How To Get In A Kayak: The Ultimate Guide

If you’ve ever been kayaking before, you’ll know there is no graceful way to get in your kayak. And if you haven’t been before, you’re about to learn the struggles kayakers have to go through with each adventure.

You see…

Getting into a kayak isn’t just about getting yourself seated in the kayak; it’s about getting yourself into the water too.

But here’s the thing:

Some kayaks are a lot harder to get into than others, which means you have to take extra care when entering your kayak.

The Tips And Tricks For Getting Into Your Kayak Safely

Before I talk about the techniques you can use to enter your kayak, lets first list some of the kayaks out there for the newcomers:

  • River
  • Sea
  • Play
  • Sit-on-top
  • Touring

Below I’m going to talk you through techniques you can use to enter your kayak safely and suggest which kayaks are best for each method.

Let’s take a look:

  How To Get In Your Kayak From A Dock

How To Get In A Kayak: The Ultimate Guide

I’m not going to lie; this can be one of the trickiest methods of getting into your kayak.

Mainly because of the balance that’s required to get into your kayak successfully.

If you want to make it as easy as possible, your best bet is to ask a friend that’s already in the water to help steady the kayak for you.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible, which can present you with a dilemma.

If you’re unfortunate enough to have to enter the kayak by yourself from a dock, don’t worry; I’ve got you covered in these steps.

The most important thing to remember is to take it slow and steady:


  1. The first step is to place your kayak in the water parallel to the dock. You can use the paddle to help stop the boat from floating away while you get ready for the next step.
  2. Sit on the dock and put both feet in. Once both your feet are inside, swing your hips around into a position you can sit down.
  3. From here, slowly lower yourself into the boat while trying to remain as stable as possible.
  4. Now you’re in the boat; you’re ready to start paddling. If you’re the first one in, make sure you wait and give your friends a hand.

As I mentioned already, the critical part is to enter your kayak slowly and steadily. One miss slip and you’re in the sink.

This technique can be used for pretty much any kayak style, but it can be slightly trickier with playboats and river kayaks.

How To Get In Your Kayak From The Shore

How To Get In A Kayak: The Ultimate Guide

Entering your kayak from the shore can be easier than entering from a dock… as long as you do it correctly.

The tricky part is navigating your way through rocky and uneven surfaces. Ideally, you want to try and avoid rocky launches, so it doesn’t damage the bottom of your kayak.

Follow this guide if you want to launch yourself in from the shore:

  1. The first step is to find a suitable place on the shore. Ideally, it should be free of sharp rocks or anything that can damage the bottom of your kayak.
  2. Line your kayak with the shore, place your paddle beside the boat and prepare yourself to step into the kayak.
  3. Step into the boat and slowly lower yourself into position, holding the rim of the kayak.
  4. Shuffle your butt into place and get your knees into position.
  5. Once you’re in the correct position, place the paddle horizontally across your waist, ready to enter the water.
  6. From here, you can use your hands and scooch your butt forward to push yourself into the water.
  7. If you need an extra boost, you can use your paddle to push yourself forwards.

This technique requires less balance than entering from the dock, which can make it easier.

Saying that, if you launch yourself off the shore with a drop, it can make things a little more complicated and shouldn’t be done unless you’re experienced with high/low braces.

Again you can use this style for pretty much any kayak, but in my experience, it can be slightly more challenging with longer boats like touring kayaks.


How To Get In Your Kayak From The Beach

How To Get In A Kayak: The Ultimate Guide

This method of entering your kayak presents unique challenges, which aren’t found with any other technique.


If you’re new to sea kayaking, it’s a good idea to walk yourself out past the break, so you don’t get flipped from waves.


If you still want to give it a try from the beach, make sure you follow these steps carefully:


  1. The first step is to place the front half of your sea kayak in the water at a 90° angle to the shoreline. Your paddle should be placed securely under the bungee cord to ensure it doesn’t drift away.
  2. Once you’ve got yourself prepared for the launch, it’s time to get out there. Mount the kayak and carefully place both feet in the kayak, and sit down quickly.
  3. Make sure you paddle away promptly, so you cut through the wave before it takes you out or pushes you back to shore.

The key to beach launches is to act quickly but calmly. The current can easily push you back to shore, making it hard work.

Ideally, you should be using a sea kayak for this launch; they’re designed to cut through waves with little effort.

If you’re an experienced kayaker, you can get out there in a playboat or river kayaks and enjoy the thrill of the surf.

Final Thoughts

Getting into your kayak can be tricky if you haven’t got a lot of balance, especially from a dock. But If you follow the steps I’ve laid out for you in this article you shouldn’t have any problems.

The trick is to take things slowly and remain calm if you slightly lose balance. Trying to make a sudden correction can make things so much worse.



Ally is an avid outdoor enthusiast who has spent most of his free time backpacking through South America, Iceland, Vietnam, and Europe. He loves sharing his experience through blogging. His mission is to get more people in the mindset of protecting our planet by sharing its beauty.
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