Filtered by:
Inside The Outdoors
Kayaking 101: Top Tips to Start Paddling

Kayaking 101: Top Tips to Start Paddling

13.05.2024 | Expert Advice

From how to choose a kayak to safety equipment, check out the below guide from Mountain Warehouse Marketplace seller Marine Distribution Ltd on everything you need to know to begin your journey into Kayaking:

1. Choosing a Kayak: 

As a general rule of thumb, wider kayaks are more stable, so the wider the kayak the more stable it is. This makes them better choices for new paddlers or people getting used to kayaking. Inflatable kayaks can be generally placed into two categories: recreational and performance.

  • Recreational kayaks are designed to be more stable, they tend to be shorter and slower but that often makes them more manoeuvrable. If you’ve never paddled before you might be more comfortable with this kayak’s stability.
  • Performance inflatable kayaks are typically narrower and longer. This offers more speed and better tracking but they can be less stable. They tend to have a V-shaped nose and tail too which does track better but is harder to manoeuvre, so this is ideally suited to a kayaker with experience.


2. Safety Advice: 

Our most important piece of advice for anyone planning to go out on a Kayak would be to always check the weather forecast and sea conditions (if applicable) before you set off. Get regular updates if you’re planning to be out for a while and keep a lookout for strong winds, a change of wind direction and if applicable, large swells.

Conditions can change quickly so be prepared to change your plans and educate yourself in recognising when it is safe to go out.

Make sure you let someone know when you are going out on the water, also when you are likely to be back and what your planned route is.

If you’re kayaking on the sea make sure you follow the HM Coastguards sea safety tips and check the safety signs and flags around the beach before launching so you can be aware of any dangers and know where to enter and exit the water.

Aqua Marina kayak


3. What To Wear: 

It’s important to always dress for the water temperature, not the air; this may mean wearing a wetsuit or dry suit. Dress in layers, especially the upper part of the body, you can always stop and take off a layer if you get too warm.

A day on the water is a day of sun exposure regardless of if it’s cloudy, UV protected clothing is a wise choice along with a water-resistant SPF Sun Cream and a sun hat for extra protection.

Any footwear that will protect the bottoms of feet and toes and is water-ready will be the ideal choice when kayaking. Some kayakers also choose to wear gloves when kayaking to prevent blisters when gripping the paddle and protect their hands against the elements.


4. Safety Equipment: 

A personal floatation device (buoyancy aid, lifejacket etc) is a must even if you’re not planning on going in the water, you can never be too careful and being prepared is key.

It’s important that you’re able to raise an alarm in an emergency so we’d highly recommend taking a means of calling for help if necessary and keeping it within reach at all times. If you’re taking a mobile phone then ensure you have enough battery life and a waterproof case to protect it.

Finally, don’t forget to stay hydrated.


5. Perfect Weather Conditions:

It goes without saying that the best time to kayak is when there is little to no wind. Wind speeds under 5mph are ideal. If you’re unsure how to measure it, a weather forecast app on your mobile phone or broadcasting channel will let you know the wind speeds and directions. 


6. Places to Kayak:

The best place for a beginner to get started is a small, calm, warm lake on a sunny day. These conditions will give the best overall experience as a small lake is usually well-sheltered. This means there will be small waves, even if it’s windy. The less wind there is, the easier it will be to practise paddle strokes to manoeuvre your kayak. Warm water offers a safe way to learn skills in case you fall in and warm sunny weather means you won’t get too cold if you do get wet.

Another great option for beginners is slow-moving rivers and canals. This can be slightly harder due to potential obstacles in the water and the moving currents so it’s best to stick to rivers and canals that are maintained by a canal and river trust as they will be clear of major blockages and fallen trees. It’s also likely they will have designated launch sites with parking nearby. 

Please note that many of England’s inland waterways require you to have a licence from Paddle UK (Previously British Canoeing) The licence provides you with access to explore over 4,500km of managed waterways in England. 

Aqua Marina Kayak


Final Expert Tips:  

  • If you can – choose a twin kayak paddle with a feather blade as it makes it simpler and less pressure/strain on the arms
  • Have a lesson – It’s important to learn and practise techniques to get back in your kayak, should you capsize.
  • Paddle in a group where possible. 
  • Label your equipment with contact details. If it is found then the authorities can check you are safe.
  • If you’re exploring somewhere new, plan the route, research the areas and seek knowledge from experienced kayakers in the area.

Shop Aqua Marina:


Shop Mountain Warehouse swimwear range: