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Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Newbie Kayaking Suggestions for First-Time Paddlers – Bearfoot Concept

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Inquisitive about kayaking however don’t have numerous expertise? Kayaking will be an effective way to get out on the water, whether or not for a leisurely morning paddle or a extra rigorous in a single day journey.

The Bearfoot Concept group and I’ve carried out quite a few day and in a single day kayaking journeys throughout the U.S. On this submit, we share some primary newbie kayaking suggestions so you may get on the market, give it a attempt, and have enjoyable as properly!

From kayaking gear to your paddling method to widespread questions on what to put on kayaking and the place to go, these newbie kayaking suggestions can have you out on the water with confidence very quickly.

Necessary Reminder: As out of doors recreationists, it’s our duty to know easy methods to recreate responsibly on the water whether or not we’re kayaking, paddleboarding, canoeing, rafting, or boating. Discover ways to stop the unfold of aquatic invasive species with 3 simple steps which have a huge effect on our ecosystems.

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Forms of Kayaks

Sit-On-Prime vs. Sit-Inside Kayaks

There are two fundamental sorts of kayaks – sit-on-top and sit-inside kayaks.

Sit-on-top kayaks are usually the simplest for learners. They’re very steady and simple to get out and in of, and for these of you who may really feel nervous, a sit-on-top kayak gained’t go away you feeling trapped.

Sit-on-top kayaks are nice for heat water, particularly in case you suppose you may wish to swim out of your kayak. However, if it’s chilly, you’re going to get moist on a sit-on-top kayak, which is one thing to remember.

A woman smiles sitting in a red sit on top kayak She is wearing a PFD
Sit-on-top kayaks are simpler to get in/out of and just a little extra steady

Sit-inside kayaks have a “cockpit” the place your legs go contained in the hull of the kayak. For learners, a sit-inside kayak might really feel just a little extra confining till you get the cling of it.

Nevertheless, sit-inside kayaks are much more environment friendly and if you’re paddling a protracted distance, sit-inside kayaks might be extra comfy for the lengthy haul.

Sit-inside kayaks aren’t as simple to get out and in of, however if you’re kayaking in colder water and wish to keep dry, sit-in kayaks will be tailored with a “spray-skirt” to stop water from getting contained in the hull.

A woman takes a selfie from behind while kayaking She's in a yellow sit-in kayak and wearing a sun hat.
Sit-inside kayaks have a “cockpit” and are higher for paddling longer distances or in chilly water

Single Kayaks vs. Double Kayaks

Should you don’t have a companion, then a single kayak it’s. Single kayaks are lighter and faster on the water.

Double kayaks, also referred to as tandem kayaks, have two seats. Double kayaks are heavier than single kayaks and take a little bit of synchronization between the 2 paddlers to maneuver. When you get into your groove, nevertheless, a double kayak will be very environment friendly.

Double kayaks are an amazing selection for pairs the place one individual won’t have the energy to energy a kayak on their very own. In case you are on an in a single day kayaking journey, double kayaks usually have larger hulls for storage too.

Two older couples sit in tandem kayaks One is red and the other is yellow
I took my dad and mom and my Dutch kinfolk on their first kayaking journey. They opted for double kayaks because it offers you twice the manpower.

What to Put on Kayaking

When kayaking, it’s good to have clothes that you could simply transfer round in, dries shortly, and can assist defend you from the solar.

Because you’ll doubtless be getting moist, you wish to avoid something cotton which can go away you dripping and soggy all day (and will trigger chafing).

Assuming it’s heat and also you don’t want a wetsuit or drysuit of any form, you’ll need light-weight, quick-drying layers – like a rash guard or solar safety shirt and boardshorts.

Beneath are a number of of my favourite items of clothes and niknaks for kayaking (and actually any water exercise):

Important Kayaking Gear

As a newbie kayaker, you don’t must exit and throw down a ton of cash on fancy gear proper off the bat. Renting’s doubtless the best way to go as you get began, and as soon as you realize what sort of kayaking you take pleasure in you possibly can put money into the precise gear for you.

Should you’re renting kayaks, the life vest and paddle are normally included and different “nice-to-haves”, like paddling gloves and drybags, could also be accessible for hire.

Should you’re able to hit the water often and want to put money into kayaking gear, listed below are our prime picks:


Should you’re trying to buy a kayak of your personal, the Notion Joyride Kayak is a good decide. It will get rave opinions from each newbie kayakers and skilled paddlers. Plus it has every thing you’d need in a kayak like safe cupboard space, a bungee for fast entry storage, a padded, adjustable seating system, drink holders, and even a “Selfie Slot” to carry your smartphone.

Store the Notion Joyride Kayak at:

Kayak Paddle

Search for a paddle that’s sturdy and budget-friendly like this entry-level paddle once you’re simply beginning out (no want for an costly carbon fiber paddle instantly until you’ve got the funds for it). You may also desire a paddle that breaks down into items if you’d like one thing extra compact that you could simply journey with.

Store Bending Branches Kayak Paddle at:

Life Vest

At all times have a life vest, often called a PFD (private floatation system) with you. In some circumstances, it’s the legislation.

I like to recommend all the time carrying your PFD once you launch, and all the time have it inside arm’s attain so you possibly can shortly put it on.

Should you resolve to tug over and seaside your kayaks for a bit, be sure that to safe your PFD to your boat so the wind doesn’t blow it away.

The NRS Ninja PDF is unisex, light-weight, comfy, and doesn’t get in the best way of your paddle stroke.

Woman kayaking wearing a life vest PFD with forested mountains in the background
At all times put on a PFD or have one with you when out on the water

Paddling Gloves

Should you’re paddling for a protracted distance, a pair of paddling gloves, just like the NRS Boater’s Gloves, might help stop blisters and callouses. We additionally like carrying them for added solar safety on our arms.

Store NRS Boater’s Gloves at:

Sturdy Drybag

A drybag is important for protecting your garments, towel, telephone, pockets, and another necessities dry. The within of your boat will get moist! 10-15 liters is an efficient dimension for a day journey. The SealLine Discovery 10L bag has a valve to let air out for simpler compression which we love.

Store SealLine Discovery View Dry Bag at:

Fast Dry Towel

I really like packing a small fast dry towel in my drybag in case I must wipe down my seat or wish to go for a dip whereas paddling. I’d additionally advocate protecting a fast dry towel and set of dry garments on shore or in your automotive to make sure you can dry your self (and the kayak) off earlier than hopping within the automotive.

Store REI Co-op Multi Towel Lite at:

A woman smiles at the camera while sitting in a kayak There's a dry bag strapped to the back of her kayak
Maintain your belongings in a dry bag to make sure nothing will get moist!

Different Kayaking Necessities

Listed here are a number of different kayaking necessities that I prefer to carry with me after I paddle.

  • Sunscreen
  • Lip Balm with SPF
  • A reusable water bottle
  • Snacks (you possibly can see all of our favorites right here)
  • Digicam – A GoPro is an superior selection for kayaking as a result of it’s waterproof, nice for POV photographs, and might simply mount to completely different spots in your kayak.
  • Binoculars – carry alongside a water-resistant pair to identify wildlife proper out of your kayak!
  • Paracord – Carry alongside a compact rope to tie up your kayak in case you wish to go away it on shore to discover.
  • Carabiner – you should utilize this to clip your dry bag or water bottle to your kayak.
  • Garmin Mini – if you’re out of cell attain, I all the time advocate bringing an emergency communication system simply in case.
Man and dog sitting in a kayak with distant mountains in the background
Canines can go kayaking too! Simply be sure that they’re comfy on the water and put on a PFD, like this Ruffwear Canine Life Jacket

Tips on how to Transport a Kayak

That is doubtless one of many trickiest issues for first-time kayakers. How on earth do you get the boat from the rental store to the water?

On your first time, I’d advocate renting a kayak from someplace on the water so you possibly can bypass this step, however in case you do must load a kayak on the highest of your automobile, this video offers you step-by-step directions:

YouTube video

Should you don’t wish to put money into a elaborate rack setup, this can be a budget-friendly answer for securing the kayak to your roof.

Store Riverside Automobile Prime Common Kayak Provider at:

If securing a kayak to your roof looks like an excessive amount of work, there are extra moveable kayak choices to think about which are good for flatwater paddling.

  • Inflatable Sit-Inside Kayak: This Aquaglide Deschutes Inflatable Kayak packs down right into a bag for a really cheap value. Merely unpack it at your launch level, hook it as much as an air pump (not included), and also you’re able to go. Should you’re on the lookout for a two-person possibility, try this Superior Parts Tandem Inflatable Kayak.
  • Inflatable Sit-On-Prime Kayak: We’ve seen quite a few inflatable sit-on-top kayaks on the market, and a few are even made to double as rise up paddleboards. You possibly can try a number of inflatable sit-on-top kayaks right here.
  • Folding Sit-Inside Kayak: Oru Kayak makes a wide range of light-weight, folding kayaks that make transportation and storage simpler. This Oru Kayak Lake Kayak is an efficient possibility for lakes and different calm, protected waterways with minimal present.

Tips on how to Sit in a Kayak

Physique Posture

If you sit in a kayak, you wish to be sitting with a straight again and your legs out in entrance of you, however you don’t wish to be tense or uncomfortable.

Barely bend your knees and place them towards the aspect of the kayak. This contact offers you extra stability and energy in your strokes.

Most kayaks have a backrest that you could pull tighter or make looser that will help you sit up straighter and relieve decrease again pressure. Make certain to regulate your backrest to your private consolation.

Should you’re in a sit-in kayak, there might be a pair of footpegs on the entrance of your kayak close to your ft. If you place your ft on the footpegs and barely bend your legs, your knees ought to transfer outward and contact the aspect of the kayak comfortably.

In case your legs are totally prolonged or bent too near your physique, regulate the footpegs as wanted.

A woman takes a selfie from behind while in a red kayak She is kayaking in a canyon and wearing a sun hat
You possibly can see how my knees are barely bent in my kayak and pushed up towards the edges

Tips on how to Paddle a Kayak

Tips on how to Maintain a Kayak Paddle

You’ll wish to maintain a kayak paddle much like the way you maintain the handlebars on a bicycle together with your arms gripping down on the paddle.

Should you relaxation the paddle on prime of your head, your elbows ought to make a 90-degree angle. That is referred to as a paddler’s field and tells you the way far aside your arms ought to be spaced.

You’re going to wish to additionally be sure that the scooped sides of your paddle blades are going through you.

Bear in mind you don’t must have a loss of life grip in your paddle, most paddles float in case you drop it. You wish to have a relaxed grip that’s within the form of an “o”. 

For extra info on easy methods to maintain your kayak paddle, try this useful submit on the REI Weblog.

Tips on how to Paddle Ahead

Interact your core and twist your torso to lean ahead and put the paddle blade totally into the water close to your ft. Then pull again to your seat with the blade and take away it from the water.

Simply keep in mind, lengthy strokes out of your ft to your seat is the best way to go. Don’t overlook to paddle on either side otherwise you’ll simply paddle your self in a circle!

Tips on how to Paddle Backwards

To paddle backwards in a kayak, do the ahead stroke in reverse. Put the paddle within the water at your seat and push it in the direction of your ft then take away the paddle from the water and change sides doing the identical movement.

A woman holds a kayak paddle while looking ahead at the water
Paddling in a kayak can really feel awkward at first, however it will get simpler the extra you do it (I promise!)

Tips on how to Cease a Kayak

Put your paddle within the water like you’re doing a backstroke and maintain it there, dragging it towards the water. It will sluggish after which halt any motion you have been making within the water.

Tips on how to Flip a Kayak

If you wish to flip LEFT, then paddle solely in your proper. If you wish to flip RIGHT, then paddle solely in your left.

Suggestions For Your First Kayaking Tour

If you end up planning your first kayaking journey, there are a number of concerns you’ll wish to make:

  • Journey Size: On your first-time kayaking, plan a visit that’s lower than three hours. You don’t wish to exhaust your self or chew off greater than you’re prepared for. 2-3 hours offers you sufficient time to get a really feel for kayaking and resolve in case you prefer it.
  • Wind/Water Situations: If it’s actually windy, you may go for one other day. Wind poses a further problem that typically is unavoidable, however we advocate attempting kayaking for the primary time when it’s calm out. Additionally, lake, calm river, or bay situations are usually simpler than the ocean for brand spanking new paddlers.
  • Take a category or go on a guided tour: Should you’re nervous, contemplate taking a category or becoming a member of a guided tour on your first journey. Use REI’s Class Finder to see if there’s a category close to you. You’ll construct a basis, familiarity with the gear, and the arrogance to go by yourself subsequent time. Or who is aware of? Possibly you’ll meet a brand new paddling companion within the class.

The place To Go Kayaking

As soon as you’re comfy and able to advance to the following stage, try my all-time favourite kayaking journeys for inspiration:

A woman kayaing in San Juan Islands She is in a tandem kayak with a man and there are 4 other people in tandem kayaks around her
Kayaking the San Juan Islands in Washington

Addressing Frequent Kayaking Fears

As an ocean kayaking information for the Channel Islands, BFT neighborhood member, Kim, has heard all of it. What if I fall? Or get swept out to sea? If this sounds such as you, listed below are Kim’s newbie kayaking suggestions for addressing these fears.

What if I fall in?

First, know that it takes rather a lot to flip a kayak over and tandem kayaks are even tougher to flip. With that stated, it’s necessary that you know the way to get your self again within the boat in that unlikely occasion.

Kim really recommends that you simply apply falling in so that you’ve got expertise re-entering a kayak from the water. She additionally says, all the time put on your PFD.

Should you’re going with an clothes shop or rental firm, take heed to their security speak and ask any questions you’ve got previous to heading out.

I’m afraid I’m not match sufficient

Kayaking within the morning is normally higher than within the afternoon as winds can decide up within the afternoon making kayaking tougher.

For the primary half of your journey, head into the wind, if attainable. That means once you’re drained in a while, you possibly can then kayak downwind and get just a little increase.

Ought to I fear about sharks if kayaking within the ocean?

Kim will get this query as a result of she guides within the Channel Islands. Know that seeing sharks is uncommon, however it’s one thing many individuals are afraid of.

Should you’re with a tour operator or renting from a enterprise, it’s okay to ask them if they’ve frequent expertise with sharks or if that is one thing you need to be conscious of.

We hope these newbie kayaking suggestions encourage you to attempt paddling for the primary time this summer season or to get again on the market if it’s been some time. What questions or suggestions do you’ve got? Go away them within the feedback under!

Bearfoot Theory | Embark on your kayaking adventure with our ultimate beginner's guide! Discover the different types of kayaks and learn how to choose the perfect one for your needs. Dive into the essentials of kayaking clothing & gear and get tips for staying safe and comfortable on your journey. Our blog post also covers beginner kayaking tips and inspirational locations for your first kayaking trip.

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