10 Essential Kayaking Tips for Beginners

10 Essential Kayaking Tips for Beginners

Kayaking tips - female with braids kayaking on lake lanier

There are roughly 140 million people worldwide that participate in boating and watersports. One popular form of watersports is kayaking. 

If you want to learn how to go kayaking, you’ll want to begin with some tips for first-timers. We’ve put together this guide with some crucial advice to help you get into the sport and feel more confident on the water. 

Let’s dive in with these ten kayaking tips. 

1. Find Other Local Kayakers at a Club

No one to go kayaking with? It’s no problem if you join a local kayaking club. 

Beginners can discover many benefits from joining a club, such as learning essential tips for newbies and developing new friendships. 

You’re surrounded by more experienced kayakers. They can teach you new techniques and where to kayak. Plus, it’s much safer to hit the water in a group than to go solo. 

2. Always Wear Your Life Jacket

As with any watersport, you must wear your life jacket while you’re out there. It’s required by law in most places, including Georgia. Vessels must have a USCG-approved personal flotation device for every person on board. 

Safety should be your first priority when on the water. Anyone on the kayak should have an approved, well-fitting personal flotation device (PFD). 

Even if you’re on calm waters or consider yourself an excellent swimmer, a life jacket can save your life. 

3. Find the Right Kayak

There are tons of different types of kayaks, which can make beginners kayaking for the first time nervous. Where do you start? 

Look for a beginner-friendly option and consider going with a well-known brand. You can find off-brands cheaper, but you want to consider quality. It also pays to read the reviews to learn more about how the kayak handles on the water. 

Look for durability, comfort, and stability. 

Better yet, consider renting a kayak first to get a feel for it. You can find the right size and what’s most comfortable for you. It’s a wonderful way to experience Lake Lanier and perfect for travelers. 

4. Stock up on Essential Gear

Your Kayak should have a PFD that fits properly, a bilge pump, and a paddle.

When selecting a paddle, the length of your torso matters, as well as the width of the kayak. There are size charts that help you find the perfect size. If you’re serious about getting into kayaking, selecting a quality paddle should be one of the first upgrades you make. 

The bilge pump is necessary to keep on board if you ever need to bail water out of the kayak. 

The life jacket is a crucial piece of equipment. You need one that fits snugly, not too tight or too loose. 

5. Choose Quick-Drying Fabrics

Selecting the right clothing is a big part of staying comfortable on the water. You’ll get wet and sweat, so you always want to wear moisture-wicking fabrics that dry quickly. 

Avoid cotton and other fabrics that take a long time to dry. That way, if the temperatures drop, you don’t have to worry about hypothermia and cold shock. 

One option in colder temperatures is to wear a wet or dry suit. 

Remember, always dress for the water and not the weather. Even a small dip in temperature can make a difference, and you want to stay comfortable and safe. 

6. Master the Basics First

During the pandemic, a record 37.9 million people took up paddlesports, including kayaking. However, there was also a sharp increase in accidents and fatalities, many of which could have been prevented. 

Many of the victims had little experience paddling and lacked basic safety skills. One of the most crucial skills to learn is how to get back into the kayak after falling into the water. 

There are plenty of free or inexpensive safety resources that train beginners on these essential skills. This is also the most important of our beginner kayaking tips. Practice getting in and out of a kayak from the shore, a dock, and the water. 

Next, you’ll want to practice your paddling technique. Learn how to hold and use the paddle, including basic strokes and turns. 

The best way to learn these tips is to take a class or learn from a more experienced kayaker. 

Finally, practice some self-rescue drills. A paddling instructor can walk you through these, so you’ll know what to do if you capsize. 

7. Protect Your Valuables With a Dry Bag

One of the worst feelings is damaging or losing your phone or other valuables while on the water. That’s why you should consider investing in dry bags to keep your devices, wallet, keys, etc., safe and dry. 

Make sure you know how to use a dry bag before going paddling. Read the manufacturer’s instructions, watch a tutorial video, or ask an instructor to give you a quick tutorial. Using the bag the wrong way renders it useless, allowing water to get inside. 

8. Avoid Low-Light Conditions

If you’re a beginner, we highly recommend avoiding going on the water in low-light conditions. You want to be sure that others can clearly see you in the water and that you can see them. 

You can increase your visibility in several ways, such as by wearing brightly colored clothing or adding reflective tape to your paddle and kayak. 

Stick to paddling in daylight, in favorable conditions, until you’re more comfortable. 

9. Stay Hydrated

It’s easy to forget about hydration when participating in outdoor recreational sports, but it’s essential to remember to drink up. Even if you’re only going on a short trip, kayaking uses many of your muscles and puts your body to work. As a result, you deplete your water levels. 

Take a sip of water every 15-20 minutes or so when you’re on the water. 

10. Watch the Weather

It’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast before you decide to hit the water. Conditions such as heavy rain make it harder to see and can affect your body’s temperature. Flooding and debris in the water also pose a risk, especially to beginners without much experience. 

If the weather takes a turn, head back to shore. It’s always best to be safe. 

Stay Safe With These Kayaking Tips

There’s no need to feel intimidated when getting into the sport if you use these kayaking tips. Start with the basics and practice safety drills before taking your first trip, and you’ll pick it up fast. 

Ready to experience Lake Lanier like never before? Rent a kayak from us and find a love of paddlesports. 

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