Whitewater Kayaking For Beginners

Whitewater kayaking has been in the industry for several years now. And ever since it started, it has grown rapidly and had attracted many new comers. This type of kayak requires a person to seat with a leg-front position, facing forward and paddling using a double-bladed paddle to move forward.

When it comes to kayaking, you can’t expect to know all the skills and techniques in just one run. It’s a lifelong trial and error that would teach you different lessons every time you go into the water.

How to paddle whitewater kayak

If you’re interested in trying out this exciting yet dangerous sport, you would need to learn the basic steps on how to get into the water without hurting yourself. This article will show you simple steps for beginners on how to get into whitewater paddling that’s tested and proven by experts all around the world.

Basic steps of getting into whitewater paddling

To learn how to do whitewater kayaking, you can follow these simple steps:

  1. You would need to learn first the safety techniques and basic paddling of kayaking. To do this, you would need to hire a certified instructor or from a friend. They will be able to teach you efficiently on how to do a forward stroke that will be your propulsion; the sweep stroke, for you to be able to turn effectively; and bracing, to increase your chances of support.

basic kayak paddle techniques

  1. Learning how to do the different kind of rolls from an instructor. The next thing you should know about whitewater kayaking is the tricks on how to do the different rolls. This will enable you to control your kayak better than swimming or exiting your boat. Learning these rolls from an instructor is very important because they will be able to teach you the proper positioning and, most importantly, on how you can resurface back from the water.
  2. Practice in a pool. You’d be crazy if you think you can practice your skills in a whitewater. Practice your strokes and rolls in a kayaking school or in a pool. This way, you’d also be able to familiarize yourself better with your boat and paddle.

Kayak practise in pool

  1. Having the right gears. When it comes to kayaking, it is important to have all the right gears at your appropriate skill level. You don’t want to buy all the expensive ones when you’re just practicing in a pool or using the cheap ones when you’re doing the real thing. Try to check out your local boat stores or read articles online about the appropriate gears to use in your specific level.

Here is a quick list of essentials that you should have every time you go out and do kayaking:

  • Personal Floating Device (PFD) – When an incident happens and you need to swim while you’re on the water, your PFD will keep you afloat and help you raise your head above the water.
  • Helmet – If you’re swimming while you’re on strong rapids of water, there’s a big chance that you’ll accidentally bump your head on rocks. Having a strong and durable helmet will definitely save your life.
  • Paddle – There’s a specific paddle for whitewater kayaking so be sure to find these ones. These blades usually are larger and more streamlined compared to other kayaking paddles.
  • Spray skirt – This will seal the cockpit in your kayak and protect you from incoming water.
  • Clothes – There are different kinds of clothes to choose from, this includes: dry suits, dry tops, and wetsuits. You would also need to have the right footwear.

kayak gear list for paddling

  1. Join whitewater online groups or boating clubs. By doing so, you can share each other’s thoughts, experiences, techniques and tricks. You can also join other kayakers if they have kayaking trips, share shuttle vehicles and check out rivers.
  2. Find a website or a guidebook that will tell you about the rivers in your surrounding areas. There are sites and guidebooks that will show you how rough a river might be. These are recorded according to its classes or level of difficulty to help beginners and experts in kayaking.
  3. Check out websites that shows river flows, they should be regularly updated. River flows can change depending on dam releases and weather conditions, so be sure to always check the websites before going out on a kayaking trip.

Basic skills that you would need to have as a beginner in whitewater kayaking

  • Remain calm – If you’re going to do whitewater kayaking, it’s important to remember that you should always calm down even if you’re upside down in cold and running water. This is a very vital skill because, at the end of the day, your nerves can actually save your life.
  • Always aim for the exit – This is also important because it would always make you look forward. After your run, make sure you know how to exit your kayak using your spray skirt.
  • Keep yourself steady – Even if you’re in rough rapids, it’s very crucial to know when you should do a roll and what kind of paddling you would do. Always keep yourself steady and balanced.
  • Make forward progress – Every run in a whitewater kayak will teach you different lessons and techniques. Be sure to know all of them by heart and always be on a high alert. Use your paddling strokes and skills so that you can always move forward against all the obstacles and rocks.


Being a beginner in a whitewater kayaking may be difficult and sometimes dangerous, but this sport is sure to be exciting in its own way and it will surely entertain you in different ways. If you’re going to try out this sport, make sure that you have read and understood the basic steps that were mentioned above to make your practice days easier.

Make sure that you hire a credited instructor or go to a credited kayaking school. Always remember to use all the right gears that are appropriate for your skills and level. And don’t forget to have the right skills and mind set before going for a run.