5-Minute Crafts
5-Minute Crafts

How to Kayak

Kayaking is a fun adventure on the water, perfect for spending your leisure with friends or family. 5-Minute Crafts wants to open up this activity to you by teaching you the basics. In this article, we will tell you about the necessary things you need for kayaking and we will cover the essential techniques of paddling.

1. Prepare necessary gearing and clothing.

Kayaking gear you will need:

  • Personal Flotation Device (PFD) (must fit you properly)
  • A paddle that is the right size for you
  • Bilge pump
  • Spray skirt (if the day is warm and calm, this item is optional)


  • Swimwear/shorts (synthetic and nonbinding)
  • Synthetic top (short- or long-sleeve)
  • Neoprene footwear
  • Sun-shielding hat
  • Lightweight fleece jacket or vest (if the weather is rather cold)
  • Rain jacket/pants (if the weather is rainy)

Some extras:

  • Enough water and some snacks
  • Sunscreen (for sunny days)
  • First-aid kit
  • Signaling whistle

2. Adjust the foot pedals if your kayak has them.

  • On a sit on top, position them in a way that you have a comfortable bend in your knee.
  • If your kayak has thigh braces inside the seat, set the pedals in a way that your thighs rest on the braces.
  • If there are no braces in your kayak, make sure that your legs rest against both sides of the cockpit.

3. Get into your kayak.

To get into a kayak from the dock, follow these steps:

  1. Place your paddle perpendicular to the boat. Keep your gravity center low.
  2. Sit on the dock and put your feet into the cockpit.
  3. Slowly start sliding your feet into the cockpit, holding onto the dock and pushing yourself away from it.

To get out of the boat, do the same movement, but in reverse.

To get into a kayak from the beach, follow these steps:

  1. Bring the boat to the edge of the water.
  2. Hold the paddle behind your back with the arched side of the paddle blade facing up.
  3. While still holding the paddle with one hand, grab the coaming behind the seat on the kayak. With your other hand, place the second paddle blade on the ground.
  4. Center your weight over the paddle blade and sit on it.
  5. While still sitting on the paddle, put your feet into the cockpit. Then slowly transfer your body into the boat.
  6. Put the spray skirt over the coaming of the cockpit. Hold the paddle in one hand and bring it perpendicular to the ground. Bring the fingers of your other hand into a fist. With the help of the paddle and your fist, push yourself further into the water.

4. Hold your paddle correctly.

  1. The scooped part of the paddle blade should face you with the long edge on top.
  2. To get the right distance between your hands, bring the paddle above your head and rest it on it. Your elbows should bend at almost 90-degree angles. Then bring the paddle in front of your body.

5. Start paddling.

To move your kayak forward, you need to perform a forward stroke.

  1. To start, sit so that your body is pointing in front of the kayak.
  2. Slowly reach forward and put one paddle blade in the water.
  3. Turn your torso and push one hand forward, while pulling the other hand back, holding the paddle.
  4. When your hand gets to the same level as your hip, pull the paddle blade out of the water. Repeat the same movement on the other side.

Tip: Get the power from your torso and not from your arms.

6. Stop paddling.

To stop the boat, you need to perform a backward stroke. This is just the forward stroke but in reverse.

  1. Place the paddle blade behind you.
  2. Slowly draw the blade forward until it reaches your foot.

7. Turn the boat.

If you want to turn your boat, you need to perform a sweep stroke.

  1. Start on the opposite side of the kayak from the way you want to turn.
  2. With your torso, reach as far forward as you can.
  3. Put the paddle blade into the water and make a wide arc all the way to the back of your boat.

8. Pull your boat sideways.

If you want to pull your kayak closer to a dock or to another boat, you need to perform a draw stroke.

  1. Bring your paddle to a horizontal position.
  2. With the tip of a paddle blade, reach out about 2 feet away and touch the water (your paddle shaft should be angled steeply).
  3. With your lower hand, pull the blade straight toward your boat. The tip of the blade should be kept in water. At the end of the movement, the blade should not touch the boat.
  4. Repeat the movement again.
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