Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Newbie Kayaking Suggestions for First-Time Paddlers – Bearfoot Idea

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All for kayaking however don’t have a variety of expertise? Kayaking might 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 Idea group and I’ve finished plenty of day and in a single day kayaking journeys throughout the U.S. On this publish, we share some primary newbie kayaking suggestions so you will get on the market, give it a strive, 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.

Essential Reminder: As outside recreationists, it’s our accountability to know recreate responsibly on the water whether or not we’re kayaking, paddleboarding, canoeing, rafting, or boating. Learn to forestall 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 primary varieties of kayaks – sit-on-top and sit-inside kayaks.

Sit-on-top kayaks are typically the simplest for newcomers. They’re very steady and straightforward 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 suppose you may need 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 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 a bit extra steady

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

Nonetheless, sit-inside kayaks are much more environment friendly and if you’re paddling an extended distance, sit-inside kayaks will probably be extra snug 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 need to keep dry, sit-in kayaks might 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

In the event you don’t have a accomplice, 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, nevertheless, a double kayak might be very environment friendly.

Double kayaks are an important 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 relations 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 you can simply transfer round in, dries shortly, and can assist defend you from the solar.

Because you’ll possible be getting moist, you need to keep away from something cotton which can 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 form, 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 accessories for kayaking (and actually any water exercise):

Important Kayaking Gear

As a newbie kayaker, you don’t have to exit and throw down a ton of cash on fancy gear proper off the bat. Renting’s possible the way in which to go as you get began, and as soon as what sort of kayaking you take pleasure in you’ll be able to put money into the correct gear for you.

In the event 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 obtainable for hire.

In the event you’re able to hit the water recurrently and need to put money into kayaking gear, listed below are our prime picks:


In the event you’re seeking to buy a kayak of your individual, the Notion Joyride Kayak is a superb decide. It will get rave critiques from each newbie kayakers and skilled paddlers. Plus it has all the pieces 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 whenever you’re simply beginning out (no want for an costly carbon fiber paddle immediately except you have got the finances for it). You may additionally need a paddle that breaks down into items if you’d like one thing extra compact you can 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 legislation.

I like to recommend all the time carrying your PFD whenever you launch, and all the time have it inside arm’s attain so you’ll be able to shortly put it on.

In the event you resolve to tug over and seashore your kayaks for a bit, make certain to safe your PFD to your boat so the wind doesn’t blow it away.

The NRS Ninja PDF is unisex, light-weight, snug, and doesn’t get in the way in which 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

In the event you’re paddling for an extended distance, a pair of paddling gloves, just like the NRS Boater’s Gloves, will help forestall blisters and callouses. We additionally like carrying them for added solar safety on our palms.

Store NRS Boater’s Gloves at:

Sturdy Drybag

A drybag is crucial for conserving your garments, towel, cellphone, pockets, and every other necessities dry. The within of your boat will get moist! 10-15 liters is an effective measurement 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 like packing a small fast dry towel in my drybag in case I have to wipe down my seat or need to go for a dip whereas paddling. I’d additionally suggest conserving 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
Hold 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 wish to convey with me once I paddle.

  • Sunscreen
  • Lip Balm with SPF
  • A reusable water bottle
  • Snacks (you’ll be able to 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 – convey alongside a water-resistant pair to identify wildlife proper out of your kayak!
  • Paracord – Convey alongside a compact rope to tie up your kayak in case you need to depart it on shore to discover.
  • Carabiner – you should use 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
Canine can go kayaking too! Simply make certain they’re snug on the water and put on a PFD, like this Ruffwear Canine Life Jacket

Learn how to Transport a Kayak

That is possible 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 suggest renting a kayak from someplace on the water so you’ll be able to bypass this step, however if you happen to do have to load a kayak on the highest of your car, this video provides you step-by-step directions:

YouTube video

In the event you don’t need to put money into a flowery rack setup, it is 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 transportable kayak choices to contemplate which might be good for flatwater paddling.

  • Inflatable Sit-Inside Kayak: This Aquaglide Deschutes Inflatable Kayak 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. In the event you’re in search of a two-person choice, try this Superior Parts Tandem Inflatable Kayak.
  • Inflatable Sit-On-Prime Kayak: We’ve seen plenty of inflatable sit-on-top kayaks on the market, and a few are even made to double as arise 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 effective choice for lakes and different calm, protected waterways with minimal present.

Learn how to Sit in a Kayak

Physique Posture

Whenever 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 you can 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.

In the event you’re in a sit-in kayak, there will probably be a pair of footpegs on the entrance of your kayak close to your ft. Whenever 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, alter 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 in opposition to the edges

Learn how to Paddle a Kayak

Learn how to Maintain a Kayak Paddle

You’ll need to maintain a kayak paddle just like the way you maintain the handlebars on a bicycle together with your palms gripping down on the paddle.

In the event 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 palms ought to be spaced.

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

Bear in mind you don’t have to 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 maintain your kayak paddle, try this useful publish on the REI Weblog.

Learn how to Paddle Ahead

Have interaction 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 way in which to go. Don’t neglect to paddle on each side otherwise you’ll simply paddle your self in a circle!

Learn 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 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, nevertheless it will get simpler the extra you do it (I promise!)

Learn how to Cease a Kayak

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

Learn 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

When you’re 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 chunk off greater than you’re prepared for. 2-3 hours provides you adequate 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 typically is unavoidable, however we suggest 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 spanking new paddlers.
  • Take a category or go on a guided tour: In the event you’re nervous, think about 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 accomplice within the class.

The place To Go Kayaking

As soon as you’re 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

Addressing Widespread Kayaking Fears

As an ocean kayaking information for the Channel Islands, BFT group 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 vital that you know the way to get your self again within the boat in that unlikely occasion.

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

In the event you’re going with an clothes shop or rental firm, hearken to their security discuss and ask any questions you have 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 harder.

For the primary half of your journey, head into the wind, if potential. That means whenever you’re drained in a while, you’ll be able to then kayak downwind and get a bit enhance.

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, nevertheless it’s one thing many individuals are afraid of.

In the event 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 strive 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 have got? Go away 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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