Safe Kayaking and Canoeing: Top Tips for Planning Your Trips

If you’re planning on taking a kayaking or canoeing trip, especially in the winter weather, making sure you are prepared is of utmost importance. You may be itching to get out onto the water and start having fun but preparing for your trip will ensure you avoid any hazardous instances and allows your day to be safe and enjoyable. This guide will help you organise your trip more efficiently, particularly if you are a beginner, by providing major considerations. So, without further ado, below are our top tips for ensuring a safe kayak and canoe trip:

person in a canoe

1.   Never Paddle Alone

It is always a good idea to have a friend with you, whatever exercise activity you participate in, to keep an eye on your safety. Not only will inviting a friend or two along for the trip improve your safety but it will also mean the experience is more fun! If you are a beginner, we would also recommend you consider joining a trip organised by a local club.

2.   Consider the Route

Think about the route you plan to take and any potential hazards that can be avoided. Additionally, think about how far your trip (as well as the return) will be and what you want to see. When considering the distance, it is important to bear in mind the abilities of the paddlers. Most beginners will be able to cover a distance of around five miles in half a day, with a one-hour paddle covering a distance of a mile or two.

Make sure you thoroughly research your destined route, particularly if you are new to the area. Maps and guide books will be able to provide assistance, as well as any local paddling shops or clubs. It is also good to tackle the upstream leg of the journey at the beginning when you are more awake and energised.

It is also heavily advised to share your planned route with a trusted friend or family member who is not attending the trip with you. Make sure to provide them with where, when, who and what you plan to do. Should you not return on time or answer their checks, it will mean someone is available to find help should you require it.

3.   Look Up the Conditions

The winter season brings shorter days so it is important to check when the sun will rise and set, and incorporate this into your route plan. On the other hand, summer brings longer days which means you will be able to stay out for longer in the sun.

Additionally, it is advised to check the weather conditions before proceeding with a trip. Look at the wind conditions to see how currents will impact your route, as well as help you plan what protective clothing will be necessary. The morning is often the calmest time for a paddle, with winds picking up as the land heats up from the rising sun.

Coastal areas will also need thorough planning as tidal currents can vary in speed and direction throughout the day. Be sure to check the marine forecast to ensure you are not paddling against strong currents all day as this can be dangerous; it is advised that beginners do not attempt coastal routes unless supervised by professionals.

4.   Check your equipment

Only buy canoes and kayaks of the best quality and conduct a thorough check of these before attempting your trip. Ensuring the equipment is ready for the water is important to ensure it is safe to use.

Always remember to wear appropriate clothing, including shoes. Rough terrain in river bed or rocks can be serious hazards for individuals without the suitable footwear. Other safe clothing includes layered items, dry clothing, gloves and hats, as well as a buoyancy aid.

Planning your excursions every time you go will help improve your preparations skills. Keeping this checklist of everything you need to consider will not only ensure you are safe but that you have the best time possible!

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