How Do You Kayak Alone? — A Few Tips For Solo Paddling

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Kayaking is a peaceful hobby that is fantastic for the mind, body, and soul. Kayaking is great fun when you head out with friends and it can be a great social sport but sometimes there’s nothing better than being out on the water alone with nothing but you, your kayak, and the peace of nature surrounding you.

So, how do you kayak alone?

It’s definitely possible to head out kayaking alone and it should be encouraged. However, it’s not without its dangers and you should treat the sport with respect and take the correct safety precautions to ensure that you get the most enjoyment out of your solo paddling. 

In this read, we’ll be looking at how you can start kayaking alone, how you can stay safe on the water, and what essential kit and preparations you should make before paddling solo.

Safety Considerations When Kayaking Alone

Kayaking alone does have its risks but it doesn’t have to be unsafe. There are a few simple safety considerations and preparations you can take to ensure you stay safe out on the water. 

Here's a quick list of the safety preparations you should be making every time you head out solo on your kayak:

  • Always wear your buoyancy aid
  • Inspect all your equipment to ensure it's safe
  • Keep your phone leashed and in a waterproof case
  • Always take a dry change of clothes if the water is cold
  • Contact a friend when you leave and get back from your trip
  • Check weather and water conditions before and during your trip
  • Bring enough food and water for the duration of your trip

Why Would You Want to Paddle on Your Own?

Kayaking with friends is a fantastic experience that can strengthen bonds and create great memories. So, why would you even bother to kayak on your own?

There are several reasons why you may want to kayak alone. Kayaking solo can give you space to unwind and reflect and the time to focus on your health and fitness without being held back by others.

Only you know the reason you want to paddle alone…

For me, I enjoy the peace and quiet and love the time it gives me to reflect and come up with new ideas and inspiration for work and life. 

What Kit Should You Have For Solo Kayaking?

There are a few items that are essential for the solo kayaker. These items will make your expeditions safer and more efficient. If you mess up on the water and capsize or drop a paddle while you’re out in a group, it’s easy to recover with the help of your friends. However, when you’re out alone, things aren’t so simple. 

This is why it’s important to be prepared and have the right kit with you that ensures your safety, recovery, and well-being on the water no matter what may happen. 

If you’re confident on the water and understand the risks, you should never get into any trouble. However, anything can happen out in nature and it’s always good to expect the worst so you’re ready and prepared for any situation that may be put ahead of you.

Here are a few essential items that I take with me when I head out kayaking on my own. Some of these items ensure your safety out on the water, some make life a little easier, and others will help you recover if you get a bit wet along your route:

  • Buoyancy aid
  • First aid kit
  • Paddle leash
  • Dry bags
  • Waterproof phone case
  • Spare set of clothes
  • Knife 
  • The correct kayak for the job
  • A kayak trolley

How To Kayak Solo: A 10 Point Checklist 

Here, we’ve devised a handy 10 point checklist for before, during, and after your solo paddling ventures. This will help you prepare, stay safe, and keep your kit in tip top condition during the entirety of the kayak season.

1. Plan Your Route Properly

Always plan your route before heading out kayaking on your own. Doing this will allow you to set times for each section and locate challenging sections of water or areas that are impassable by boat. 

This step is less important when navigating still waters but extremely important when navigating rivers or going on multi-day tours.

2. Check The Weather & Water Conditions

Always check the weather and water conditions before you head out. This includes wind and rain conditions as well as water levels and flow if you're paddling a river and tide times when paddling on the coast or in estuaries.

If the weather or water conditions seem rough, it's always best to stay at home. There will always be a better calmer day to get out on the water. Never put yourself in danger if it's preventable.

3. Tell People Where You're Going

Before heading out, call one or two people and let them know where, when, and how long you're heading out on the water.

If you're heading out for the day be sure to let them know when you're back on dry land and if you're heading on a tour give them a call when you reach your overnight spots.

Doing this will ensure that someone always knows where you are. This allows them to notify search and rescue immediately if you don't get into contact with them.

4. Make Sure You Have All of Your Kit

This may sound obvious, but it's important that you make sure you have all of your kit with you before you head out. It's more of a mission running back home to get the buoyancy aid you forgot when you're on your own. 

Make a checklist to use everything you head out and tick the items off when packing your car or van. This will make it almost impossible to forget any essentials. You can use the shortlist above to ensure you have all your safety kit.

5. Secure Everything Properly to Your Kayak

Before putting paddle to water, make sure all your kit is secured to you or your vessel. It's easy to forget your wallet or phone in your pocket when rushing down to the bank to go Kayaking. 

Just double-check all your wet bags are sealed and secured effectively to your vessel and that all of your loose items are leashed or secured in waterproof cases safely.

6. Launch In a Safe Place

This could go into the first step of this list when you're planning your route. Scope out your launch location first and make sure you have the ability to mount your kayak there.

For beginners, a shallow beach is always easiest.

7. Always Watch What Lay Ahead

When you're out on the water make sure to always watch the route ahead of you. Keep an eye out for shallow areas, underwater obstacles, and areas of rapid-flowing water. 

Watching far ahead of you will allow you time to figure out the route you're going to take to avoid or tackle the obstacle.

8. Call Your Person of Contact and Let Them Know Your Back On Land

Make sure you call your person of contact as soon as you're back on land and always update them if you're running behind schedule. Not doing this could worry them and cause them to call the emergency services. 

You definitely don't want to be wasting search and rescue's time for no reason, so be punctual with keeping your person of contact up to date, even if it's a quick text.

9. Inspect, Clean, & Dry All Your Kit

Taking care of your kayak and kayaking gear is an important part of the hobby. Clean and well-kept kit will make your solo trips safer and more enjoyable.

Be sure to clean down your kit and dry it properly every time you get home. This also gives you a chance to inspect things for damage or replacement.

Get in this habit after every trip. This way, you won't be surprised if you go out and find a tear, crack, or rip in something.

10. Store Your Kit Effectively Ready for Next Time

Finally, this goes in line with cleaning and drying your kit properly: storing your gear effectively. You can damage your kayak if it's stored wrong and other kit such as your buoyancy aid can deteriorate if stored in the wrong environment. 

If you want to know more about proper kayak storage, check this article out.

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