Kayaking is an exciting water adventure that outlives most sports or activities one can pursue in a lifetime. An inflatable kayak just provides another fun way to glorify the sport. An inflatable kayak can give you a soothing experience to the nature’s lap or help you enjoy the secrets of woods, canyon walls, or wildlife. An inflatable kayak is a silent beauty in such solitude.
However, driving a kayak isn’t so easy as it seem, especially for the beginners. That’s why we’ve put togather a list of useful kayaking tips for beginners that’ll help you manage your inflatable kayak with ease.
Kayaking Tips (Inflatable) for Beginners
As a beginner, kayaking does not mean just buy an inflatable kayak, go to a water body, inflate it and start pedaling. In fact, there are a few important tips and cautions to follow before, during, and after starting to ride an inflatable kayak. Let’s know those useful facts.
1. Tips to Follow Before Hitting the Water
Before start kayaking, you need to do several important things. In other words, you need to do some preparatory tasks like doing some homework, understand your vessel, gather some kayaking skills, get the right gear and networking with other kayakers. Your kayaking experience will be adventurous and a pleasant one if you do these preliminary works.
1.1) Understanding Your Vessel
Inflatable kayaks come in lots of different types of models. To choose the right model, consider the points below:
- Water condition: would you be pedaling in calm; serene water like in lake or river? Or will it be in turbulent water like in sea? Or you want to peddle in both river and sea?
- Size: There are different types of kayaks in terms of size-solo, tandem and family sized. Select one according to your requirement.
- Weight capacity: Models of different inflatable kayaks have different weight capacity. Estimate an approximate weight that you are likely to carry. Then choose a unit in accordance with that weight. Carrying an excessive weight will hamper the performance of the kayak.
- The weight of kayak: if you want to use a solo kayak, check the weight of the kayak in the specification because you need to lift it yourself and carry it by foot to the water.
- Price: Price of kayaks varies widely. Their price could be $100 to over thousands. Prepare to spend $300 to $1500 to get a good quality, durable Inflatable kayak.
1.2) Do the Homework
Homework means gathering some information about the place before you start your journey and the things that you want to take with you. If you carry your dog, choose the right kayak, and take all pet accessories with you. As for the environment, you need two particular pieces of information regarding this. One is weather and the other is tides and currents of the place.
Unlike land, weather conditions can change suddenly on the water. Getting caught out in bad weather on land is unpleasant. But getting caught out on the water in bad weather is not only unpleasant but also dangerous. The rougher the weather, the higher the chances of capsizing or getting your kayak or fishing float tube swamped with water.
To avoid caught in the bad weather, check the local weather forecast and get the updated information regarding weather for the entire time you’ll be on the water.
But do not rely only on weather forecasts. Because, it could be erroneous and misleading. Use your sense as well. Particularly keep an eye on wind direction and strength. If see something unusual, heed to a safer place.
Another important thing is the tide. Get the information of tide if you are planning to kayak in the open ocean. Know the strength and direction of the tide.
Knowing tide direction is more important because paddling against the tide is far difficult. Even the speed of the current is 1 or 2 miles.
If you are planning to go to a river, it is important to know how the river is flowing. A calm river can suddenly turn into fast-moving white water if there is extra water originating from excessive rain or snowmelt further upstream.
The best way to know the current and tide of a particular location is to checking NOAA’s tide and current map before heading there.
1.3) Gather Some Kayaking Skills
Gathering some kayaking skill is extremely valuable before you embark on your first kayak outing. Below we have discussed a few effective ways by which you can get some insights about kayaking.
- Attending kayak skills courses: American Canoe Association have some online courses. This is the best place for people who want to enroll kayaking skills courses.
- Learn to get into and out of a kayak: There are a number of basic techniques on how to get in and out of your inflatable kayak. Learn those techniques by practicing on dry land.
- Practice how to inflate a kayak: some kayak models come with a simple foot pump. But inflate a kayak using a pump with built in pressure gauge is important because some expensive models feature separate bulkheads. A bulkhead is a separate compartment of air. These bulkheads must be inflated to the correct air pressure by using a pressure gauge.
- Learn how to paddle: Learn the correct techniques of paddling. If you attend the kayak skill courses, they will definitely teach you how to paddle. knowing the correct technique will help you to navigate smoothly.
1.4) Get the Right Gear
No water journey is safe and secure, and Kayaking is not an exception. Below are a few basic kayaking tips along with a kayaking safety gears list you’ll find useful as a beginner:
- Paddles: all newly purchased kayak models come with the right paddles according to the design of the unit. But if you purchase a used kayak, make sure that it has the correct paddle. Because the use of incorrect paddle significantly affects maneuverability and make you work harder.
- PFD (Personal flotation device): get one that is specially designed for paddlers.
- Light/headlamp: an essential tool if you are paddling during early morning or dusk
- Life jacket: if you take PFD carrying a life jacket is not essential
- Blige Pump: used to remove water from inside the kayak (Sit-in kayaks only).
- Dry bag: to keep your clothes and sensitive gear dry, especially when you are on a fishing kayak.
- Spray skirt: keep water from splashing inside the sit-in kayaks.
- Kayak paddling gloves: wear a pair of paddling gloves to protect your thumb and index finger from chafing and blistering
- Flares – Under emergency situations it is used to signal the need for help.
- Compass/GPS – Especially useful for uncharted territory.
- Radio – Use to get weather updates during extended trips and calling for help.
1.5) Team up with People or Let Someone Knowledgeable Be Informed
Paddling clubs are a great place where you can meet both beginners and veterans’ kayakers. These clubs offer stewardship and arrange competitions, social activities. They are a good source of information regarding different gears. Besides, by joining a canoe association/club you can ask important questions to seasoned kayakers and get real answers.
Another valuable piece of information these clubs stored in their database is a listing of travelled waterways or route tracks. A track includes information like directions, good access points and exit points. This is pretty useful especially for beginners because they will now their track before starting their journey. Joining a paddling club is an amazing way to stay up to date on all kayaking activities, safety and general information.
2. Inflatable Kayak Tips as You Hit the Water
After attending kayaking courses, gathering some potential kayaking skills and collecting all necessary tools and equipment, it’s now time to choose the right kayak and hit the water. Follow below recommendations when you get into your kayak which is floating on the water:
2.1) Adjust Your Kayak’s Settings (Perfecting Your Sitting Position)
Paddling efficiently and traveling longer distances depends on how you sit comfortably or making proper seating arrangements. Follow below steps to adjust your seat:
- Check the configuration of your inflatable kayak model. Some models come with 2 or even 3 seating arrangements.
- Footrest or foot pegs are used to adjust the seating position according to your height.
- Some inflatable kayaks feature foot straps instead of a footrest. It, too, can be used to adjust the seating arrangements.
2.2) Start Kayaking
- Start paddling with a forward stroke. Use your arms and torso to take forward strokes.
- Use a paddle leash to ensure that kayak and paddle stay together.
- Certain models of inflatable kayaks feature a detachable skeg. A skeg is a plastic fin that extends under the hull of the kayak. The skeg is used to make travel path of kayak straight. This is particularly useful while traveling in the cross wind.
- As long as you are fully confident with your technique of paddling and stability with in an inflatable kayak, do not go too far away from the dry land.
- If you fall off the kayak somehow and enter the water and worse can’t climb back into your kayak, do not panic. Remember this is not a hardshell kayak; so, use the kayak as a giant floatation device and leg kick back to shore.
- Use splash guards or simple rubber rings to water from running along the shaft of the paddle and drench your wrists and lap.
- Keep all your gear like camera, GPS and other accessories in a water proof bags. Use a towable cooler for kayak if you want to carry any.
- Carry sunscreen lotion and bug repellent. Exposure to the sun for a prolonged period of time can result in sunburn. Also, mosquito or other bugs can make your journey miserable.
- Carry food and water. kayaking involves spending a lot of calories. Put a small bottle of water and a few energy bars into your dry bag before starting heading to the water.
3. Additional Tips
Below are a few additional tips for new paddlers regarding what they need to do and what they need to avoid.
3.1) Inflatable Kayaking Do’s
- Inform someone where you are going and approximate time of your returning.
- While loading, keep more weight at the back and less weight at the front.
- Ensure that you pack your pump and repair kit in a dry bag and bring it in the inflatable kayak.
- Inflate the kayak to full capacity. If it is not fully blown with air, it will not be rigid enough and therefore could be sluggish.
- Do no go too far away from the shore. If you are kayaking in the ocean or lake, make sure that you paddle along the shoreline. Also, keep the shoreline well in sight.
- Pack extra warm cloth in your dry bag. Even if the weather is warm and sunny, it can change quickly. Bringing extra clothing will help you to avoid any unexpected situation.
3.2) Inflatable Kayaking Don’Ts
- Avoid head on collision with sharp objects. Most models of inflatable kayaks are heavily built. But it does mean they can withstand impacts of powerful collision with sharp objects. If your kayak face debris or stick on waterway, steer away from the impediment and avoid direct collision.
- Avoid dragging your inflatable kayak over gravel and rocks. The rugged surface can scratch and tear the bottom of the kayak. Instead, lift the kayak over your shoulder, carry it to the water and then float it for kayaking.
- One reason of kayaking is exploring wildlife in natural environment settings. So, when you quench your exploration thrust, do not disturb wild animals.
- Alcohol plays the leading role in in boating-related deaths. So, do not bring alcohol to your Kayak.
- Do not drink the water of ocean or lake. water in most waterbody is unsafe to drink
- While taking a break from kayaking, do not forget to anchor your canoe close to the shore and keep an eye on the kayak. The height of the tide can change anytime and can wash away your kayak.
- You can fit a trolling motor to your inflatable kayak if you want. In that case, pick a good deep cycle battery for covering greater distance without any physical exhaustion.
- Finally, do not fall asleep in your kayak.
You will feel the greatest senses of freedom while paddling down a river in your inflatable kayak. Floating on a calm river or lake can also give you a chance to think cogently without interruptions of any distractions.
The risk of getting hurt during kayaking is minimum. But that does not mean that the adventure is completely risk free. One such risk is you can run along the barren rocks which line the river banks. And puncture the bottom part your kayak.
Another great risk is being affected with hypothermia. The majority of downing incidents that lead to people’s death occur due to becoming hypothermic. Hypothermia obstructs your motor function, causes you to become exhausted and making it difficult to swim and keep your head above water. The result is a tragic death.
Hopefully, in our above article, we have discussed kayaking tips for beginners in step by step process. Not just in a summarized way. Follow these steps and make your first paddle in an inflatable kayak a more enjoyable one. Stay safe and happy paddling!