How Hard Is Kayaking?

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Kayaking used to be a difficult sport to get into. Storing an old-school kayak was hard, as was transport. And you needed to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars before you start!

But no longer! With better inflatable and folding kayaks, it’s become much easier to get out on the water.

If you’ve never been kayaking and want to get started, you might be wondering just how difficult kayaking is, and if there is anything you should know before you embark on this fantastic sport. 

How hard is kayaking, if you’ve never done it before?

Assuming you’re on calm water, kayaking is not a very difficult exercise, and it’s not too hard to direct the boat where you want it to go. But the difficulty can ramp up.

In this article, we’ll look at kayaking difficulty in order to give you an idea what to expect. We’ll discuss

  1. How difficult is kayaking?
  2. How to get started and what you will need
  3. Top tips for beginners

Let’s dive in!


How Hard is Kayaking?

Kayaking with dog

Depending on the type of kayaking you are trying, it can be a rather challenging water sport. There is a common misconception that kayaking is just about paddling around on a body of water. In reality, it is so much more than that. 

Kayaking takes balance, focus, and strength, and is not something you will master overnight. But with determination and a go-get-em attitude, you, too, will be out on your kayak at every opportunity!

Kayaking takes balance, focus, and strength, and is not something you will master overnight.

Kayaking is great for everyone and is enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels. It can be as relaxing as you choose or an adrenaline rush depending on the type of waters you kayak in.

Kayaking can be hard, but if you prepare yourself mentally and physically, it need not be. 

If you are even half as intrigued as we are by all this talk of kayaking and want to get out in a kayak, be sure to read our next section, which will cover all you need to get started. 

Getting Started: What You Need for Kayaking

Kayaking on the water

Before you rush out and spend money on a kayak and all the bits and bobs that come with it, we suggest renting one for the day from any of the sporting goods stores or sports equipment hire stores. If you are unsure if there is one in your area, Google is your friend. 

Here’s all you will need to get started:

1. A Kayak

This seems a bit silly to actually include in our list, but we’ll rather be safe than sorry and mention that you will need a kayak. Available in various sizes, you can pick the one that will be most comfortable and easiest to maneuver, depending on your size and skill level. If in doubt, ask a store representative for assistance in choosing the right sized kayak. 

There are obviously many, many types of kayaks, from fishing kayaks to sea kayaks to folding kayaks to inflatables. This is yet another reason to try renting a few times to get used to your options before you take the plunge on a kayak.

2. A Paddle

You’re not going to get very far without a paddle! Make sure you get one that is appropriate for your size. Again, if you rent, the employees will likely get you get up with a good paddle.

3. A Lifejacket

Safety, along with a little bit of common sense, should always be top of mind when doing any watersport. While typically not a legal requirement for adults, it’s always wise to wear a life jacket or PFD (personal flotation device) while kayaking.

Your PFD should fit snugly and be comfortable. 

4. A Water Bottle

Just because you are surrounded by water does not mean you can forego hydration! Any physical activity, even gentle kayaking, can make for thirsty work, so arrive prepared and have a drink on hand. 

5. Sunblock

Not to sound like a paranoid mom, but being out on the water can lead to a nasty sunburn. Cover the exposed areas of your skin with a high-factor SPF to prevent sunburn. You can throw in a hat, too, for extra measure. 

Cover the exposed areas of your skin with a high-factor SPF to prevent sunburn.

While we won’t go into too much of the nitty-gritty details, it is important to dress for the occasion. Wearing light waterproof clothing can go a long way in keeping you comfortable and prepared for any whoopsies that land you in the water. Remember to take a lightweight jacket for any sudden changes in the weather, and wear non-slip waterproof shoes for extra grip. 

Top Kayaking Tips for Beginners

Now that you’ve gotten over your fears, taken the plunge, and decided to take up kayaking, there are a few important and useful things you should know that will help you ease into this fun water sport and quickly increase your skill level.

Let’s take a closer, more detailed look at the top tips for beginners who are interested in kayaking:

  • When choosing your outfit, dress for the water. While the weather may be warm and sunny, the water temperature could be cold. Wearing waterproof clothing, or even a wetsuit, can be beneficial in keeping you comfortable and warm should you end up in the water.
  • Consider taking a lesson or two before you get started. Learning the basics of any sport can only help you understand what to expect and how to handle any situation. A kayaking lesson will include helpful tips like how to sit and balance, how to use the paddle, how to track properly, and what to do if your kayak capsizes. 
  • If you’re starting out, don’t go kayaking alone. Even the most skilled kayakers will go paddling with a friend. It is always the best idea to put your safety first and have someone with you, should the unthinkable happen while you are out on the water. Learn basic tips on how to rescue someone and ensure that whoever you go kayaking with knows the same. 
  • Don’t give up. Your first kayaking trip might be scary and overwhelming and leave you wondering why you decided to give this watersport a try in the first place. But with a bit of courage and determination, you will soon learn the ropes and gain skills. Kayaking is a learned sport and takes time and effort to master. 
  • Have fun. It seems silly to have to say this. But here we are saying it anyway. There is no better feeling than gliding along the water on a beautiful day, so soak up the sun and take in the true beauty that mother nature has to offer you.


Kayaking is a popular watersport. While it may look easy to do, it can be difficult depending on the skill level of the paddler and the waters they are kayaking in. It is important to remember that all good sports take time and effort to develop, and kayaking is no different. 

The tips that we have provided in this article should help you to prepare for your kayaking adventure. So get out onto the water and have fun.

Oh, and don’t forget the sunscreen!