how to kayak

How to Kayak: A Beginner’s Guide

Are you looking for a new yet easy to learn adventurous activity? If your answer is yes, there is a perfect one for you- Kayaking. And if you don’t know how to Kayak, then stay with us till the end. This guide concentrates on everything you need to know about it.

Kayaking is a great activity to explore nature and get that excitement and thrilling experience that you never had in your life. Sitting on a canoe-like boat, floating on the river, and viewing the wonders of nature is a feeling to crave for. And not to mention the reflection of mountains and sky on the water. It is a scene that is worth a lifetime memory.  

However, there are things you need to keep in mind before going kayaking. And with a bit of practice, you will be able to do it. So, let’s get started.

Basics of Kayaking

First, you need to have knowledge about the basics of Kayaking, like what clothes to wear, equipment to bring, etc.

Types of Kayak

Without a kayak, you can’t imagine going kayaking. However, what you should keep in your mind is that there are different types of kayaks.

  • Single kayaks: As you have guessed, only one person can fit on it. It is perfect for those who want to kayak alone. Moreover, it is lightweight.
  • Double kayaks: It has dual seats. If you have a partner, then this one is perfect for you. Peddling becomes easier, which is a plus point. However, it is heavier than single kayaks.
  • Sit-on-top kayaks: It is perfect for beginners because you will have an open seat, making it effortless for you to get in and out of the boat. It is suitable if you are kayaking on calm water.
  • Sit-inside kayaks: As its name suggests, you will have a cockpit where your lower body will go inside it. It is suitable for kayaking on rapid and strong currents, giving you a perfect grip and balance. It prevents you from falling.
  • Inflatable: It can be inflated and deflated as per your needs. It is durable and lightweight. 

Essential equipment

Besides a kayak, you need to consider other essential equipment.

  • Paddle: Of course, you need a paddle to move the kayak. Ensure that they are of the right size for you.
  • LifeJacket: It will prevent you from drowning if you fall in the water or your kayak rolls accidentally.
  • Waterproof bag: To keep your belongings safe and secure while Kayaking. You can check out Earth Pak Waterproof Dry Bag for Kayaking on Amazon.
  • Sunscreen: Bring a waterproof sunscreen to protect your skin from sunburn.
  • Water and snack: To keep your body hydrated and full of energy. 

What to wear?

Without proper clothing, it will be challenging and sometimes life-threatening while Kayaking. So, you need to keep in mind the appropriate clothing.

  • Water-resistant and warm clothes: It is always crucial to wear warm and water-resistant garments in cold weather.

However, in summer, you can wear waterproof pants and shirts.

Check out:

  • Helmet: To protect your head.
  • Footwear: To keep your feet dry and give you a firm grip and balance. Check out Water Shoes for Mens and Womens on Amazon.
  • Goggles: To protect your eyes from the splash of water and sunlight and help you see clearly. Check out ALLPAIPAI Swim Goggles on Amazon.

These are the essential equipment you need while Kayaking. Now, let’s see the process of Kayaking. 

How to sit in a Kayak?

It is easy to get on a sit-on-top kayak since you have to sit on the vessel, not inside the cockpit, basically. However, in a sit-inside kayak, you need to know about the body posture, leg placement, etc. So, let’s see how to do it.

First, sit on the rim of the cockpit while keeping your hands on the edge and feet outside for now. Now, put your one leg inside, followed by the other. Then, slowly extend your feet inside the vessel and rest your hip on the cockpit. Your feet should be on the footpegs, which are available inside the cockpit. Adjust the footpegs as per your need. Also, balance yourself on the deck until you feel comfortable. 

Besides, your back and head should be straight. Moreover, ensure that your legs aren’t stuck hard inside the vessel. Otherwise, it will be tough to get out of the boat if it capsizes in the middle of Kayaking. It can be a life-death situation. So, keep this in mind.

Also, ensure that your knees are bent slightly, touching the sides of the cockpit. This will help you peddle faster and give enough force for a stronger stroke.

How to launch the Kayak?

Before you sit inside the boat, you need to take it to the shore. Make sure that you keep the kayak in a way that it doesn’t drift away into the water. 

After sitting inside the boat, you need to launch the boat. So, how can you do it? For that, you can use your paddle or your hands to push the boat forward. 

If you are with your friends, then you can ask them to push the boat for you. 

How to hold the Kayak paddle?

Before paddling, you need to know about the parts of the paddle and how to grip it. Otherwise, it will strain your hand and body, making it hard for your stroke. 

About the paddle:

  • The end part of the paddle is called the tip. 
  • The fin-like structure is known as the blade. The back face is called convex, and the other side is concave.
  • The long handle where you grip is the shaft. 
  • The joint where the shaft and the blade meet is called the throat. 
  • The edges of the blade are known as the shoulder.

Now, hold the center of the shaft with both your hands, making an “O” shape. The distance between the grip should be wider than your shoulder width. Moreover, your elbows should be bent at an angle of 90 degrees. Make sure that the concave part of the blade is facing towards you. 

The grip should be gentle and relaxed, yet the paddle shouldn’t drop while Kayaking. Also, ensure the blade is aligned correctly and the longer edge is on the top while holding the paddle. 

How to Paddle a Kayak?

There are different types of strokes you need to know about. So, let’s see them one by one.

Forward Stroke

As its name suggests, the forward stroke helps you move your boat forward. 

First, put one side of the blade into the water on either side of the Kayak.

Now, keeping your body straight and relaxed, rotate your torso. It will bring the blade of the paddle towards you. 

When your elbow goes past your hip, bring the blade out from the water. Then, continue this process on the opposite side of the Kayak. Do this continuously to give you a smooth motion. This way, you can move forward. 

Backward Stroke

Backward stroke is the reverse of the forward. First, put the paddle next to your hip and rotate your torso. And when the blade reaches your feet, bring it out of the water. Then, repeat this process on the other side of the Kayak. These are the basic actions you need to know. 

Sweep stroke

The sweep stroke helps you turn your boat. Putting one side of the paddle into the water on one side of the Kayak, keep rotating your torso, just like you do the forward stroke. However, you need to keep repeating this process only on the same side. 

  • To turn the boat to the left side, do the sweep stroke on the right side. 
  • To turn the boat to the right side, do the sweep stroke on the left side.


Sculling lets you move sideways. 

First, put your paddle into the water vertically on one side of the kayak. The distance should be 1.5 to 2 feet from the boat. Then, move the paddle back and forth towards the boat. When it reaches near the Kayak, bring it out of the water, then again put it back. Repeat the process continuously, and you will be able to move sideways. 


Bracing lets you tilt your boat slightly to one side to make a sharp turn and avoid the capsizing of the Kayak. There are two types of brace: high and low. In a sense, the process is the same. They help you prevent overturning.

  • High brace: It helps to prevent your boat from capsizing. When your Kayak is about to roll, slap the water with the front face of the paddle strongly. In this technique, you hold the paddle higher than your elbows.
  • Low brace: In this technique, you just need to slap the water faster with the back face of the paddle. In it, you hold the paddle lower than your elbows. 

How to stop a Kayak?

To stop the kayak, put the paddle into the water. Now, simply do the reverse stroke. If you are going forward, it will slowly stop your boat. And switch the process when you are moving forward.  

How to exit a Kayak?

First, bring your Kayak to the shoreline. Now, put your paddle behind you on the rim of the cockpit horizontally. Then, tilt your boat slightly so that the paddle touches the ground, giving you firm support. 

Now, push your body out, and sit on the rim of the cockpit. Then, bend your knees and slowly pull your one leg out and then the other. After that, stand up. This is how you can exit the Kayak. Pretty simple, right. 

You can check out this video to understand the basics of Kayaking better. 

Some important tips

Here are some crucial tips you need to consider when Kayaking. 

  • Get the right kayak, paddle, and gear.
  • It is better if you know how to swim. It will help you in case of an emergency.
  • For your first kayaking, select a spot without high currents. Pick a calm body of water, like lakes, ponds, etc.
  • Go kayaking during the summer season.
  • Focus on the safety equipment. 
  • Ensure you have everything you need.
  • Never go alone. What if unfortunate events ring your door?
  • Know how to handle situations, like what to do when your kayak capsizes, or you fall from your boat. 

These are everything you need to know about how to Kayak.

If you want to experience a similar adventurous activity, then check out:

In Conclusion

Kayaking is a great activity to have a fun day out with your friends and family. However, as a beginner, you always need to take extra precautions. Practice kayaking on a calm body of water to get better at it. Always go easy on yourself. Never panic when situations go south. 

To cut a long story short, select the best spot and have fun kayaking. Have the best time of your life.

So, are you ready for your first kayaking trip?

Image Credits: Free-Photos from Pixabay

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