A kayaking primer for beginners


Kayaking is a thrilling and popular paddlesport for people of all ages and skills. The basis of the sport is to move your boat ahead using a double-ended paddle, and because the foundations are so simple, it’s acceptable for anyone, whether you’re ten or sixty-five.
Continue to:

Kayaking’s Advantages
How to Begin Kayaking
Purchasing a Kayak
Hardshell vs. inflatable
Beginner’s Guide
What comes next?

Kayaking’s Advantages

Full-body cardio workout: Of course, you’ll train your arms, but kayaking works all of the major muscle groups while also getting your heart rate up, making it arguably better than a gym workout.
Kayaking is a terrific sport to do in a group, whether it’s joining a club and meeting new people while you paddle, or bringing your family and friends along for a picnic.
Good for your mind: Being outside in nature and breathing fresh air is always beneficial, but the action of paddling is also quite soothing, making this a perfect sport for de-stressing and calming your mind.
Versatile: Once you’re experienced paddling, you have so many possibilities, whether you want to paddle up your local river or take your kayak into the surf or rapids.

How to Begin Kayaking

If you’re brand new to paddlesports, seek for an introduction course or taster session at your local watersports centre. They’ll be able to get you comfortable with the fundamentals in a safe setting with certified instructors.

If you’re feeling more confident, there are hundreds of clubs all across the UK that organise recreational paddles. They’ll be delighted to welcome you into the kayaking world and will be more than happy to give you a few hints when necessary.

Find a paddling club near you here.
Purchasing a Kayak

If you’re certain that kayaking is for you, you might want to invest in your own kayak so you can get out on the water whenever it’s convenient for you. But buying a kayak must be prohibitively expensive, right? Not always, of course. New kayaks can be purchased for as little as £300. If you’re willing to look around, you might be able to get a used kayak for even less. Ebay, Gumtree, or asking around at your new paddling club are great places to look – you never know who might be selling an old kayak, and you might even get a sneaky mate’s rates bargain on it.

Purchase kayaks right now.
Hardshell vs. Inflatable

Transport: An inflatable kayak is lightweight and easier to transport. In addition, if you choose an inflated kayak, you can smugly pack it into the boot whenever you want to hit the water. Roof racks are required if you choose hardshell. It’s worthwhile to invest in roof rack padding and adequate straps to keep your kayak safe and avoid damage to the boat or your car. You may buy roof rack padding and straps from us here.
Durability: If you have a hardshell kayak, take careful not to hit or scrape it anywhere, as dents and scratches can be costly to repair. However, a puncture in your inflatable kayak may be just as annoying, so even if it can bounce off the pebbles that would harm a hardshell kayak, you must still be cautious.
Manoeuvrability: Obviously, this is depending on your individual talents and abilities, but hardshell kayaks are easier to turn and provide more control, albeit they can be less stable.
Ease of use: While an inflatable kayak saves you from fiddling with roof racks at home, once you’re on the water, you’ll have to spend some time inflating it up, which will cut into your paddling time. A hardshell, on the other hand, only needs to be removed from the roof and then placed directly on the water.

Beginner’s Guide

Before you try kayaking for the first time, you should be able to swim at least 50 metres because you may become separated from your kayak if it capsizes.
Don’t go out alone; bring a friend (preferably someone with more experience than you) and always notify someone ashore if you’re going out.
Go somewhere known in the beginning and be mindful of any hazards, such as rocks or active shipping routes. Although motor boats should normally yield to paddle boats, they are less manoeuvrable in small waterways, so allow them and yourself plenty of room.
Before kayaking in the sea or an estuary, always check the tides. Even the strongest paddlers will struggle against a strong tide, and you don’t want to get washed out to sea. If you’re not sure about the tides, stick to lakes and reservoirs where you won’t have to worry.
Wear a buoyancy aid on the water at all times; if you become separated from your kayak, you must be able to stay afloat. Shop our extensive selection of buoyancy aids here.

What comes next?

Once you’re comfortable paddling around, there are various ways to advance in the sport. If you like thrill, you can work your way up to taking your kayak down the rapids or into the surf to grab some waves. If you like to compete, you can advance to national regattas at both the junior and senior levels in the sprint and slalom disciplines. Sprint is simply a straight-line paddling race over 200m, 500m, or 1000m, whereas slalom requires you to navigate a series of gates set up across a 250m course of rapids.

If racing and waves aren’t your thing, or if you prefer a more family-friendly approach, get a group of friends and set out to explore your local shoreline or rivers. You can even strap a tent to your kayak and spend the weekend there!

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