Exiting kayak advice?

I have been thinking and I believe I need a device, something to help me get up and out of my kayak. I am a older member to the kayak sport and it seems there could be a easier way to stand up. Are there other people out there who use some sort of assistive device or have made something that works? I have been looking

for a tool that I could use, and pack along my side in the yak. I’d appreciate any advice exiting my yak.

Thank you.


What type of kayak?
I just saw an interestingly simple idea to assist the up and out process, recently at a trade show. Before I make any recommendations, what make and model kayak?

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY



Flexibility, Strength
Look into exercises to increase and maintain overall flexibility and upper body strength. Practice on the floor and chairs at home. If you have a local Y talk to them about flexibility and upper body strength routines you can do with weights or check out classes they have for older adults.

gym membership
strength training is even more important as we get older. Better strength and flexibility reduces your chances of getting injured and increases your longevity in sport.

Depends on what your challenge is
Here’s a method if you’re weak in the knees or legs. It requires very little strength and can be done as slowly as you wish. It uses the buoyancy of water to help you stand up. It’s hardest to stand up in shallow water, and impossible in deep water. With this method you get out SIDE SADDLE and provide a counterforce behind you to avoid tipping and to help yourself up. Sounds complicated but you will get the hang of it. No device needed if you do this in the right depth. STEPS:

  1. Park parallel to the shore, with your left side to the shore. (Why parallel? So both legs are at the same depth.)
  2. . . . in about 12"-14" of water, a bit below your knees.
  3. Take your left foot out and place it on the bottom for stability. If you can’t reach the bottom, you’re out too deep.
  4. Place your left hand next to you on the LEFT (shore)side of the cockpit. Grasp the RIGHT side of the cockpit with your right hand, a bit behind you.
  5. Remove your right foot and swivel around so you’re sitting with both feet in the water. Keep your rear end in the center so you stay balanced. You can sit in this position as long as you like.

    5)Here’s the only tricky part. Lean forward and stand up. As you stand up, push DOWN on the cockpit coaming with your RIGHT hand behind you. If you push down with your left hand you will tip over. Pushing down on the kayak will push you up.

Maybe, but . . .
If you had a choice between these two, which would you choose?

  1. Go to the gym and build muscle to get up out of very low chairs.

  2. Skip the gym and use a higher chair, that you just need to lean out of.

    See method below, which is essentially getting up out of a “higher chair” by leaning forward in deeper water. No gym required.

I can usually back into our landing,

– Last Updated: Sep-10-13 9:53 PM EST –

and most of the time take both feet our of the cockpit, whether SOT, sea kayak, or rec boat and place one on each side of the boat, then stand up and push the boat out from under me.
If I park parallel to the shore, and the water isn't too wild, I pull both feet out, place them on the shore side and at times use my paddle like a staff to help raise me up. There were a couple of times when I first started doing this I lost my balance. Got my butt wet real fine like. :) Oh well. It is a wet sport.
This generally works for shallow, quiet water shorelines.

Where is the issue?
Legs or upper body? I have probably seen more people with the upper body issue - can’t push up out of a position that low - than lower body problems in a kayak.

Much of the response below seems to be assuming a lower body issue…

second that, sort of
I hate the gym, it never motivates me to exercise, it costs money and I have to drive there.

One can do all one needs with tips such as yours, a swedish ball and some dumbbells and/or bands.

Sounds as though
you value dignity more than I do :).

What I’ve done (prior to the knee replacement) is essentially dismount when there is still water beneath the hull. As long as the boat is floating, it isn’t that difficult to separate from the boat and extend the legs to push away from the craft. This isn’t always possible in, say, dumping surf - which we have all too much of in Monterey Bay.

In such conditions, it is best to ride in and push down on the back deck with hands and lift your bottom off the seat. Extend the legs against the stops until you push youself to sitting atop the back deck where you can straddle or swing to the side off the boat. I’ve even rolled backware over the back deck and into the water behind the boat (very stylish - you can just imagine the impressed looks I get with this move).

I recommend a leash from paddle to boat so that you can control the (floating) boat by simply maintaining control of the paddle until the boat is high and dry.

I’ve sure you’ve seen SCUBA divers exit the ocean, reguardless of condtions, with strength, poise, and aplomb as they walk tall through the surf, but when the knees were bad, that wasn’t me. I generally crawled out of the ocean, dropped the weight belt in the sand, separated myself from the BC and that 35 LB. tank, and only then tried to stand.

Dignity is overrated, particulary in water sports.


Gym and Self Rescue —
While some may say maintaining upper body strength and flexibility is too much bother, at some point the OP may capsize in cold water, and have to get themselves back into the kayak. We have all seen fat lazy kayakers who can’t self rescue. In rough water or cold water this can be fatal. If you can’t put in the time to maintain strength and flexibility, you probably shouldn’t be in a kayak.

Roll in cockpit and step out
I have a Valley skerray with the ocean cockpit. I cannot get my feet out, period. I don’t have long enough arms to lift my butt out of the cockpit. I pull up parallel to the shore, place the paddle behind the cockpit-blade on the bottom. Leaning on the paddle to stabilize the kayak, I roll my body over in the cockpit ending up with my knees in the seat and hands on the back deck. From here I move one foot outside the kayak and stand on the bottom. This has worked even better as I lose weight. Try it!

1 Like

Maybe it is time…
…to switch to a canoe or a SOT. Or you can show your mettle and do wet exits.

Sounds like a good technique…
…for a thin person with good knees.

I’m not a thin person. 225# and 5’9" I developed this technique when I was 240#. I do not have a knee problem however.

Exiting the kayak
I just had a knee replaced, so I can identify with your plight.

One way to make it easier to get your butt up and over your center of gravity is to run a bow painter (a line from the bow) back a little further than your cockpit. Once your feet are in the water, you can haul on the line to assist in getting to a position that will allow you to stand.

SOT is a nice solution

– Last Updated: Sep-11-13 9:14 PM EST –

I am 70 and I now have my second SOT kayak.. I still notice a lot of kayakers in our club having issues whilst exiting their SINK kayaks..Once they notice how easy it is with a SOT, more interest is given towards the other features of a SOT kayak..Some have already done the switch.