Rolling your rec kayak

If you thought you couldn’t roll your rec kayak, think again.
I’m not saying it’s easy.

What’s pictured is a re-enter and roll.

1 Like

Depends on the width of the rec boat and whether or not a fully swamped boat will sit high enough in the water, especially in the conditions where you went over, to successfully pump out.

It isn’t typical of a rec kayak. It has 2 bulkheads and a smaller combing for starters. It looks like a Jackson Journey 14 to me. Similar to the WS Tsunami 14.

I am sure there are folks that can roll a rec kayak. In fact a canoe can be rolled, but note the flotation for WW. That acts like Two bulkheads.
(1) Solo Canoe Roll - YouTube

I see the Jackson kayak was from the second video. The Pungo 14 has two bulkheads too.

Once a person really understands the mechanics of what’s going on with a roll while they’re doing it, it’s surprising what can be rolled. SOTconvert, is this you?

Our little group has a guy who can roll just about anything. He ain’t us.

1 Like

SOT. I got to stop watching your posts. You’re going to have me regressing back to my Pungo and ditch my Tsunami. The Pungo is duralte and it is reasonably fast. Next I’ll be favoring a crib with high sides and snakes on the floor - If you don’t know, don’t ask. In fairness. I bet a mere mortal couldn’t do that. Guess you could post that under paradox. I looked it up. There was a yellow Pungo pictured. Now do this right. Find a SOT wizard and my name is Meyer - if you don’t know, act like you know.

If you followed this thread. That roll defied every law of nature, including a wide accepted impression that you can’t put a skirt on a rec boat (I think I saw one). Not sure how wide it was but it looked bigger than 22 inches. I believeva pungo is 28. The correct answer to is that you SOT, is: as far as you know. That reminds me I have a paddle float, but haven’t carried it. And I fitted my pungo with a forward bulkhead.

I rolled in an inner tube once. :upside_down_face:

The guy in the first video, is me. This was done, at a local pool night. I completed my first rolls ever, just a few weeks prior. Like Chris said, most kayaks are rollable after learning the mechanics.

The biggest issue I had rolling the Pungo, was keeping my butt in the seat. I had to bring the foot pedals in and wedge my knees, under the large cockpit rim. Otherwise when flipping a Pungo, really no way to stay in the seat.

I have done the Pungo roll a few times, since the video. But doubt I could pull it off, with an unexpected capsize.


Actually, I’m 100% sure I can’t roll my rec kayak.

I’m sure other people can roll the exact same type of kayak as I have, but I personally don’t know how to roll yet. Therefore I don’t need to rethink anything. I just need an opportunity to take lessons.

(I’m really hoping lessons with pool sessions are available again sometime in the next year.)

@SOTconvert, you started this thread and make a grand statement as if you’ve made some groundbreaking new discovery, but it’s actually a pretty common knowledge thing. Of course there’s going to be someone that can roll almost any kind of kayak.

If you learn to roll your own kayak, please take a video of that, and share it with us.

I’m very glad @Medawgone replied and took credit for his own skills and video. Well done @Medawgone. Thank you for sharing your video online so that other people could see that roll performed in the Pungo.


My sister took me roller skating several times. By the third time, I felt I was becoming proficient. On one occasion, her husband’s nephew accompanied us. We were about the same age. I assured him that it wasn’t that hard as I gave him tips. To make a long story longer, he got out on the floor and before we left that day, he had mastered the technique and was able to skate backwardd I still needed roller skates training wheels to stand. I immediately realize that my I was not good at certain things. I can paddle fast for a long time, but I have 70 years of experience learning that some things come easier for some people than for me. I’d rather drown than go through that. Strange though, but true. I have managed to live 70 years by avoiding potentially dangerous situations that I feel I can’t handle. Some efforts are not worth pursuing. I gave up trying to paddle my brother’s white water kayak after getting so much water in my nose. I also realized I could never make it through Navy SEAL training. My brother unfortunate dislocated his shoulder doing rolls and gave up kayaking. He has no desire to go out in the touring kayak. Some of us learn hard lessons that I’m sure we can overcome. I feel pretty good about myself. Encoursge and warn me, but don’t make me feel like like Pip in Great Expectation because, " . . . my hands are course and by boots are thick."

Take note, y’all. The Greenland paddle is the rolling paddle. An extended GP makes rolling so easy it feels like you’re cheating.

1 Like

I envy you guys. Bum shoulder, but I gathered that for anyone using a GP, the roll manuever is the deciding factor because it’s more buoyant and the shape.

For anyone who rolls, do you need a skirt, or does the skirt just keep you dry and the contents secure, and/or does the skirt make the manuever more effective. The best point that clear head have made about a rec boat is that you don’t have “easy” three point lock up, and the problem dealing with water pressure is untenable. I gave up the pungo, not for lack of speed or even wave handling. The primary reason was it felt like riding in the back of a pickup truck rather than strapped in the driver sear. I have to imagine a nice sea kayak design vs. a touring boat feels like you’re in a sport car instead of the family sedan. Curious about thoughts on why you went to see kayak.

Just to start, you are adding some confusion with your terminology. A sea kayak IS a touring kayak. Recreational manufacturers have muddied up the waters by calling anything with any storage a touring kayak. An older term that was clearer, which unfortunately fell out of favor, was a transitional kayak. That properly described a boat that was a hybrid of features that did more than the most basic rec boats but was not apt to do the Maine Island Trail.

Now they are calling all kinds of boats touring kayaks. It is not helping.

You can roll a boat up with water in the cockpit. It may be more difficult because of the weight, some may say it is easier, and that is what most do with a wet re-entry and roll. But it is a only a backup option if you actually need it for self-rescue.

The point of a roll is to get out of the water as quickly as possible to get on with handling whatever capsized you in the first place. Having that water in the boat makes it much more unstable, so the paddler probably will need to find an extra way to stabilize the boat once they are upright while they get the water out.

Stuff like rolling a Pungo is a fun pool trick, and would feel great on a hot day. But it is less likely to work out so well in a real emergency because of how much water you come up with.

Some sea kayaks are designed so that, and long as you make it back into the boat on your first try of cowboy or whatever, there is little enough water in the cockpit that you can just skirt up and paddle on. I have two boats that behave that way.

People who have not had to use a roll to get out of a problem are less likely to think thru the entire process - not only doing the roll but what got you into the situation and the recovery But it should properly be thought of as a package.

Jyak, The major reason many of us switch to longer and more syreamlined boats isn’t just because they are easier to roll (though some roll so easily you can do it without a paddle)… It’s because they are generally faster, more stable and secure feeling in rough water and can get to speed with less paddling effort. They enable more fun and safe enjoyment in a wider range of conditions. Also enable us to keep up with friends on outings with similar boats. There is also tangible pleasure in feeling a good body connection in a well fitted boat scaled to your body metrics. The control that affords changes the paddling experience.

The transition is kind of like when you were a kid and went from the small-wheeled sidewalk cruiser bike with training wheels to your first 10-speed road bike (we are the same generation so I am guessing you had the same bike tech transition at some point.). I remember the speed and handling a “grown up bike enabled felt like having wings. Having a sleek, fast and responsive kayak around you can generate that same pleasure.

Injury and age are not automatic obstacles to enjoying higher performance boats and even rolling. My friend and kayaking mentor Dennis, who had been a Canadian national champion in downriver jayak racing, had his left arm literally ripped off but for some soft tissue when he fell from a ladder and hit a platform partway down. After multiple reattachment surgeries and metal bits that left the shoulder looking like Frankenstein’s monster and a lot of hard rehab work he got back to paddling and rolling. Myself, having broken and had surgeries on both wrists (ice-skating), an elbow (bike crash) and my left upper arm (slipping on a wet mountain trail), I switched to Greenland paddles to be able to paddle all day without pain or residual stiffness. Being 71 with osteoporosis, I think that’s a pretty good testimony for Greenland paddle efficacy.

While it is true that the whitewater style “C to C” roll which is the most common type most people are aware of and are frequently raught puts a lot of stress on the arms and shoulders, there are other less effortful methods. With the right type of boat there are rolling versions that don’t even use the paddler’s arms and shoulders or a paddle. I have seen instructors at Greenland skills training camp roll easily with both their arms folded over their chests through the whole capsize and roll up. Check out YouTube videos of Greenland style rolling demos and the range of them is remarkable.

As Celia explained, having water enter your hull makes recovery more difficult, either for rolling or self rescue. A flooded boat rides lower and is unstable, plus adds the extra chore of having to pump it out which can add to danger and another capsize in fraught conditions. You can execute a perfect roll up but if the boat has taken on several gallons because of an ill-fitting skirt or none at all, you are likely to keep rotating as you reach the surface and go right back over.


In the conditions in which you are most likely to have capsized in the first place, even if you successfully manage to roll up, if the cockpit is full of water many boats will sit so low in the water that waves will continue to wash into the boat. That will make it essentially impossible to pump out to continue paddling. Most boats will also be extremely unstable in this condition. Unless you have another person to stabilize you or have a skirt that you can reattach to keep more water out as you pump chances of recovery are greatly diminished.

1 Like

You confirmed what I suspected, but when you two answer questions, there is more in the response than I asked for. I actually didn’t think a Pungo could roll, which didn’t shock me. It was the fluidity. What I learned wasn’t go get a Pungo, but it does make me wonder about the action needed to roll without the need for a paddle. Don’t assume a shoulder is needed to roll. I got so much to catch up on. But I am going to revisit rolling. What I get.from you guys is a sense of continuity. Not just connecting dots, but arranging them in order first.

Yeah, SOT. But all you have to do is influence one person. And you did that. I don’t have the time now, but your video with other thoughts have given e reason to rethink everything I didn’t know about rolling. Now I have to get over the fear of getting water in my nose. Because some areas of the bay have very pernicious critters infesting it. Don’t want them up my nose or and other orifice.

A good roll doesn’t have to deal much to do with the shoulder in terms of weight bearing, it is a full body action. A lesser roll will have the paddler using the paddle more because their body does not dial in all the rotation that is needed. So they (me at this point of rustiness too) compensate by putting weight on the blade.

The GP layback roll tends to be about entirely lower body.

A boat like the Pungo, that is not so well suited can cause more weight on the paddle because it is flipping a pancake. A rounder, narrower kayak goes along more willingly with the rotation.

But yes, there is a long and noble history of people “muscling” a roll. It is however not the only way.