water after you have tipped over. Regardless of how good a swimmer you may be, being thrown from the kayak may not provide you with enough time to prepare to go underwater. And that brings up another point; you do not know what lies underneath the water. A big rock lying beneath the surface will negate any swimming ability you have. It will be the life jacket that will bring you and keep you on the surface of the water. Even in calm water accidents happen. ALWAYS WEAR A LIFE JACKET.

Kayaking Safety Gear: Kayaking Helmet.

A properly fitting kayaking helmet is another piece of safety equipment that you need to have. No matter what type of water you’re paddling in, a helmet can be a life-saving piece of equipment if it’s worn properly, particularly if you capsize or fall overboard. There are three types of kayaking helmets: half-cut, full-cut, and full-face helmets. If you are a beginner kayaker, a half-cut helmet is probably the one you will need. It offers head protection but does not cover your ears. Full-face helmets are for professional kayakers that are kayaking whitewater or in more advanced backcountry kayaking conditions.

Two other essential features of a kayaking helmet are the color and reflective stickers. Color is important so you can be spotted easily should you be in an emergency situation. Bright contrasting color makes you visible and easily found. Reflective stickers are likewise used to help you be found if needed.

Ensure that the kayaking helmet is adjusted properly to achieve a perfect fit.

Kayaking Safety Gear: Proper Kayaking Footwear.

More beginner kayakers get hurt getting into or out of their kayak than at any other time. Broken legs and arms occur when getting in or out of the kayak and you slip and fall because the bottom of the kayak is wet and slippery. Proper kayaking footwear will help you not only with getting in and out of the kayak because of the non-slip sole the kayak shoes have, but should you find yourself in the water, your kayak shoes will protect you from what may be on the bottom – broken glass, a jagged rock.

You’ll want a kayaking shoe with a thick sole if you’re going to be walking over jagged rocks, tread for smooth surfaces, and a tall, closed-shoe if you’re walking through sand or pebbles to prevent blisters. Your kayaking shoes should be snugger than the shoes you wear in everyday life, especially if it’s made of neoprene. Think of it as fitting more like a glove or a sock. Too tight, and you might have foot cramps after just a few hours of paddling. Too loose, and you risk having water pooling inside, debris coming in, and getting blisters.

A bulky kayaking shoe might also not be compatible with the inside of your hull if you have a kayak with small footholds. You should be able to flex your foot, including your toes, comfortably, but not have any loose material. Keep in mind that neoprene expands and becomes more flexible in the water.

Kayaking Safety Tip: Invest in a Couple of Lessons.

No one knows how to do anything the first time they try it. The same is certainly true for kayaking. Investing in a couple of kayaking lessons will save you a lot of heartaches and perhaps even injury later. There are numerous outfitters and kayaking guides around any navigable water. Best of all, lessons are cheap and you will have an expert paddler with you teaching you the right techniques from the start. They have all the gear you will need to start your kayaking lessons.

Kayaking Safety Tip: Never Kayak Alone.

It may be tempting to break out the kayak and head down to the water for some fun. Don’t do it if you are alone. Always have a kayaking buddy with you just in case you find yourself needing help or if you get yourself in a situation that you don’t have the experience to handle.

Types of Kayaks Made for Beginners

Kayaks come in all shapes and colors. But all kayaks are not made the same. Professional kayakers will use a different design of kayak than will a beginner. Beginner kayakers will use kayaks that are rather big and bulky and not meant for nimbleness and high mobility. Beginner kayaks are designed for stability. That doesn’t mean a beginner kayaker doesn’t have options. There are two primary types of kayaks that are perfect for the beginner. The Sit-Insides(SIs) and Sit-On-Tops (SOTs).

Sit-Insides (SIs) Kayak.

Sit-inside kayaks are what you probably think of when you picture a kayak. You will sit inside the kayak itself and brace your feet while paddling. It is easier to get up to faster speeds in an SI because you can use extra leverage that comes from leaning into the foot braces. They are also better suited for cold-water kayaking because it is easier to avoid getting wet while paddling. If you do flip a sit-inside kayak, however, you will need to get to shore to completely empty out the kayak before climbing back in and proceeding with your excursion.

Sit-On-Top (SOT) Kayak.

A relative newcomer to the kayak market, sit-on-top kayaks are ideal for warm weather kayaking. You will definitely get wet while paddling because the water laps over the kayak by design. If you want to hop off for a swim or to flip the kayak, however, it is very simple to climb back on even in deep water. They are very user-friendly and are generally less expensive than SIs. Ocean Kayak’s Malibu Tandem or Ocean Kayak’s Frenzy are great models to try if you are looking for a SOT kayak.

Navigating and Steering the Kayak for Beginners

Directing your kayak using a paddle is a fundamental skill. Explore the great outdoors with these beginner kayaking tips. Learning to steer and turn your kayak is important to fully enjoy your experience on the water. It may take some time and practice, but arming yourself with the proper skills and knowledge could help you feel comfortable and confident on your kayaking adventure.

Begin by putting your paddle in the water behind you and parallel to the kayak. Like a rudder on a boat, using your paddle this way turns your kayak. If you want to turn left, paddle continually on the right side of the kayak. If you want to turn right, paddle repeatedly to the left. Think about it like this: if you want to turn in the desired direction, paddle on the opposite side of the kayak.

The more you practice these fundamentals the more likely they’ll become second nature and you’ll be able to turn your kayak in any direction you want with ease.

Summary of Kayaking for Beginners (A Helpful Illustrated Beginners Guide to Kayaking)

Kayak is a fantastic outdoor activity to become involved with. The more skill you obtain, the more advanced sections of water you can kayak. Never overlook the safety precautions you need to take and make sure to always know your abilities as well as your surroundings. Kayaking for beginners is as much fun as kayaking for professionals because you are learning. Get the right kayaking gear and learn the strokes to steer your kayak properly.

Kayaking for beginners requires some skills to learn and most of all learning and having all of the required safety gear will make you confident and ensure a safe kayaking adventure.