How to Sit in a Kayak

Kayaks lined up at edge of lake
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Although you might think that getting into a kayak and taking a correct sitting stance requires little more than common sense, your first experience will quickly tell you that it's a little more complicated than that. While properly sitting in a kayak isn't difficult, it does require some guidance the first time in the boat.

Practice Tips

  • It is helpful to practice the above steps without the kayak. That's right—you can practice sitting in a kayak while in your living room (without the boat, of course). It's all about body position.
  • Stretch well before getting into a kayak, particularly your lower back and hamstrings.

Here's How to Properly Get Into a Kayak

  1. Set up the kayak. Bring the kayak to a soft grassy area so that you can properly adjust the kayak outfitting. Doing this in a place that's stable and safe for both paddler and the boat is essential. First, adjust the back brace, so it is loose yet still supported. Next, Adjust the foot supports, also known as foot pegs, to a position that you estimate will allow you to get into the kayak comfortably and be within reach of your feet once you are inside.
  2. Get into the kayak. While still on land, test-fit the setup. Wearing the same footwear, you plan to paddle with, get into the kayak. Be careful not to sit on the back support, and make sure that your feet are in front of the foot pegs. If either prevents you from getting into the kayak, get back out and adjust as necessary before trying again. 
  1. Adjust the backrest. Once sitting in the kayak, ensure your buttocks are sitting comfortably in the contour of the seat. Adjust the backrest so that it provides your back with good support. You should not be leaning back in the seat, nor should the seat force your torso forward. The backrest should allow your lower back and buttocks to be at 90 degrees to each other, while your chest is slightly forward. Depending on the type of backrest, you may need to get out of the boat to make any necessary adjustments.
  1. Set the foot pegs and leg position. While sitting with your back supported in the kayak seat, place the balls of your feet on the foot pegs. The toes should be pointed outward, and the heels should be toward the center of the kayak. The knees should have an upward and outward bend to them, allowing the legs to contact and apply pressure to the thigh braces. In this position, you should find that there is uniform, slight pressure between the feet and the foot pegs, and between the legs and the thigh braces. You may have to exit the kayak to adjust the foot pegs to achieve the proper orientation.
  2. Practice sitting in the kayak. Once everything is properly adjusted, take notice of the positions of the backrest and the foot pegs. Rock the kayak side to side and lean forward and back, effectively stretching in the kayak to get comfortable in it. Practice the forward stroke while maintaining proper body position in the kayak.
  3. Ready to go! Once you feel comfortable with the setup of the kayak and the lower back, leg, and foot positions within the boat, you may exit the kayak, take it to the water, and launch!