So you want to start kayaking or canoeing. If you have never paddled before, you very well may not have an idea of what kind of paddling you want to do … flatwater, moving water or whitewater. There is much less danger in paddling flat or slow-moving water, but learning the boat-handling SKILLS in whitewater will equip you quickly for those, so there is a good reason to start your canoeing or kayaking career on an easy whitewater river with a good trainer. This site is oriented towards the beginning whitewater paddler, but you can get plenty of good information here even if you don’t think you will ever run anything harder than a class I rapid. Other forums cover the subject of flatwater touring and boat types, so we will not spend much time on it here.
Whitewater paddling is mighty rewarding for those who have the grit to see it through. Whitewater paddling can be a very SAFE sport, one that the whole family can enjoy.
Whitewater paddling can also be a DANGEROUS sport; you can be injured or drown if you do not take the risks seriously. To succeed, you should learn all that you can. Knowledge is power. The more you know about whitewater the SAFER you will be. There are many skills to learn to become an excellent paddler, and they CAN’T all be learned in one weekend. For most people, the mindset should be: start small, where you are right now, and work upwards in gradual steps.
First thing you might want to try is take a one-day or weekend training class to see if you are really going to like it, before investing a lot of time and money. There are multitudes of whitewater OUTFITTERS who will be happy to supply this for a price.
You will want to start SHOPPING immediately, but do not buy your equipment before you do your homework. There are many choices to make before you spend your money. Among other things to consider is the TYPE of boat and gear you want and whether to buy it NEW OR USED.
There are a vast number of local paddling CLUBS which offer such goodies as group trips (safety in numbers), inexpensive river training and other benefits. Look for your nearest club and give them a try.
THE FIVE THINGS
You need the following five things to whitewater kayak . If you forget any of these five things, you will either have to borrow from a friend or not paddle that day.
1 A WHITEWATER KAYAK
2 A WHITEWATER PADDLE
3 A PFD (PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICE) (aka life jacket) preferably whitewater model
4 A SPRAYSKIRT
5 A WHITEWATER HELMET
Q: What about that hi-and-dry paddlefloat I’ve seen for sale?
A: um, No. As in, never, nope, not, negative, and nada. Why you may ask? Well, I asked some paddlers to explain why.
Eric R. wrote this excellent summation:
It teaches you poor form that can cause an injury like a dislocated shoulder.
Additionally it is advertised as a substitute for learning to brace, roll and read rivers.
Also when you go into a hydraulic a large float will cause the paddle to be lifted to the surface and most likely a person is not strong enough to hold on tight. Now they have no paddle.
It creates a blind spot when you paddle.
The biggest issue is that it puts people on rivers they cannot handle because its a false crutch. Also a dislocated shoulder from bad form.
Any other questions why this thing is a disaster… oh yeah its a $100 piece of foam.