Top 5 Kayaking Skills for Beginners [Video]

learn kayaking skills

In the video below, Ken gives you practical tips that’ll save you the hassle of learning important lessons the hard way!

1. The main purpose of a rudder is to keep your kayak going straight.

The rudder’s job isn’t to turn your kayak. It’s to help your kayak with tracking–keeping straight in windy conditions. This is most important when paddling in big, exposed bodies of water. The longer the kayak is, the more likely it is to have (and need) a rudder.

2. Have a clear understanding of where you can take your kayak.

Know your own paddling limitations! If you venture into water that isn’t protected from wind and waves, or if you head out into water that’s further from shore than you can comfortably swim, you’re entering a new world.

Take a sea kayaking course. Learn rescue skills. Practice re-entering your kayak from the water before you find yourself in a real capsize situation. You’ll be glad you did.

A sit-on-top kayak is much easier to climb back on than a sit-inside kayak. It won’t swamp or fill up with water like a sit-inside.

If you can’t climb back into or onto your kayak from the water, it only makes sense to stay close enough to shore that you can swim back comfortably.

3. Invest in a decent set of roof racks for your vehicle.

The factory racks that come with your vehicle may not be right for carrying kayaks. The best set-ups come from specialty manufacturers. The ideal system for your purposes makes loading, tying down and unloading easy and efficient. When loading and transporting is simple, you’ll probably find yourself heading to the water more often.

You don’t ever want your kayak coming off your rack as you drive down the highway! That not only risks ruining your boat, but causing damage and injury to others.

4. Use the power of torso-rotation for all your strokes.

Use your whole upper body, not just the muscles of your arms for each stroke. For example, when your right hand is forward, your right shoulder should go with it for the stroke, turning your whole upper body to the left.

As you pull the paddle back, pull with your arms, shoulders and back muscles. You’ll get more power in each stroke and put less strain on your arms.

5. Always keep safety in mind.

Overall, kayaking is a very safe activity. But because we’re on the water, if things do come up your situation can become very serious very quickly. So keep a conservative, safety-conscious attitude—especially as you’re learning.

Here are safety rules for every kayaker to follow, no matter the experience level:

  • Don’t combine alcohol and paddling.
  • Always wear a life jacket—there are plenty of PFDs designed specifically for paddling that are comfortable and functional.
  • Dress for the conditions—when you paddle in colder water, be even more conservative with all your decisions.

Here's the video:


Now you’re ready to go out on the water and have a great time!

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