Kayaking is a very popular fun water activity that connects you with nature, appreciate the beauty around you, gets a relaxing body workout, and makes an exciting and adventurous hobby. The adventure trip of water sports lovers cannot be completed without Kayaking; a versatile water sports that are great for all; solo enthusiasts, pairs, and even groups. If you have not yet tried Kayak, it’s high time to make it on top of your summer adventure list. However, being a beginner, if you are not ready or trained to set out to the sea to do kayaking, read on this beginner Kayaking guide.
What is Kayaking?
Kayaking is a simple and modern water sport or activity. Kayak is a small, narrow watercraft, usually with a covered deck and one or two cockpits. The rider climbs in, gets on the water, and paddles along with the help of a double-bladed paddle. Each paddle stroke propels the rider through the water, and that’s how it goes ahead and ahead. This is kayaking.
Kayaks have been around since ages as a kind of sea transport; however, they have just come into their own like an accessible water adventure activity in the last few decades. First developed by the Inuit tribe of the Arctic North American region for hunting, the kayak’s history spans across approx. 5,000 years. There were originally two distinct kinds of kayaks, those built from driftwood and others from animal skins firmly stretched over the whalebone frames. Kayaks, also called “hunters’ boats”—were later enclosed in fabric by the European settlers.
In the 1950s, manufacturers started using fiberglass to develop these resourceful vessels. And in the 1980s, the plastic kayak was in the market. At present, most of the kayaks are made from highly durable, lightweight polyethylene plastic. In sports, kayaking first marked their success and popularity in 1845, when introduced by John MacGregor, an inventor, and sportsman. Kayaking acquired a status of Olympic sports in 1936 and since then it has evolved faster to be used for both professional sports and leisure purposes.
Why Kayaking is so popular?
Kayaking is popular due to the many benefits it offers, which include:
- Connection with Nature
Kayaking makes a refreshing activity that connects you with nature. Getting outside, relaxing, and enjoying nature around you is beneficial for a lot of reasons; it reliefs your stress, clears your soul and mind, lets your body absorb some sunshine (and vitamin D), as well as fresh air to breath.
Moreover, nothing else can surpass the paddling when it comes to being so close to the water and enjoying some incredible shorelines. Depending on your location of kayaking, you might even get a chance to closely view the wildlife; fish, birds, and might be dolphins.
- A great physical activity
Going to professional gyms or fitness clubs and getting enrolled in different fitness sessions might not be exciting for all. Kayaking is surely a great alternative if you want to get some exercise more exciting and enjoyable. It involves paddling on the water, which is a great workout for your upper body and strengthens the cardiovascular system.
It is interesting enough to let you view beautiful lakes, bays, sounds, and oceans. Whether you kayak on some or different bodies of water, you are going to experience something new. This is because nature is constantly changing, and so is the water. It’s guaranteed thus that you are not going to get bored with kayaking.
- A great stress reliever
Above all, kayaking is the best water sports to relieve stress. In the mid of your hectic life routine, kayaking is the best break one could ever have. Just jump in the kayak and hit the water. Breath in the fresh air, feel the nature around, and hear soothing sounds. Feeling the rhythmic water motion under the kayak with all that gorgeous scenery around will instantly calm your body, mind, and soul. Many kayakers even feel a new individual after experiencing kayaking.
- Have a great family & friends time
Kayaking is the best and innovative way to connect with your loved ones. No matter if you have a two-person kayak or the one accommodating a few of your friends or family members, kayaking lets you spend the best time with people around. Paddling on the water during kayaking and enjoying nature together is a wonderful bonding experience.
Now that you know some of the best reasons why you should start taking kayaking, let’s be prepared for it.
Kayak Equipment Needed
You don’t require an awful lot to start kayaking. Also, the equipment you need for kayaking is easily available at all big supermarkets.
Firstly, you need a kayak. A beginner’s model usually costs a few hundred dollars while an advanced one a few thousand dollars. If you don’t want to buy a kayak, you can get it on rent. Rental kayak is usually the best option for beginners. Moreover, inflatable kayaks also make a great and inexpensive choice here.
Another important equipment you would need includes a double-bladed paddle, a floating device like a life jacket, and a storage bag to keep your essentials like clothes.
Other Equipment Needed
Don’t forget to keep safety equipment like life jackets explore the best life jackets here).
If you want overnight kayaking, you would need:
- a signaling whistle
- a headtorch
- a paddle floats
- a towline, to tow other kayaks if you are tired or injured
- a waterproof case for the map
- a floating compass
- float bags
- an emergency flares
- a two-way radio to remain connected with your travel mates.
Kayakers should also keep a spray skirt to keep water out of the cockpit. However, for this, you should be a skilled kayaker before you get one since they make it harder to get out if you capsize.
When it comes to clothing, keep the following:
- swimwear or shorts
- a moisture-wicking top
- Fleece or a waterproof jacket
- suitable paddling shoes
- a hat
Other miscellaneous items may include:
- lip balm
- first aid kit
- water bottles
- a tent
- toilet paper
- hand sanitizer
Going into the water
Before going into the water, you must fit yourself in the kayak first. You must have an idea of the water level, depth, body balancing, and positioning requirements. Many kayaks you can modify easily for comfort. Stay on the land for safety, and make the adjustments as mentioned below before going into the water:
- Sit up straight with your rear end against the seatback. Some kayaks let you move the seat for comfort.
- After placing feet on the foot braces, make your knees slightly bent. The foot braces are usually adjustable.
Once you’ve adjusted the kayak, you can launch it with these steps:
- Before you launch, don’t forget to wear a life jacket or PFD
- Take care not to drag the kayak across the sand or rocks.
- Carry the kayak to shallow water and ensure that the front of the boat (the bow) is facing the water.
- Step into kayak’s cockpit from the side while holding the paddle across the vessel. The paddle must be perpendicular and directly behind you.
- Once seated, using hand, maneuver to the deeper water, then start to paddle.
Paddling – How to watch & drop the paddle
Holding the paddle properly is a bit tricky but not that difficult. Make sure the long end of your paddle is facing up while moving forward, and follow the mentioned steps below to find your paddling sweet spot:
- When holding the paddle, make sure the grip is not too tightly. Your wrists must be straight, and not bent. Your knuckles must be in line with the top of the blade.
- For the flawless arm width, center the paddle on top of the head before slowing bringing it back down. This ensures your hands are in the correct position.
Time to Finish
To bring your kayak back to the shore, stop in shallow water where you can stand and follow these steps:
- Hold the paddle against a top of the boat and eliminate the spray skirt, if there is one.
- Grab the cockpit sides and bring the knees close to your rear end.
- Bring one foot out of the kayak and into the water.
- Stand slowly, ensure your body is balanced, and step out of the boat with the second foot before carrying your kayak to the shore.
Packing Away Kayak
Before folding and storing your inflatable kayak over your car racks, make sure that your gear stays dry. The sealed hatches of a kayak are reliably waterproof. However, leaks may happen. Make sure the kayak is dry before you fold it over for packing and storing.
Inspired to take a kayaking trip? If you’re a beginner, we hope this guide would be helpful to let you get onto the water.