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Kayaking Tips for Beginners

Updated on December 10, 2015

Kayaking Tips

Kayaking is one of the most popular outdoor sports practiced in North America. Kayaks are light, easy to maneuver and require almost no maintenance. The following article offers a few tips for beginner kayakers:

1. Wear suitable clothing. Kayakers are exposed to a variety of weather conditions. Dress in lightweight layers that can be added or removed as conditions change. Wear water resistant clothing when possible. Wear kayaking shoes or other wettable footwear.

2. Choose a good flotation device. Personal flotation devices (PFDs) come in a variety of types. Most kayakers will be wearing a PFD at all times, so choosing a device that is comfortable and effective is important.

3. Bring along simple navigation aids. These include a paper map, compass and optional GPS unit. Study your route and know basic navigation before leaving on your adventure.

4. Pack efficiently. Bring a light duffle bag or tote, with items pre-organized and packed in plastic bags or containers when necessary. Other types of containers that are suitable for kayaking include small buckets or tubs which can double as a bailing device, emergency paddle or for other uses.

5. Bring along a small towel. A small towel can have many uses when kayaking. Laying a towel across your lap while under way is a simple way to stay dry. A towel also provides a place to lay small items that may be needed at a moment's notice.

6. Adjust your seat, foot pedals and paddle. Taking a few moments to get comfortable with your kayak can really pay off in the long run. Paddlers can choose offset or non-offset paddles (many are adjustable). Most kayaks have adjustments for seats and pedals, which can improve efficiency while avoiding fatigue.

7. Wear sun protection. This includes hat, sunglasses, long sleeve shirt and sunblock. Don't forget to apply sunblock to the insides of legs and upper feet, both areas that are in direct sun in a kayak.

8. Keep electronics handy, but dry. Store cell phones, GPS units, cameras and other sensitive equipment in waterproof pouches or heavy duty zipper bags.

9. Take a lightweight fishing rod. Kayaking trips often include exploring some of the best fishing habitat in the world. There is usually room for a light rod and basic tackle.

10. Pace yourself. Keep track of time, position and other information. Kayaking can be thrilling and its easy to lose track of time. Remember to turn back towards home before getting too tired.

A sit in kayak
A sit in kayak

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    • miamipaddler profile image

      Sara Roberts 5 years ago from Miami

      Awesome hub! There's nothing like getting on the open water in a kayak, truly exhilarating.

    • GetitScene profile image

      Dale Anderson 5 years ago from The High Seas

      Excellent tips. I have been an avid kayaker for many years and even use one as my dinghy for my boat. It's a wonderful pass time for people of any age and any fitness range.

    • BWD316 profile image

      Brian Dooling 6 years ago from Connecticut

      great hub and great advice! i've been thinking a lot about kayaking lately and plan on saving up for one, hopefully by next spring! Living along long island sound i figure i have some great space to paddle in and get a great workout on top of that! voted up

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 6 years ago from Escondido, CA

      Great hub. I canoed when a scout in West Virginia , , ,Tom Sawyer days, We went on a 50 miler that was exhilarating. I have a friend here that is an active kayaker. But, it is ocean kayaking. She goes to Mission Bay a lot here in the San Diego area. I always see SUV's traversing the highways with kayaks on top either going or coming.

    • LindaJM profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 6 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      Kayaking is popular here - I live next to the Klamath River in Northern California. However, I've never tried it. I did river rafting and found it a profoundly renewing experience.