Kayaking is an adventurous water sport that can be great fun for beginners with careful planning and preparation. To avoid falling overboard, read some of our top tips for kayaking beginners.
Basic equipment for kayaking beginners
It goes without saying that in order to go kayaking, you’re going to need a kayak! As a beginner, don’t worry about buying a fancy, expensive kayak – these are often more difficult to use anyway. Instead, find somewhere local to rent a beginner friendly kayak before you hit the water. If you’re planning multiple trips with a kayak and don’t fancy renting, there are plenty of affordable inflatable kayaks available online.
Once you have your kayak, you’ll need a paddle to get moving. The style of paddle is one of the main differences between kayaking and canoeing; a kayak uses a double-bladed paddle, whereas canoes use single-bladed paddles. This is because kayaks are typically used in more choppy conditions, so having a double-bladed paddle allows more control over the direction and speed of the boat. These paddles are also great for beginners as they help with stability by keeping both sides balanced.
As with any water sport, it’s important that you and anyone in your party wears a life jacket or floatation device at all times – both when you’re on or near the water. This is especially important when you’re a beginner, in case you capsize or topple into the water.
Safety in numbers
If you are kayaking in an area you don’t know very well, it’s important to stay in a group. This way, you can all stick together and look out for one another, making sure no one gets lost or hurt. Kayaking with other people can be an enjoyable bonding exercise.
Have a fully charged phone or radio
Sometimes, people split up and get lost. It’s important that everyone you’re with has a fully charged phone or radio so that you can contact each other at all times. Even when solo kayaking, make sure that somebody knows where you are and that you have a means of contacting help if need be.
Check the weather ahead of time
The last thing you want is to be kayaking in a thunderstorm, so check the weather before setting off on your adventure. This will save you time and effort, especially if you have to travel a long way to get to water. If the weather is questionable, it’s always safer to cancel and wait until it’s cleared up. Better safe than sorry!
Start out in calm rivers
It might be tempting to take your kayak straight out into the big blue sea for an adventure. However, this can be incredibly dangerous for beginners as the conditions are much more unpredictable and you’re more likely to get lost. Try out your kayaking skills on a river the first few times around, so that you have plenty of time to practice and feel comfortable in your kayak.
Have basic safety equipment
If you’re kayaking along rocky areas, make sure to wear a helmet to avoid any serious head injuries. You should also bring a first aid kit so that any minor injuries can be treated easily and won’t affect the rest of your trip. Always prepare for the worst.
You should also pack a repair kit for any minor snags that could potentially ruin your day out. Things to include in this are surf wax, duct tape, a small knife, and some bungee cords as an emergency tow line. If you have an inflatable kayak, don’t forget to bring patches for any punctures.
What to wear when kayaking
There are some standard items of clothing that you should always wear for kayaking, such as a swimsuit and suitable paddling shoes. Kayaking in the UK can be difficult to plan for, so make sure to bring lots of layers – ideally, most of these will be waterproof. This way you can add or remove layers of clothing to suit your temperature, as you’ll start to build up a sweat from all the paddling, or cool down when the sun starts to set.
Depending on the weather, it’s a good idea to bring a suitable hat to either protect yourself from the sun or for added warmth. For the most part, you can use common sense to decide what clothing to bring on your kayaking trip, as long as it’s durable and water-resistant. Don’t forget to bring a change of clothes in case what you’re wearing gets wet!
Other essentials for enjoyable kayaking
As long as you’re prepared with your kayak, paddle and lifejacket, you should be all set for a safe kayaking experience. However, to make your adventure more enjoyable, here are some other things you could take with you:
Toilet roll or tissues
Waterproof bag for important items
Packing your equipment
Going kayaking can mean a lot of things to pack, so invest in a sturdy bag and trolley to carry all of your supplies. Make sure to keep everything secure with some strong bungee straps to ensure you don’t lose any essentials before your big adventure – the last thing you want is to realise half your belongings are now scattered along the path! Bungee cords are both strong and water resistant, making them the ideal accessory to bring on your kayaking trip.
To find out how else you can use bungee rope for outdoor activities, get in touch with our team.