Tips for a New Guy!

Hey guys!

I am completely green to paddle sports, and for the last few years I have been absolutely dying to begin kayaking. I am an avid camper and hike when I get the chance and I feel like kayaking is the next step for me.

Anyways I have literally no idea where to start looking for information. I read a few threads on good beginer kayaks but most of the terminology was just lost on me. This website is a good start but where can I learn the basics. I am thinking of taking a “Quickstart” course in kayaking in early August. I assume this will teach me the most.

I will be moving to Columbus, OH. I will be near the Hoover Resivor and another large Lake and Alum Creek. I plan on doing most of my kayaking in that area.

What kind of kayak am I looking at getting? I want to spend something that will last but I don’t have a ton of money now, so it might be a few months before I purchase. How late does the kayaking season last as I will be a Graduate Student and will likely only have time to kayak on the weekends or in the late afternoon. Is dusk/night kayaking safe or doable?

I also want to be able to easily do day trips in my kayak, but will be away for oceans for the next 5 years at least.

Last but not least…

Anyone keep a kayak in their apartment? I am pretty sure I could get one in my place with out it being in the way, but does anyone else ever do this?

Thanks for your help!

Be safe - have fun
In that order. I’ll leave it to those more knowledgeable than I to answer your questions about which boat to get. The answer to that may also determine whether storing it in your apartment will be feasible. Is it ground level or are stairs involved? Are there any tight corners? I think kayaking will be a good stress reliever while you are in law school. When you get into a good rhythm paddling, it has a certain meditational quality. As for paddling at dusk or in the evening – get experience first. A lot will depend on the kind of boat traffic at your favored destination. Also, it you are paddling alone, paddling at night really ups the ante. Taking a class is a good first step. Being unable to buy right away could be a good thing … it will give you more time to try many boats and see what you like. YOu might also check with your university to see if they have kayaks available for use/rent or organized trips. There may be an outdoor program or a kayaking club for students.

take a class

– Last Updated: Jul-01-09 12:35 PM EST –

Start with a very beginner class, which should cover types of boats and what they are used for. That should help you decide what type of boat to get.

That class, or an added class, should then cover basics of strokes and recoveries (should you end up flipped over). This is important stuff to know.

Worry about what boat to get after you do this. Otherwise, you will likely not get a boat that a few months later you will not want to be paddling (has happened to many of us here).


– Last Updated: Jul-01-09 1:01 PM EST –

One good source:

If your goal is day trips on flat water, you have a wide range of choices. You'll narrow them down by what fits you, what fits your budget, and your constraints on transportation and storage.

I had a 14' kayak in an apartment, but it was a straight shot out the door.

Paddling at night is legal and can be reasonably safe. You'll have to check your local/state laws for lighting requirements -- in many places, you just need to carry a light that you can show.

A pfd that fits well and a decent paddle make a big difference in paddling comfort.

The season lasts as long as you're willing to be in the water with the clothing you've got. Think about how long you might be in the water if you capsized. Be more conservative as the water gets cold -- as you know from hiking, being cold makes you weak and stupid. Immersion in cold water is a potential killer.

Most inexpensive kayaks only have enough flotation to keep them from sinking. They are almost impossible to self-rescue unless you add additional flotation.

Many beginners worry about stability and buy wide boats, then quickly become frustrated by the lack of speed. Most find that perceived stability increases dramatically after a few hours on the water. It's good to demo/borrow/rent as much as you can before buying.

Here's one demo opportunity:
Also look for clubs, like this:

As with hiking gear, light weight tends to cost more.

Folding kayaks and high-quality inflatables can be an option if storage is a problem. The downsides are that most good folders are fairly expensive, and setup & breakdown can take a chunk out of your paddling time. here are a couple of lower-priced ones:

If you have the resources to build something, here's an option: http:/
You can also make greenland-style paddles very inexpensively.