If you are new to kayaking or have been doing it for a while and want to try something different?
River kayaking can be full of excitement and offers a different challenge every time you hit the water.
However, kayaking on a river is very different from flatwater kayaking, and there are a few things you need to know first.
Here, we will look at the top 5 kayaking tips and tricks, and before you know it, you will be moving up to sea kayaking for an even bigger challenge.
River Kayaking Tips
1. Dress Accordingly
You may not think this is much of a tip for river kayaking, yet it can be one of the most important things you do. River kayaking isn’t like the calm waters of a lake, and you will get wet.
It would help if you took extra clothes because the last thing you want is hyped up but feeling wet and cold when you finish.
The best way to keep all your spare gear safe is to use secure dry bags. These are handy for keeping much more than dry clothes out of the reach of rough river water.
2. Choose the Right Grades
Regular river kayaking may lead to white water spots. These come in grades, so it is vital not to attempt grades that are too high at the start. Grade 1 and 2 are ideal for beginners to river kayaking. This allows you to read water currents while you improve your paddling techniques. (Read Boat Registration Decal)
One other thing here is to make sure you have the right kayak for river kayaking and the size of your body.
Kayaking paddling on rougher waters is much harder, and you will need the right kayak you can maneuver or one which can support you safely.
3. Prevent and Recover from a Capsize
Rather than just knowing all the best kayaking paddling tips, you need to know what to do to either prevent or recover from a capsize.
Unless the waters on the river are very rough, you can prevent a capsize if you paddle correctly.
If you do have a capsize, be sure to hang onto the side of the kayak and your paddle. These float away easily.
If your kayak is upturned, you can flip it. There is a proper technique for climbing back into your kayak, yet it may be easier to swim to the shore when you are still learning.
4. Knowing Your Paddles and How to Hold Them
For kayaking on a river, you do need the right paddle that is the correct length for your size. Before learning the paddling strokes in the next section, you need to know how to hold your paddle.
Place your hands on the shaft a little wider than your shoulder width. You should always use a relaxed grip because you can suffer from lots of friction, and it will make you tense and affect how you are holding the paddle during each of the strokes. (Find the Best Double Kayak Roof Rack)
The only time you will grip the shaft hard is with the hand closest to the blade in the water.
With a relaxed grip, and when you keep knuckles pointing upward, you can retain a better form to use your core and put power into your strokes without wasting energy.
5. Learning the Basic Strokes
Before tackling any river, you do need to know the right kayaking techniques for efficient paddling.
On a lake, you may know how to paddle in a straight line, yet you need to know more about the rougher waters of a river.
- Dip the blade in the water by your feet
- Rotate your torso, and you drag the blade backward and behind you
- As your hand reaches your hip, you can slice the blade from the water. Repeat on the other side.
- Submerge the blade in the water level with your hip
- Twist your torso as the blade moves toward your feet
- When you reach a point level with your feet, slice the blade from the water
It is possible to turn your kayak by doing one stroke on one side. However, sweep strokes are more efficient and use less energy.
- Extend your arms forward while submerging the paddle blade in the water
- Sweep your blade in a wide arc toward the stern of your kayak. You will use all your core muscles to power through this stroke to make it as efficient as possible.
- As the blade nears the hull toward the back of the cockpit, slide the blade from the water.
This allows you to turn with no loss of momentum. If you wish to turn in the opposite direction, do the same on the other side.
You use the draw stroke to move your boat sideways without turning. If you are pulling up to the side of the river or a kayaking partner’s boat, then this is the stroke you use.
- Spin the paddle shaft so the blade is horizontal to the water
- Stretch out, so the blade tip is in the water approximately two feet from the kayak
- Pull with your lower hand, so the blade travels toward you. Your other hand will rise, and the angle of the shaft will be steep
You will need several of these to reach where you are going. Be sure not to hit the side of the kayak with the paddle. (Read Best Rivers To Kayak)
If you do hit your kayak, let go with your top hand and start again. You can easily capsize your kayak if you do this wrong.