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The Beginners Guide to Kayaking

Last updated on August 7th, 2023 at 11:49 am

Kayaking is becoming increasingly popular over the past year, especially in the warmer weather we’ve been having recently in the UK. If you’re thinking of joining the kayaking hype, then now is the time.

Kayaking can be great fun and it’s a brilliant form of low-impact exercise, once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll be hitting the waves in no time.

We’re going to talk you through the basics of kayaking, how you can get started and try it for yourself!

“Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you a kayak and that’s kind of the same thing…”

What is Kayaking?

It’s simple – a kayak is a small and narrow watercraft. It will usually have one or two seats (cockpits) depending on which type you use, meaning that they are suitable for one or two people (there are even kayaks for more people than this).

The idea is to sit in the kayak and pull yourself along with a double bladed paddle, paddling one side of the kayak and then the other to move forward.

It’s about mastering your balance and building your arm and core strength so that you can go further and further each time with plenty of practice.

What’s the difference between a canoe & a kayak?

The difference between canoeing and kayaking is about the position you sit in and the paddle that you use.

Canoeing requires you to sit in a kneeling position and uses a single bladed paddle to propel yourself along.

Kayaking, as mentioned above, requires the user to be sitting down normally and involves a double bladed paddle which is used either side of the boat to propel you. kayaks come in the form of Rigid Body kayaks or Inflateable Kayaks so that you can opt for on ehtat suits your needs, i.e. an inlateable can easily go in the boot of a car but understandably, a rigid body needs to go on a roofrack or inside a reasnably big van.

Can anyone go kayaking?

If you are a beginner and have never been kayaking or experienced any form of water sports before, it’s best if you first head on a kayaking trip at an activity centre. This is because you will have an allocated guide who can show you the ropes (or the paddles!) and will assist you in everything you need to know. They’ll also show you what to do if your kayak capsizes – which happens to everyone at least once.

If you’ve been kayaking before, you’ll just want to ensure that you are still a confident swimmer and that you can remember how to kayak safely.

Is Kayaking Safe?

Like all sports, kayaking does come with risks. However, as a beginner you should take a course or training lesson before headin gout on your own – this will teach you what to do in case of an accident such as turning your kayak back over, retrieving your items or any form of first aid.

As long as you are confident that you know what to do in an accident or emergency, there is no reason that kayaking shouldn’t be safe. You should never go kayaking alone without a good amount of experience and knowledge.

Is Kayaking Expensive?

Like any sport, kayaking does have a cost associated with it. Top quality kayaks and water equipment can be on the costly side – however, they are incredibly reliable and are a great investment to last for years.

There are also lots of affordable brands of equipment for kayaking if you are less experienced and looking for something more basic.

The lessons and courses for kayaking can also be expensive, but they are usually very helpful and will teach you all you need to know to kayak safely and have fun!

What equipment do I need for kayaking?

If you’re heading out with an instructor at an activity centre – it’s likely that they will provide all of the equipment you require. But, when you’re ready to head out without guidance, this is what you’ll need:

  • Kayak (these can be purchased or rented)
  • A double bladed paddle
  • A personal flotation device/life jacket
  • A dry bag to keep items in
  • Wetsuit or appropriate clothing

You might also want to take the following:

  • GPS
  • A paddle float – to stop your paddle from sinking!
  • Suitable lightweight shoes
  • A hat

There is an endless list of things you can take with you for different scenarios, and so you should always take what you require for your individual trip.

How do I start kayaking?

To start kayaking, you’ll want to do some research on activity areas or lakes etc. offering kayaking with a guide or instructor. There are also certain courses that you can do over a week etc.

Once you’ve had a look at a centre which can teach you, ensure that you’re a competent swimmer and then book in. It’s even more fun to take part with friends and family, or you can make friends as you learn.

Then – you’re all set!

Happy Kayaking!