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Tips for First Time Kayaking

Below are some great Tips for First Time Kayaking that will make the process easier to manage and much more fun experience for the family. You’ve picked out your kayak and prepped your supplies a bit, but now it’s time to take it out on the water.  Whether you are going for pleasure or as a way to get more exercise, these tips are ideal for first time kayakers.

Tips for First Time Kayaking

Tips for First Time Kayaking

Now that you have determined the best type of kayak for you, figured out what you are going to wear and know how you will keep your belongings dry while you are out it is time to get the kayak in the water. These Tips for First Time Kayaking will help you enjoy the experience.


Now that you have decided which kayak would be best for you and learned kayak safety you are ready to get on the water. Except, you still don’t have the equipment right? No problem! You don’t need to go out and buy it all. There are a few different ways that you can still get out on the water without spending all the money upfront.


One option for renting all the equipment you will need is finding a sporting good store near the portage you want to use. They can help you find all of the equipment you will need for your day on the water. Not all sporting good stores have equipment rentals so calling ahead to see if they do will save you some time.

The other option for renting is finding a boathouse (an equipment rental place right on the water). Boathouses house all of the necessary equipment you will need to have a fantastic day out on the water. Plus, they can also help to instruct you a little bit before you get out on your own. I personally prefer this option so that I don’t have to transport any of the equipment on my own.

Sitting in the Kayak


Having proper posture while kayaking will help to minimize the possibility of injuries. You will want your back straight supported by the back of the seat. Make sure that the back of the seat is adjusted to allow support while not straining your lower back.


Once your back is comfortable find the foot guides (or pegs). Place your heels towards the center of the kayak and point your toes outward keeping your knees slightly bent.

If you are using a sit-in kayak, place your legs against the sides of the kayak. Doing this will give you more control while paddling.

Holding the Paddle

The first step here is figuring out how to hold your paddle. Start by making your paddler’s box.

What is the Paddler’s Box?

The paddler’s box is the box that is formed when you place your paddle on your head and it is being held properly.

Forming the Paddler’s Box

Grip your paddle keeping your hands in an ‘O’ formation. Your grip should be firm but shouldn’t be tight enough that your hands tire quickly.

Raise the paddle above your head (making sure the scoop of the paddles are facing you). Adjust your hands on the paddle until your elbows form 90 degree angles. Once you have your 90 degree angle your hands are properly distanced and you are ready to move on to the next step.

Let’s get Moving

Going Forward

Paddling is a great core workout. To move your kayak forward you will lean slightly forward and twist your core to the opposite side of the kayak you are wanting to put the paddle in the water on. The paddle should enter the water near your feet and be completely submerged in the water. Pull the paddle back toward your seat. This will bring your body back towards the center and bring your body back to an upright position. Pull the paddle from the water and repeat on the opposite side. Continue alternating sides to propel yourself forward. After a few rounds you should get into a good stride and be well on your way.


Once you master going forwards going backwards will be simple. To go backwards you just do everything in reverse. You will still twist your core but this time you will twist towards the side you are placing in the water. Place the paddle completely in the water near your seat and push towards your feet. Pull the paddle out of the water and repeat on the opposite side. Keep alternating sides until you get back where you need to be.



To turn left you will paddle on only your right side.


To go right you will paddle only on your left side.


To stop your kayak from moving you will place your paddle in the water (on either side of you) like you were going to go backwards (so your paddle will be near your seat). Leave the paddle in place and just drag it in the water until you come to a stop.



Starting out slow will let you get more comfortable in your kayak and get into the groove. Not to mention if you go slow you can take time to take in the views.

Pay Attention

Rocks, tree branches, animals and strong currents can come out of nowhere. It is important to be mentally present while you are out on your kayak. If you want to enjoy your favorite music don’t use earbuds to listen. Instead I suggest a small waterproof bluetooth speaker so that you can still hear possible hazards around you.


Stretching before you get in your kayak will help your body better be able to tolerate being in the same position for an extended period of time. Then, once you return to shore make sure to do some more light stretches to avoid any possible cramping and aching.

Kayaking takes a lot of concentration but it is also a great way to get out, enjoy nature and really enjoy the weather. I hope these tips have made you more comfortable with getting out for the first time kayaking.

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