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8 Inflatable Kayak Safety Tips

Kayaking is a safe sport – let me say this much in advance.

Even experienced kayakers sometimes have an accident or the universe just didn’t mean it well. The truth is that even the best kayakers are not spared from accidents.
Inflatable kayaks have gained enormous popularity in recent years. The low prices and the uncomplicated transport lure many new sportsmen and sportswomen to kayaking, who for the first time enjoy kayaking.

With the following list of safety tips for inflatable kayaks we do not only want to appeal to newcomers. Old hands who are already experienced in handling canoes will also find these tips helpful.

1. Check your kayak before setting off

If you only implement one of all the tips in this list, please let it be that one. Enormous advances in production techniques have resulted in enormously robust inflatable kayaks, but they are still objects where a needle tip is enough to tear a hole in the skin.

After inflating the kayak, you should check to see if any air is escaping. Once you are in the middle of the lake and the kayak has already lost a lot of air pressure, it quickly becomes dangerous.

Most kayaks have two or three separate air chambers for safety reasons. A hole in one of these chambers does not cause the kayak to sink. The air in the remaining air chamber(s) is usually sufficient to paddle to the next shore.

2. No alcohol

With a few buddies and a case of beer going on a little kayak adventure, sounds like a cool idea? Well, that’s pretty much the most dangerous thing you can do.

Alcohol and kayak should never get together. Alcohol severely limits your ability to correctly assess dangers. In an emergency situation, alcohol in the blood also becomes a real problem because you panic even more quickly and act less rationally.

3. Wear a lifejacket

Experienced kayaker or not, experienced swimmer or swimmer: When kayaking, everyone should wear a life jacket.

Wearing a lifejacket can be a bit uncomfortable, but in emergency situations your lifejacket is a real lifesaver.

If you faint after a collision with a rock, the lifejacket will keep you on the surface. A special distribution of buoyancy bodies ensures that your head is always on the water surface.

When choosing a suitable life jacket, kayakers should make sure that it offers sufficient freedom of movement in the arm and shoulder area. In this way, the vest will not restrict your paddling movement. The vest also keeps you warm and protects you from splashing water. So there’s not much to say against it anymore, is there?

4. Choose a course that suits your ability

Beginners should not jump into high waves in the ocean right away. Neither should inexperienced kayakers throw themselves down waterfalls just because someone showed it off in a Youtube video.

Beginners should look for a windless spot with few waves to get a feeling for the sports equipment and the paddle stroke. For the start it is best to stay close to the shore. If something happens, you can simply swim back ashore.

With time you can improve. In the beginning, however, new spots or adverse weather conditions are always a challenge. Do not overdo yourself with your planned progress. Better take it safe and stop a tour if you have a bad gut feeling.

5. Wear appropriate kayak clothing

When kayaking, clothing must always be adapted to the temperature. You should always keep the water temperature in mind. In summer, short swimsuits and a life jacket can easily suffice. In winter the clothes are designed according to the onion principle. Several layers built on top of each other keep you warm even in winter temperatures. Alternatively you can take a wetsuit.

6. Always be suitably equipped

You shouldn’t go on a trip without your gear. A GPS-enabled device, a printed map of the route, something to drink, provisions, a kayak helmet, a first aid kit and a life jacket should always be with you. If you like, you can also use kayak gloves.

The accessories can be stored in a dry bag. This waterproof bag can easily be transported in the storage space of a sit-in kayak. If you are travelling with a sit-on-top kayak, you can simply tie the drybag to an eyelet on the deck.

To have a smartphone with you is enormously practical. Stowed in a waterproof mobile phone case, the mobile phone is also effectively protected from the water. But you shouldn’t rely on the smartphone alone. For example, we recommend that everyone print out a map of the route. Even if the battery is empty, you will find your destination in this way.

7. Don’t take too much equipment with you

Inflatable kayaks and especially tandem kayaks can carry a certain weight. This does not mean, however, that you should have two people on the kayak and also carry a small dog, a full dry bag, camping equipment, a basket with drinks and picnics and much more.

Even if your kayak stays afloat, the riding characteristics are drastically limited. When it comes to speed and manoeuvrability, an overloaded kayak is much worse. In addition, it is less stable in the water, which leads to capsizing more quickly.

8. Better not alone

Basically, we recommend to go on tour together with a partner. We are aware that this is not always possible. Often kayaking tours are not planned well in advance, but are decided at the breakfast table.

Nevertheless, going on a trip in pairs is the safe option. If somebody gets into trouble, the second paddler can help quickly and effectively. In addition, shared experience is always better than experience that you only do on your own.


With the tips listed above for safety when kayaking you are much safer on the road. When kayaking, however, you should always be on your guard. Accidents always happen unexpectedly. In these situations you have to stay calm and act prudently.

Don’t let your experience on the kayak or your excellent swimming skills fool you, everyone can get into an emergency situation. For a sudden change of weather or a collision with rocks below the water surface nobody is prepared, but it can hit anyone.

We hope we didn’t scare you. Kayaking is and remains a safe sport. We just want to sensitize you to some sources of danger and if you follow our kayak safety tips, you are on the safe side.




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