Introduction to River Kayaking

14th Jun 2018
Photo of Introduction to River Kayaking 1/1 by Frank Terry

River kayaking involves taking a kayak down the river. River kayaking is a step ahead of flat water kayaking. Kayaking enthusiasts can hardly resist the temptation of flowing down the rivers that pose a challenge to their paddling skills. River kayaking can be attempted by the intermediate level paddler.

Generally, sit-in kayaks are used for river kayaking. Equipped with spray skirts that help to keep the water out of the cockpit, river kayaks are long-lasting and fairly affordable. Single-seat river kayaks are small and enable paddlers to easily control and navigate the kayak in moving water. To withstand the constant bumps of the river, these kayaks are made of materials like high impact plastic. Inflatable kayaks are also preferred as they are the most buoyant among kayaks.

Paddling in a river is different from paddling in flat water. Paddling strokes, speed and angle greatly depends on the river difficulty. River currents propel the kayak and the paddles are used mainly to control the kayak than to paddle. Thus, along with correct paddling techniques, a paddler has to maintain his balance and keep the kayak in an upright position.

Before heading down the river, it is advisable to check the grade of difficulty under which the river falls. The International Scale of River Difficulty is a scale that is used as a benchmark to measure the safety of a stretch of river. This scale classifies the rivers in six grades. Grade I has the smoothest running water with minimum difficulties, whereas the most untamable river is categorized under Grade VI. First-time river kayakers should start off at Grade II, where the water is not that turbulent and provides ample opportunities to paddlers to better their skills. Grade III to Grade V rivers are mostly attempted by expert kayakers. has a lot of information from professional kayak trainers, it also offers great reviews regarding water sport products.

Rivers can be very unpredictable regardless of how well it has been categorized. Thus, river kayaking trips are generally undertaken with a group of paddlers. Another subset of river kayaking is whitewater kayaking. The speedy flow of the river and unrestrained thrill is what makes whitewater kayaking quite popular among adventure lovers. On the other hand, slow moving rivers are preferred by casual paddlers who enjoy the fun combination of river and recreational kayaking.

Ottawa River, Canada; Wailua River, Penobscot River and Kennebec River, USA are some of the famous rivers for river kayaking.

River kayaking is an exciting sport that has many water sports enthusiasts hooked onto it!