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Beginner Kayaking Tips For First Timers

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Why Kayak?

Beginner kayaking tips. Kayaking is an awesome way to get outdoors and get some fresh air. Kayaking does involve a bit of strength and agility which all people can attain through patience and practice.

First Time Kayakers

New kayakers should get an instructor that will teach them how to paddle. The waters can be quite dangerous. Getting comfortable is needed before hitting the water and mastering learnable techniques so you make good decisions in a pinch. This will allow new kayakers to buy the proper gear and give confidence when harsh water conditions arise.

It could appear easy at first but using a paddle is usually a bit hard and requires you to build some muscle memory when you’re starting off. Know the do’s and don’ts before your first time. Andrew Bell an expert kayak guide sat down with us and suggested these ten tips to start now.

Top Starting Tips to Be A Better Kayaker Now!

Grip your paddle

With a loose hold so you can control the kayak motion at the same time minimizing your odds of muscle strain. 

Use fast, rhythmic and heavy forward strokes to move quicker.

Use the sweep stroke for proper motion and action for your boats track. Sweep strokes should be wider than forward strokes. They may be turned to the opposite direction depending on the angles you wish to make. 

Stay at your pace and region of paddling, giving an assertion of confidence and that you are comfortable so you may move like a natural. 

Make your upper body engaged with a center of gravity so as to steer the boat efficiently while avoiding tipping into the water. 


Which is a technique for moving the kayak sideways while at the same time remaining centered over the keel instead of leaning, by raising the paddles vertical so that one blade is put all the way into the water.

The paddles blade is turned just a bit so to edge the blade closest to the bow of your kayak. It is further from the point of the kayak’s hull as if a plane’s wing. The paddle blade is thus pushed forward at the same angle. 

Pushing the paddle forward a few inches. The blade is moved to the opposite side as the stroke direction is reversed. This motion is then combined with forward and backward paddle stroke, repeated many times for moving the kayak sideways. 


Is a stroke that balances you on the water, keeping your head centered while your tailbone jerks. Rotate the kayak as your head is the counter-balance. Your lower body shifts the boat. The kayak can be tilted or leaned easily. If balance is still lost you must use the brace stroke.

This gives you a second to rotate the kayak back under you with lower body strength, while the upper body is balanced. Low brace – elbows up, knuckles down, powershifting nearly on cockpit of the kayak.

This is a brace stroke. Losing balance, you must move your head back to same side as knee or thigh rotating the kayak beneath you. Head and lower body should move opposite to prevent capsizing. 

  • High Brace

The high brace uses the powerface of the paddle (opposite to forward maximal stroke) with elbows down and knuckles up. Powerface of paddle to the water.

  • Low Brace

Though low brace is most typical and most often used, its position is limited from back the kayak to a bit past your body. Thus the high brace is in enacted, moving the paddle in front of your torso.

  • Forward Stroke

A good forward stroke, angled corrective stroke and good sweep stroke will make sure that on the open waters you are quick and agile.

Learn these before hitting the water. Practice on a beach. Repetition of strokes on the ground makes muscle memory sharper. After training on land, hit the shallow, still waters to test your efficiency and see if you are confident and relaxed enough with these paddling techniques.

Almost Ready to Kayak? Let’s Help You Choose One!

To choose a starter kayak you should learn about the typical kayak models. A variety of kayaks are on the market. Long racing kayaks for professionals all the way down to simpler freestyle playboats. What type of water will you go in you first time? What type of boat is the best option value wise? Choose between one person, two person, 3 person kayaks or more. 

Sit-on-top kayaks

Are great for the starter as these give extra assurance of ease for paddling and stability. A flat-water boat could suit the beginner if they are to start on a river or lake. Be careful since your purchase could be dangerous if the wrong boat is chosen. 

Whitewater kayaks

Have special safety features; they are straightforward to shift; they also are useful for fast motion rivers and rapids.

Recreational kayaks

Should float only on slow-motion rivers and small, inland lakes since they aren’t designed with safety features that are found in sea and whitewater kayaks specifically for complex environments.

Sea kayaks

Have much more buoyancy, equipped a lot of the time with hatches and bulkheads so that the rider can make re-entry quicker as your boat may capsize in dense waters. A skilled paddler easily rolls sea kayaks.


Paddles are the difference between kayaking and canoeing. Canoes have single-blade paddles as kayaks are two-bladed. Much thought should go into choosing a paddle. 

Think of body size, size of the kayak, and stroking preference. Wide and tall kayaks must have longer paddles. Smaller, short, and light paddles are more suitable if you don’t want to strain yourself.

Blades can also be bought flat or curved. More full edges give more acceleration, yet you could face more resistance. Narrower blades require less effort per stroke, yet more stokes are needed.


Personal flotation devices are eminent for your safety. Among still waters, a life vest is still needed. Life vests like the U.S. Coast Guard Type III are of regular use for kayaking since these are lightweight and comfortable. Large arm openings make better wide arm rotations and have short waist lengths for pleasant fitting.

You should choose the vests based on water temperature in which you will paddle. Hypothermia can set within minutes, and the right gear is also crucial for different water conditions. Paddling jackets, wetsuits, sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats are an essential preparation.

Spray Skirt

If the paddler wants to stay dry, safety gear like the spray skirt is available. These are used for laying over openings of the cockpit so that the lower body and belongings are secure from getting wet. A quick detachment of the spray skirt while underwater is needed to wield it; failure to do so should be alarms not to choose this safety gear.

Paddle leash

is just a cord with a nylon collar attached on one end and a plastic or metal clip opposite. To use one, the kayaker wants to wrap this nylon collar around the shaft of the paddle and secure it with the Velcro closure, which then clips the opposite side to a deck bungee or perimeter line. So if a capsize in fast currents or heavy sea happens, you’ll never lose the paddle.

A Bilge pump

Allows the emptying of water from a kayak in the event of a capsize, leaving you able to re-enter the kayak’s cockpit quickly.

Wrapping Up

While there are many more things to learn when you start kayaking, these basic tips should get you on the water quickly and have you picking up the sport in no time. Some times it is better to just start rather than focusing on all the minutia however with kayaking if you do want a little boost in speed it takes you to pick up the sport we suggest you get a seasoned guide.

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