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Newbie Kayaking Suggestions for First-Time Paddlers – Bearfoot Concept

Newbie Kayaking Suggestions for First-Time Paddlers – Bearfoot Concept

Serious about kayaking however don’t have lots of expertise? Kayaking could be a good 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 performed quite a few day and in a single day kayaking journeys throughout the U.S. On this submit, we share some fundamental newbie kayaking suggestions so you will get on the market, give it a attempt, and have enjoyable as properly!

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

Sponsored by REI Co-op

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Obtain Useful Out of doors Packing Checklists & Journey Planning Guides

Sorts of Kayaks

Sit-On-High vs. Sit-Inside Kayaks

There are two essential varieties of kayaks – sit-on-top and sit-inside kayaks.

Sit-on-top kayaks are typically the best for novices. They’re very secure 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 depart you feeling trapped.

Sit-on-top kayaks are nice for heat water, particularly if you happen to assume you may need to swim out of your kayak. Then again, if it’s chilly, you’ll get moist on a sit-on-top kayak, which is one thing to bear in mind.

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 slightly extra secure

Sit-inside kayaks have a “cockpit” the place your legs go contained in the hull of the kayak. For novices, a sit-inside kayak could really feel slightly extra confining till you get the dangle of it.

Nonetheless, sit-inside kayaks are much more environment friendly and in case you are paddling an extended distance, sit-inside kayaks might be extra snug for the lengthy haul.

Sit-inside kayaks aren’t as simple to get out and in of, however in case you are kayaking in colder water and need to keep dry, sit-in kayaks could be tailored with a “spray-skirt” to forestall 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

For those who don’t have a associate, then a single kayak it’s. Single kayaks are lighter and faster on the water.

Double kayaks, also called 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, nonetheless, a double kayak could 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 typically have greater 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 family members on their first kayaking journey. They opted for double kayaks because it provides you twice the manpower.

What to Put on Kayaking

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

Because you’ll probably be getting moist, you need to avoid something cotton which is able to depart 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 variety, you’ll need light-weight, quick-drying layers – like a rash guard or solar safety shirt and boardshorts.

Under 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 probably the best way to go as you get began, and as soon as you already know what sort of kayaking you take pleasure in you possibly can put money into the appropriate gear for you.

For those who’re renting kayaks, the life vest and paddle are often included and different “nice-to-haves”, like paddling gloves and drybags, could also be accessible for lease.

For those who’re able to hit the water usually and need to put money into kayaking gear, listed here are our prime picks:


For those who’re seeking to buy a kayak of your individual, the Notion Joyride Kayak is a superb choose. It will get rave evaluations from each newbie kayakers and skilled paddlers. Plus it has every little thing you’d need in a kayak like safe space for storing, 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 whenever you’re simply beginning out (no want for an costly carbon fiber paddle immediately except you might have the finances for it). You may additionally desire a paddle that breaks down into items if you’d like one thing extra compact which 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 instances, it’s the regulation.

I like to recommend at all times carrying your PFD whenever you launch, and at all times have it inside arm’s attain so you possibly can rapidly put it on.

For those who resolve to drag over and seaside your kayaks for a bit, be certain to safe your PFD to your boat so the wind doesn’t blow it away.

The is unisex, light-weight, snug, 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

For those who’re paddling for an extended distance, a pair of paddling gloves, just like the , might help forestall 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 crucial for retaining your garments, towel, cellphone, pockets, and some other necessities dry. The within of your boat will get moist! 10-15 liters is an effective measurement for a day journey. The 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 in my drybag in case I must wipe down my seat or need to go for a dip whereas paddling. I’d additionally advocate retaining 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 below are a number of different kayaking necessities that I prefer to carry with me after I paddle.

  • Snacks (you possibly can see all of our favorites right here)
  • Digital camera – A 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.
  •  – carry alongside a water-resistant pair to identify wildlife proper out of your kayak!
  • – Carry alongside a compact rope to tie up your kayak in case you need to depart it on shore to discover.
  • – you should utilize this to clip your dry bag or water bottle to your kayak.
  • – in case you are out of cell attain, I at all times advocate bringing an emergency communication system simply in case.
Man and dog sitting in a kayak with distant mountains in the background
Canine can go kayaking too! Simply be certain they’re snug on the water and put on a PFD, like this Ruffwear Canine Life Jacket

Tips on how to Transport a Kayak

That is probably 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 if you happen to do must load a kayak on the highest of your car, this video provides you step-by-step directions:

YouTube video

For those who don’t need to put money into a elaborate rack setup, .

Store Riverside Automotive High Common Kayak Service 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 might be good for flatwater paddling.

  • Inflatable Sit-Inside Kayak: This packs down right into a bag for a really cheap worth. Merely unpack it at your launch level, hook it as much as an air pump (not included), and also you’re able to go. For those who’re in search of a two-person choice, try this .
  • Inflatable Sit-On-High Kayak: We’ve seen quite a few inflatable sit-on-top kayaks on the market, and a few are even made to double as arise paddleboards. You’ll be able to 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 effective choice 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 need to be sitting with a straight again and your legs out in entrance of you, however you don’t need to be tense or uncomfortable.

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

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

For those who’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 absolutely prolonged or bent too near your physique, modify 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’ll be able to see how my knees are barely bent in my kayak and pushed up in opposition to the perimeters

Tips on how to Paddle a Kayak

Tips on how to Maintain a Kayak Paddle

You’ll need 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.

For those who relaxation the paddle on prime of your head, your elbows ought to make a 90-degree angle. That is known as a paddler’s field and tells you ways far aside your arms needs to be spaced.

You’re going to need to additionally be certain the scooped sides of your paddle blades are going through you.

Keep in mind you don’t must have a dying grip in your paddle, most paddles float if you happen to drop it. You need to have a relaxed grip that’s within the form of an “o”. 

For extra data on the right way to maintain your kayak paddle, .

Tips on how to Paddle Ahead

Interact your core and twist your torso to lean ahead and put the paddle blade absolutely 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 neglect 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 direction of your ft then take away the paddle from the water and swap 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, but it surely 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 might be doing a backstroke and maintain it there, dragging it in opposition to the water. This may gradual 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 issues you’ll need to make:

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

The place To Go Kayaking

As soon as you might be snug and able to advance to the following degree, 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

Frequent Kayaking Fears FAQ

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 might have? Depart them within the feedback beneath!

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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