November 15, 2021

Kayaking 101

Are you planning for an outdoor exploration? Do you want to enjoy kayaking? Kayaking can be super adventurous and safe if you do it right. You would love to have a different water experience. However, you will need a bit of preparation to make your adventure safe. 

If you want some tips for kayaking for beginners, you can consider going through this article. The following kayaking 101 will answer all your queries related to this adventure. Keep reading to prepare well and make your exploration safe and exciting. 

As it is your first water exploration, you might not have a boat. You can consider the available options. If your friend has a boat, you can ask him. The best thing is that you can learn from your friend and start confidently.

If you do not have such friends, you can rent a boat. You can use an on-the-water outfitter. It is cost-effective and supportive for beginners. In addition to these options, you can sign up for any kayaking tour. 

You will find many companies that provide kayaking support. Another option is the class. You will receive all the desired help, like the tour. The rescue class will enable you to learn kayaking and explore an adventure safely.

Kayaking 101 for beginners

Clothes and Gears You Need for Kayaking 101

You will need some kayaking safety gear regardless of your experience level. Also, the season will play a role while choosing clothes for your adventure. Here are a few gear and clothes you will need for kayaking.

Essential gears

You will need a paddle, approved coastguard, spray skirt, and bilge pump. These are essential gears, and you cannot avoid them during your water adventure. The spray skirt is optional on calm and warm days.


For warm water and warm weather kayaking, you will need a long-sleeve or short-sleeve rashguard top. Besides, you will require nonbinding and non-cotton shorts or swimwear. 

Apart from these, you will need neoprene footwear, a lightweight vest or fleece jacket, a sun-shielding hat, a rain jacket or spray jacket, and pants. You will have to choose your clothes for kayaking based on the weather condition. While kayaking under the 60 F water temperature, you will need a wetsuit.

Personal items

In addition to suitable clothes and essential gear, you will need some personal items. All these will be available at your home. Yes, you will have to pack enough water, a first-aid kit, and snacks, or even lunch to get energy and stay active during your adventure. 

Besides, you will have to take your lip balm, sunglasses, and sunscreen lotion. All these will protect you from the sun. Additionally, you will have to pack dry bags, headlamp, watch, and signaling whistle.

Tips to Adjust a Kayak 101

Clothes and Gears You Need for Kayaking 101

Now, you have the gears to start your adventure. Next, we will cover how to adjust a kayak. You will have to learn the adjustments to make your kayak stable. 

Once the kayak is stable, you can use the paddle comfortably. Here are a few things you can consider to adjust your kayak. You will have to do it when your kayak is on dry land.

  • Take a comfortable position against the seatback. Make sure that your sitting is proper and you have a balance. Balance can help to manage your kayak. You might sit more upright to have more power and balance.
  • Keep the balls of feet on footpegs. After placing your feet, observe your slightly bent knee position. You can adjust footpegs by tilting them. Also, you can slide them along the track and preset the stopping points.
  • Check your knee position. While adjusting, you will have to ensure that the bent knees are comfortable in the cockpits. With proper knee position, you can control your boat’s side-to-side motion. Also, keep your feet in such a way that you can get out whenever needed. Get a firm fit but not a jammed position.

Tips to Launch a Kayak 101

Kayaking for beginners

Many beginners cannot launch a kayak properly. As a result, they lose control and cannot enjoy the adventure. You should avoid dragging the hull under a few conditions. Yes, you cannot pull the hull on sandy, cement, or rocky surfaces. Also, you can consider the following.

  • Request any friend to carry your boat to the point. You cannot do it alone comfortably. Set your boat in shallow water, upright to the shoreline. If you want a straight launch, the bow needs to face away from the shore. Also, you will have to place the stern close to the bank.
  • Keep a paddle blade under the boat’s deck line in front of the cockpit.
  • Stand over your kayak and start straddling the cockpit.
  • Hold the cockpit and sit firmly on the seat, and then you will have to lift your legs and glide them into the cockpit.
  • Sit firmly and settle your legs onto the footpegs comfortably.
  • Now hold and use your paddle to move the kayak through the waves. If you have a spray skirt, you can attach it. 

While coming out of the boat, you can return to your launch position, set up the outrigger, and reverse the steps. In the first attempt, you might need more effort. With practice, you can have better control over your kayak, and you can enjoy your adventure more.

Tips to Hold a Kayak Paddle

Tips to Launch a Kayak 101

First, you need to hold the paddle with both hands. While doing so, center the shaft of the paddle on the top of your head. Make sure that your hands have a proper standing position and the elbows’ positions are ninety degrees. Now, you need to lower the paddle and adjust it. Here is more for your help.

  • Both paddle blades need to be in line. When these blades are not in line, the paddle might be feathered. In that condition, you will have to adjust the paddle blade using the twist setting or push button in the shaft. Feathered options are suitable for experienced. They can cut through wind well. However, you might not use them properly without any experience.
  • Position the longer edge of blades on the top. This position will enable blades to move efficiently and smoothly through the water. However, if blades do not have longer blade edges, you can consider placing the sides up.
  • Scooped sides of blades will face you. Yes, you will have to ensure that scooped sides are facing you. You might need to observe since the curve is not easy to understand.
  • Keep large knuckles on the paddle shaft top. By doing this, you can maintain the line between the top of the paddle blades and your knuckles.
  • Relax your hold. Use your index and thumb fingers to make an O shape. Now, place other fingers on the shaft gently. You do not need to grip the paddle. Gripping will only tire your hands.¬†

Kayaking Basic Strokes 

You will have to learn a few skills for kayaking. First, your focus needs to be on navigation and strokes. Here are some kayaking strokes you can go through.

Tips to Adjust a Kayak 101

The Forward Stroke

 You will have to learn this stroke since you might use it most of the time.

  • In the catch phase, you need to wind your torso and then submerge the blade on one side of the boat fully, next to the feet.
  • In the power phase, you need to rotate the torso when your blade moves behind you. Also, you will have to use your eye to follow your in-water-blade, and then the torso will follow it. When it moves, use your upper hand to push against the shaft. 
  • In the release phase, cut the blade out of water when your hand reaches behind the hip. 

The Reverse Stroke

You might be aware of this braking stoke. It is a basic stroke and helps you move the backyard when the kayak is not moving anymore. 

You will find it opposite to the previous stroke. You need to submerge the blade next to the hip and then use your lower hand for pushing. Now, when the paddle blade comes to your feet, you can cut it out of water.

The Sweep Stroke

It is a turning stroke, and you need to master it to have better control over your boat. While doing forward strokes on the same side, you might have observed that your boat turns the other side slowly. Yes, the sweep stoke will maximize the impact. 

It works like the forward stroke with one difference. In this stroke, you need to alter the blade path to get a wider arc on the boat side. If you use these strokes on the left side, they will turn your boat right. When using this on the right side, the boat will turn to the left.

How to Use Skegs and Rudders

Choose a Location That's Within Your Kayaking Capabilities 


You will get this feature as a fixed direction pin. The pin drops down from the hull bottom. Mostly, the direction pin is helpful to support tracking in adverse weather conditions. You can also use rudders for the same purpose. They can be ideal in windy conditions.


Some boats have rudders that you will see at the back of your boat. If you have this feature, you can push the footpeg on the left. Your boat will turn to the left. Similarly, you can press on the right to get the right turn. Rudders can help you when you use pedals to turn your boat to the right or left. 

Beginners consider using both these features. However, they use incorrectly and do not pull rudders and skegs up in shallow water. Incorrect usage leads to damage. Hence, you can leave these two features. If you paddle without using the rudder, you can learn techniques fast. 

Also, it will help you to get better control. There is no doubt that you will need the skeg or rudder in a windy condition. However, you cannot explore kayaking alone in windy weather in the initial days. Make sure that you have a guide with you to control your boat.

Kayaking Safety Precautions

When it comes to kayaking safety, your clothing, skills, and gear will play determining roles. In addition to these, you can consider the following.

  • Choose your paddling buddy: You should have someone with you while exploring the water adventure for the first few times. You will get all the needed support.
  • Stay together: Make sure that you are accessible to your friend. If any of you is out of sight, you might not get assistance whenever needed.
  • Decide the distance limit: As you are a beginner, you cannot think of going farther from the shore. Without rescue training, you might not be able to swim from far.
  • Research: You will have to do extensive research before your first exploration. In addition to online research, you can talk to local paddlers about the tides, currents, and weather conditions.
  • Check water temperature: You will have to dress for capsizing, and you will need a wetsuit when the temperature is 60 F or below.
  • Test PFD: You will need a PFD that is neither too tight nor too loose. When the temperature is more, you do not need to remove PFD. Instead, you will have to paddle to the shore quickly.
  • Be careful while using a skirt. If you do not know how to use it properly, avoid this one.
  • Know the signals: You will have to understand whistles and distress signals to stay safe.  

It is better to attend a rescue class to stay safe during kayaking. Classes will teach you about currents, surf, tides, and navigation. You will also know how to handle an adverse condition.

Tips for Your First Exploration

You will have to choose a calm and small body of water. The ideal choices are ponds and lakes. Also, you can consider a sloping sandy beach for a safe launch. Rocky and steep shorelines might be challenging for beginners. Also, you can choose a windless and sunny day to minimize any risk. 

When it is breezy, you can paddle with the tailwind instead of the headwind. While exploring water for the first time, you can take it as an outing. You will have to avoid paddling for more than two hours. 

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About the author 


Bernice often jokes that she is better at climbing than walking. With avid parents of climbing, her first encounter with the high vertical rock walls was at the age of one. Her favorite style of climbing is bouldering.

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