Kayaking is one of the hottest sports in 2021. And it looks to continue that trend for the next few years at least. The Pandemic caused people to engage in more outdoor activities and the popularity of paddlesports exploded; especially since it’s cheap to get started, outdoors, and a fun solo activity. We put together this guide to help you avoid some common pitfalls that eager new paddlers usually don’t avoid.
Don’t Buy the Cheapest Kayak you can Find
Kayak manufacturers have had a really hard time keeping anything in stock. Wait times for even older models can run between 6-8 weeks. And that’s a long time, especially if you’re itching to get out on the water. It can be extremely tempting to pick up a big box special or grab a cheap used kayak on Facebook marketplace. But don’t do it.
Cheap kayaks don’t cost much because they skimp out on features often labeled as “luxuries” but are in fact necessities, like rod holders, comfy seating, and spacious cockpits. If you buy the cheapest boat you can find it’s almost guaranteed to be uncomfortable. And if it’s uncomfortable, you’re not going to use it. Do yourself a favor and spend the extra money for a Sit on Top kayak with a lawn-chair style seat and premium padding.
Start Paddling with a Friend
Paddling isn’t the most dangerous hobby in the world. But it does put you over the water, which always ups the risk factor. Kayaking safety is of critical importance if you want to keep paddling for the long term. And one of the best things you can do is go out with a friend. Having a friend nearby will be helpful if anything goes wrong. They’ll also help you push your paddling boundaries. Knowing a buddy is nearby, just in case, empowers you to go farther and faster than you’d otherwise be able to do. Plus it’s just more fun.
Buy a really nice Paddle and PFD
Cheap kayak paddles get the job done, and that’s about all they do. Investing in a lightweight kayak paddle properly sized for your body type will make an instant difference in your paddle game. Lighter paddles will fatigue you more slowly than heavier ones. And your stroke will be more powerful, allowing you to stay out longer before getting exhausted.
PFD’s are an essential piece of safety gear that are legally required in most states. They are the single most important factor in determining the likelihood of your survival in an emergency situation. So you should buy one that you’ll actually wear. Modern kayak life jackets are much more comfortable than the orange horseshoe you’re used to. Most models have high sitting back portions to prevent riding up on you in a backed-chair. They also usually feature extra storage and a spot for a kayak knife in case of emergencies.
Don’t Wait to get Started
Kayaking has grown in popularity partially due to Pandemic induced causes. But also because it’s simply awesome. Kayaks put you close to the water and in the action in a way that conventional motor boats simply can’t replicate. Silent paddling affords an intimate connection with Nature that provides calming serenity in a turbulent world. In the same vein running down rapids is a thrilling experience that showcases Nature’s penchant for chaos and dominion of strength.
Paddling is an awesome sport whether you’re ripping down rivers, fishing for dinner, or soaking it all in. Don’t wait any longer than you have to; grab a boat, and go outside!