For the outdoors enthusiast, the ideal activity is one that engages the senses while fulfilling the yearnings of mind, body and spirit. Kayaking is tops for all three.
Paddling in a kayak is the ideal activity for a moving meditation. It’s a symphony of sky, land and water that lends itself to experiencing that elusive “be in the moment” state. Or, you can go for the adrenaline rush of rapids. Kayaking provides flexibility in getting you to either state of being.
And all you need for your moving meditation or rousing ride are just a few key pieces.
You can rent what you need from an outfitter that specializes in watercraft. If you’ve never been kayaking before, consider a guided tour. Do an online search for “kayak rentals” and your state, and you’ll see outfitters and guides pop up. There will be a variety of trips offered, ranging from trips that last just a couple of hours, to half-day, all-day, and weekend excursions. You will benefit from having the company of a group, a knowledgeable guide offering practical advice—and you’ll get to try a kayak on for size.
There are several styles of kayak to suit the type of water you’ll be paddling. Kayaks run the gamut from use in calm water to white-water rapids—which is where the promise of the chill and thrill spectrum comes in.
For a slower pace, there are sit-on-top kayaks and touring kayaks. A sit-on-top is literally just that: a kayak you sit upon, legs unconstrained. It works well in creeks, lakes and slow-moving rivers—and for anyone who hasn’t practiced the skill of exiting a more confined arrangement should your kayak tip. They’re less maneuverable than a kayak designed to whipsaw through white-water rapids, but provide greater stability while you’re learning how to paddle. That’s the beauty of test-driving a rental first.
What To Wear and Carry On Your Kayak Trip
The season will determine your clothing choice. For the warm, summer months, you can wear shorts and a tank top. For shoes, strap-on water sandals work well. You won’t be worried about getting your feet wet, and your shoes will stay on better when you put your kayak in the water. Mucky bottoms tend to eat flip-flops right off your feet.
For the colder months, you may want to consider a full-length wetsuit—just in case you should tip in. There are also options for shoes that will keep your feet warm and dry, and gloves and headwear. Like most outdoor activities, you can get very elaborate in your gear, but the most basic gear includes a paddle and a life jacket. You’ll also want to pack some food and drinking water, your cell phone, sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat. Many rental companies also rent gear, so consult with their staff for recommendations.
Where To Put Your Kayak In
You don’t need to live right next to a body of water in order to kayak. If you’re headed out on your own, the Department of Natural Resources for your state can provide public water access points where you can drive your car up, drop your kayak in and be on your way.
Kayaks aren’t heavy so much as bulky and awkward to carry. Online sources offer practical advice on how to maneuver that bulk, and a little practice will soon have you hefting that kayak like a pro.