Kayak Tips

Kayak Tips
Kayaking a stretch of whitewater is an adrenaline-inducing rush and outstanding summer recreation. However, being able to navigate rivers in safety requires lots of practice and several skills, in addition to the proper gear.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Kayak Paddle PFD Helmet
  • Kayak
  • Paddle
  • PFD
  • Helmet
Step 1
Wear a PFD (personal flotation device) and a helmet. Most paddlers will also wear a wet suit to stay warm. Make sure the PFD fits properly and that your helmet is adjusted so it stays on your head.
Step 2
Practice paddling on flat water first. Before heading down a raging river, master your skills on a lake or pond. Practice getting comfortable in the boat and learning the basics of using your paddle.
Step 3
Learn edge control. First weight one butt-cheek more in the boat and roll onto that edge. Practice doing it without movement first, then practice doing it while paddling. Practice rolling from edge to edge.
Step 4
Learn the Eskimo roll. The Eskimo roll is a the key to safe river running. Sooner or later, your boat will flip upside down, and if you haven't learned the Eskimo roll, you will have to leave the boat and swim the river. Again, practice the Eskimo roll on flat water first.

There are two types of roll: the sweep roll and the brace roll. Both are effective, and it can help to learn each, though it is only necessary to master one.

The keys to the Eskimo roll are the hip snap and keeping your head down against your shoulder. An effective hip snap is done by driving one knee against the top of the kayak while pushing the other butt cheek against the bottom of the boat. As you rotate up out of the water, resist the urge to lift your head; it should stay against your shoulder that leaves the water last; this is called the recovery position, and helps maintain balance.
Step 5
Train for kayaking. It helps to be in good shape. Do sit-ups and ab work to help strengthen your core for the Eskimo roll. Do pull-ups and push-ups to work your upper body for more strength.

Practice holding your breath, and be aware of how long you can hold it, so that if your roll fails, you know when to exit the kayak and swim the river. Finally, swim a lot, so that if you do have to exit the boat, you are in good shape for it.

Tips & Warnings

Know your limits. Whitewater kayaking can be extremely dangerous, and it is easy to get in over your head if you aren't careful. Learn the grading system, and go with experienced boaters who can help you as your skills progress.

Article Written By Candace Horgan

Candace Horgan has worked as a freelance journalist for more than 12 years. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Denver Post" and "Mix." Horgan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and history.

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