Whether on a fresh water lake or a calm inlet of ocean, kayaking can be a great way to experience the outdoors while enjoying some adventure. Like all sports, however, it’s important to make sure that you are well prepared so that the trip is both safe and enjoyable, especially if the kids are coming along. Beyond renting gear and getting the boats into the water, there are some important steps you must take to ensure smooth sailing, and below you’ll find the essential guide to what you should know before you hoist the paddles and cast off from shore.
- Matching the Right Temperature: Long before you slip into your kayak, you’re going to need to put on the right clothes for the event—but what is considered appropriate kayak attire? On a hot summer day, a bathing suit and comfortable T-shirt will be fine, as long as you don’t mind the shirt getting wet. In places where the water is cooler, though, or for longer kayak rides, there is an important rule to keep in mind: dress to match the temperature of the water, not the air. Seeing as you will be getting wet, it is the water that will keep you cool, so be sure to put on a proper windbreaker or wetsuit if the water temperature is in the low 50’s to 60’s. You’ll thank yourself once you’re out there.
- Staying Afloat: No matter how good of a swimmer you are, there is no excuse for not wearing a life jacket at all times while kayaking. Think it looks silly? Too bad. Kayaking can sap your energy in a hurry, and if you capsize at the end of a ride you won’t be able to swim like your normal self. Beyond that, if you are ever called upon to help rescue someone else you will be more helpful if you’re able to float and support the weight of someone else. Do it for yourself. Do it for the kids.
- Checking Weather and Tides: More important for open ocean kayaking, but still crucial even on the lake or river, checking the weather is a key step to ensuring the whole gang has a good ride. Strong winds and variable conditions can sneak up on you over the course of your outing, and being stranded out in the water in bad weather is never good news for anyone. Seek out days with clear skies or light clouds and low winds. Also, when planning for a trip on the ocean, be sure to first check the tides. Certain tide swings can cause currents such as rip tides, so be sure to perform a thorough check of local ocean reports before paddling out.
TIP: WD-40® Multi-Use Product is perfect for removing tough grime off of kayak seats and lubricating stiff buckles on life jackets.