How To Get Into A Kayak

Getting into a kayak can be pretty tricky, especially if you’re a beginner. It’s often not a graceful thing to watch, and the slightest misjudgement can lead us into taking an unplanned swim. 

Whether you’re trying to get into a kayak from a dock, the sand or a rocky shoreline, read the following tips to help you get into your kayak safely and successfully. 

How To Get Into A Kayak

Getting Into A Kayak From A Dock Or The Water’s Edge 

It’s actually pretty easy to get into a kayak from both a dock or the water’s edge, however, one wrong move and you could end up going for a swim instead. 

Step 1: Line Up your Kayak 

Before you try to enter your kayak, make sure it’s lined up correctly with the edge of the shore or dock. To prevent your kayak from floating away, ask someone to hold it steady for you – especially if you are a beginner. 

Step 2: Position Your Paddle 

If the dock is the same height as your paddle deck, use your paddle as a bridge between the land and water, positioning behind your cockpit. If not, make sure your paddle is somewhere where you’ll be able to reach it easily once you get into your kayak. 

Step 3: Get into Position 

Crouch down next to your kayak, placing one hand on either the land or your bridged paddle to steady yourself. Place your other hand on the far side of the kayak’s cockpit. 

Place the leg that’s closest to the kayak into the cockpit. Once your leg is in, put your weight onto it and lower your backside down on the seat. Next, bring your other leg into the kayak. 

Getting Into A Kayak From Deep Water 

Learning to get into your kayak from the water is a fundamental skill which could potentially save your life.

Step 1: Remain Calm 

When you fall into deep water – especially when it’s cold – you can go into shock. When this happens it’s important to keep yourself calm. 

Remember your technique and don’t hesitate to ask someone for help if you need it. 

Re-entering a kayak in deep water can be a lot easier if someone else steadies the kayak for you, that’s why it’s important to go deep water kayaking with a group rather than solo. 

Step 2: Hold On

One of the most important things is to hold on to both your kayak and your paddle. 

Place your paddle somewhere on the deck of your kayak so it doesn’t float away – getting back into your kayak won’t be much use if you don’t have a way of controlling it. 

Step 3: Secure Your Kayak

If your kayak has overturned, roll it over to the right side up by positioning yourself at the side of the boat. You’ll want to do this as quickly as possible to stop your kayak from taking in too much water. 

There are two ways to flip your kayak: 

  • Push it over: Put your hands under the kayak, near the edge and push up to flip the kayak. This may be difficult if you have a heavier model. 
  • Pull it over: Kick your legs and use your momentum to push yourself onto the hull of your kayak. Grasp the far edge and allow yourself to fall back into the water. Your body weight will pull your kayak down and it should flip back upright. 

If your kayak is filled with water you may have to bail out and pull it back to shore. Once at shore you can empty it out. If you’re going into deep water, carry a bilge pump with you – this will help you empty the water out without having to go to shore. 

Step 4: Jump Back In 

Once your kayak and paddle are secured, position yourself at the side of your kayak making sure you’re facing your seat. 

Grab firmly into the edge of your kayak and kick your feet while you pull yourself towards the far side of the kayak. 

Lift yourself across the kayak so that you’re lying with your abdomen over the cockpit/seat. Pull your legs in and swivel yourself back into your seat. 

From here you should be able to reposition yourself back into the paddling position. 

How To Sit In Your Kayak Properly 

Once you’ve gotten into your kayak, it’s important to assume the proper posture to keep your back healthy and to feel comfortable. 

Most kayaks have back supports that can adjust when you lean back. This allows you to position yourself comfortably as if you are reclining back. However, this is pretty bad for your posture and can leave you susceptible to injury. 

To make sure you’re sitting properly, position your back rest upright to help you keep your back straight. Make sure your chest is lifted and your head is balanced – you don’t want it sticking too far forward. 

The balls of your feet need to be pressed firmly against the foot pedals, and you need to make sure your knees are rotated slightly outwards. The open position of your legs will make it more comfortable to sit upright and will take the pressure off of your lower back. 

If you find any pain or discomfort in your lower back after kayaking it could be the fact that your hips and hamstrings are too tight. To avoid this be sure to do some paddling stretches that will help increase your flexibility. 


Learning how to get into a kayak properly is usually the first thing you’ll learn before you even hit the water, but it can also be one of the toughest things to get right. 

As you need to do this every time you go kayaking, there’s no avoiding it, and you’ll often fail a lot at the beginning. 

If you fall into the water, don’t panic! Just pick yourself back up and dry yourself off and start again. The only way to get better at getting into a kayak is to practice, and over time you’ll get better and better at it. 

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