How to Re-Enter a Sit-on-Top Kayak [Video]

re-enter a sit on top kayak

It’s rare, but sometimes happens that you find yourself taking an unintentional dip when kayaking.

(You may think that’ll never happen to you. But watch this hilarious video of Drew Gregory, one of our ProStaffers. Even the pros get wet sometimes!)

If you capsize from a sit-on-top kayak, the job of getting back on from the water is a whole lot easier than with a sit-inside kayak.

Either way, it’s a great idea to practice—preferably in warm water on a warm day ! Get in the water and climb back on several times until you can accomplish it easily and quickly.

In this video, Ken Whiting shows us how to get back on both when you’re alone and when you have a friend in another kayak:


A Sit-on-Top Kayak Won’t Sink

With scupper holes (holes in the kayak that allow any water to drain out) and nowhere for water to collect, a sit-on-top kayak won’t sink when capsized. That’s a big plus right there.

A Combo of Technique and Strength

If it isn’t already, flip the kayak over so it’s right-side-up. Put your paddle on top of it so you won’t lose that while you’re getting on.

Climbing back on is a combination of technique and strength:

  • Get alongside the kayak so you’re just in front of the seat…
  • Let your feet float near the surface, give a strong kick and pull yourself up and onto the kayak at the same time…
  • Stay low as you turn to sit up and settle back onto the seat.

reenter a sit on top kayak

That’s all there is to it!

Someone Else can Help Stabilize

If you’re kayaking with others, it’s easy and safe for someone else to stabilize your kayak while you climb back on.

Have your friend pull her kayak parallel to yours and hold on to your paddle for you. She’ll get a good grip on your kayak while leaning over it to help keep it stable. As long as she keeps a good hold there’s virtually no chance of her kayak flipping while you climb back on.

reenter a sit on top kayak

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