Getting out on the water in an Inflatable Kayak
Kayaking is one of the oldest forms of watersports, and while the technology involved has moved on considerably, this can still be one of the purest forms of watersport around. It enables you to access waters that boats couldn’t, it provides exercise and is great fun for the whole family. Our basic guide covers some things to look for in a kayak, as well as what you might need in order to use it safely. This guide will focus on inflatable kayaks - they can be used either from your boat or independently and offer tremendous versatility.
Inflatable kayaks offer the ability to get out on the water. Whether you are on your own with a fishing rod, or enjoying a day with your family, these simple boats offer huge amounts of fun. The added bonus of an inflatable kayak is that when you’re done you just roll it up and put it away - only a quick washdown required. When looking at inflatable kayaks, don’t be afraid to go a bit bigger than you need - a three seater is actually a very comfortable two seater, and a two seater fits one person and fishing gear really well. Stick with a reputable brand, this is after all an item on which your safety depends, and look out for features such as carrying handles and tie-down points - these will be invaluable when using it. Many kayaks include a paddle, but just check it does, and if not, obviously add these to the list below.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED?
Once you’ve chosen a suitable kayak, it’s worth looking at a few accessories to get you out on the water safely. We’ve put together a basic list, but obviously please make sure you do some research to check you’ve got all you need for your chosen activity
Even the toughest kayaks can be holed by sharp things such as rocks, and while incredibly stable we must always plan for an unexpected dip. A buoyancy aid will help you stay afloat should you end up in the water. Check you buy one with good freedom of movement, you will be using your arms to paddle after all, and one that doesn’t ride up into your chin helps with comfort too. Extra features such as a pocket are all a bonus and worth looking out for.
The ability to call for help...
Kayaking is a very safe sport, but having the ability to call for help if required is still important. If you are kayaking inland, make sure you take a mobile phone in a suitable waterproof case. Keep this on your person too - it’s no good in a bag should you get separated from the kayak for any reason. For coastal use it’s worth looking at a handheld VHF radio - these are almost always waterproof, but again make sure it’s securely stowed on your person and fully charged before each outing.
Many kayaks come with a pump, but we always recommend upgrading to an electric pump. A 12V pump offers great versatility - simply get the kayak out of your car boot and use the cigarette socket in your vehicle to pump up the kayak. One with a digital cutoff gauge is great - you can get everything else ready while this does all the hard work for you, and you don’t need to worry about it over-inflating the kayak. A small hand pump is a great idea to take with you too, just in case the kayak needs topping up for any reason while you’re out and about.
Kayaking is a relatively dry sport, but the odd splash is by no means out of the question. It;s a great idea to invest in a waterproof dry-bag to keep your lunch, a towel, valuables and a change of clothes in. Basic safety items you should also carry include a whistle, a torch, a small first aid kit and suncream.
HINTS & TIPS
• Keep your first trips short and close to land while you build your confidence. Stick to well-sheltered water and in good weather. Check local conditions such as tides and wind, and talk to other kayakers before going out.
• Protect yourself from the sun - there’s very little shade out on the water, so make sure you cover up or wear your sunscreen.
• Keep it fun - don’t try and achieve huge distances - sometimes just getting 100m off a beach can make you feel like you are away from the crowds.
• Let someone know where you’re going - particularly if you are on your own.
• Go in groups - as a sport kayaking really lends itself to social distancing - and safety in numbers is a great asset.