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How to Get In and Out of a Kayak: Steps and Tips

How to Get In and Out of a Kayak: Steps and Tips

Knowing how to get in and out of a kayak safely is a fundamental skill for anyone wanting to explore this type of sport. It can be challenging, especially for beginners, despite the fact that it may appear simple and is oftently overlooked. Whether you're launching from a dock, rocky coastline, or even from a sandy beach, knowing these strategies will help your kayaking excursion go more easily. You will always feel more prepared and self-assured if you follow these tips. Let's get started on the steps and tips that will quickly make you an expert kayaker and make your experience safer and more fun!

Why It's Important to Know How to Enter and Exit a Kayak

Learning how to get in and out of a kayak may be more difficult for beginners than paddling. It could be frightening, and nobody wants to injure themselves or appear foolish in front of more seasoned paddlers. Mastering these techniques is essential for having fun and staying safe.

Learning the right techniques can prevent unnecessary tiring and potential injuries. Knowing how to get in and out of your kayak makes it much easier and saves energy for paddling, which can be exhausting. There's nothing worse than using up all your strength getting into your kayak and being too tired to enjoy the journey.

Safety is a major reason to master these skills. Not knowing how to get in and out of kayak incorrectly can cause falls, slips, and even major injuries. Yes yes, a few bumps might not seem serious, but nobody wants to run the danger of suffering a concussion. You may steer clear of these risks and ensure the safety and enjoyment of your kayaking experiences by learning the right techniques.

The good news? Once you grasp the basics, it's much simpler to understand how to get in and out of a kayak. Let's now explore the steps and advice for various situations so that you can always feel comfortable and prepared to enter the water in style.

How to Get In And Out of A Kayak

When diving into kayaking, you'll need to get in and out of your boat in various situations—in the water, from shore, or a dock. Let's start with the beach, the most typical and accessible launching point.

On a Beach or Ramp

Setting up your kayak perpendicular to the coastline allows for a straightforward beach launch with the front half in the water and the back half on the sand. Your boat will become stuck and you will look like a beached whale if it is completely on the sand. Make sure a portion of the kayak is in water to prevent this. Ask a friend to help you balance your kayak if it's floating in just a few inches of water or if you're on a cement ramp.


On a Beach or Ramp

So how do you get into a kayak? Straddle your kayak slightly behind the cockpit, take a seat on the back edge, and slowly slide your feet in. Straighten your legs and slide into the seat.

If you have thigh braces on your kayak, get in with your knees slightly bent, then slide your thighs beneath the braces. Simply swing your legs in, push off, and paddle away when using a sit-on-top kayak.

To get out, aim your kayak perpendicular to the shoreline and paddle onto the sand, or stop in a few inches of water. Getting out can be a bit trickier. Start by stepping one foot out at a time to straddle the kayak, or place both feet on one side. Reach forward, grab the front of the cockpit, and pull yourself up to stand.

Women might find this more challenging since our strength is often in our hips and legs, whereas men typically have more upper-body strength. Practice makes perfect! If you tumble onto the sand, don’t worry. Roll onto all fours and push yourself up. It might not look graceful, but it works! And remember, laughing at yourself makes the whole process more enjoyable.

At a Dock

How to get on a kayak from a dock can be straightforward, especially with a friend to hold it steady. It's slightly more difficult but still manageable if you're alone. Launch your kayak parallel to the dock, ideally at the water's lowest point. Place your feet in the cockpit, turn to face the bow, sit on the pier next to your kayak, and gently and swiftly drop yourself into the seat while maintaining a low center of gravity.

Move quickly to avoid the kayak drifting away and keep your weight low to maintain stability. If things go south, aim for the water, not the dock!

To get out at a dock, reverse the process. Pull up alongside the dock at its lowest point. Hold onto the dock for balance, stand up, and step out. Alternatively, lift yourself butt-first onto the dock, keeping your legs in the kayak for stability. Your lower body will help keep the kayak in place. Once seated on the dock, pull your legs out and secure your boat.

Remember, the key is to lean on the dock and transfer your weight smoothly. With a bit of practice, you’ll look like a pro—no head bumps or unintentional swims required!

On a Rocky or Uneven Shoreline

Dealing with a rocky or uneven shoreline? No problem! Your paddle is your trusty sidekick here. First, position your kayak parallel to the shore. Lay your paddle perpendicular across the back of the cockpit, with one end on the shore and the other on the kayak. To get in, sit on the shore just in front of the paddle and place your feet in the kayak. Grip the paddle behind you, hands shoulder-width apart, with most of it resting on the shore. When stable, press into the paddle and smoothly shift your butt into the seat, keeping your weight low.

On a Rocky or Uneven Shoreline


Here's a tip: put all your weight on the paddle side that's on the shore. Lean into it for support—trying to balance across the entire paddle will just make you wobble since your kayak's floating and not as stable.

What about how to get out of a kayak when the shore is uneven, use the same technique in reverse. Easy as pie! And remember, if you do wobble a bit, laugh it off. Kayaking is all about having fun and enjoying the adventure, bumps and all!

Sitting in Your Kayak (Properly)

As we're talking about how to get in and out of a kayak, let's also speak about how important it is to sit properly once you're inside. Recognizably, adjustable back supports on recreational kayaks entice you to recline like you're in a chair. Comfortable? Maybe. Good for you? Definitely not. This posture can strain your back and shoulders and make paddling a nightmare.

To keep your back happy and healthy, you need to sit with proper posture. Adjust the backrest to sit upright, helping you maintain a straight position. Use your abdominal muscles to sit up straight, with the backrest as support. Keep your chest lifted and your head balanced—not sticking out like a turtle. Press the balls of your feet firmly against the foot pedals, and keep your knees out. This open-leg position is easier on your lower back and helps you stay upright comfortably.

If your lower back starts to hurt, tight hips and hamstrings might be the culprits. So, remember to stretch those out before hitting the water.

While in Open Water

Let’s say you decided to take a dip while kayaking—planned or unplanned, the best part is just letting yourself fall into the water. Lean over, stand up and jump off—whatever suits your style. Just make sure the water is deep enough for a safe jump. And a crucial tip: keep your paddle in your kayak. Finding your paddle missing and getting stranded is the last thing you want to happen when you're swimming back.

While in Open Water


Now that you are surrounded by nothing but open water, how to get into a kayak again? Although difficult, it is certainly practicable. Ask a friend who is close by to steady your kayak. But if you're sailing by yourself, make sure your paddle is within easy reach in case you need to grab it while trying to get back in.

To begin, choose a position on the side of your kayak close to the cockpit. Grab the far side of the boat—pulling from the near side will likely flip you right over. Pull your abdomen onto the cockpit and tuck your legs in. You can then wiggle back into place. If it requires several attempts, don't give up. It's difficult to get back into a kayak after being in deep water, but you'll get the hang of it!

Techniques When You Have Bad Knees, Hips, or Other Body Aches

Kayaking is a sport that brings health, but in order to participate on a regular basis you also need to have good health and a flexible body. What about those that have knee and hip problems? How to get in and out of a kayak without discomfort and strain.

1. Shallow Water Entry

Shallow water is a common technique for reducing knee stress. It is easier to get in and out of your kayak if you enter the water at the knee-to-thigh level and maintain your kayak parallel to the shore. This reduces knee flexion and requires minimal coordination and upper body strength. However, you might need an assistant for stability, and it requires a shallow, even shoreline. Plus, you’ll start with wet feet.

Shallow Water Entry


Some paddlers suggested staying in about a foot and a half of water from the shore. When you exit, it's gentler on the knees than bending them less than 90 degrees and trying to get up from the shore.

2. Paddle Bridge/Brace Methods

The paddle bridge technique is a traditional method used by many kayakers, whether or not they have knee problems. This technique involves using your paddle as a bridge for support while getting in and out of your kayak. While effective in various environments like shorelines and docks, it does require significant upper body strength. This might be challenging for those with joint issues or reduced strength in their quads, core, arms, or shoulders. Despite its advantages, it can potentially damage your paddle and may be difficult in kayaks with high seat backs.

3. Straddle & "Butt First"

The Straddle & “Butt First” method emphasizes the order and positioning of your body while getting in and out of the kayak. First, you set up your kayak parallel to the shore in shallow water. Next, take a seat on the seat, straddle the kayak, and extend your legs inside. This approach minimizes knee flexion and requires minimal coordination and upper body strength. However, it does need some hip flexibility and a relatively even shoreline.

4. Ask for Partner Assistance

It is much easier to practice how to get in and out of a kayak if you paddle with a companion. The whole thing can be made safer and simpler by your partner's much-needed solidity and support.

Ask for Partner Assistance

This approach works well with many other methods too, such as the paddle bridge or straddle techniques, giving you an extra layer of stability. However, relying on a partner rules out solo outings and requires your partner to have some strength and coordination.

5. All Fours & Corkscrew Techniques

For those with arthritis or minor knee issues, the all-fours technique can be a lifesaver. First, you need to place your kayak in shallow water, but not all, with part of it still on shore. Step in, sit down and scoot into the water. To exit, drive the kayak onto the shore, twist around, and stand up.

The corkscrew technique is great for those who lack core or upper body strength. Twist your upper body to face the back of the kayak, then flip your lower body to match, kneeling on the seat. From there, you can easily lever yourself out without putting stress on your legs. This method is best with large cockpits and might require a bit of coordination or even an assistant to stabilize the kayak.

6. Slide Out Techniques

The Slide Out Method, or as some might call it, the Crawl/Fall/Roll Out Method, is great for those struggling with stability or knee issues. Paddle onto land as much as possible, roll your kayak on its side, and scoot your butt out. You might need someone to help you up, or you can crawl into the water and swim back to a standing position. To enter, straddle your kayak with half of its surface in the water and the other on the bank, then launch yourself backward into the cockpit. While it’s might not the most elegant approach, it does the job!

7. Using Supportive Devices

Many aids and equipment are available to make how to get in and out of a kayak simpler. A simple rope tied to the front of the kayak can help pull yourself up. U-shaped braces or stakeout poles, often used by anglers, can also stabilize your kayak.

Using Supportive Devices

Another handy tool is a sturdy plank. Once your kayak is beached, place the plank across the cockpit rim behind you. Use your arms and feet to lift yourself onto the plank, swing your legs over the side, and stand in the shallow water. The plank can be stored inside the hull when not in use.

Ideal Spot to Launch Your Kayak

The best spot to launch your kayak is a quiet, sandy beach. Using your hands, push yourself out of the boat while sitting near the water's edge. Move your kayak till it's floating in a few inches of water if it's a fiberglass or composite model that you don't want to scratch. Straddle the boat, lower yourself into the cockpit, and paddle away.

If you’re launching from a dock, choose the lowest point. It is easier to enter a boat that is closer to the dock. This can go much more smoothly if you have assistance stabilizing your kayak, either from the dock or another boat.

Have More Fun with iROCKER’s Inflatable Kayak

Having a safe and happy kayaking experience depends on knowing how to get in and out of a kayak. After reading this piece of writing, are you starting to get the hang of it? I truly hope so, because it is critical to safety. Now, if you're searching for an amazing kayak, check out iROCKER's Inflatable Kayak. Its high sides keep you dry, and its shape offers excellent comfort and portability. It may also be customized with D-rings and action mounts to fit all of your adventure gear. Your ideal paddling partner is the iROCKER Inflatable Kayak, whether you're sprinting through the waves or simply floating along. Try it out and enhance your kayaking experiences!