Kayaking is one of the most thrilling experiences you can have in the waters and as much as most people would like to try this out, not everyone would do It right. It’s actually a “try and error” experience for most people before they can completely master this and what’s even sadder than this is that most people give up on the way.
Well, kayaking doesn’t have to be dangerous as most people portray it to be. As a matter of fact, it’s quite an amazing way of getting close to nature.
Kayaks have been around for quite a lot of years and there have been lots of modifications on the same to make it more fun. There are different types of kayaks and also different types of kayaking so it’s all a matter of personal preference when it comes to them.
If you’re just looking to get into kayaking, you’re definitely at the right place. We’re all about giving you the easiest time possible on your first kayaking experience…
Well, let’s cut to the chase and see what kayaking is all about, shall we?
- 1 The difference between kayaking and canoeing
- 2 First time using your kayak? Here’s how to make things easy
- 2.1 Getting started
- 2.2 The starboard and the port
- 2.3 The stern and the bow
- 2.4 The cockpit and the hull
- 2.5 The hatch
- 2.6 The toggle/ grab handle
- 2.7 Getting the perfect fit from your kayak
- 2.8 The basics to launching, landing and paddling your kayak
- 2.9 Launching your kayak
- 2.10 So, how should you hold your paddle?
- 2.11 Here’s how to land your kayak
- 3 Getting the strokes right
- 4 Types of kayaks & how to choose the best kayak
- 5 The different types of kayaks
- 6 The different types of kayaking
- 7 All the necessary equipment you need for kayaking
- 8 Getting your kayak to the waters
- 9 Essential kayaking tips for every beginner
The history of kayaking
Kayaks were invented thousands of years ago by the Inuit people from arctic and the first kayaks were made of a wooden frame that was then covered up by sealskin. The kayaks included a hole in the center of the craft in which the user could sit and these were exclusively used for hunting.
The kayak designs varied from one region to another and ever since they were adopted by the Europeans, their designs have changed significantly.
Nowadays, kayaking is mainly used as a sporting activity and most people tend to confuse kayaking and canoeing. So how about we take a look at what the major difference is between kayaking and canoeing down below?
The difference between kayaking and canoeing
Canoeing and kayaking are two different terms that are used interchangeably and most people who are just starting out on either of these will easily confuse one with the other. So, this being the case, let’s clear things out before we move ahead to take a look at what kayaking is all about.
Bearing raised seats in them, canoes have a long and slender configuration and whilst you sit in them, your legs will be at a 90-degree angle with your torso.
The paddling of canoes is with the use of a single paddle that has got a single blade on it and you don’t have to necessarily do all the paddling on your own you can have someone else come along with you. Canoeing is used as a recreational sport and in addition to this, you can use it for fishing and depending on the type of canoe you choose, the level of control and expertise needed to control it may vary.
Canoes can also be used in hunting, fishing or camping trip and have been the preferred choice for most people in lots of years.
What about kayaking?
Both kayaking and canoeing have an ancient past but here’s a difference between the two. Though kayaking was previously used for hunting, it has vastly grown as a water sport over the years and there have been lots of other modifications as well,
Just like canoes, kayaks too do have a long and slender design and one of the major differences being the sitting position. Whereas in canoes you have to sit while your legs are at a right-angle position with your torso and the seat is raised, the kayaks have our seat on the floor of the kayaks and your legs are at the front.
For the paddles, kayaks have paddles that are double bladed and each of the paddles is at a 90-degree angle to the other and as compared to those on the canoes, kayak paddles are longer. Just like canoes, there are also different types of kayaks and it’s a matter of personal preference
Both a kayak and a canoe have its own upside and downside and people that use either have their own reasons as to why they settled for their choice. There are also lots of differences between canoeing and kayaking based on not only the design but the equipment used in either.
First time using your kayak? Here’s how to make things easy
The truth of the matter is that there is a lot of risks involved in kayaking and it’s possibly the riskiest water sporting activity. It should, therefore, come as a priority to pay attention to how you can best use your kayak to ensure maximum safety each time you’re out in the waters.
Since today it’s all about kayaks and kayaking, it would be helpful if you knew of the different parts of a kayak. Here goes:
The starboard and the port
The starboard and the ports are the right and the left side of your kayak. By knowing the different sides of the kayak, it would be helpful for you depending on your dominant hand as far as paddling is concerned so it’s important to pay attention to this while shopping for a kayak
The stern and the bow
Depending on the type of kayak you pick, the stern and the bow may switch places. The stern is the rear of the kayak and it is where your back will be facing as you sit in the kayak whereas the bow is the front part of the kayak and it’s where your feet will be facing.
The cockpit and the hull
The cockpit is where you’ll be sitting and depending on the type of kayak you choose; the style may be different though it serves the same purpose in all types of kayaks. The hull, on the other hand, is the body of the kayak and it is its strength that determines how good a kayak really is
The hatch on your kayak is basically the compartment for stowing gear in your kayak which will be of assistance in quite a lot of ways.
The toggle/ grab handle
Just as the name suggests, this is a rope loop and a handle that basically aids in moving or securing the kayak when you’re not using it. You can hold on to the end of the kayak using this, attach a tow line or even tie the kayak to a cartop rack while it is in transportation.
Getting the perfect fit from your kayak
Most people probably don’t know this and as intimidating as it may seem, you can modify your kayak quite easily so as to get it as comfortable as you desire.
Note: all of the adjustments you’ll be making on your kayak for comfort should be made while you’re on land for the sake of safety.
Now, getting the perfect level of comfort should be quite simple. Just go ahead and sit up straight in your kayak and have your rear end against the seat back in your cockpit. Most kayaks will allow you to move the seat and have it set at the right level of comfort.
The next thing you ought to do is have both of your feet in the foot braces which are generally adjustable but the idea behind being as comfortable as possible while you are in the waters is slightly bending your knees.
Optimizing your kayak to your preferred level of comfort will give you better control and at the same time minimize the chances of fatigue.
The basics to launching, landing and paddling your kayak
After you have your kayak as comfortable as possible, the next thing you ought to do is set out into the water with it. let’s have a look at this next. Like most of the other water sports, kayaking is just as demanding a sport and getting things right from the start would be awesome.
Launching your kayak
Most first timers are in quite a hurry to get rowing already which I’d strongly advice against. First of all, get all the essential gear you need and then go ahead and carry your vessel to your kayaking site. Pick out a shallow portion of the water body since here, it will be much easier for you to get into your kayak. You should also be careful not to drag the kayak across sand or rocks to avoid puncturing the base.
With the bow facing the water, step into the cockpit from either the starboard or the port while at the same time having the paddle held across your vessel. You can then use your hand to move further into the waters and once you are far enough in to start paddling without the blades touching the base of the water body, you’re good to go.
So, how should you hold your paddle?
Everyone can hold their paddle but not everyone does this right- remember, the details do matter. When moving forward, the long end of your paddle should always be facing up and then you should strive to find your optimal paddling position or a rather sweet spot before things get rough.
Here’s how to do so:
The trick is having your knuckles lined up with the top of the blade and at the same time, don’t hold the paddle too tight such that it’s difficult to maneuverer the waters with ease. You should also ensure your wrists are straight and not bent. By bending them, not only will it be difficult to control the paddle but you might easily sprain them or lose your paddle in rough waters.
The distance between your arms also matters and to get this right, you should set it slightly past your shoulder width
Here’s how to land your kayak
Now that you know how to hold your paddle, and setting it out into the waters, the last thing you ought to know is putting your kayak to a stop.
Unlike launching your kayak, landing it is quite simple since you’ll actually be heading towards shallow waters. As you near the shore, the kayak shouldn’t be moving fast at all so it should be easy for you to hold on to either side of the cockpit then bring your knees back towards your torso.
Once you gain enough stability, get one foot out of the kayak and stand slowly once your well balanced after which you should step out of the water then stand slowly and carry your vehicle out of the water
Getting the strokes right
It isn’t that difficult to learn kayaking since you need to learn how to get the strokes right. Just pay attention to the following tips and you’ll be good to go. With mastery of each of the following strokes, you should be good to go as far as moving forward, reversing and turning is concerned.
How to get the forward stroke right
The forward strokes can be divided into either the catch stage, the exit stage, and the propulsion stage.
The catch stage: the catch is also referred to as the beginning of the stroke and this should be at the point where your toes are. At this point, push the paddle into the water till it disappears. It’s best to submerge it into the water while at your toes since at his point, you’ll gain enough potential energy for the propulsion.
The propulsion: in the catch stage, you’ll slightly rotate your torso in an effort to submerge your paddle at the point where your toes are placed. Now for the propulsion, you’ll need to reverse this motion and then pull back the blade until it is slightly behind your hips at which point the blade will slice up through the water cleanly.
The exit stage: the exit stage is basically combining the propulsion and the catch stage such that when you have the propulsion on one side, you are beginning the catch stage on the other side
The reverse stroke
Think of a situation when you have come to a narrow creek accidentally and there is not enough room for you to turn around. Well, the only option would be a reverse stroke which is a little complicated than the forward stroke.
With this, you’ll be using the back face of the paddle and the range of motion will be between the stern and the cockpit. For the motion, you need to have the back face of the paddle flat against the water while it is at the stern and then unwind your torso so as to bring the paddle to where you are and then repeat this motion with the other side.
In order to know you’re doing this right; the kayak should move slightly to the left when doing the left reverse stroke and slightly to the right for the right reverse stroke. It’s important that your weight shifts to either side as you handle the strokes
Getting the forward stroke is important but mastering the reverse stroke is much more important since it will get you out of rather tight spots.
The sweep stroke
Whereas the reverse stroke allows you to move backward, the sweep stroke would be effective when you need to turn the kayak to change directions.
My recommended way which I also find to be the easiest of doing this is via the sweep stroke and there is also the reverse and the forward sweep stroke.
Forward sweep strokes can be done both when the kayak is at rest or when it is in motion in the direction you are facing. Think of the forward stroke as one where you are in the catch position and the back-facing paddle is right above the front of your kayak where your toes are.
Keep the blade immersed and have the shaft of the paddle as horizontal as possible. With this form, you will achieve an arc and it is best to engage your torso in order to do this right and also ensure you keep a low shaft angle.
The trick behind getting the perfect sweep stroke is ensuring the blade does not leave the water at all till you have to rotate to the other side.
What about rudders and skegs?
Most entry-level kayaks do not come with rudders or skegs and as a beginner, I wouldn’t recommend getting either of them. It would be a good idea to first master paddling the kayak then move on to using either of these. So, let’s find out how either of them works, shall we?
Unlike what most people think, rudders and skegs are not meant to change the direction of motion of your kayak or turn it around but instead, they are used to keep the kayak in a straight course when the wind isn’t in your favor.
Weathercocking or wanting to turn in the direction of the is something that kayaks will give in to and at some point, it will be necessary to master rudders and skegs.
these are the preferred choice of most kayakers since they can also help steer the kayak while it is moving. Rudders are located at the deck and you’ll be controlling them by foot. When not in use, they are retracted to their stored position and you’ll need to engage them to flip down into the water so as to use them.
When the rudder is angled to the right, the boat will turn to the right and vice versa. If the boat is being pushed more to the right, then you should paddle the boat harder on this side to keep it more on course
In the case of skegs, they are normally in a skeg box which is hidden in the stern. Unlike in the case of rudders where you use your feet, skegs, on the other hand, utilize a slider that is at the side of your kayak; this should be right beside the cockpit for easy access.
Unlike rudders, skegs will not move from side to side but instead, they keep the boat in course depending on the depth of water they are set. The stronger the winds try to alter the course of our kayak and have it weathercock, the deeper you will need the skeg to be. Whereas some skegs can be retracted back to the base of the kayak when not in use, others are fixed such that they are part of the keel; these cannot be retracted and their height cannot be changed whatsoever.
Now here’s the thing…
With a fixed skeg, it may take some time for the paddler to master how to use it perfectly well but once you get to master it, you’ll be able to handle the kayak with expertise.
For a retractable skeg, you can use alter the depth to your favor which makes them easier to handle but the downside is that they may get stuck due to sand.
Getting in shape for kayaking
For you to have the best time kayaking, you should be in good enough shape since you are going to engage your whole body. It is therefore critical that you warm up and stretch out really well before hitting the waters. This will save you from quick fatigue or muscle cramps.
Wake up early for morning runs, go for some swimming sessions or even trail cycling. Provided at the end of the day you engage all the muscles in your body to boost your strength and your endurance, you should be good to go. Most importantly, don’t forget core training since you’ll be moving your torso quite a lot.
Types of kayaks & how to choose the best kayak
It’s time we take a look at the different types of kayaks to present out there as well as what you should take into account before you go ahead and choose one.
How to choose a kayak
Before you go ahead and take a look at the different types of kayaks there are out there, it would be worthwhile to first get to know what features you should always watch out for on the best kayak.
The type of kayaking you’ll be venturing into
There are lots of different types of kayaking one could venture into and it’s not all about one-fits-all. So, before you settle on the type of kayak you should buy, choose the style of kayaking that picks your interest most.
It is always a good idea to first do your research and then pick a kayak or simply venture into recreational kayaking first. If you are really uncertain on the kind of kayaking you should go for or are torn apart between different types of kayaking, go ahead and venture into recreational kayaking.
At the end of the day, with a clear picture of the style of kayaking you want to venture into, it should be much easier to pick out a kayak.
The material construction
Whereas most kayakers will want to pick out the best right from the start, others would like to start out simple and later on upgrade their kayaks.
Well, since you’ll probably have a bunch of kayaks with you in the long run, starting out simple with a kayak that won’t break the bank should do. In order to do this a beginner, you should start off with a second-hand kayak that’s probably all plastic then upgrade later on.
On your first kayaking expedition, you are most likely to bump your kayak on to obstacles and getting a plastic kayak or a composite one is much better as compared to getting one that’s made of other materials since it is more durable. The downside of plastic kayaks is that they are heavier than the others.
Alternatives to plastic kayaks which are also more expensive but compromised on the durability are Kevlar, fiberglass, carbon fiber or even wooden kayaks all of which are lighter.
Not until you have complete mastery of kayaking, I’d advise that you first start off with a plastic kayak then advance later on.
Also, in addition to picking out a kayak that’s made of plastic, getting a sit on top kayak would be much better as compared to a sit-in kayak since you’ll have better control with the plastic/composite kayak body which will then compensate for the additional weight that comes with plastic over other kayak materials.
How big should the kayak be?
With the style of kayaking and with the type of material for your kayaking mind, you should go ahead and determine how big you want it.
Kayak dimensions are measured in a number of ways but when it comes to the kayak size, you should pretty much pay attention to the volume, the length, the width and the weight of the kayak.
Though all of these are equally important, the two you ought to pay close attention to include the weight of your kayak and whether it’s got a good enough size. For the weight, simply pick one that’s enough for you to maneuver.
When sizing it up, go ahead and sit in the kayak to ensure it fits perfectly well. Make any necessary adjustments on the seat if the kayak allows it and also alter the foot position to have them as comfortable as possible.
Solo vs tandem kayaking
Gong hand in hand with the size of the kayak, it would be a good idea to weigh out your options on whether a one-person or a tandem kayak would do.
For beginners, you should only go for a tandem kayak if you’re sure you’ll be taking someone else with you. Getting a solo kayak however is much better since you’ll learn all the basics much faster and after all, getting a tandem kayak without any guarantee of having someone else come along with you would leave you with a large kayak that would them be too much weight and size for you to deal with
The storage capacity
Kayaks will naturally come with a storage compartment but depending on the type of kayaking you’re going to venture into, the amount of storage space will vary. Also, depending on where you’re going, you’ll get an idea of how much you’re going to carry.
Going to a campsite, for instance, would demand more storage space as compared to going for whitewater kayaking.
The different types of kayaks
Considering it is going to be your first time getting a kayak, it is critical that you get the very best plus you’re going to spend your hard-earned cash to get one after all, won’t you?
The trick behind getting the perfect kayak is matching it up to the conditions in which you’ll be paddling in and more often than not, there are kayaks that are dominant in one season while they are not in use for the next due to the waterways being varied. It is also mandatory that the kayak you go for to seamlessly be able to fit your body frame and how you paddle.
Taking all that into consideration, here are all the different types of kayaks you will get out there.
The sit on top kayaks
We’re starting off with this type since as a beginner, it’s going to go easy on you. As the name suggests, your legs you won’t be inside the kayak but instead, you’ll be on top of it. the depression where the cockpit is situated is normally raised.
What you gain from selecting this type of kayak is that they are much simpler to get inside and outside but most importantly, they are quite easy to adjust.
For some designs, you will also get small holes that let out water from the kayak. These should come in handy since, for a first-time user, it will take some time for you to get a stable control of your kayak and some water will get in most likely.
There are also some variations of the sit on top kayaks that could be used for fishing. With this kind of vessel, you could hold your rods and other fishing equipment as well.
The sit-in kayaks
Once you get a grip on your kayaking, you could go ahead and switch to the sit-in kayaks. Sit in kayaks are the go-to choice for when the waters are too cold for you or when you’d like to keep the wind of the lower portion of your body.
Sit in kayaks basically have the cockpit lower such that from your torso down to your toes, you will be completely covered. Whereas the sit on top kayaks give you utmost freedom of movement, the sit-in kayaks limit your range of motion.
So, is it worth sacrificing your freedom of motion worth over keeping your legs dry and warm?
That’s not all…
Another variant of the sit-in kayaks is the day touring kayaks. Day touring kayaks give the kayaker a better experience than the sit-in kayaks. They’re more expensive than the sit in kayaks and are more expensive. Also, whereas the sit in kayaks are a little difficult to control, the day touring kayaks are much easier to handle and instead of starting off with a recreational vessel, you could opt to start off with a day touring kayak.
The sea kayaks
There are lots of sea kayaks available out there and depending on what your goals are, you should be able to choose the perfect one.
Sea kayaks are meant for use in the open waters and if you are looking forward to a rather long kayaking expedition, it would be a good idea to go for a long kayak. Long kayaks cut through the waters quite easily and are fast. Also, since you will be spending a lot of time in the water, the long kayaks have got storage space that you’ll definitely need.
If the waters won’t be entirely calm but will have a little bit of turbulence, getting a waterline and probably a gentle rocker would be a good idea and just in case you want to do a little bit of surfing and hit the waves, getting a short waterline and more rocker will do you justice since this way, you’ll get to have better control.
Regardless of whether you are trying out kayaking for your very first time or you are a seasoned kayaker, touring kayaks are all equally as important nonetheless.
Touring kayaks can be used in most water bodies ranging from lakes and bays to rivers as well but they aren’t mostly used in oceans.
You should go for a touring kayak if you’ll be staying in the waters for some time since they have plenty of storage space and mostly stay on a straight path. Touring kayaks, however, bear a rather heavy price tag but on the upside, getting one of these should get you through about 2 days in the water and you won’t have to worry too much about keeping it on course since they’re easy to maneuver.
Looking for a kayak that will be easy to transport and not space consuming? You should definitely give this one a try. These types give you the convenience of getting to kayaking spots that cannot be easily reached by car and you can also choose from simple recreational ones or step things up a notch and go for the more rugged ones.
Setting up the inflatables is quite easy and they also have lots of storage space for your accessories. Depending on the type of kayaking you prefer, you can choose from different types of inflatable kayaks.
Alongside the inflatable kayaks are the folding kayaks. The main idea behind getting a folding kayak is to save on storage space and make transportation easier
The kid’s kayaks
If your kid has picked interest in kayaking, it would be a good idea to get them one but the normal kayaks would be too much for them to handle. A kid’s kayak, on the other hand, is friendlier.
They are mainly designed to give a young kayaker complete control of the kayak in the water and prepare them well enough to be able to handle the normal types of kayaks with ease. Though they have a design that is almost similar to that of the adult kayaks, they are much easier to handle. It would probably be a good idea to get a used kids’ kayak since they’ll most likely grow into them and need an adult’s kayak after some time.
White water kayaks are the kind you would go for if you’re hitting some rather violent waters such as streams, rapids, paddle rives or basically white water as their name suggests.
Depending on how violent the water body is, you should be able to know which type of white-water kayak will serve you well. There’s a whitewater classification to determine the rates for different rivers and help kayakers determine whether or not they would measure up to the different water bodies.
As much as whitewater kayaks are meant for paddling in violent waters, you could also get these for surfing since some waves could get pretty high.
Based on the water body you choose for whitewater kayaking, there are different styles of paddling which include river running, playboating, squirt boarding or creaking. So, with regard to the type of white water kayaking you prefer, you might need a specific type of kayak.
For those who are just getting into kayaking and would like to tag along with someone else, a tandem kayak would serve you quite well. These kayaks are exclusively meant to accommodate pairs and would be a more reliable option for trainers.
The different types of kayaking
As much as there are lots of different types of kayaks, there are different types of kayaking one could choose from each of which works well with a specific type of kayak. Here is kayaking made easy
This is the most basic of all type of kayaking. It is the kind that most people that are just getting into kayaking go for since it’s normally done in well-protected lakes or in the shallow ocean waters with the main focus being to give the kayakers utmost safety.
Recreational kayaks are also the kind that you can easily get your hands on in rental shops. They also offer quite a lot of adjustments to give the kayaker a balance between comfort and speed and you also won’t be needing lots of experience to paddle them since they’re all about giving you utmost fun in the water.
These are sometimes confused with the recreational kayaks and the only difference between the two is that these require some paddling experience.
Touring kayaking basically involves covering large water areas and one could stay on course for long hours. At the end of the day, touring kayaking is intended for site observations. I’d recommend that you go for touring kayaking if you’re a beginner and are trying out new waters
This kind of kayaking is not for the faint of heart since it entails venturing out in unexplored waters and rather unpredictable waters
For sea kayaking, you’d want to stick to a sea kayak alone as they are easy to paddle and control. Sea kayaking might also involve surfing in the waves which could be quite dangerous and only recommended for kayakers who are really experienced.
Though sea kayaking gets easy with time, it’s always recommended that you have all the safety gear on since things could get unpredictable.
Whitewater kayaking is all about exploring any water bodies that got whitewater which could be in streams, rapids or creeks and depending on the white-water classification system, some waters are more dangerous than others so it may take different levels of expertise to get through them.
Having all the safety gear is recommended each time since it may get as intense of dropping down a waterfall.
This is basically what occurs in the Olympics and it involves as much as 10 different forms of whitewater kayaking. Competitive kayaking requires the most experience and training since it tests all aspects of someone’s kayaking prowess using the sprints and even slalom events
This is basically a combination of all the different types of kayaking and there’s no telling how difficult the course will be. It can be as simple as just a sprint or get as complex as whitewater kayaking blended whereby the kayaker could do lots of amazing tricks such as backflips or twists in the most difficult courses.
It’s all about a matter of personal preference as to what type of kayaking will work best for you but at the end of the day, the right kind of training will get you through any style you settle for.
All the necessary equipment you need for kayaking
Now that you already have an idea on the type of kayaking, you’d like to venture into, it’s time we take a look at some of the important equipment you should always have without each time you are out kayaking. It’s all about safety in kayaking and it is also of utmost importance that you don’t take any chances with your gear.
It’s quite obvious that if you’re going kayaking, then you should have a kayak with you, right? Well, not just any kayak will do for a beginner. I’d the first kayak you get be a simple recreational one with plenty of space and the cockpits are large enough to make it easy to get in and out while at the same time comfortable enough to be in.
Just to be sure on the comfort, you should probably try out a sit on top kayak since if you happen to capsize, you’re going to fall into the water after which your swimming skills will then kick in.
Get the perfect helmet
These are equally as good for paddlers with experience as they are for beginners. They’re going to keep your head protected from anything that may reshape it and this includes rocks or even your boat when you capsize. If you are getting into any other form of kayaking other than sea kayaking, I’d recommend that you always have a helmet on.
Most beginners will confuse between kayaking and a canoeing paddle. For a kayaking paddle, it’s got a twin blade and is slightly over 2 meters long. Kayaking paddles also come in different sizes and depending on factors such as your height, your paddle style and the width of your boat, you should be able to pick the perfect one.
The rule of thumb on how to easily choose a paddle that’ll work well with you is your height is directly proportional to the length of the paddle.
It’s always a good idea that you get a spare paddle each time you are out kayaking and more so, if it’s your first paddle, I’d recommend getting a plastic one as since these are much easier to learn with as compared to wooden paddles, Kevlar or fiberglass paddles.
A spray deck
Also known as a spray skirt, a spray deck is a waterproof material that you wear on your body such that when you sit in the kayak, it prevents the entry of water into the kayak. The spray deck basically wraps around the cockpit once you sit in the kayak.
They are made from lots of different materials all of which are recommended for different types of kayaking. For sea kayaking, for example, I’d recommend that you get a nylon spray due to the fact that they are well ventilated and in addition to this, they have a lot of room. Whitewater kayaking, on the other hand, would require a neoprene spray deck since these can hold up to the force form the breaking waves.
Regardless of the type of kayaking you choose to venture into, a buoyancy aid is a piece of must-have equipment. These are normally confused with life jackets but the difference between the two is that the buoyancy aids is that these allow for more movement around the arms and the neck that makes them friendlier for kayaking.
Whereas buoyancy aids will help you float jus in case you accidentally fall in the water, a wet suit, on the other hand, will basically keep you from getting wet. For kayaking, the best-wet suit to go for would be an action sports standard 4:3 style since this will give you a 4mm thickness on the body (your torso and back) and a 3mm thickness for your arms. Along with the wet suit, you should also go ahead and get a pair of gloves.
Wet shoes are just as important as a wet suit when you go kayaking. They are all made of neoprene rubber that has got a nice grip on the sole which should aid you in walking on any wet surfaces which are expected for anyone who is going to pick up a kayaking hobby.
Getting your kayak to the waters
Most kayaks nowadays are used for recreational purposes and the heaviest ones will mostly weigh about 50lbs and even though they’re not that heavy, you need to prioritize your safety and that of the kayak in mind as you transport it.
For the kayak to be properly secured on your vehicle, you’ll need to have some items with you and these include a rope, a nylon webbing or both for added security, you’ll need a kayak mount system, a pair of cam straps that should secure the kayak as well as a crossbar (this varies depending on the vehicle you have).
- First, carry the kayak and have it positioned beside your vehicle in a parallel position with the front of the kayak facing the front of the vehicle.
- Next, go ahead and carry the kayak by the hull after which you should have it placed on to the rack carefully while at the same time paying attention to the instructions that are specific to your rack alone.
- Take one can strap and have it at one side of the crossbar then the other. Have the end of the strap beneath the crossbar after which you should pass it through the cam buckle and have it snugly pulled and this way, it should be inside the crossbar. Go ahead and repeat this with the opposite crossbar.
- Lastly, to keep the straps from flapping, tie them up to the crossbar then go ahead and give your kayak a few tugs just to ensure it is secure in place
Just in case you will be traveling a long distance or when the weather is unfavorable and might tip the kayak off the top of your vehicle, it would be a good idea to secure it with both bow and stern straps
Getting it right while on foot
Things should be less hectic if you live close to the water. Assuming you’re on your own, prop up the kayak on its side so as to carry it by the cockpit. Bend down to your kayak then have your shoulder beneath the cockpit and then stand up slow with your back straight and I’d recommend that you have your PFD on before carrying your kayak so as to avoid bruising yourself from lack of enough padding.
Essential kayaking tips for every beginner
Before you set off, it would be a good idea that you pay attention to the following so as to have the easiest and safest first kayaking experience.
- Dress for the water: one common mistake that most kayakers that are just starting off do is dressing for the weather and not for the waters. Ensure you have your wet suit, a pair of gloves and a PFD on.
- Always pack enough supplies: once you are all dressed up, the next thing to do would be to carry with you enough supplies. These include accessories such as knives and ropes and also enough food and water to keep you hydrated.
- Don’t go alone: since it will be your first time, it’s important that you have someone else tag along with you be it a trainer or a friend.
- Get a communication device: even after bringing someone else with you, you might lose each other in the waters and this is where the importance of a cellphone or a VHF radio comes in. if your friend isn’t within earshot range, you could use this to easily reach out to them
- Don’t travel too far: despite having someone else with you and a communication device as well, don’t get overconfident and go too far away. Instead, only go as far as you can be able to swim back to the shore.
- Learning a wet exit will be helpful: as part of your training, safety should always be a top priority and even with your safety gear, practicing how to wet exit from your kayak in a swimming pool would be helpful before you hit the larger water bodies such as oceans, lakes or rivers.
- Always plan ahead: most likely, the waters you are going to get into will be unfamiliar so it’s important to do your research and probably seek out an expert’s advice before hitting the waters
Delving into any new physical recreational activity especially one that’s bound to give you a huge adrenal rush such as kayaking is a big deal and you owe it to yourself to get everything right before you go ahead and get started on the same.
We’ve taken a look at pretty much everything you should have in mind from the tools and equipment you out to have and most importantly the safety precautions you need to take to have the best time possible. With the different styles of kayaking and different types of kayaks, simply weigh out your options before settling on which one suits you best.
Also, for it to take you a while, ensure you pay attention to the maintenance tips- better safe than sorry, right?