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How To Get In A Kayak

Kayaking is one of the most popular extreme sports in the world, known for the incredible scenery and exploration that can be experienced, as well as the awesome workout it provides.

However, there are elements of kayaking that often cause some people concern.

While kayaking is a lot of fun and a great way to experience something new, it’s also very challenging. While many people would expect the technique to be difficult, or for stable navigation to be difficult, it’s actually simply getting into a kayak which can be most troublesome, and this seemingly simple task is what lands 90% of kayakers into the water, often before they’re ready for it!

This is often a big blow to the confidence of kayakers, especially beginners, and the combination of cold shock and getting soaked is often enough to, very severely dampen, the spirits of even the most exciting kayaker.

To avoid this fate, we’re going to look at how to get into a kayak in a simple, clear, and step-by-step fashion to help you avoid this hazard and preserve your pride, as well as your confidence when you next head out on the water.


Let’s begin.

How To Get In A Kayak

Prepare Your Equipment

Before you get into a kayak, it’s very important to check your equipment thoroughly and ensure that you have everything you need either in your kayak or on your person, as getting back out and having to repeat the process of mounting the kayak only increases the chances that you end up making a mistake and falling in.

Ensure that your life vest is on, your helmet is on, and whatever else you need (be it a water bottle, supplies, or your paddle) are on the kayak or close at hand within reach of the kayak itself.

Ensuring that this equipment is properly positioned is key also as if it isn’t evenly distributed across the kayak you could be stepping onto a very unstable and unsafe surface which may act unpredictably, further increasing the risk of falling into the water.

Once you’ve completed these checks and have everything ready to go, you’re ready to begin the process of getting on board.

Position The Kayak

The first thing to do is to position the kayak close to either the shore or the wharf if you’re getting on from a deck or raised platform.

The starting position of the kayak is often what makes getting onboard so difficult. Mounting the kayak from the shoreline is often actually easier than it is to mount from a dock.

If you’re mounting at the shoreline, position the kayak on shallow land that leads into the water at a gentle gradient. The front half of your kayak should be in the water, and the rear half out so that you can easily shimmy into the water, but the kayak can’t float away on its own.

If you’re at a dock or wharf, the kayak should ideally be positioned directly below you.

The Straddle Technique Or Step In Technique

For beginners, the safest technique is to straddle the boat over the seating area, as this is much more stable and allows you to get onboard from a much easier position.

When mounting at the shoreline this is very easy, and you simply straddle the boat over the seat, and from here it’s very easy to push yourself into the water and prepare yourself for the following steps of fully entering the kayak.

When boarding from a wharf, it can be much more difficult, and you’ll need to step onto the kayak while standing before lowering yourself into the seat or the straddle position.

The important thing to remember when mounting from a dock is to commit to the kayak and don’t hesitate. Hesitating and holding the dock is what pushes the kayak away and results in most people falling in very quickly. 

Commit to the kayak and get into a low position such as a straddle or into the seat itself as quickly as possible to increase your stability and make it easier to get fully into the kayak.

Lower Yourself Into Position

From here you can lower your bottom into the seat. There should be enough space to easily fit yourself inside. Push your back against the rear of the cockpit and keep your knees pointing out for the moment. Getting your bottom down first increases your stability even more and helps reduce tipping.

Tuck In Your Knees

Once your bottom is down you can tuck your knees into place inside the cockpit. There should be padded sections for your legs to rest on, but if not, simply lower them down the inside of the boat until you find the feet braces.

Find The Feet Braces

Find the foot braces and use them to steady yourself. They should feel like rests or pegs for your feet to press on and can help you generate force as well as balance.

Grab Your Paddle

As you get on board and steady yourself grab your paddle and you can begin to push yourself off into the water!

Start Kayaking!

From here, all that’s left to do is to start paddling! Get to grips with the feel of the water, the current, and how the kayak handles, and check to make sure there are no leaks before you set off. Then you’re ready to begin your expedition in earnest!

Hi! My name is Adele Stevens, and I have a big passion for water sports. I love nothing more than traveling to my favorite kayaking spots on my days off and spending hours out on the water.

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