Kayaking Safety 101: The Do’s and Don’ts

When it comes to hitting the water in a kayak, preparation and knowledge are key. As an avid kayaker who has explored rivers and oceans worldwide, I can’t stress enough the importance of being safety-conscious while kayaking, things can turn sideways pretty quickly if you are not aware of some basic precautions. Quite the opposite of being a killjoy, these rules allow you to relax and focus on the kayaking.

Do’s of Kayaking Safety

Do Take a Kayaking Course

If you’re new to the sport, it’s imperative to take a kayaking safety course. Understanding the basics like paddle strokes, maneuvering, and how to handle your kayak in various conditions is crucial.

Do Wear a Life Jacket

Regardless of your swimming abilities, a life jacket is non-negotiable. Make sure it fits snugly but allows for comfortable movement. There is an excellent array of lightweight buoyancy aids that are barely noticable when wearing them.

Do Dress for the Conditions

Always wear attire appropriate for the weather and water conditions you’ll encounter. When kayaking in cold conditions, a wet suit or dry suit is vital to avoid hypothermia.

Do Check the Weather Forecast

Always check the weather forecast before heading out and be prepared to cancel your trip if conditions look too dangerous. Err on the side of caution and plan for worse conditions than its showing.

Do Have a Basic Float Plan

Inform someone who’s not kayaking with you about your kayaking plan. Include your departure and arrival time, and your planned route. This is important all the time, but unmissable if you are going alone.

Don’ts of Kayaking Safety

Don’t Overload Your Kayak

Stick to the weight limit specified for your kayak to maintain stability. Overloading can compromise your ability to maneuver effectively and may even lead to capsizing. If you are packing some serious gear, then make sure that your kayak has a sealed bulkhead, spray skirt, or both.

Don’t Use Alcohol or Drugs

Kayaking requires focus, coordination, and quick decision-making. Alcohol or drugs can severely impair these faculties, putting you and others at risk. Water based activities have risks and you do not know what situation you may face.

Don’t Disregard Local Guidelines

Always check and adhere to local kayaking guidelines and restrictions, which may include certain paths, speed limits, and areas where kayaking is not allowed for safety or environmental reasons. Be respectful of the local wildlife by keeping your distance. And never litter, obviously.

Don’t Forget to Double-Check Equipment

Before you head out, inspect all your equipment, including paddles, life jackets, and your kayak for any wear and tear or defects. This is especially key if you are heading further from shore or choppy waters where issues can escalate much quicker.

Don’t Ignore Marine Traffic

If you’re kayaking in areas with boats and other marine traffic, understand the right-of-way rules to avoid collisions. Generally, larger vessels have the right-of-way. Kayak in areas that match your ability, fitness levels, and confidence, i.e. don’t cross the English Channel shipping lanes as a beginner!

Don’t Kayak Alone

Avoid going out on the water on your own. Some people will regardless, however, from a saftey perspective it is drastically more risky going alone.


Kayaking offers an exhilarating way to explore the world’s waterways, but like any outdoor activity, it comes with inherent risks. By adhering to these do’s and don’ts, you’re already well on your way to ensuring a safer kayaking adventure.

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Co-founder and Chief Adventurer

I am Max, the co-founder and CEO of adventuro. We are on a mission to help you get into the sports you have always wanted to try, or develop in the sports you love, exploring new skills and locations. We do this by partnering with the best instructors, guides, and activity centres to get a great spread from beginner all the way to instructor training.

For too long, it has been way to confusing to find your next steps, or even to know where to start when getting into adventure sports. I am an experienced and/or qualified paraglider, skydiver, scuba diver, freediver, power boat driver, snowboarder, kitesurfer, kayaker, mountain biker, surfer, dirt biker, wakeboarder, and sailor.

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