Recommend books for Beginners

I am new to kayaking and would like to know which books are most helpful to guide me. We will be paddling sea/ large kayaks (14-16.5 ft)

on rivers in MD & VA and the Chesapeake Bay.

I would like to learn camping w/ kayaks and navagation, along with safety. Also any clubs in the Catonsville, MD area?

Thank you.

Sea Kayaking Illustrated
I liked Sea Kayaking Illustrated ( It’s rather light, cartoon filled, and not too serious. But it covers the bases. Recommended if you like to laugh.

  • Jasen.

Here are a couple on safety
Sea Kayaking Safety & Rescue - John Lull

Deep Trouble - Matt Broze and George Gronseth


recomended books
Of the books I purchased when I started kayaking I found “The Complete Sea Kayakers Handbook” by Shelley Johnson to be the best. It is published by Ragged Mountain Press.

Published this year…
is a nice introductory book titled, “Touring and Sea Kayaking: The Essential Skills and Safety”, by Alex Matthews and Ken Whiting.

I just purchased a copy for a friend and it has a really nice layout. No dogma, informative illustrations, and a spot of humour scattered amongst the tome.

The recipient is a rookie paddler and she is enjoying the book and also gives it a thumbs up.

It can be viewed at:

I’ll second the recommendation for “Deep Trouble”, An important book that I consider a must-read for most kayakers.

Welcome to the addiction and pleasant waters to ya.


Two I Like

Wilderness paddling guide - well and engagingly written - canoe emphasis, but much that’s probably applicable to kayak camping, too.

Ralph Diaz’s Complete Folding Kayaker - discusses packing, preparing for camping trips, some basic safety stuff that’s applicable to hardshell seakayaks, too.

I second Shelly Johnson
I also learned a great deal from Shelly Johnsons the Complete Sea Kayakers Handbook. Also I learned to roll with Derek Huthinsons Eskimo Rolling and I also really liked Derek Hutchinsons Complete Guide to Sea Kayaking ( I got it at a bargain bookstore for like $5).

kayak camping
This website also has some excellent articles on kayak camping, camp cooking, how to improve paddling skills (canoe and kayak)humerous paddling experiences, etc. that may be of interest to not only newbies but some of us that have been at it a few years.

Check archives. You may be pleasantly surprised.

I treasure all the knowledge that each experience respondent, to questions asked, shares with the rest of us. It goes to show us that everyone may have a talent that others do not have, yet, you share.

Thanks all!!

Michigan Nana

Sea Kayaking Illustrated, great book and the cartoons stick in your head for doing things the right way.

I’ll second this choice.
Shelly’s book is ‘complete’ and covers camping and packing your boat as well as all the basics.