Kayaking is a great sport and hobby for people of any age. It is a full-body exercise that can be taken at your own pace. The physical, mental, and social benefits of kayaking are good reasons to consider trying this water sport! There are some common problems, however, that paddlers should avoid. Here are ten common kayaking mistakes you should know and how to avoid them!
1. Paddle Hugging
Paddle hugging is a common kayaking mistake that beginners often commit. You will notice this happening when paddlers lock their torso and shoulders for a sense of control. They then paddle by keeping their elbows bent and close to their body, a very inefficient and tiring move! If you paddle hug for a long time, it may even lead to injuries. To avoid falling into the paddle hugging stance, try to extend your arms and paddle out from your chest.
If you don’t want to look like a beginner, avoid paddle hugging!
2. Gripping the Paddle Wrong
Your paddle grip is essential to staying comfortable, efficient, and injury-free. Make sure that your paddle blades face the right direction and that it is on the right side up for asymmetrical paddles. The proper direction can vary depending on the kind of paddle. Don’t be afraid to ask a more experienced kayaker if you are holding your paddle right. Remember also that your grip on your paddle should not be too tight because too much tension can strain your wrists!
A comfortable grip can keep you paddling for a long time.
3. Excessive Leaning Forward or Backward
A proper posture is necessary for an efficient and sore-free kayaking experience. Leaning forward or back too much can tire and hurt your muscles and decrease your kayaking efficiency. Shifting your balance can also cause your kayak to capsize! Make sure you keep a straight posture to effectively use your torso, legs, and shoulders when paddling. A good kayaking posture will prevent too much strain on your back, especially during longer kayaking trips.
A proper posture will let you enjoy longer, farther paddles.
4. Bad Kayak Adjustments
Learning to adjust your kayak is crucial to staying comfortable, efficient, and injury-free. Proper adjustment will allow you to use your whole body to paddle, decreasing the strain on your arms. In paddling, your legs and torso are just as important! Adjust your backrest and footrest to have a good knee bend. Your knees should not be lying straight. Your backrest should position your back and buttocks at a 90-degree angle.
Make sure your kayak fits well before heading out!
5. Forgetting Sun Protection and Hydration
A full-body exercise such as kayaking will dehydrate you if you do not drink water, and the sun beating down on the water can lead to a bad sunburn! Make sure to bring sunscreen, a pair of sunglasses, and a hat to protect yourself against the sun. Setting a hydration timer on your watch can remind you to drink constantly. Get your kayaking companions to remind each other as well.
It can get quite hot when you’re out on the water!
6. Wearing the Wrong Clothing
Picking the wrong clothing for a kayaking adventure can easily lead to misery. Rash guards are great for longer paddling sessions to avoid friction against your life vest. Wearing cotton is one big mistake. Cotton gets wet and heavy and insulates poorly.
Cold, damp clothes do not bode well on a kayaking trip! Capsizing your boat with heavy cotton clothes is not a nice feeling. Pick synthetic materials, such as nylon or polyester, that dry easily. Fabrics made of synthetic materials can also keep you warm, especially if you plan on kayaking in cold weather.
Make sure you dress well for the occasion!
7. Choosing the Wrong Kayak
Choosing the wrong kayak can be a problem, especially for beginners. When picking a great kayak, you might opt for the fast, slim-looking kayaks. Beginners will have trouble with these sleeker kayaks, as they are harder to balance. This loss of balance will lead to your boat capsizing!
If you are a beginner, you are probably going kayaking in a calm lake. Pick a wide, recreational kayak and practice your balance, posture, and strokes before trying the sleeker kayaks. Once you move on to rivers and seas, you will need to choose between a recreational, whitewater, and touring kayak. You will also need to make sure to pick a kayak with an average kayak weight limit suitable to carry you and all your kayaking gear.
Pick the kayak that suits you and your destination!
Letting fear take over while on the water can lead to risky situations. Try to stay calm and analyze what is happening. If you capsize, calmly slip out of your boat and hold on to it! Let your guide help you get back on track. Staying calm is a skill that you learn more with experience.
Master the art of staying calm.
9. Picking a Route That Is Too Challenging Too Soon
Choosing a large lake or sea with big waves can be beautiful, but it will be hard to enjoy while struggling to balance your kayak. Rivers can also have more hazards than calm lakes, which might overwhelm beginners.
Try to choose your first kayaking sessions during warm weather! Getting your kayak capsized in warm water will be much more manageable than when the water is cold. Lastly, get some experience before joining a multi-day kayaking tour!
River kayaking can be daunting and too risky for beginners.
10. Ignoring Your Guide
Whether you are starting kayaking or busy rushing down some rapids, one of the rules to stay safe is to always listen to your guide! Your guide has the most knowledge of the water you are kayaking in. Sometimes paddlers can get too overexcited or overconfident. They might try to start paddling the route before getting instructions. Always wait for your guide before going ahead!
Your guide knows best so make sure you listen to what they say!
Kayaking is a fun and healthful activity for the whole family. It is easy to make mistakes while kayaking. Good thing they are easily preventable with knowledge and proper guidance! Make sure to listen to experienced kayakers and help each other spot mistakes. The next time you’re going for a quick paddle at some of the best kayaking spots, keep these mistakes in mind and avoid them. You will end up having a better experience!