There is no better way to escape the hustle and bustle of working life than setting a kayak in the water and getting outdoors with the family. But for those of you looking to kayak for the first time, we have created this kayaking for beginners guide with a few tips to help you get started. Kayaking as an adult is one thing, but with kids it’s a little different. Family kayaking trips can quickly become stressful and more chore than pleasure if they’re not planned right. So these 5 tips will help you get started
Kayaking for Beginners
If you want to enjoy your time out on the water, here are our top tips for kayaking with kids.
1. Stick Your Big Toe In Before the Trip
Make sure that everyone (kids and adults) is comfortable in water before going on the trip. Can the kids swim? If not, you may want to book swimming lessons so that they’re well prepared for the big day. It’s a good idea to get the children familiar with the kayak, paddling movements, and basic safety. Your local kayak club may run kids classes, but if not, even just sitting in the kayak in the garden will help with familiarization.
2. Get Fitted For a PFD
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this is worth repeating: Safety is the number one concern when kayaking with kids. A personal flotation device (PFD) is your top prevention against (potentially fatal) accidents. Make sure everyone wears their PFD before they get near the water, even if they’re a strong swimmer or the water is shallow. Kids PFD’s are based on weight and not age or height. If it’s been a while since your last kayak outing, check the PFD is still suitable.
3. Picking a Kayak
It’s a good idea for younger children (ages 7 and under) to sit in the cockpit between your legs or ride in the front compartment of a tandem kayak. If the kids are older and/or a little more adventurous, they’ll be no stopping them from being the captain of their own ship. Design and color are going to be most important to them. However, make sure you step in and pick a kayak that is safe, practical, and comfortable to ride. Ask for the assistance of an expert if you’re unsure how to be fitted for a kayak.
4. Where and When to Go
Where you go and the time of year can make or break a kayaking trip. Be extra vigilant about checking the weather, even checking reports again just before you set off. It’s best to choose somewhere with calm waters such as a lake or slow-flowing river. Also, don’t plan to spend too long on the water; a couple of hours is more than enough for the first trip.
5. What to Bring
Aim to pack light and bring only the essential items that will keep you dry and comfortable. Avoid heavy clothing such as cotton garments and opt for something lightweight and waterproof. Paddling works up an appetite, and packing snacks is a good idea even if you’ve got a picnic waiting for you on shore. To make sure you’ve ticked all the boxes, check out this handy family kayaking infographic from Paddle Pursuits.
A big thank you to Jamie Stewart at Paddle Pursuits for this Guide to Family Kayaking Trips and this infographic.