If you would like to give kayaking a try before deciding to take it up seriously, then you should try recreational kayaking first.
Recreational kayaking is usually recommended as the starting point for all beginners. The reasons are simple
1.) Recreation kayaking does not require you to develop a lot of paddling skills
2.) You can make do with the minimum gear
3.) You don’t need a specialized kayak as required for whitewater or sea kayaking
4.) It’s fun and has less risk involved
The best places to try out recreation kayaking are
In fact you can head for recreational kayaking in any shallow water lake in your area. Popular rivers include the Kansas River and Arkansas River.
After a few months of recreational kayaking you might want to switch over to sea kayaking, touring or white water kayaking.
Developing the right skills
If after a few weeks of recreational kayaking, you feel that you should take up this sport seriously then you need to start honing your skills.
It is important to develop a few good habits which will hold you in good stead when you start white water kayaking and sea kayaking. The most important ones are
1.) The proper use of your paddles
2.) Your pose while kayaking (most beginners fall into the bad habit of slouching)
3.) Direction sense (would play an important role in sea kayaking)
4.) Understanding the pros and cons of each kayaking gear involved
5.) Executing advanced skills like rolling
With time you will learn about the nuances of kayaking gears and how they will add to your comfort and control.
Buying the beginners gear
You may not want to start off with professional gear, which is more expensive.
Start out buying a gear which would suit you better as a beginner. With time you begin to understand your needs and purchase gear more suited for it.
The most important gear is the kayak itself. Kayaks come in different widths, length and cockpit space. Some kayaks have a keel while some come with “no keel”.
For touring and sea kayaking, most advanced kayakers prefer to have their kayaks fitted with rudders.
As a beginner you can consider buying a kayak which meets the below requirements
a.) Should not be too small, most professional use a small kayak for better maneuverability but as a beginner you should try a slightly wide kayak where you can achieve better balance.
b.) Cockpit space should be wide; this will help you wiggle out of the kayak in case it over turns. Professionals go for small cockpits with a surf skirt.
c.) Go for kayaks with a keel, this will help to maintain a straight course. Professional kayakers go for no keel because they have better control.
d.) Avoid kayaks with rudders; you will fall into bad habits which you will find difficult to change later. Rudders add comfort which you can use once you are in the advanced league.
While buying the paddling gear you should keep these pointers in mind
a.) As a beginner try going in for a cheaper paddling gear, usually in the range of 100-200$
b.) You can buy plastic or wooden paddling gear in this range of budget
c.) Don’t buy wide paddlers; you will end up straining your shoulders. Go in for a smaller size paddle which suits the width of your kayak.
d.) You can a one piece or two piece paddling gear. Two piece paddling gear is more expensive buy works out better due to lower shipping costs. It’s also convenient while packing.
e.) Go for a 45 degree feathered paddle
With time you might upgrade to light weight paddles make from carbon. White water paddling gear works for most of the other kayaking also.
If you plan on going serious, try to learn from an experienced kayaker to get a head start, this way you will not develop any bad habits which you might need to rectify later.
If your purpose is just to have fun while having some recreation, then don’t worry about anything just get yourself a decent gear and enjoy the sport.
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