Kayaking is a wonderful way to explore the waterways and enjoy the beauty of nature while keeping your body productive. The best part about kayaking is that it lets you be free to explore any part of the waterway that you want to. But that’s only when you know the basics of paddling a kayak and are able to let it take you wherever you intend to go.
Now paddling a kayak at first may look complicated and confusing. But once you get the grip of it, it’s easier and more fun than anything else. As a beginner, before you get on the kayak you must keep the basic idea of the equipment and kayaking skills, learn a few stroke style so that you can handle the kayak safely. This article is designed as an introduction to the basic kayak equipment and a guideline to how to paddle a kayak straight and maintain the most efficiency. So, if you are someone who has decided to indulge in the kayaking sport, this article is definitely for you.
In this article, we will introduce you to some basic kayak equipment, help you choose your kayak paddle and teach you how to hold the paddle. Then we will talk about a few types of kayak strokes and finally share some tips. So let’s get started.
Basic Equipment To Paddle a Kayak
The fun part of kayaking is that as a beginner, you don’t need a lot of stuff to get started. If you have a good kayak, paddle and a life jacket known as a buoyancy aid, you are good to go!
The most important equipment of your kayaking journey is definitely your kayak. Now, all kayaks are not the same. In the market, various types of kayaks are designed according to peoples need and budget. So before you buy your kayak you need to consider a few things.
The next most important thing about kayaking is the kayak paddle. There are many kinds of kayak disciplines, so choose your paddle thoroughly. Paddles come in different length and sizes. The wider your kayak is, the longer your paddle should be. You’ll basically get more leverage if you use longer paddles, but it can wear you out easily. So consider your body strength too while choosing your paddle.
How to hold a kayak paddle:
Buoyancy Aid AKA Life Jacket:
As kayaking involves getting into the water, it has its risk. So you must get a coast guard approved jacket that fits you perfectly. Make sure to clip in the bottom strap as it will keep the jacket in place and make you feel comfortable while paddling.
The Complete Guide to Paddling
Now that you have become familiar with the basic kayak equipment and know how to use it, it’s time to get to the technique of paddling. Paddling may seem a bit complicated at first but once you get the hang of it it’s pretty easy. You have to start at a slow pace at first, practice a while and then you can go faster. While paddling, make sure that you are sitting in a straight posture with a slight bending in your knees keeping your nose straight over your belly button. One of the common mistakes here is that some people lean backward in the seat which makes them a bit unstable and causes back pain later. So always sit straight in the seat so that you can be more efficient.
Paddling Forward: The Forward Stroke
Now that you know how to sit on the kayak properly and how to paddle a kayak without getting wet, you can start with learning how to paddle a kayak straight. The forward stroke is the most common paddling stroke. It’s the stroke that you will have to use the most while paddling. So you should spend more time to develop the perfect forward stroke so that you can go forward faster and more efficiently with minimal effort.
Paddling Backward: The Reverse Stroke
After learning the forward stroke, people, in general, learn the reverse stroke to paddle backward. The reverse is exactly the same but opposite of the forward stroke. You can even use it to do a brake and then go backward. It’s a very handy stroke if you want to take your kayak backward without turning it, which saves a lot of time and effort. Besides, it helps to balance the body muscles that tend to get overused and sore due to forward stroke.
Doing Turns: The Sweep Stroke
For doing the sweeps, there are two kinds of sweeps, the forward sweep, and the backward sweep. The forward sweep is for keeping the forward momentum and backward sweep is for decreasing momentum and changing directions quickly.
Type 1: Forward Sweep Technique:
Type 2: Reverse Sweep Technique:
Stopping Your Kayak
Last but not least, if you have learned how to paddle a kayak, you also need to know how to stop it. As kayak doesn’t have any brakes or stopping buttons, you can use your paddle to stop the kayak.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is paddling hard?
Paddling may seem hard at first, but once you get the grip of it, it’s pretty easy.
How to paddle a sit on top kayak?
If you know how to paddle a kayak, you already know how to paddle a sit on top kayak. The techniques are mostly the same.
How to get into a kayak from the water?
While staying in the water hold one side of the kayak with one hand and the other side of the kayak with another. Then in the count of 3, pull your body towards the kayak and make your body jump so that your belly is on the kayak. Then get back to your sitting position. Now you know how to get into a kayak from the water. Quite simple, right?
Now that you know how to paddle a kayak, there’s only one thing left. Paddling! Go into the water with your kayak and start paddling. First start with small strokes staying near the shore, practice a few days and then you are good to go! Never forget to take you Buoyancy Aid with you, as safety always comes first.