Last updated: June 17

How Hard Is Kayaking?

Kayaking is an amazing way to enjoy nature, get some exercise in, and have the best water adventure you can possibly imagine. It gives you a unique perspective on life by letting you float in the middle of an ocean alone, or with someone close to your heart. But how hard is kayaking?

So how hard is kayaking? For someone who is new to kayaking, it may seem difficult and daunting. Well, it can be complicated or easy, depending on what type of kayaking you’re going for, which kayak you have, and what the paddle-style looks like. The difficulty can range from sitting in a bathtub to running a relay race based on the equipment, place, and paddle style you choose. To make sure you get the most out of your time in the water, learn everything you can about kayaking and its basics.

Before buying a kayak and heading into the ocean, read this article to know what equipment is best for beginners and all the precautions you should take before you launch yourself into the sea.

What Makes Kayaking Difficult or Easy?

Kayaking is all about balance. Multiple factors can add to or take from the balance. And you can manipulate these factors to make the experience as pleasant for you as possible. First things first, it is important to determine where you will be kayaking. Are you choosing a still water body, as in a lake? Or are you selecting a rough sea for your first experience? It goes without saying that the former would make for a better choice.

Here, we have listed all the determinants that can help make or break your kayaking experience.

Kayaking for Beginners

For people just starting out, kayaking can be challenging. Imagine this; you are out on a lake on a kayak with manual paddles to bring you to safety. It sounds scary, doesn’t it? Well, kayaking for beginners doesn’t have to be like that. It is ideal that you bring along some experienced friends or guides and make a day out of the experience. If you’re looking for some alone time, it has to come later when you know how to kayak.

Type of Kayaking

The type of kayaking you’re opting for largely determines how comfortable you will be. While whitewater is one of the marathon types, there are also lighter forms that will let you enjoy the experience without the pressure. Next comes ocean kayaking, where mid-tier paddlers put in as many as a few hundred miles in one trip. It may be less difficult than whitewater kayaking, but it is still tricky for a first-timer. The water conditions change day-to-day depending on the weather and sea-levels, which can make kayaking on the ocean unpredictable, and in turn, dangerous.

This brings us to the easiest and safest form of kayaking, which is flat-water paddling. There is no need for advanced skills if you are opting for this form; it will be easy and fast

Explaining these three types and their difficulty levels does not mean you are limited in your options. Once you get ample experience and the hang of it, you can try all sorts of kayaking in different environments and conditions.

The Right Kind of Kayak

The design and shape of the kayak have a lot to do with the difficulty of your experience. For flatwater kayaking, they come in five different types: the sit-on-top kayak, touring, pedaling, and an inflatable kayak. They all have their own benefits and disadvantages, depending on what you’re looking for. For instance, if you want speed, a narrower kayak will be more advantageous. If your goal is to make sure you don’t capsize, a sit-on-top kayak with no closed cockpit is best for your stability.

Paddle Style

It may not seem like it, but the paddle design has a lot to do with the difficulty level of kayaking. A cheap paddle might save you money, but it will make your arms feel like bags of lead for days to follow. If you want to make your trip easier, you should make an investment and buy good paddles. Be warned, they can range from $300 to $700, but your trip will be a walk in the park if you get your hands on one of these.

Fitness Level

Do you get a regular arm workout at the gym? This is the only right time to ask you if you lift because your answer can make a huge difference. It may look easy, but paddling a kayak across a body of water is a mean feat. If you haven’t gotten in any exercise in the last few months, it is possible that you will feel immediately tired and burnt out. The experience will become stressful and exhausting for you in such a scenario. So make sure your fitness level allows you to have such an experience. Better yet, put that gym membership to good use and start going!

Reliable Techniques

Some of the techniques kayakers use are counter-intuitive to natural human instincts. For example, when rolling over a kayak, people instinctively try to bring up their heads first to get to safety. This causes the kayak to turn over on top of them. The natural impulse is getting your head to safety first, but it doesn’t work the same way when you’re kayaking. So, practice is essential when you’re out in the water. As long as you have good muscle memory and dedication to making it work, there’s nothing for you to fear.

The Full Skill Set

If you want to be a good kayaker, you must eventually acquire the full skill set. It may not come to you the first few times, but practice makes perfect. First, you have to know how to read the water. A lot depends on your ability to determine the safety level of a water body—the high seas are dangerous for the inexperienced. Next is the combat roll that helps you turn over a capsized kayak. You may be sailing alone one fine day and knowing the combat roll may help you save your life.

Other skills include the self-rescue, which allows you to save yourself from drowning without a lifeguard. Plus, (this goes without saying), you should know how to swim.

Once you have this skill set down, there is no reason for you to wonder how hard kayaking is. You can get into the water with your equipment any time and kayak like a star!

Kayaking Lessons

If you’re worried that your first-time experience would bring you needless worry and anxiety, we recommend that you get some kayaking lessons beforehand. There are multiple places that offer sessions with experienced professionals who teach you everything you need to know. If you have any questions or contentions, your teacher will be more than happy to address the concern comprehensively. Kayaking lessons can reassure you that kayaking is not as difficult as it seems to be!

Bigger and Better Adventures

Whatever you decide to do, it does not have to be the end. There will always be bigger and better adventures, bigger battlegrounds for you to conquer, and wilder waves for you to ride. The difficulty range is adjustable depending on how much experience you have, and every trip will add to it a little bit more. Every subsequent time, you can opt for something a little riskier, a little more dangerous. That is exactly what water sports are all about: some thrill and adrenaline. So, how hard is kayaking? Only as hard as you want it to be!

Related Questions

Should I go kayaking alone?

If you’re doing it for the first time, we would recommend that you take an experienced person along. Even though the risk on still water is minimal, it is always better to have someone around to reassure you everything is going to be alright! Short answer: bring a friend along for the ride.

Is kayaking safe?

Again, it can be as safe as being in a swimming pool and as dangerous as diving into the ocean. The specifics of your kayaking experience are to decide whether or not the event will be safe for you. If you take care of the considerations we mention in this article, you have nothing to fear.

Do kayaks tip easily?

We understand that capsizing is a legitimate fear when you are out on a water body. But there is no reason that your kayak should capsize on a still lake or river. The only risk is when you’re getting in or getting out—so remember to balance your weight and step in the middle of the kayak instead of the edges.

What should I bring on a kayaking trip?

On a kayaking trip, you should have the following items on you besides the basic kayaking equipment:

  • Lifejacket (to keep you safe from drowning)
  • Helmet (if you’re kayaking near rocks)
  • Wetsuit (to keep you dry if you are concerned about water)
  • Spray skirt for your boat (to keep water from getting inside the kayak)
  • Waterproof kayaking Gloves (for a better grip on the paddles and for hand protection)

You may also like

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Always Make Sure You Have the Right Gear When You Go Kayaking