Kayak Tips & Techniques

Kayak Tips & Techniques
Kayaking is an outdoor activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels. If you are a new paddler or an experienced paddler, working on your technique and basic skill set can make you more comfortable and confident when you are on the water. Consider a few basic kayaking tips and techniques before your next kayaking trip to improve your enjoyment and overall experience.


Kayaking is a great upper body activity. Before you head out onto the water, spend some time beforehand working your upper body muscles. The paddling motion that you use when kayaking works your arms, shoulders, back, and core muscles. Any strength you gain before you are on the river will make kayaking easier and more enjoyable for you.

Entering the Kayak

Getting into and out of the kayak can seem like a daunting task, especially for beginner paddlers. One common way to enter a kayak is by straddling the kayak and sitting in the seat. First, walk out along the kayak into shallow water. Throw a leg over the top of the kayak to the other side so that you are straddling the kayak. From the straddle position, gently sit down into the seat.

Holding Paddles

Keep each hand the same distance from the paddle blade. Your hands should be a little bit wider than the distance between your shoulders. Paddles are typically asymmetrical, with one edge longer than the other. Paddle with the longer edge on top to maximize your stroke efficiency.


After you get into your kayak on the water, practice leaning your body left and right. Notice the amount the kayak moves with respect to your body movement. Test out your balance in the kayak slowly and get a feel for how responsive the kayak is to you. Having a good feel for the balance of the kayak can improve you confidence when you are on the water. In addition, you can practice shifting your weight around in a safe environment such as a pool to increase your confidence.


Towing is an important technique for recreational and serious kayakers. Kayakers tow other paddlers to pull a kayaker into a safer area or to give another kayaker a break after a long day of paddling. Carry a rope bag with approximately 50 feet of towline and a quick release caribeaner on one end. Make sure you communicate with the other kayaker before attempting to clip the rope onto his kayak. Keep the towline tight. Use long strokes when towing another kayaker to maximize efficiency.

Article Written By Stephanie D

Stephanie D has been writing and exploring the outdoors for as long as she can remember. She has spent time climbing across the United States and backpacking out west. Stephanie D earned her Bachelor of Science in computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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