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How to Get in and Out of a Kayak – Essential Safety Tips for Beginners

Written by Jessica Herron
Last Update: August 14, 2023

Yeah, we have seen the image a lot. A new kayak owner tries to get into a kayak and they cannot keep balance, so they roll over/capsize.  Lots of people love to kayak, but it can be tricky to get in and out of it, especially if you’re a beginner.

This article is going to put you through the process of getting in and out of a kayak with no hassles and rolls.

How to Get in & Out of a Kayak?

How to Get in and Out of a Kayak

First, let us get something clear. There is no graceful way to get in and out of the kayak. Though it can be tricky, with practice it does get easier. You will need all your gear close; things like your water bottle and paddle. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the steps involved.

Choosing Proper Launching & Landing Spots

It is essential to pick the most suitable spot where you intend to launch and land the kayak. Picking the perfect landing spot will also determine how easy it is to access the seat. Landing and launching from the wrong spot will only make things unnecessarily harder—the most common places to launch from; the beach, uneven shoreline, and a dock.

Getting in & out of a Kayak from a Rocky or Uneven Shoreline

It can be dangerous for the inexperienced, so it is best to start in shallow waters with low current, while you use your paddle to maintain your balance. You can begin by;

1. Aligning the Kayak:

Align the kayak parallel to the shore, while you place your paddle perpendicular in the direction to the boat, make sure that the shaft rests behind the cockpit where the water currents support the two far blades.

2. Getting in

Grab the rim of the cockpit and the shaft behind you and slowly squat down into the boat. Don’t forget to keep your center of gravity low when entering or getting out of a kayak; this will help you maintain stability and reduce your chance of capsizing.

3. Stable

Push your weight slightly back towards the outrigger; this will help create more stability. Once that is achieved, you can push your legs into the boat then sit.

4. Getting out

This action is similar to getting in, only do the reversed following the tips you used to get in. keep your center of gravity low, grab the cockpit’s rim then slowly and carefully push yourself out.

From The Water, From a Beach or Ramp

The most important thing to do when launching from the beach or a cement ramp is to place your kayak vertical to the shoreline and make sure the nose of the boat is in the water, and the tail is on the sand. This is to avoid beaching tour self before starting. To save yourself the stress of coming back out to slide the boat into the water where you might have to repeat the action, you might want to follow these tips.

When you are launching from shallow waters, it is also advisable that you float the kayak on a few inches of water, you can ask a friend to help you stabilize the boat while you get in.

Here is more


Hold the boat just behind the rim of the cockpit, sit down behind the cockpit, and then bring your feet and slide them into the seat. If the kayak is one of those that need you to externally spin and incline the knee under a thigh brace, your knee can be slightly bent when sliding in, after which you can secure your things under the braces.

Getting out of The Beach

Paddle and direct the kayak vertically by the shoreline and move towards the sand, so that the kayak beaches or stops—floats on shallow waters. Getting out can be a bit challenging. Get your foot out, one-by-one on one side of the kayak. Then, lunge forward, grab the cockpit in front of you and try to move forward until you can stand up.

This can be harder for women than it is for men. But the more you practice this, the easier it becomes. Do all of these with caution since it pretty easy to fall off the kayak. Remember, there is no graceful way to get in and out of the kayak.

From the Land or A Dock

Getting in

When launching from a dock, the easiest way to get into the boat is to ask a friend to help you with the balance while you get into the kayak. If you want to do this alone, set the kayak directly against the dock, at the lowest and closest part the dock is to the water.

Sit down close to the kayak on the dock, then push your feet into the cockpit, move your body in the direction of the bow, with the boat still in a sitting position, calmly get into the kayak quickly, but ensure to maintain a low center of gravity. Do not lose your grip on the dock while getting into the boat.

Getting out

Perform the actions above in reverse. Aim towards the lowest part of the water close to the dock, grab it confidently and pull yourself out using the dock as a balance, you can also come out but ensure you maintain a low center of gravity and sit on the dock with your feet still in the kayak.

But, when the dock is too high, it can be a lot harder to get in and out of the water, but with more attempts, it becomes easier. The main point here is to ensure that you lean all your weight towards the dock while stepping out.

Other Alternative Methods

There are other ways to get into the kayak. Especially on a beach, you can straddle it then lower your bottom towards the seat; after that, you pull both legs one after the other. This can also be reversed when climbing back out. This is possible when you can stand on both sides on the kayak with your bow facing the water, and the stern facing the land.


Learning all of this skill will not be too easy at the beginning. As you know, both regular and inflatable kayaks can tumble if not properly approached. Get ready for epic fails. Just be careful and bring a friend along —they will take a picture. Kayaking is fun, and sometimes, fails can be fun too. So don’t forget to enjoy the moment!


Q. 1: Can you get trapped in a kayak?

Ans. People do not get trapped under the kayak. Even though you look at a kayak, it feels easy to get trapped underneath; it is highly unlikely, and the size of body doesn’t matter.

Q. 2: Should you kayak if you can’t swim?

Ans. It is recommended that you know how to swim to get close to the water. However, this is not a criterion, so you do not have to swim before you can kayak.

Q. 3: What do you do if you flip a kayak?

Ans. Flip the kayak back. Position yourself at the side of the kayak near the cockpit, get underneath the kayak, and hoist it back up.

About the author

Jessica Herron

Hi! This is Jessica. I can be your virtual outdoor buddy, lol! My friends call me a devotee of adventure. I believe, as any outdoor enthusiast does, adventures are all about the thrill. My love consists of a mix of fishing and camping in the wild, if you ask (what thrills you most?). So, I could be of help (through my articles on this website) to any adventure seeker as long as backpacking, survival, camping, hiking, and fishing are concerned. Are you planning to take a trip to the wild next weekend? Maybe, you already are in the middle of a journey. No matter where you are, my words are on the air!

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