Thinking about getting into kayaking for the first time?
Kayaking can be split into three major groups from sea kayaking to flat water kayaking and whitewater kayaking. It doesn’t matter where you kayak in the world but you’re going need some basic but sound advice before you hit the water. Safety should be central to everything you do on the water as, due to its nature, kayaking can throw up some difficult situations.
How do I train for kayaking?
Get some lessons! You may think that kayaking is easy and for the most part it is but there are a few basic considerations concerning your safety and the safety of others. Lessons are not that expensive so consider them as a good investment – you’ll be glad that you attended some sort of training and first-hand advice from an experienced kayaker when things get a bit tricky when you venture out.
Make sure you dress for the water not the weather!
The water temperature is generally a lot colder than the air temperature so never be tempted to wear just shorts and a tee-shirt because even though it’s hot and sunny, the water could be icy cold. Always be prepared to fall in and if you do you’ll be glad you wore that wetsuit or waterproof clothing. You’ll also be glad they stored your valuables and dry clothing in a dry bag that will keep water out on longer expeditions.
Always wear a buoyancy aid
Even if you’re a strong and confident swimmer, you’ll always need to be prepared to go overboard. Having a buoyancy aid is essential whether you’re a hard-core paddler or beginner which is why everyone wears one. Buoyancy aids are essentially life jackets that allow more movement around your arms and neck areas which makes them well suited for kayaking. Like all equipment, they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes so make sure you invest in the right product for you.
Learn how to rescue yourself and others
This is the number one rule for safe kayaking. Knowing how to rescue yourself and others in danger is essential.
Although capsizing is fairly rare and seldom occurs on flat calm waters, the capsize drill is worth rehearsing on a regular basis. Instructors will teach you how to right your kayak and get back in again. It is for this reason, you must stay with your kayak all the time it’s safe to do so.
People are more important than their boats!
Kayaks can be replaced but people can’t!
Although this is stating the obvious, it is often in panicked moments that split decisions have to made and putting others lives before losing equipment is the most essential decision.
Like all equipment, a paddle or kayak can always be replaced.
Always have a dry change of clothes
Never has the value of a dry change of clothes been so valuable as when you’ve been kayaking!
Another obvious one but always bring these with you – even if you don’t think you’ll get wet.
If you’re taking them with you, you’re going to need a dry bag to carry them in along with your phone and other valuables. This is an essential piece of kit, especially on longer kayak journeys.
What sort of kayak should I buy?
There are many different sorts of kayaks on the market. The main thing is to learn in a kayak that’s suited to the water you wish to paddle. If you’re going to use it on a lake then a flat bottomed kayak should be your choice. White water kayaks are small and deliberately stunted to give maximum maneuverability. Here’s a brief description of the different kayaks available to help you make your choice.
These are perfect if space and transportation are issues. Inflatable kayaks can be deflated and packed into the boot of your car. They can be inflated in a few minutes making them very convenient to use.
Inflatable kayaks are designed primarily for flat water and recreational use, and because they are very stable can inspire early confidence.
Kayaks for Children
The good news is that kayaks come in smaller sizes. Junior kayakers will progress quicker and easier with junior kayaks which are always available on the second-hand market.
White Water Kayaks
These do exactly as it suggests – whether you’re extreme creeking, river running, playboating or surfing, the choice in this category is huge from novice to expert.
Touring kayaks are easy to get in and out of, comfortable to sit in and stable on the water. They cater to all skill levels from complete novices to hardened paddlers. These are generally used in relaxed environments such as inland waters.
Although similar to look at as touring kayaks, sea kayaks are longer and faster and are designed to perform better in testing conditions. They are designed with multiple hatches to maximise storage space for kit, including dry bags.
Sit On Top Kayaks
These very stable kayaks can be great for beginners through to experienced paddlers and can be used by everyone on canals, lakes, rivers and the sea.
This is the traditional native American canoe which is generally used for recreational paddling. These are great for white water river running, family canoeing trips and camping where there’s a need to transport equipment. They can be beautifully crafted and come in various materials.
Stay safe and dry out there and enjoy your kayaking this season!
The UltraDry Team