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How to Get Started with Kayaking

Posted September 4, 2023 in Adventure - Last updated August 8, 2023

Kayaking is an activity that gets better as you practice more. Over the last few years, this activity has gained quite some fan-following, especially among adventure lovers. Kayaking is a beautiful, memorable, and intimate activity with your best friends or, better half. It is also the best activity to enjoy the beauty of nature. But as a beginner to the sport, you might feel intimidated. It is challenging and quite strenuous, especially without the right technique. This guide will look into how to get you started on kayaking.

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How to start kayaking

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It is most probable that you may not buy a kayak when you first decide to try your hand at the sport. To get the hang of the activity, some steps you can try to include are:

1. Borrow or rent the kayak

If you have a friend who goes kayaking, you can easily borrow one from them, and they may even help you learn the basics. If not, you can rent one from a kayak rental along with some gear.

2. Register for a kayaking tour

When you register for the tour, you will get the kayak, gear, and the essential instructions to be followed. This is an excellent method to familiarize yourself with the sport when starting.

3. Enroll in a kayaking class

Everything, including the equipment, will be offered in the kayaking class like a kayaking tour. If you plan on taking kayaking seriously, an introductory course is the best choice because it provides more in-depth teaching than the tour.

Equipment needed on kayaking trips

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Kayak is the first thing you will need on the trip. You can either buy a brand-new one or rent a kayak. Along with the kayak, you will need a double-blade (DB) paddle, a bilge pump, dry bags, a spray skirt, and a life jacket or flotation device.

If you are going on overnight trips, some equipment you might need are:

  • a signaling whistle
  • a headlamp or head torch
  • a towline
  • a paddle float
  • a waterproof map case
  • watch
  • floating compass
  • emergency flare
  • float bags
  • two-way radio
  • GPS

It’s important to remember that if you booked through a service provider, your kayak guide would probably bring most of the safety equipment. Nonetheless, you should always verify.

Clothing for kayaking trips

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There are some recommendations regarding clothes when you go kayaking:

  • shorts or swimwear you can easily convert (nonbinding and noncotton)
  • moisture-wicking shirt (noncotton)
  • suitable layers like a waterproof jacket or fleece
  • paddling shoes
  • hat
  • sunglasses, sunscreen, and lip balm
  • water bottles
  • snacks
  • tent
  • matches
  • toilet paper
  • first aid box
  • hand sanitizer
  • binoculars

Tips for first time

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When you are planning your first kayaking trip, some of the essential things you should remember include:

  • Choose a calm, small water body like a pond or lake with minimal powerboat activity for your first trip.
  • Choose a sandy, somewhat sloping beach for the launch. Launching will become problematic if the shoreline is rocky, muddy, and steep.
  • If it is breezy, paddle against the wind first. 
  • Go kayaking when it is a sunny and windless day. This will keep problems to a minimum and your comfort levels high.
  • Arrange an excursion rather than an expedition. Keep overall paddling duration around two hours for the best fun-to-fatigue balance.

Safety Precautions

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Packaging the right clothes and equipment is crucial whenever you go kayaking. In addition, on non-guided trips, following some additional precautions for added safety is crucial. These include:

  • Bring a kayaking companion: Always paddle with a fellow kayaker who can call for assistance if a guide or supervisor is not with you.
  • Form a pact to work together: Your kayaking companion should never paddle away from your line of sight or hearing.
  • Know the distance limits: Never paddle too far from the shore, especially if you have no rescue training. Instead, paddle to a distance from where you can swim back to safety.
  • Research the risks: Inquire about the danger zones and places you should avoid from a skilled local paddler. Before starting the trip, consider the weather forecasts, currents, and tides.
  • Know the water temperature: Be always prepared for a boat capsize, which at the very least entails wearing a wetsuit whenever the water’s temperature is below 15.5 °C.
  • Examine your personal flotation device: Make sure your flotation device fits tight enough and doesn’t restrict your breathing. Never take it off while on the water, even if the temperature rises; you have to shed a layer. Instead, paddle immediately to shore.
  • Be cautious with the spray skirt: Wear one only if you are confident in your ability to wet exit after popping it off.


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Starting a new activity or sport is often scary, and kayaking is no exception. But with our tips and tricks on getting started, becoming a kayaking pro can be a walk in the park for you.

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