Kayaking fundamentals - equipment, rules and techniques
February 14, 2018

Kayaking Fundamentals: Equipment, rules, and techniques

Kayaking is one of those water sports that allow you to gain a new perspective on the world, become closer to nature and explore remote locations that some people will never get the chance to visit. Whether you are paddling through lakes, waterfalls, river rapids or ocean waves, you have to engage physically and mentally to absorb the benefits of this fantastic sport. Those who practice recreational kayaking say that being surrounded by crystal clear water and nothing else but silence represents one of the most relaxing and stress-free experiences ever. You can enjoy the same experience too if you gather the necessary equipment, you learn the golden rules and the basic techniques of kayaking. For sports enthusiasts or those participating in high-speed kayak racing seems like a piece of cake, but for a beginner things are different. Of course, you do not have to start with the history or the origin of the term “kayak,” although it might represent a topic of interest for some people. If you just want to know the main tips and secrets to learn kayaking fast, keep reading.

Learn how to differentiate kayaking from canoeing

First, you have to make a clear distinction between kayaking and canoeing because, apparently, most people mistake one for the other. Probably the shape of the boats and the fact that you paddle when doing both represent the aspects that puzzle them. Only those familiar with the ins and outs of kayaking actually recognize numerous differences between these two activities, some of them being equipment, design, and techniques used for paddling. They also recognize major benefits of kayaking. For beginners, the best way to differentiate kayaking from canoeing is to look closely at the paddle. Canoe paddles have one blade while kayak paddles are longer and have two blades. Once you soak up these details, you will no longer encounter difficulties distinguishing these two water activities.

Discover various types of kayaking and choose the one you like

Furthermore, there are several types of kayaking requiring different types of water. For instance, if you watch TV, particularly the Olympics, you probably already know the first type, namely competitive kayaking. Those who compete, train very hard to get there. Whitewater kayaking is the ideal style for those people who love adrenaline because it involves paddling through waterfall drops and powerful rapids. Kayak surfing allows you to hit the ocean waves. You practically use a kayak instead of a board to surf. Sea kayaking consists of paddling peacefully while exploring the coastline and the wildlife. Kayak touring resembles sea kayaking because its main purpose is allowing you to absorb the natural beauty around you. People who prefer this type of kayaking choose to paddle on quiet lakes, rivers, and canals, usually places that do not include obstacles. You can also opt for freestyle kayaking when you learn a few interesting tricks.

Make sure that you choose the right kayak gear for your needs

When it comes to the equipment, you have to keep in mind an important factor, namely safety. Apart from the kayak, obviously, you need other pieces of equipment including paddle, helmet, wetsuit, buoyancy aid and spray deck. If you paid attention to the paragraph above, it means that you already realized that when choosing the kayak, you have to consider the style you like. For peaceful kayaking, you need long kayaks with enough storage space while for other styles responsible for adrenaline you must direct your attention towards more compact models. If you want to go fishing, you can explore the best sit-on-top kayaks. These models also allow you to dive in the water. In what regards the paddle selection, you have to take into account various factors like the width of your kayak, your paddling style, and your height. You might have a hard time choosing the right paddle for your needs, but do not worry because you can always ask for professional help until you learn these things. Do not overlook the importance of the helmet; it protects you from the rocks or anything hard that you might encounter while kayaking. The wetsuit, the buoyancy aid, and the spray deck are necessary for your safety.

Master the basic paddling and safety techniques

You cannot master paddling and safety techniques by yourself. Therefore, you should consider working with a certified instructor. He will teach you basic things like getting in and out of your kayak, but also other useful things like the golden rules of kayaking. You will have to start from the bottom, but with patience, you will be able to master someday the art of kayaking. When attempting to get in the kayak for the first time, you have to find something that gives you stability. The secret that you will earn from your instructor refers to your weight: you have to keep it low and centered. Always remember this when trying to get in a kayak. You should use the dock or something to stabilize your body when you want to exit the kayak. Doing it alone is more difficult in comparison to having a partner who can stabilize the boat. Before starting to paddle, you have to make sure that your kayak is stable. When paddling, all the power must come from your torso, which means that you have to keep your hands more relaxed. This will prevent arms, shoulders or back injuries. When describing a forward stroke to you, the instructor will probably use two words: deeply and evenly. This is the correct way of doing it. When you want to turn, you have to make use of your paddle, and the most efficient method consists of a sweep stroke.

Since we mentioned the golden rule of kayaking, you probably wonder about their purpose. Well, the primary goal is to keep those people practicing kayaking safe in the water. There are three rules that you have to keep in mind. The first one refers to engaging your powerful torso for all the strokes. The second one consists in selecting the adequate location for your style, and the third one requires having a plan when capsizing.

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