OUTRIGGER PADDLE - getting in/out? ???

How many folks use their paddle as an outrigger or kickstand to brace themselves when entering or exiting your kayak?

a bunch of us instructors were wondering. we’re on both sides of the fence.


Launching or exiting from a steep beach, I will use the paddle as a kickstand with the Nordkapp (ocean cockpit). Sometimes I will just wet exit. I just cowboy in the Romany and Khatsalano.

I outrig
as my legs are too long and balence poor. My feet must go in before the bum. Extreme keyholes, as on Explorer, can almost allow cowboy with a little shin barking.

Some boats, yes…
Some boats, no

I prefer to cowboy in and out. This is one reason I like the Bou, just plop it in the water and sit down.

My shin is stil healing from getting out of a GTS last week. I need at least a 31" cockpit to bring my legs in and out… GH

Depends on launch site
If you have a beach you can often half float teh boat, straddle and slip in. But if launching parallel to the shore (most lakes, ramps etc) you probably need an outrigger. I like the kickstand analogy!


Did about half the time.
Outrigging was taught in the white water class I took. Made sense, especially when tired at the end of a long hard play day.

Kayak no longer, but still use the outrigger method occasionally with canoes, especially when helping someone else or teaching someone new.

Happy Paddl’n!



Very little these days…
I have always been able to drop butt-first into my own boat, stay balanced and draw my legs into position, including if it’s sitting in water. When I first started that’s what I usually did.

Then an instructor made a point that I should be using the paddle, so for a while I did that more religiously.

Then I read the BCU guidelines where it wanted you to get into the boat without use of the paddle, and reverted to my original technique where possible. I brace off the paddle when I am getting kicked around by minor shoreline waves or when I have to get in from a rock or deck in deeper water.

I can see why a group of instructors could have a lengthy conversation about this. :slight_smile:

BTW, I’m a little more flexible than many - I can do this in my extra small and quite low LV cockpit and last season could still do it in an ocean in a deeper boat.


Do the straddle more often. Depends on the boat and conditions. Due to a bad knee, the straddle is easier getting in than getting out.

2 solid camps.

In WW where the paddles are generally shorter and sturdier it’s acceptable across the board. in the sea boats the OC’s, (Ocean Cockpitters) have a point. In keyholes (WW or Sea) it’s a lot less tramatic on the more $$$, lighter and longer paddle to NOT use it as a kickstand for some and OK to shove it in the mud, rocks and on the dock and push down REAL hard as you slither outta the boat for others.

I still haven’t decided. :wink:


I would teach both ways…
and use whatever works best in the situation…

I don’t do it
but I tend to launch from beaches alot, and not from rocky areas. Also i have a keyhole cockpit so it is easier.

Almost always.
To get in and out of my boat, I have to sit on the back deck and put my legs in first. Being this high up, makes the boat extremely tippy.

I have found that if the paddle is used to just touch the ground and very little pressure is applied to it, I can use a western red cedar GP, or or a Swift carbon shaft paddle without any problems.

Of course my fiberglass Werner and Carbon shaft Toksook, are both so bulletproof I could probably stand on them.

The trick is to use them as a balance AID and not as something to put your weight on. Also make sure hands on the paddle are alsoon the boat. If you grab between the boat and the ground, I’m sure you’ll have a broken paddle no matter what kind you are using.

that’s the issue
many novice/beginners learn by sitting on the shaft/blade and actually outriggering the blade in as a kickstand. as a retailer we have seen a bunch of paddles that have been abused this way.

B A L A N C E is all we’re looking for.


I use the outrigger method
… I am a big guy, so my weight high above the seat makes it difficult to get in and out without a solid support to the side. At 53 years old, I am not as light on my feet as when I was in my 20’s.

… I always get in and out paralell to the shore, and hold my paddle behind the cockpit combing with my right hand, and get in and out to the left side. After years of motorcycle riding, I can’t get comfortable getting in or out on the right side.

… My first Kayak had a humongous cockpit, so I could sit down in the seat, and then pull my legs in afterwards. I took a class after getting my composite kayak, and now use the paddle as the outrigger for balance.

Works for me!! :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Some of each
I was taught to use the outrigger at first but then told it was not good. I still step in with one foot in the middle of the hull then ease butt in along with the other foot. Outrigger is for balance if used, not for (much) support. Mostly been paddling calm water so it isn’t an issue holding the paddle parallel to the boat in one hand.

Butt first then legs has always seemed awkward to me.

What do you do? I’d teach that with maybe some “training-wheels” for the less coordinated.

At almost 6’7" I have yet to find a cockpit long enough for me to pull my legs out of. Several are close but I still scrape my knees/shins. If it a choice between me or a paddle the paddle loses everytime :wink:

Yes I do use a carbon paddle, and did break one this summer, but it happened while I was sprinting, the shaft snapped right by my hand. The paddle was several years old and saw lots of use in surf and rocks. This happened on the second day of a 7 day trip, next year I’ll bring two spares!

sometimes but it only touches water
even a flat blade on the water can be useful for helping me to get into an ocean cockpit. I just use no tools and if I look a bit awkward sometimes, so be it.