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How to Kayak

Learn how to plan for your first time kayaking by following these tips for beginners
July 29, 2014
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Kayaking for the first time can be quite daunting, especially when you aren’t used to paddle sports. Make sure you’ve got the right kit on, as well as the basic moves at the ready, and you can expect a super day out.

Kit Yourself Out

Getting the right kit for the weather is the first step in mastering kayaking for beginners. You don’t have to go completely over the top but there are certain things that will make you enjoy it more. Lots of quick-dry layers are good especially with pockets for all the little bits you need. Don’t forget a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.

How to Kayak_kit

On your feet, waterproof footwear is ideal. A spray deck stops you and the inside of the kayak from getting wet, so is worth having if you are kayaking in the ocean with waves. You might want to wear a wetsuit if it’s really cold for extra protection. Gloves can actually make your hands colder as soon as they are wet and heavy – from personal experience, the only thing that works in seriously cold weather is proper ice packing fisherman gloves.

Size it Up

Your kayak should work for your height. Place the kayak on a grassy area and get in. Adjust the backrest so that you are sitting at a 90-degree angle. Then set the foot pegs so that there is some pressure between the feet and the pegs and your knees have an upward bend to them. Also, check the paddle length works for you – watch Ben’s video for visual help with this. Please note, there are many different kayaks, so match the right one to your experience.

Twist Your Whole Body

Once you’re kitted out and ready to go, it’s time to work on your technique. Your hands should be shoulder width apart on the paddle. With the paddle facing the right direction, put your paddle in the water and use your whole body to rotate. It’s all about the torso, not the arms so make sure there is a lot of movement. As you learn how to kayak, practice to perfect the method. You and the kayak should be one as you work out how to handle it.

How to Kayak_Twisting body

Drink Less

This sounds like a random point but if you are set to kayak for long amount of time kitted out in winter gear, you don’t want to be bursting full of water. When you spend up to 12 hours in the kayak, relieving yourself in the kayak can be uncomfortable and unpleasant. Try to drink a little water before setting off, sip small amounts of water while kayaking and then catch up on fluids afterwards. One of the more odd tips for kayaking but it will make your time in the kayak a lot more enjoyable and less smelly!

Go For It!

Getting in and out of waves on the beach will be a lot easier if you just go for it, paddle like crazy and don’t hold back. Once you get the basics of kayaking for beginners down, then it’s all about practicing, building your confidence and having fun!

For more top tips on how to kayak, check out the video below featuring expert kayaker Ben Gibson, a member of Team Alpha Merrell in the GODZone Adventure Race.

Picture credit of kayaker: JASPERIMAGE / Shutterstock.com
JASPERIMAGE / Shutterstock.com
  • Kim Conrad

    Seriously? No mention of a PFD? Rule No. 1.

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