Whitewater Kayaking for Beginners

Author: Joseph Reilly

Every year thousands of people sign up for their local gym in January as a New Year's resolution. They may often wish that they could replicate an outdoor experience like Kayaking because maybe fear holds them back or they assume that something so adventurous and fun like whitewater kayaking is best left up to the professionals. Using long paddles to go down stream in some fast-paced water on a cool summer day, while you're tucked neatly inside that cozy yet wet kayak; it sounds like a venture that requires years of training. But the reality is, kayaking is a fun and easy to learn endeavor. It's a hobby you can continue throughout your lifetime.

But what about the more specific kayaking? What about whitewater kayaking? Well the truth is even the more specific you get with a water based hobby/recreational sport you can learn it to the point where the safety of it becomes second nature. So today we'll take a look at whitewater kayaking for beginners. Once you see how easy and fun it is, you'll want to get in the water in no time.


With any recreational activity that involves being outdoors, there comes a level of basic training so that you're well prepared to do the activity without any strong risk of injury. Whitewater kayaking is no different, and there are a few basic tips that you can take with you on your kayaking adventures that will keep you safe while you're having a good time out on the water. With these tips you'll not only be a more educated whitewater kayaker, but you'll also become a more confident one on top of that.

Stay Centered

The first essential tip on the list is also one of the most important ones. Just as it goes in life where balance is key, with whitewater kayaking you're going to want to stay centered.

Staying centered is essentially the foundation to everything else when it comes to this activity because when you're able to keep control you're able to go in whichever direction you want. The way to stay balanced actually lays in how you move your body and not the kayak. The slightest movements can be a big game changer. So what you'll want to do is keep your upper and lower body aligned and stay relaxed. Without being relaxed you're not going to be able to do anything else correctly.

Next, you want to keep your shoulders and hips in sync as well, this action will basically turn your body into the steering wheel for your kayak.

Overall, if you're able to do all these things accordingly in a way that they compliment each other, you're off to a good start with keeping your kayak centered. Being centered will come in handy with all the following steps to come and will also help in making these other tips even better in the way that you have the first major step down pact.

Get a knee up

At first, this tip may sound as though you're in the middle of playing football or something along those lines, but the knees actually have a pivotal part in kayaking. We spoke about using your body as an essential steering wheel of the kayak and the knees are no different.

Here you'll want to take your bent knees and face in the outward position. Try to make your kneecaps touch the interior of the kayak. It may sound hard at first but it will become second nature over time. Once you've done this you'll want to literally push with your knees to direct the kayak, thus enhancing your stroke a lot better.

Now that you know how to utilize your knees, you'll combine this with the rest of body techniques during kayaking and you'll have a way better position in controlling your kayak. This will enhance everything else you're doing as you happily go downstream with your friends.

Flip Out

No, we don't mean lose your temper and throw a kayak tantrum. Flipping out is actually a longstanding kayak technique used to help not only those starting out but also seasoned vets of the water. What 'flipping out' in the kayak world means is code for exiting your kayak. It's essentially an exit strategy, a maneuver meant for you to easily get in and out of your kayak.

There are many techniques in how to do this, and you'll need to learn just in case you're about to capsize or you do capsize. But it's also good to know just in case you simply want to exit your kayak in a speedy way for whatever reason. One key way of accomplishing this is to swivel your hips when exiting. The more you swivel the easier it is to flip out of your kayak safely.


The next tip on our list is one that involves your safety and the tip is to always gear up. We're talking kayak gear to keep you safe and to keep your kayak.

Things you’ll want for the water

When it's a bit colder out you'll want to layer yourself up with an insulated top. Ice breakers and quantum hoods are pretty good for this.


So now that you have some essential tips for the best kayak experience you can possibly have, where do you go kayaking? Well there are two great places to check out. One is a place called Durango, Colorado. The Four Corners Riversports school offers many amenities such as a roll class in a local swimming pool. This for the classe'e low price of $185.

Next up you'll want to check out Hood River, Oregon. This location is very scenic with movie like volcanoes to go venturing by. Gorgekayaker.com actually offers group lessons here with individual instruction and even customized trips. They also offer two- day $225 weekender courses.

There you have it, a beginners guide to whitewater kayaking. Now that you know some great and important tips, all that's left is to go head out on your kayak and hit the water!


Whitewater Kayaking for Beginners