Kayaking is a great water sport. A lot of people around the world enjoy paddling. Just like any other outdoor sport, kayaking can also cause some injuries. This is why it is always great to be prepared for a kayaking session. No matter if you are going for a short paddling session or a kayaking excursion, one needs to consider kayak safety before planning the trip. It is always wise to be prepared to know what to expect from the kayaking session. In this article, I am going to share some of the kayak safety tips, and how they can ensure you a better kayaking experience.
First thing first, you need a plan according to your capabilities. If you are a newbie and don’t have strong paddling stamina, it is better to keep your destination close. In that way, you can return home with more ease. A lot of new paddlers often forget that they need to paddle back when going to a long distance. Unless you have a trolling motor, it may become tough for you to paddle for a very long time.
Always wear a life jacket
Often overlooked, a kayak life jacket can save your life. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive jacket, but a cheaper one will do the trick. Try to buy a jacket, vest, or PFD with vibrant color to ensure that it is highly visible on the water. This same kayak safety tip applies to any water sports activities. Even if you are a seasoned swimmer, I highly suggest you wear a kayak PFD or life jacket. If you are bringing your kids with you, get a life jacket for them too. A lot of paddlers complain that the jacket restricts their movement. If you feel uneasy paddling with a life jacket, buy a specialized kayak jacket that allows movement of your arm.
Dress according to the weather conditions
Are you kayaking in windy weather? Have you checked the weather before you started kayaking? Do it now. It may rain when you are kayaking. You will need a waterproof jacket for that. Depending on the weather, you have to dress accordingly. If you are kayaking in winter or live in a cold area, the cold water can be highly dangerous. You need a proper set of clothes which will help you tackle such situations. Kayakers who love white water should wear a kayak wetsuit.
White water safety
White water kayaking is dangerous if you are not an expert. There are different classes of rivers that need to be studied before kayaking in such places. Sometimes, even the expert kayakers face a lot of trouble paddling in choppy waters. We have a handy guide on the classification of rivers that can help you understand what to expect from different class rivers. Also, buy a specialized white water kayak for tough waters.
Wearing a helmet
Very few people who go white water kayaking wears kayak helmets. A kayak helmet can protect your head from any collisions with rock, kayak, or other sharp and hard objects. In some of the places, it is mandatory to wear a kayak helmet, or they won’t let you paddle.
Make a list of the accessories you may need
Depending on the type of kayaking, you will need a set of different kayak accessories. For example, if you are fishing, you may need a kayak fishing jacket. Below is a list of kayak accessories to help you enjoy your kayaking trips.
- Kayak Bilge: Kayak bilge can come in very handy if you find a lot of water getting in the deck or the bottom side of the kayak.
- Kayak Headlamps: If you go kayaking at night, you should get a kayak fishing headlamp to see properly. Primarily made for fishing, they can also help you improve your sightseeing at night.
- Kayak GPS: Paddling in a remote area can be dangerous if you don’t have a GPS device with you. Sure, a smartphone with GPS also works, but the GPS devices are specialized for navigation and have a better battery. However, some of the kayak fish finders also come with GPS technology.
- Whistle: By using a kayak whistle, you can make it easier for the rescuer to rescue you. Also, a whistle can be used to communicate with your kayaking buddies.
- Get an extra paddle. If you are going kayaking, please bring one extra kayak paddle in case you lose one. A lot of the kayaks come with paddle storage where you can keep it securely.
Plan with someone
Talk to a friend or let someone know about your kayaking trip. In that way, someone can call for help if you are missing or in trouble. If you are new to kayaking, I would suggest you go kayaking with one of your friends. You can paddle on different kayaks or use a tandem kayak. If you are taking a kid with you, buy a kid kayak as it is easier for them to handle.
Learn how to get into the kayak from the water
Getting into and out of the kayak is pretty easy. However, re-entering the kayak after falling into the water is a totally different game. Before you start the kayaking excursion, try practicing re-entering the kayak. If you flip over, it becomes very tough to re-enter the kayak. If you are using a sit-in kayak, this becomes more critical. Getting into the sit-on-top kayak is much easier than a sit-in kayak. You need to practice with an expert to make sure that you learn the trick more efficiently.
Don’t drink and paddle
You are not biking on a bike lane in the Netherlands. You are going to paddle in the water. If you drink and fall into the water, there is a chance of major injury. Do not drink alcohol or do any physical exercises before paddling. Stretching is okay, but activities that may drain your energy will impact your paddling experience. If you are camping, you can sit down on the beach and have a beer while enjoying the beautiful sunset.
Try creating a written plan where you put all the necessary information about the kayak trip. Try mentioning all the members of the excursion, your name, emergency contact information, lunch and return times, route plan, and other essential information. Make two copies, leave one at the housemate, and attach another with the kayak. I prefer leaving the plan with someone who is responsible and knows your whereabouts.
Bonus: Bring some food with you
No matter if you are going kayaking by yourself or solo, bring some snacks with you. If you are into keto or looking for some diet-friendly snacks, we suggest Thin Slim Food’s keto cookies.