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How to Kayak (Beginner’s Guide)

Fact Checked By James A Rockey | Post Updated On: February 19, 2021
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Every kayaker suffered one time or other had difficulty while trying to enter a kayak. That small fact does not eradicate the humiliation one experiences when it happens to them. There are some steps you have to emulate to decrease the risk of ending up soaked before you even get started. 

In the end, it does need practice, stability, and a little bit of luck.

Here Is The Step By Step Process of Kayaking

Step 01: Decide Where You Will Get Into Your Kayak

When you reach the place you will propel, you will need to choose where you will go into the water. Look for a quiet area that is free from rocks and is in trivial water.

Step 02: Decide How You Will Get Into Your Kayak

If you are paddling a fast-moving water kayak or a short plastic sea or leisure kayak, you may want to enter your kayak while on land and press on your way into the water by pushing off of the ground while in the kayak and gliding the boat into the water. 

If this is your chosen way of entering your kayak then just look for a level rock or spot on the ground to put your kayak, enter and drive your way into the water. Make sure you keep your row on your deck or in one hand while you perform this. If you will enter your kayak while it is in the water, go to step two.​​

Step 03: Put Your Kayak in the Water

Go ahead and glide your kayak into the water bow (front) first. Make sure you keep your hand tightly on the stern (back) grab loop. Put the kayak so that the ring area is in low enough water to stand in. It may be a good idea to place the kayak along the side of the shore but it is not required. 

Step 04: Stand Next To Your Kayak

Clutch your paddle in one hand and walk next to the kayak up to the ring area. It doesn’t matter which side you gain entry. For the sake of these instructions, let’s say you are getting into the kayak from the left side of the kayak. Be sure to maintain contact with your free hand (your right hand) and the boat at all times.

Step 05: Secure the Boat

Place the Paddle at right angles to the boat and just behind the seat in the kayak and up against the cockpit rim. Then place your closest hand (right hand) across the kayak and on the paddle. The palm of your right hand should be on the paddle and your fingers should be holding onto the cockpit rim. Secure the kayak.

Step 06: Begin to Get Into the Kayak

Place your right leg into the kayak and into position. Shift your weight and rear end over the kayak while keeping your left foot on the ground.

Step 07: Sit on the Kayak

At this point, you are gripping the paddle with your right hand and your right leg is in the kayak. Your left foot is still on the ground.

Clutch the paddle with your left hand. The paddle should be behind your back. Place your but on the back of the kayak and sit down on the back of the cockpit.

Step 08: Place Your Other Leg Into the Kayak

Steady yourself with your butt on the kayak, your two hands holding the paddle on either side of your body, and with your right foot on the floor of the kayak. Go ahead and carry your other leg into the kayak.

Step 9: Slide Into the Kayak

Make sure you maintain good balance. At this instant, you are sitting on the back of the kayak and your feet are in the kayak. Your hands are still on the back of the cockpit and tightly on the paddle. Slide into the kayak.

Step 10: Put on Your Spray Skirt

Make sure your kayak is firm, in quiet water, and not wandering. It may be a good idea to place the kayak parallel to the shore so you can utilize the shore for support while putting on your spray skirt. Look for a future article on how to smear your spray skirt.

What You Need While Just Starting Out?

  1. Kayak
  2. Paddle
  3. PFD
  4. Spray Skirt (optional)

Things To Consider If You Are A Beginner

Kayaks can usually carry one to three paddlers. Conditional on the nature of the material, prices for the vessels can differ greatly. Plastic is usually the cheapest, with kayaks made of this material ranging from $250 to $1,500, while Kevlar, considered lighter and more durable than other kayak materials, is the priciest, costing up to $4,000 for a Kevlar kayak. 

Built for particular environments, there is a mixture of these boats available: sea or touring kayaks, whitewater kayaks, surf kayaks, racing kayaks, and hybrids, often labeled as recreational kayaks.

The design for the different kayaks differs with the shape and supplies used. For example, sea kayaks usually have extended bodies so they can envelop more distance while fast-moving water kayaks are made of high-impact plastic so they can recoil rocks while sustaining less damage. 

Sit-on-top kayaks are the most commonly sold and perfect for beginners because they are steady, easy to enter and exit, and used for recreational paddling and fishing. They are often made of rot molded plastic or fiberglass, both come with lightweight features, low-maintenance and durable materials. 

Because sit-on-tops feature wider beams, it’s simple to keep vertical while also staying steady. With the bigger width, these kayaks typically involve slightly longer paddles.

A big difference between kayaking and canoeing is the paddle. Canoes employ single-bladed paddles while kayaks use two-bladed paddles. There is a lot of concern when deciding a paddle, conditional on your build, extent of the kayak, and stroking preferences. Wider and taller kayaks involve longer paddles. 

If you have a small build, a shorter, lighter paddle might be more ideal to not go beyond yourself. In addition, blades come in a range of shapes. Wider blades provide you more rushing but also face more battle. 

Narrower blades exercise less effort per stroke but need more strokes. Blades also come flat or bent. While flat blades are usually cheaper, curved ones add to the power of each stroke.

Some blades come feathered, meaning they counteract at an angle, slimming down on wind resistance. Like with a kayak, shopping for the right paddle requires attempting different types. Folks at sporting goods stores are typically very well-informed. 

If you’re taking lessons, your coach can probably point you in the right course as well.

Safety Equipment You Must Carry (Important)

For staying safe: It is very imperative that you invest in a personal floatation device (PFD), aka a life vest, even if you are in quiet waters. Kayakers often use the U.S. Coast Guard Type III personal floatation devices because they are lightweight and comfy. 

They come with large arm openings to set aside broad arm rotations and have shorter waist lengths for comfort. Safety is very significant and a helmet is absolutely critical if you have rocky waters for kayaking.

For staying dry: Many people wear spray skirts, which is used to wrap the opening of the cockpit, to guard their lower bodies and belongings against getting wet. Before wearing a spray skirt, make sure you know how to separate it quickly while underwater. 

It is recommended you pass by the spray skirt if you cannot do so. Dry bags are helpful to keep your personal belongings secure, especially useful if you plan to bring a camera along for the ride.


To study basic paddling and safety techniques, it is best to find an instructor specialized in the American Canoe Association. With an instructor, you can study vital skills and techniques quicker. If you take lessons, you won’t need to spend on any equipment at first since the instruction fee usually covers equipment. And, you will also have a better intellect of what to purchase should you decide to purchase any.

Be sure to choose a safe calm environment – not the rapids. You will need to learn how to enter and exit kayak and basic paddling strokes before tackling hard environments.

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