Kayaking for Beginners: Tips, Tricks and Gear Recommendations
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As the weather heats up and we start heading for the water, you’ll see people out kayaking. It’s an easy sport to pick up, and lots of fun, so keep on reading to learn more about kayaking for beginners!
Best Kayaks for Beginners
The kayaks that you sit on top of instead of in the boat are generally the best for beginners. They’re easy to get in and out of and stable, so you’ll be more comfortable in them. You’ll get wet from them though, so if the water (or air) is cold where you live, you may be better off in the kayaks where you sit inside the cockpit. These ones are more comfortable, so they’re better for longer distances, and you can attach a spray-skirt to prevent all the water from splashing in the entrance and make sure to keep yourself warm and dry.
According to Gear Junkie, the best kayaks are:
Best Sit-On-Top Kayak: Wilderness Systems Tarpon 105
Best Sit-In Kayak: Old Town Manitou Sport
Best Budget Kayak: Intext Challenger K1
Tips for Beginner Kayakers
1. Always wear your lifejacket. Even water that’s 80 degrees can cause hypothermia, so it’s important to stay safe while out there. Lots of places have life vest laws too, so be sure to know those wherever you are.
2. Protect against the sun. Being out on the water in the sun zaps your energy and can cause sunburns and dehydration so be sure to drink plenty of (fresh) water, wear sunscreen, bring a hat and sunglasses, and protect yourself against the sun.
3. Wear breathable, moisture-wicking, layers so in case you get wet, they dry off quickly. You want to dress for the water, not the weather.
4. Bring a dry bag for all your important things you don’t want to get wet like your phone. You can strap this to your kayak, or it may have a compartment for you to store things in.
5. Check the forecast before you go out. You don’t want to get caught out in a storm! Kayaking on winding days can be challenging as well, so keep that in mind.
6. Bilge pumps are necessary for the kayaks you sit inside of, they’ll pump water out if some gets in, or if you flip and need to get it out once you’re upright again.
7. Learn how to flip your kayak when you’re in it and underwater in the sit-inside kayaks. It takes practice and you can find classes that’ll teach this.
8. Bring water. It can get hot when kayaking, so make sure you have a way to stay hydrated.
9. Pick a small lake or pond that is calm and one which you can see the opposite shoreline to start.
Storing and Transporting Kayaks
Before you get your kayak, you should figure out how you’re going to store and transport it. Does your garage have a place for it, or does your apartment have a storage cage? Inflatable kayaks are handy if you lack storage space or don’t have a vehicle to transport it on. Or, consider a rack like the Thule Hull-a-Port Rooftop Kayak Carrier.
Kayak Posture and Technique
For best performance, don’t slouch in your kayak and be sure to sit up straight to be the most comfortable. Most kayaks have foot rests on each side that are adjustable. Rest your feet here and point your toes out.
To paddle, hold it with your hands just over shoulder length apart and make sure that the paddle’s concave side is facing you. You’ll pull the concave part of the paddle through the water to propel you. If you pull repeated strokes on the same side of the boat, you’ll turn to the opposite side.
Launching & Landing
You can launch from a dock, or a beach, but to start, gently-sloping beaches are the easiest. You’ll want to have your kayak half in the water half in the sand, pointing out. Straddle the cockpit and sit down into it, bringing your legs in, one at a time.
To get back to the beach, it’s easiest to just paddle as hard as you can for the last few feet of water to get some good speed going and beach the kayak. Then rest your paddle in the kayak, swing a leg out, and get your balance under you before getting your other leg out.
If you’re not sure about kayaking, and want to try it out, try to find a kayak rental place near you. It’s a great way to head out on the water for not very much money. They’ll give you the necessary gear and a few pointers before sending you off on your way. You may also be able to find kayak classes near you too if you’re interested or you know you’ll need to learn how to flip your turned-over, sit-inside kayak right side up again.
Now you know how to kayak for beginners. Be sure to stay safe and have fun out there! It’s a great way to get outside, explore new places, and see cool marine wildlife!