Do All Kayaks Roll?

Wow Nice , First Boat Looks Wide .

That Is Excellent.

The people who roll sit-on-tops don’t belt themselves in. They make belts that are running fore and aft to drop over their knees but are loose enough so they only hold when the knees are bent forcing the feet and butt down. If they simply relax their legs the straps fall off. So they are not in any more danger from their thigh straps then we are from our spray skirts.

But rolling most S.O.T. kayaks shows real skill, because most S.O.T. kayak are wider, designed to be more stable. When upside down that width makes them “more stable” and turning them over is harder to do then it is a narrower kayaks. That wider beam works when upright, but also when upside-down.

I have a high degree of respect for those that roll them easily. They are very skilled.

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Too many generalizations are being posted.

Wide rec SOTs can be fitted with thigh straps. Wave skis come with lap belts.

Someone might be able to roll either of those. Or not.

Dubside learned to roll on a Big Kahuna SOT.

Maliqiak could roll a wide rec SINK.

The paddler determines what rolls more than the kayak does.


Belts used in kayaks and waveskis are usually nylon polymer quick release fitted on

dive belts or more specialized belts like the Solomanzi quick release. With the Solamanzi belt a flick of the thumb sets you loose in less than a second.

You really just need to get into a kayak at some place that can give you basic lessons. None of this makes sense until you understand how the boat handles the water.
And capital letters in front of every word… unless the posts are being run thru a translator?

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Actually have a Cobra Strike SOT where I use a belt to roll it for party tricks . The secret is to pull your leg out of one of the thigh straps and do a “leg throw” to bring the boat over. Most waveskis are hard to roll, and it’s a technique that makes it easier. In real life I really don’t find much need to roll my surf sot Cobra Strike.

Dubside did indeed learn to roll in his first folding kayak, a standard Feathercraft Kahuna, but it’s a full coaming sit inside, not a SOT (Kahuna is the same sea kayak model I started with myself). But he has rolled some unusual boats, including a not-too-graceful effort with an inflatable raft.

Here’s the link to a blog post with a 35 minute video at the bottom of the page of the rolling demo (and competition) at the 2005 West Coast Kayak Symposium with Dubside and Leon Somme showing many different traditional Greenland rolls, Leon in his Romany with a Euro paddle and Dub with a Greenland paddle using first a wide plastic sit on top, then what looks like a Pungo rec boat and then his new Feathercraft Wisper (the longer and sleeker folder that replaced his Kahuna). Fun to watch some rolling pros making it look super easy! At the 31:00 point Dubside rolls while holding a burning stick of incense without getting it wet.

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Is It Something Worth Learning ?

Rolling can be a lot of fun but the real value is safety. With a reliable roll you can safely enjoy conditions that would otherwise keep you off the water or put your nerves on edge.


And the confidence of knowing you can roll will make you more relaxed in your kayak and less likely to capsize in the first place. A lot of capsizes occur because paddlers are stiff and feel unstable due to to fear of dumping, which causes them to overreact to movement of the kayak.

Many sea kayak hulls have loose primary stability, that makes them feel “twitchy” at first, but good secondary stability so they can be leaned from side to side without flipping. But if a paddler is not used to this, fear of capsize when they feel their boat leaning can cause an abrupt panic jerking that unbalances the padddler and may result in flipping over. Also, part of learning the rolling process includes practice in bracing wih the paddle, a skill that helps prevent capsizng to begin with.

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That might be the best explanation I’ve read :+1:t3:
Way to go

I agree that I think being comfortable underwater and just hanging out is important. I felt this was the most important step and critical to not just thrashing around.

I can’t imagine rolling if I wasn’t. Also, breath work pacing your exhale through the nostrils at a pace to conserve your air and prevent water from entering.

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Can anyone tell me what you call what he is wearing?

That’s a tuilik

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That’s a Reed Tuilik (or Tuiliq). From Reed-chilcheater in England. Great piece of gear; available from or a couple of other US distributors

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I thought this guy had a valuable instruction about loading the hip snap

That works very well, but Dubside and Maligiaq and Hellen Wilson have taught me (from their videos) that the “snap” is not actually needed as much as simply pressing hard against the thigh/knee brace. If the upper body and the paddle scull and give you resistance to put opposing force between the leg and the upper body, the roll can be done with no snap at all. It’s easier if you extend the paddle, but with a high level of skill as those 3 have, it’s possible to do it with a short and small paddle. It’s 90% about the body and 10% about the paddle you have.
I am not skilled enough to do it with no momentum but I can sometimes do a good roll by extending my paddle and going fairly slow with a long sweep or sometimes 2 sweeps sculling back and forth as I put hard pressure against one side of the cockpit with my thigh. No snap used at all. Learning with a hip snap is far easier, but as skills build you can actually use it less and less.


That might be the answer to my hatred of the neck seal.

James Manke knows. Learning more difficult rolls, as was shown in that excellent video, means lessening dependence on a paddle and increasing drive of the kayak towards upright via your core and especially thighs. I prefer to describe as leg-drive, not hip-snap.

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Not a fan of neck-ties or latex neck seals either. Had a semi-dry suit for a while for the softer neck seal, but a latex neck seal is necessary imo in winter/cold water. Dont notice it anymore.
Brooks Gear makes a 3mm neoprene tuilik, excellent for cold water. The Reed is thinner and more suitable for cool water. As always, dress for immersion.

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I’ve recently acquired a tuilik and I like it a lot, but unfortunately it’s not a substitute for a dry suit. With my currently limited experience I’m guessing I could get by with a decent layer of neoprene under it down to water temps in ~ mid-50s.