Kayaking Don’ts: What Should You NOT Do While Paddling?

kayaking with child

Ahoy, kayak enthusiasts! So, you’ve decided to venture into the exciting world of kayaking, but you’re wondering: What should you not do while kayaking? Fret not, dear paddlers, as we’re about to unveil the top mistakes to avoid and ensure a safe and fun time on the water.

1. What should you not do while kayaking? Avoid these blunders!

Here’s a rundown of common kayaking no-no’s that you should steer clear of:

a. Skipping the life jacket

Sure, you may be a strong swimmer, but accidents can happen to the best of us. Life jackets are your lifeline, so don’t leave shore without one.

b. Forgetting to check the weather

Mother Nature can be unpredictable, so always check the forecast and stay informed about any potential weather changes.

2. Kayaking etiquette: Mind your P’s and Q’s

a. Respect other water users

Sharing is caring, folks! Be mindful of other kayakers, boaters, and swimmers, and give them ample space to enjoy the water too.

b. Leave no trace

Pack it in, pack it out. Ensure you take all your trash with you to keep our waterways clean and pristine.

3. Overestimating your abilities: Know your limits

a. Don’t bite off more than you can chew

Choose a route that matches your skill level, and don’t push yourself too far beyond your comfort zone.

b. Paddle with a buddy

The buddy system is always a good idea, especially for beginners. Having a friend to lend a helping hand can make all the difference in tricky situations.

4. Equipment blunders: Don’t skimp on quality

a. Buying the wrong kayak

It’s crucial to choose the right kayak for your intended use. Research different types and find the one that suits your needs best.

b. Neglecting proper maintenance

Your kayak is your vessel, so treat it with care. Regular maintenance ensures your kayak stays in tip-top shape and lasts longer.

5. Paddling faux pas: Avoid these common errors

a. Incorrect paddling technique

Learning proper paddling techniques not only improves your efficiency but also prevents injury. Invest in a lesson or two to get started on the right foot (or paddle!).

b. Overloading your kayak

Packing too much gear can make your kayak unstable and difficult to maneuver. Pack light and prioritize essentials.

6. Kayaking safety: Stay sharp on the water

a. Alcohol and kayaking don’t mix

Save the booze for after your paddle. Alcohol impairs your judgment, coordination, and reaction time, making it a dangerous addition to any kayaking trip.

b. Stay hydrated and nourished

Paddling can be physically demanding, so bring water and snacks to keep your energy levels up.

7. Navigation and communication: Don’t lose your way

a. Bring a map and compass

Even with a GPS, it’s wise to have a good ol’ fashioned map and compass as backup. You never know when technology might fail you.

b. Carry a whistle and signaling device

In case of emergencies, having a whistle and other signaling devices (e.g., a signal mirror) can help attract attention and aid in your rescue.

8. Dressing for success: The right gear makes a difference

a. Wear a helmet in rough waters

When tackling rapids or rocky areas, a helmet can protect your noggin from potential injuries.

b. Don’t forget your sunscreen and hat

Sunburns are no fun! Protect your skin from the sun’s rays with broad-spectrum sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat.

9. Keep learning and growing: Continuous improvement is key

a. Take a kayaking course

As your skills progress, consider taking advanced kayaking courses to further hone your abilities and learn new techniques.

b. Join a paddling club or group

Connecting with fellow kayakers can provide valuable tips, support, and camaraderie as you continue your kayaking journey.

10. Weathering the storm: Be prepared for the unexpected

a. Learn about local hazards

Familiarize yourself with the specific hazards and dangers in the area where you plan to kayak. This could include tides, currents, or wildlife encounters.

b. Create an emergency action plan

Before embarking on your kayaking trip, develop an emergency action plan. Share it with your paddling buddies and make sure everyone knows what to do in case of an accident or emergency.

11. Paddle smart: Know the rules of the water

a. Understand right-of-way rules

On the water, there are right-of-way rules that all vessels must follow to avoid collisions. Be sure to learn and respect these rules to ensure a safe kayaking experience for everyone.

b. Obey posted signs and regulations

Pay attention to any posted signs or regulations at your launch site or along your paddling route. These may include speed limits, no-wake zones, or restricted areas.

12. Capturing the moment: Document your adventure responsibly

a. Use a waterproof camera or case

To protect your camera or phone from water damage, invest in a waterproof case or consider purchasing a waterproof camera designed specifically for water sports.

b. Avoid disturbing wildlife

When photographing or observing wildlife, maintain a respectful distance and avoid causing any unnecessary stress or harm to the animals.

13. Exploring new waters: Expand your horizons

a. Try different types of kayaking

As you gain experience, experiment with various kayaking styles, such as sea kayaking, whitewater kayaking, or kayak fishing, to discover new passions and challenges.

b. Travel to new kayaking destinations

Expand your paddling horizons by visiting new destinations, both locally and abroad. This will not only improve your skills but also create unforgettable memories.

14. Sharing the joy: Introduce kayaking to friends and family

a. Organize a group outing

Invite friends and family for a day of kayaking fun. This is a great opportunity to bond and share your love for the sport with others.

b. Teach responsible kayaking practices

Lead by example and instill responsible kayaking habits in newcomers, ensuring they understand the importance of safety and respecting the environment.

By continuously learning and implementing the tips and guidelines we’ve shared, you’ll not only avoid common mistakes but also become a more confident and responsible kayaker. Now that you know what should you not do while kayaking?, it’s time to embark on your next paddling adventure. Here’s to many safe and enjoyable moments on the water!


So there you have it, folks – the ultimate guide to what should you not do while kayaking. By avoiding these common mistakes and following our tips, you’ll be well on your way to a safe and enjoyable kayaking adventure. Now grab your paddle, hit the water, and happy paddling!


How do I know if my life jacket fits correctly?

A well-fitted life jacket should be snug but not too tight, allowing you to breathe and move comfortably.

Is it safe to kayak alone?

While kayaking solo can be enjoyable, it’s generally safer to paddle with a buddy or group, especially if you’re inexperienced.

What should I wear while kayaking?

Dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. Opt for quick-drying, moisture-wicking materials, and avoid cotton.

What should I do if my kayak capsizes?

Stay calm and follow the steps for a wet exit, which involves releasing the spray skirt (if applicable) and swimming to the surface.

How can I prevent wrist and shoulder injuries while kayaking?

Maintaining proper paddling techniques and using a paddle with the right length and blade size can help prevent wrist and shoulder injuries. Additionally, regular stretching and strengthening exercises can improve your overall fitness.

What type of kayak should I choose for a beginner?

Sit-on-top kayaks are generally considered beginner-friendly due to their stability and ease of use. As you gain experience, you can explore other types of kayaks suited to specific water conditions and activities.