Newbie Here

I am interested in getting into kayaking. I would appreciate any advice. To get things started here are some questions:

  1. What type of kayak should I get? I am interested in kayaking rivers and lakes mostly.
  2. I have rented a kayak a couple of times. That is my only experience. Should I take a class?
  3. What else do you think I should know about getting started in kayaking?

    Thanks for the help.

Classes are great
Basically you just don’t know - what you don’t know.

Taking a class avoids blundering into it all

I agree - take a class

– Last Updated: May-29-11 1:47 AM EST –

See if you can find a class tat covers basic kayaking. Basically, where the shop lays a bunch of kayaks of different styles and shapes on a beach and talks about what each is meant for. Then shows you the basics that would impact all types of kayaks (forward stroke, sweep stroke, etc). Then lets you try them all. The goal is to figure out what type of kayak you are after.

After that, see if you can take a class aimed at the type of kayak your chose. Self rescues should you accidentally flip over would be one thing that would be good for that class.

There is no need for a class
just try out and bunch and then buy one that seems to suit you, and go out and paddle.

Once you have paddled a bit, if you want to learn the various correction strokes, just pick up a book or borrow one from a library.

The more you paddle, the better you will get at it.

jack L

Take a class
When I started canoeing 10 years ago I did not take a class. A few years down the road I did take one. It was an eye-opener. There was a lot I could not do. And some of what I was doing, if not wrong, was at least clumsy. There is a saying in the community that “the thrill is in the skill”. I find that to be true and the skill will come much faster with instruction.


Classes are good for…

– Last Updated: Jun-01-11 9:10 PM EST –

Starting your paddling with a good forward stroke rather tan the wrist and shoulder killing bad one that most people use otherwise. It is a bear to unlearn bad habits.

Learning a self-rescue and getting by the what if I capsize part right up front. This also informs you about what features you will want in a boat a lot better than by talking about it.

Trying out boats... as part of the lesson.

Some people get started and seem to have a stroke that won't create injuries or undue wear from the outset. Most I have met re like ourselves - paddled little boats for a while and then had a raft of bad habits to unlearn.

Newbie here
Something else that would certainly help is to see if there are any paddling clubs in your area. Most people will recommend that you never go out alone, especially if you’re new. The people in your area are more than likely gonna have boats that are suited for paddling in your area.

Guided tour
I started out going on guided tours in the area. They provided the equipment and guides, and always did a bit of instruction beforehand. On some tours, I was able to swap boats at the halfway point.

Guided tour
I started out going on guided tours in the area. They provided the equipment and guides, and always did a bit of instruction beforehand. On some tours, I was able to swap boats at the halfway point.

my 2 cents worth…
…I remember the confusion when i 1st started …kinda overwhelming. So…

#1 …lakes equal wind when you least want or expect it. recreational kayaks with big open cockpits/hull shapes are fine for calm water but not well suited to wind kicked waves. If you cannot get in and out of the smaller cockpit openings easily on sea kayaks …then the “recreationals” are gonna be the choice. Basic rule…wide kayaks are more stable but slower and harder to paddle, more water to push out of the way …skinny boats are faster/easier to paddle but more " tippy". You would get use to a 24" width boat real fast. As a beginner …You would probably spend a lot of time upside down in a narrow(21 or narrower) boat.

#2 Classes are generally a good idea but not essential. You can get the adequate instruction from a book and practice kayak strokes on your own. Classes r good for advanced kayaking techniques like Eskimo roll’s . learning braces etc. etc.

#3 …don’t go hog wild buying accessories till you’re sure you want to stay into Kayaking. A sponge, bilge pump. waterproof bag or container for wallet, car keys , cell phone, in case you do capsize. …Choose your PFD wisely, you may need it to save your life.

#4 Rivers …be very careful about entering rivers with strong currents. If a paddler can only paddle 4mph for a short sprint …going upstream against a constant 5mph current is a recipe for disaster

Good stuff…
everyone. I really appreciate the advice. Are there any websites where I can learn about places and clubs where I can kayak in my area? I am sure my local shops can help with this but I am guessing there will be pressure to buy something.

clubs/message boards/classes/people
all good. I have found that people, especially river people (i.e. whitewater) are some of the best people I’ve ever met. I started paddling again about 12 years ago, single blade, self taught, and agree with Jack. It took a lot to turn what once terrified me into what is now a relaxing run, but it happened. The vast majority of my friends kayak, and at least around here in the Northeast, there’s an awesome regional message board which is a good resource for answering questions and finding people to learn from and paddle with. We get what I term “leaders of the pack” who teach as we go, and I’ve actually been paddling tandem lately, taking newbies along and showing them what can be done in a canoe (i.e. swim ;-)).

From what I’ve seen of clubs, I’m glad I just have friends, and appreciate having the message board.

Having recently taken up mountain biking, I am finding the same resource exists for that, so I’m fairly sure you’ll find some sort of help online.

FWIW, my son is one of the better single blade paddlers I’ve seen, and he learned his skills from Youtube videos.

jump in
Find some buddies or a club and jump right into some flatwater trips or easy moving water trips. Get a cheap used kayak and a decent paddle and PFD.

Get some gear and look for a class that suits what you want to do. Or just keep on paddling until you get good at it.

Paddle shops normally have demo days. You go to a nearby lake and paddle all the boats they bring. Go to some demos and paddle a bunch of boats. One of 'em is bound to feel better than the rest.

Disagree on a couple of things above
Disagree that bracing and rolling, at least starting towards it, are advanced skills. Especially bracing - it is fundamental to avoiding a capsize if you get caught in unexpected conditions. Kind of like suggesting that learning to handle a skid in a car is an unnecessary skill for winter driving.

You will learn more in 1 hour at a demo than months of web research. That’s the best way to weed out kayaks that are not right for you.

Practice going upside down then getting out of the boat. It’s called a wet exit. Then practice getting back in the boat… in deep water. It’s important.

Kiss your
disposable income goodbye

get a good instructor
Many outfitters are mom-and-pop operations with untrained guides and instructors. Make sure your instructor is certified by either the American Canoe Association or the British Canoe Union. Red Cross and AMC certifications are a joke.

What Kudzu says is probably the most
important thing that you should learn if you will be paddling off shore or out in the middle of a big lake.

Learn it in water that is not over your head, but don’t let your feet touch bottom. Practice it until you have it down pat or until you are too tired to keep trying.

It is called “self Rescue” and you can get the method out of most paddling books, or someone here can do it by the numbers.

I spend one day evert year doing it, and also assisted rescue which is much easier with my partner.

Jack L