Getting into a kayak can be difficult, especially if you’ve never done it before.
The first time I tried to get in and out of my kayak, I fell in the water multiple times before giving up completely. It was frustrating!
After trying a few different methods for getting into your kayak, you’ll find that this one is by far the easiest and most effective way to do so without losing your balance or dignity. All you need is a little practice!
For safety reasons, it’s crucial to enter and exit your kayak in a variety of situations. However, you should also be able to do this with comfort and ease so that you can enjoy your kayaking trip.
How to get in and out of a kayak at a beach or ramp
If you want to get in your kayak at the beach or on a ramp, the key is to angle the kayak just right. The kayak’s front should be in the water, and the back half is sitting on sand or dirt. This might sound difficult, but once you get a feel for it, you’ll see how easy it actually can be.
Once your kayak is positioned, you should straddle the cockpit of your kayak. Then sit down gently in the back of the cockpit. Try to use your legs as much as possible to save those knees! Next, swing your legs into the kayak one at a time…or both at the same time if you want.
Getting out of your kayak is often much more challenging than getting in. To get out of your kayak on a slope, like a beach or a ramp, paddle your kayak perpendicular to the shoreline.
To do this, you’ll need to paddle your kayak toward the beach so that when you stop paddling, your kayak will be floating in about two inches of water. This will make exiting from your kayak much easier for those who are worried about falling out.
There are a couple of ways to go about getting out, so let’s discuss each option.
You can swing your legs out one at a time (one on each side) to straddle the kayak. Then you’ll want to carefully push down on the sides of your kayak with your hands as you move to stand up. It’s normal for kayakers to lose their balance at first, so practice a few times before trying it in the water!
You can also swing both legs out at once on the same side and stand up while leaning back on your kayak to keep it from tipping over. Your balance will be a little off, but it will get smoother as you become more comfortable with this method.
For entry and exit, you can use your paddle across the cockpit to steady yourself. Many kayaks have a small indent on either side of the coaming just for this purpose.
How to enter and exit a kayak on a dock
Before getting into your kayak, you’ll want to ask someone to hold your kayak steady. If you are solo, it’s a bit more challenging.
Then get on your knees in front of the cockpit and carefully sit down in the back. You’ll notice that it’s a little shaky at first, but as long as you still have people holding the kayak, it won’t be too difficult to maneuver into the boat.
When you’re comfortable, paddle out!
If there’s no one around to help, it’s still doable, just a bit more challenging, and your balance will be tested here. One of the most complex parts is getting into the cockpit when you have it floating in the water.
First, sit down on the dock and put your feet in the cockpit of the kayak. Next, rotate your upper body toward the bow while holding onto the dock. You are basically lowering yourself into the cockpit using the dock to hold you steady.
Be sure you keep your center of gravity as low as possible.
If you want to get out of a kayak at a dock, it’s the same process in reverse. But, again, it’s best to ask someone to hold your kayak still while you exit. You’ll also want to make sure that you’re pretty close to the dock or shore…just in case.
If nobody is around, or people just don’t like you :), then you are on your own. Paddle up parallel with the dock, and use the dock to steady yourself as you stand up.
Try to keep your center of gravity as low as possible as long as you can. You’ll want to go slowly at first, and then once you get up a bit of momentum, you can stand up with less fear.
With some practice and maybe a few trips overboard, you’ll figure out your favorite method of entry and exit.
Enter and exit a kayak on a rocky shoreline
It’s vital to know how to get into and out of your kayak on a rocky shoreline.
The easiest way to enter the kayak is with someone holding the kayak still to steady you. You’ll want them to hold the kayak up parallel with the shoreline safely to avoid any rocks that could puncture your boat or cut you if you step in them.
If you are alone, you can use your paddle across the back of the cockpit to steady yourself and your kayak. Then, with your kayak parallel to the shore, place one end of the paddle on the cockpit and the other end on the shore.
It might be challenging to get into the kayak on uneven terrain because there is a height difference between the ground and the cockpit.
Once you have the kayak stable (or relatively stable), use the paddle to keep the kayak stable. Sit on the paddle and scoot your butt toward the cockpit, then shift your body into the seat, followed by your legs. It might feel like you are trying to crawl into the cockpit, and you are. Try to keep your center of gravity as low as possible.
Getting out can be simple. If you are not afraid to get wet, you can hop out in deeper water. If the conditions don’t allow for getting wet, then paddle your kayak parallel to the shore and use your paddle to keep your balance as you exit.
You can go with both feet (and legs) over the shore side and use the paddle for support. Or you can go one leg at a time.
Things to keep in mind
When entering or exiting a kayak, always try to keep your center of gravity as low as possible. The lower you are in the kayak, the easier it will be to enter and exit.
Remember, you can use your paddle as support and even lean on it to get some leverage. Make sure the kayak is stable before getting in or out. Otherwise, there will be nothing to keep you from falling out because it will flip over.
Sit-on-top kayaks are generally easier to get into and out of because the cockpit is wider, and it’s easier to keep your balance.
Whatever method you choose, remember that a learning curve is involved, so don’t get discouraged over falling into the water!
If you have access to a dock or shore to stabilize your kayak, you should try to enter and exit there.
If you have little experience or are not very comfortable yet entering or exiting a kayak, do this in shallow water so that if you fall overboard accidentally, you will be in shallow water.
Practice makes perfect
The more you practice getting into and out of your kayak, the more confident you will become. However, if you are new to kayaking, don’t be discouraged if you end up in the water a lot at first.
Try out all of these methods and find what works best for you! It’s essential to have fun and enjoy yourself too while you are kayaking.
Kayaking is a very popular water sport. If you’re thinking about getting into this sport, we want to help make it easier for you by providing a few tips on how to enter and exit your kayak without losing either your dignity or confidence.
We’ve given some general advice on entering and exiting a kayak, tips to keep in mind when doing this, and what can help you start enjoying yourself while out on the water. Remember, this takes time, so have fun and enjoy yourself!
Steve Morrow owns Paddle About, an outdoor recreation and travel blog. Steve loves to travel, kayak, paddle board, camp, hike, and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.