Thanks for all the positive feed back and great questions!
Need an Answer?
There are a bunch of folks who had similar inquiries about basic issues so I've listed them along with specific questions other readers have asked. I hope you find this helpful.
Q. Fred, US, wants to know if you can get into a kayak from a dock side ladder.
A. Hi Fred, you sure can. If you haven't already, review the getting in and out page, there's a video on dockside entry and exit. Entering and exiting from a ladder is similar except you are standing off the ladder. With your feet on the last ladder rung, you will first lower one foot in the center of the kayak. Still holding onto the ladder, put the other foot in as quickly as you can - lower your butt and steady
yourself comfortably. Get your paddle, secure your tie line so it doesn't drag and you are ready to push off.
The key is to get low and centered as quickly as you're able after your feet are in to avoid wabbling. This may feel awkward but practice it and soon you'll be showing others how to do it!
Q. Christina, US, wants to know the best way to pack gear in an inflatable for a multi-day trip.
A. Christina, I sense that you already know a bit about balance, so here's my input ... Distribute the weight evenly between your front and back storage areas; put all your safety gear visibly within reach. Next (within reach) your immediate comfort gear needed during paddling, like a sweatshirt, sunblock, hat, glasses, water, etc.; then balance the remainder that you don't need immediately, front and back.
Have a wonderful trip!
Q. Judy, US, is wondering if she can take on kayaking if she is overweight.
A. Judy, there is no reason you can't. I'm sure you've already figured that kayaking gets you outdoors and provides healthy exercise too. All the "how to" is right here to help you. It's easy to get moving when you're having fun.
It may be awkward at first to learn getting in and out and the feel of paddling and balance but you can do it. So get out there, take it at your own pace, keep at it ...I know you will love it.
Q. Stuart, US, is new to kayaking and having some difficulty with wobbling. He's a tall person, paddling a 14' kayak.
A. Stuart, thanks for your inquiry – your height may be contributing to the wobbling but I think you can overcome that issue. You need to practice centralizing your weight – moving from the lower torso, left and right as you paddle. Study the videos I’ve posted on Paddling Techniques. Additionally, often new paddlers find it difficult to relax, they hold the paddle too tightly and paddle as if the water is sand. This may be why a paddler’s movement is too far left and right which also results in wobbling. If you find yourself doing this, focus on keeping your body centered – move from the hips with each paddle stroke and most importantly, relax. Once you get the balance of this, you’ll be less fatigued and less wobbly! Hang in there, you’ll get it.
Q. Brett, US, is looking for the most common kayaking terms.
A. Thanks for your comments Brett, you can find kayaking terms in the page called
Yick-Yak. Hope you enjoy kayaking.
Q. Hunter, US, has a question regarding leg placement in a playboat.
A. Sorry Hunter, playboating is specialized kayaking, not my area of expertise. This site advises strictly on issues relative to "recreational kayaking". You may want to try perusing the forums on Playak.com. Have fun!
Q. Tim, US, has been gifted with a Dagger “Nomad” kayak and is wondering if he could learn to kayak with this type.
A. Tim, a “Nomad” is categorized as a “playboat” for the purpose of playing or performing moves and tricks much like a skate or snowboarder. This is a specialized type of sport often in rapidly moving water. There are extreme competitions with these playboats where they actually get them air born!
If you haven’t paddled a kayak before, you need to learn some basic skills with a recreational type kayak. You need to familiarize yourself with paddling techniques and especially self rescue.
Not to bust your bubble … there are a few alternatives to purchasing a recreational kayak if your interest is really in playboating. If you live in an area that has a kayak rental facility, you can get some practice in. You can also find a kayaking class in your area, they usually have kayaks that they use to teach and you can get some experience in a recreational type first.
So I hope I don’t see any stories in the news that a novice kayaker sailed over some rapids in a playboat and hasn’t been seen from since!
Q. George and his wife are older, active folks who were introduced to kayaking via their local university. He wants to know what kind of kayak will be good for them and he wants to fish from a kayak too.
A. George, first, I'm happy to hear you tried kayaking at the university - that's a great start. You mentioned you used sit-on-tops. Those are great for the novice because they are easy to enter and exit and provide a wider, stable platform. The sit-on-tops are also great fishing kayaks because of their wide and open platform. You might find reading Fishing Kayak and the videos on that page, helpful before you plan your purchases. If your budget permits, the Hobie kayaks are both a stable platform and designed for fishing. The pedal system (optional) on the Hobies are a great feature to alternate hand-arm paddling with leg and foot power. There are other sit-on-tops that would accommodate your intended paddling, you can also compare price and type of kayaks listed in the Paddling Shop . I wish you many happy paddling years ahead!
Q. Susan is wondering how to keep water out of her kayak? When she paddles there is a lot of water in her lap.
A. Susan, backsplash is part of paddling, but there are a couple of ways to minimize how much ends up on you. First and least expensive is drip rings fastened to each end of the paddle shaft. There are a couple of different ways to fasten them depending on a one piece paddle or a two piece. They are easily adjusted.
Next, you may consider a spray skirt. However, I would recommend some training if you are not accustomed to a spray skirt. You need to know how to safely exit an overturned kayak if you use one since they are fastened to the cockpit edge.
Either of the above will help keep you drier. Then there's always the common sponge which is handy to have to mop up puddles that will accumulate while paddling. Thanks for your question and happy paddling!
Q Nate asks what is a safe distance for a beginner trip?
A. I would say time is more important than distance... Time to practice paddling and learn other aspects of kayaking. Find a class in your area. I can’t stress enough the importance of knowing safety and rescue, weather preparation, water temperature, etc. If you want to plan a kayaking trip, spend some time with an experienced paddling friend or join club or group where you can learn lots. Often clubs/groups plan day trips and these are a great introduction and you'll have a blast. It’s always good to have experience behind you if the unexpected happens. Remember, it's the journey, not the destination! Thanks for your question and paddle smart.
Q. Christopher is wondering if there is a kayak for surfing waves.
A. Well, yes there is! A few of the sit-on-top types are wider and quite stable for surfing - they're lightweight and lots of fun. Of course, unlike a surf board, you sit and paddle your way through the surf. To see some, here's a link to the REI kayak page, click on the sit-on-tops and you'll find the "Ocean Kayak Frenzy Sit On Top" and the "Yak Board". Paddling Gear at REI!
Have a blast Christopher!
Q. Austin … is asking for a kayak recommendation for a 14 year old.
A. Sorry for the delay, we’ve been shoveling snow here in the Northeast since Christmas! Back to your question … it's difficult to recommend a kayak, this is something you need to personally “fit” at a kayak store. It depends on his/her size, weight and strength. With young people, a shorter length and lighter weight is best so they can handle and carry it themselves. If you have an REI store near you that has a pool to try the kayaks out, this is a great way to get the “feel” - they can also try lifting it. Here’s a link to view Paddling Gear at REI!, you’ll want to look at the day touring and recreational types to get an idea of weight, length and capacity. If you do, check out the membership benefits and then find a location near you to visit. Enjoy paddling together!
Q. Buddy, US - is looking for more info on "take apart" kayaks.
A. Thanks for your question Buddy, I think you are referring to Folding Kayaks. These are really interesting, I had the opportunity to see several of these at the REI Demo Day. They're lightweight and compact for easy handling. You can find out all about them right here .
Q. Heather, US - wants to know the location of the photo on the "Kayaking Awareness" page.
A. Heather, there are beautiful locations like that throughout the waters of the United States. Unfortunately, that photo was purchased so I do not know it's exact location. Glad you've started paddling. You'll be snapping photos of your own adventures soon - they're especially nice to look at in the winter!
Q. Henry, SC, US – Is debating over choosing open cockpit or a closed cockpit to use on weekend trips along the coast of S.C.
A. Henry, an open cockpit is easier to enter and exit, but they will also carry a lot of gear. Because they are a molded closed form (like a balloon) they are naturally buoyant. Some Sit-On-Tops have a weight capacity of up to 800 lbs., now that’s a lot of gear. Gear has to be carried in a gear bag anyway to keep it dry – so where you store the gear is less important than finding a kayak that is comfortable for you. Same principle with the inflatable kayaks. The Sea Eagle 420 Explorer inflatable will carry about 850 lbs., it does provide some protection to the paddler in open water and it’s lightweight.
Touring kayaks are designed for long paddles, and open water. They have a closed cockpit, track straight, provide protection from waves in open water and are typically heavier to carry. Surprisingly, they don’t all have a large weight capacity so that’s something you may want to keep an eye out for.
I suggest you figure out how much gear weight you plan on then paddle your way through the kayaks in the Paddling Shop - compare the features, especially the weight capacity (not just paddler weight). This will steer you closer to the kayak that is right for you. And as always, wear your PFD and have kayak safety training. All the how to and where to info is here. Have a great time Henry!
Q. Pam, US - is wondering if a kayak is stable enough to take her Springer Spaniel with her.
A. Pam, to paddle happy with your pooch you want the stability of a kayak that has a wider open cockpit and preferably a flat bottom to accommodate the both of you. Next you will need to train your dog to stay put and not move about. Short, shallow excursions will help you and your dog get used to the restriction of movement. Now, if she's a "bird dog", that will take some additional training. Prepare to get "dumped" with some safety training classes - to find one in your area click here
Most importantly - both you and your buddy need a lifejacket (unlike the photo above - I just like this picture). Yes, dogs are natural paddlers but a lifejacket aids the physical exhautsion, especially if your pet panics. You can find a "Ruff Wear - Float Coat" for a dog at:
I hope you and your friend paddle happily for many years.
Q. Andy, US - is wondering if a new kayaker can paddle alone. He also wants some help positioning his vehicle where he doesn’t have to paddle upriver.
A. I would advise anyone new to kayaking to paddle with an experienced friend. I also recommend finding calm water to gain some experience. (See Kayaking Safety) You can jump start your experience by taking a class, you can find one in your area right here
Paddling with a friend also answers your second question. If you have 2 vehicles, you park one vehicle at the take out area and one at the put in area. Paddling friends are great to have!
After you gain more experience paddling upriver, you can then challenge yourself to getting back to your put in area.
Q. Blake, US - is looking for a Houston area reference for lessons and kayak rental.
A. In Area 3 of my Paddling Lessons, I've listed a great location in Houston. They have ACA Instructors, a variety of schedules for paddling and safety lessons ... Southwest Paddle Sports - their phone: 281-292-5600. Also, in the Houston area there is a meetup group - you can find them on: www.meetup.com/Houston-Kayaking/
This is a smart start - paddle safe, paddle happy and let them know who sent you!
Q. Dominick, US - asks if raising the seat on his kayak will help accomodate his legs.
A. Thanks for your question. Raising your seat will change the proportionate weight balance of the kayak. Kayaks are designed to carry weight in the middle of their overall length, and low - at the waterline really. Raising the weight will create an imbalance and you will surely overturn the kayak. I suggest you try a kayak with a wider cockpit opening or a sit-on-top. This will allow ease in entry, exiting and you will be able to stretch your legs out more comfortably. This is how you should be paddling. You can try out different types of kayaks at a demo day (you can read about them here) or sometimes, local kayak retailers have a "trial pond". Whatever you do, don't give up kayaking. Good luck.
Q. Lois from the US has recently learned to swim and wonders if she is ready to kayak on an upcoming vacation.
A. Lois, the question you need to answer honestly is: can you swim well enough to save youself should you overturn the kayak? If you feel you're ready, I suggest paddling a lake before a moving river. Also, spend some more time swimming between now and your vacation. And you know the #1 rule ... wear your pfd - your safety is your first responsibility. Have a wonderful vacation.
Q. Deborah from the US is looking for kayaking classes in Ohio.
A. Deborah, I found a couple in the Cleveland and Lakewood areas. I've posted them in "Area 4" on Kayaking Lessons, you can click here. Thanks for your inquiry, I hope these are in your area.
Q. Brad, US, is searching for a Tandem Pedal Kayak.
A. Sorry Brad, I searched too and couldn't find one. Not sure they make them. You'll just have to make due with two Pedal Kayaks!
Q. Kem from the US is having difficulty finding the right sprayskirt for his Prodigy 12 Kayak.
A. Kem, I did a little digging and found a sprayskirt fit chart - you can find it at: perceptionkayaks.com, then click on the link: Sprayskirt Fit Chart. I may be wrong but I believe Prodigy is now known as the "Perception" brand. Regardless, measure the cockpit on your kayak first - measure the opening front to back and side to side, then check the chart. This should help - happy paddling!
Q. Jon from the US is looking for a sit-on-top tandem kayak to also accommodate diving and fishing.
A. I looked at the Sit-On-Tops, there are three that may interest you, but I found one offered by REI that also sports the angler features you're looking for - Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL Angler seems to suit all your kayaking purposes. Here's the link:
Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL Angler Sit-on-Top Kayak
. If you do consider purchasing at REI, check out their $20 membership, it'll save you a few bucks. Have fun paddling, diving and fishing!
Q. Ann from the US asks if there is a way to enter and exit her kayak from a dock that is considerably higher than her reach?
A. I suggest the addition of a dock ladder. Typically, dock ladders are simple to install, some models have rails to further aid your balance. There are a few different kinds, so here is one example: Welded Aluminum Ladder - Dock Ext Kit 2 Step Alm. Another alternative is to build a simple ladder and attach it to the dock.
Q. Weezer from the US offers some tips to find paddling locations -
A. In addition to Paddling Locations, Weezer suggests "... an atlas or gazetteer of the area (Delorme prints great ones) for roads, topo, access locations, etc. Or, go online to your state's Fish and Game - they usually have charts of the waters and (free) access points. And as always, don't forget the sunscreen, a hat and your COMMON SENSE!" Thanks for sharing!
Q. Mike from the UK asks if there are any aids to help a kayak paddle in a straight line?
A. Flat bottom or wider kayaks tend to be more difficult to paddle in a straight line. Wind can also affect the track of your course. In either instance, this can be overcome by installing a rudder from a kit. You'll want to look for one that will fit your brand of kayak. Amazon carries a few, here's an example: Sevylor® Rudder for SVX100DS SVX200DS SVX500 DS ST5100T. If Amazon doesn't carry one for your kayak, Google the manufacturer of your kayak and call them for their recommendation. This should set you on a straight path!
Q. Vickie asked what is the difference between a flat bottom or rib bottom kayak?
A. The two are very different issues. A flat bottom refers to the shape of the hull bottom. A flat bottom provides more stability though it will move slightly slower than a rounded or "v" shaped bottom. Generally, the "flat" in flat bottom refers to the bottom area of the cockpit section where the primary weight is. From there, the hull flairs up and out to the waterline to give it the stability.
Ribs are the framing element of some kayaks that are made of wood, fiberglass and the combined materials of folding kayaks. They are the repeated sections that form the structure over which the hull material is fastened. Ribs shape the hull and give it structure.
Q. Jeff asked about storing paddling clothing and gear in a garage?
A. The protected shelter of a garage is a great place to store kayaks and gear. Just make sure it is clean and dry before storing it. I suggest clothing and small gear be wrapped or place in a plastic container with a lid that closes tight to keep small critters such as mice and bugs from nesting in them. For more "how to" info, see: Kayak Care.
Q. Dan asked if a permit is necessary when kayaking on waterways?
A. Boating permits are regulated by state and local authorities. Some states, counties or townships require a permit for kayaks. Depending on where you plan on paddling, you can find out if you need one by calling your local or state authority.
Q. A good question was asked by Fred - how much weight allowance should you consider when purchasing a kayak?
A. It's probably best to consider your weight plus a margin for gear that you will take along. If you primarily will be paddling day trips, your regular safety gear, extra clothing, food and water should be considered. If your paddling will include extended trips including camping, then logically, you will need to consider the extra weight of the additional gear. If you will be paddling in shallow water where the depth of the hull would be an issue, it would be wise to choose a kayak with a slightly greater weight allowance because it will sit higher on the water and handle easier. To sum it up, your weight plus estimate the extras you'll be carrying along (including your dog if he's going to join you) is a good way to estimate the weight allowance when purchasing a kayak.
Q. When paddling a tandem kayak, if the front paddler rests, how do they resume the paddling rhythm?
A.There is no set rule here, however, the rear paddler has a visible advantage when resuming and coordinating the paddle strokes. There is less movement and break in rhythm if the rear paddler coordinates his stroke with the front partner. Likewise, when the back paddler rests - he or she still has a visible and balance advantage when they resume paddling. This is one good reason for the back paddler to be the stronger paddler. Like any good relationship, each partner contributes to the teamwork and both have double the fun! . . . Click on: 2 Person Kayak.
Q. I want to buy a kayak that can be a single or tandem . . . is there one?
A. Yes, when looking for your tandem kayak, look for one that has a removable second seat then the position of the single seat can be adjusted toward the center converting it for solo paddling. Click on: 2 Person Kayak.
Q. When is kayaking season?
A. It depends on the weather particular to your area. More importantly, it depends on the water temperature. Why? because you don't want to be paddling in water temperature below 60 degrees. You can learn about water temperature for your area in How To Kayak - look under the section: "Things to really be aware of."
Q. I've never heard of a Pedal Kayak, is it anything like a paddle boat? (my favorite question)
A. Nope, it's a really cool kayak, you can see it in a video - Click on: Pedal-Kayak.
Q. How do you take care of a plastic (polyethylene) kayak and how do you clean it?
A. You can find all the how to's for kayak care here:
Q. What the easiest way to carry a kayak on a car roof? Are there inexpensive roof racks?
A. You'll find this information in Roof Racks -
check it out.
Q. Many asked about kayak stands - what are they about?
A. See the details in Kayak Care - you can purchase "Sea Horses" or if you're handy, make them.
Q. What size kayak should I buy? What's best for a beginner and does it go by my height?
A. There are a few factors to determine the kind and size of kayak that's just right for you, here's where you'll find out about it: How To Buy A Kayak .
Q. How do I know if a lifejacket fits right - and what brand should I get?
A. There's a whole page just about Kayak PFD's - paddle through it and you'll know all about them.
Q. I've been thinking about an inflatable kayak because I don't have any storage, how strong are they, will it last?
Got questions? Just ask: Feed Back
A. There are some really tough inflatables, they will last for years and resolve your storage problem, see for yourself and check out the video - here: Inflatable Kayak.
Whether you're planning to paddle with a group or you're best friend - get a Smart Start
, read all the basics, then come back and read some more.
To learn more about kayaking, there are some great DVDs
loaded with instruction - Click Here.
Frequent Questions - back to Home Page