Is it safe kayaking alone? Tips for solo kayaking

If you are reading this article its because you have probably googled “is it safe kayaking alone”.

Do you normally go kayaking with friends or just by yourself, and thinking if kayaking alone is safe?

The thought of going kayaking alone and something happening can be a worry.

We don’t always have the opportunity to go with others.

So is it any less safe going alone than going kayaking with other kayakers?

Kayaking alone is risker than going with others. If you get into trouble you won’t have fellow kayakers to help.  You can reduce the risk of something happening by taking safety precautions, including wearing a personal flotation device. Risk of getting in trouble increases if you’re going down rapids or cold fast-flowing rapids (white water) or rough seas. 

Now I have answered the first question, we’ll discuss in this article benefits of kayaking alone, some of the risks, and the precautions you can take to remain safe.

Why Paddle Alone?

There are many benefits to kayaking.

From improving cardiovascular fitness to improved muscle strength.

Muscles greatly impacted for strengthening are back, arms shoulders, and torso from rotating.

Getting out exploring nature’s waterways is a fantastic way to relax, lowering stress, improved mood and mental well being.

So if you have the opportunity to go kayaking to obtain these benefits, why would you not go kayaking?

Even if it means going alone.

Where are you planning on kayaking? 

Sea Kayaking 

Sea kayaking has become popular in recent years.  And for good reason.  Kayaking across the seas is fun and rewarding.

To be safe, keep an eye out of larger boats, this includes quickly passing through or keeping clear of boat/shipping lanes.

Remembering larger boats cannot easily or quickly shift direction.

Before you head out sea kayaking check the tidal guides.

Even speak with locals who know the seas, bay well.

River Kayaking 

If you are considering going down white water rapids alone, there is an increase of something happening than if you were kayaking in a gentle river or lake.

You need to consider the risk and if something did happen and there was no one around you to help, what would you do?

To reduce the risk of kayaking down river rapids here are some tips below.

Avoid rapids your not comfortable with

If you are planning on going down river rapids, that can be made safe by avoiding rapids you don’t feel comfortable going down.

However, you must keep an eye out on “what’s coming up”.

To avoid rapids that you don’t want to go down, its just a matter of getting out the kayaking before the rapid and walking around the rapid carrying the kayak.

Then placing the kayak back into the river and continuing on paddling.

Wearing a helmet will protect your head from injury

In the event, you find yourself out of the kayak and bumping it against a rock, suggest wearing a kayaking helmet.

The helmet will reduce the chances and impact of a head injury.

Another tip is not to have neckless or anything else hanging around your neck.

The last thing you want is having it snagged by an object.

Check the weather 

Keep an eye out on weather forecasts before you depart and during the trip.

Be alert for sudden weather changes, particularly storms and cyclones.

If you are going kayaking in the bay, estuary or oceans check out the tidal times before and after.

If you do get caught up in tidal changes there is a chance you can get swept miles of course.

Keep in contact with someone 

Before you head out on your trip, share the details of your trip, including where you are going, times, and dates with your family and friends.

In case you need to call someone to help Its best to take a mobile phone.

Needing directions mobile phones are also useful with google maps

Join a Meetup group

If you are wanting to catch-up with other kayakers there are Meetup groups for all ages and interest levels.

Also, check out Facebook pages.

What if my kayak tips over when alone 

The first tip is to stay calm. There will be the initial shock of falling into the water but try to stay calm and relaxed.

If you tip out you will float to the surface.

If you are in a river, tuck up your legs preventing them from getting scratched by tree branches sticking up from the bottom of the river.

Grab onto the kayak. Hold onto the kayak so it won’t getaway.

If you are near the shoreline, try to swim to the bank with the kayak.

Once on the bank, take a minute to recover and gather your thoughts, making sure you have all your gear.

The next step is to flip it over. To flip it over grab both sides of the cockpit and flip it over (away from you) quickly to prevent water from filling up in the kayak.

If you are unable to get to shore or flip over the kayak, best to stay with the kayak.

Wave your hands seeking the attention of others who can help you recover or take your shore.

Wear a personal flotation device (life jacket) Kayaking

Depending on where you live it may or maybe not a law to wear a personal flotation device (life jacket).

Like wearing a car seat belt they are designed to keep you safe in case of an incident.

Personal flotation device (life jacket) also provide added protection from wind by adding another layer of insulation.

They also provide comfort that if you find yourself out of the kayak and in the water that you will float.

If you are going down a river with rapids, make sure you can easily unzip your life jacket.

Even have the life jacket zipped halfway or even unzipped.

The reason for this if your jacket gets snagged on a branch it is easy to get off.

What should I take Kayaking? (checklist)

Recommend for a short trip (warm weather)

  • Kayak
  • Paddle x 1 (one per person)
  • Flotation device (safety vest)
  • Wide brim hat to provide protection from the sun and retain warmth if cold
  • Apply sunscreen to exposed parts of your body (liberally apply 1/2 before hitting the water). Reflection from the water can cause sunburn.
  • Even when cloudy you may think you cannot get burnt, but you can still get sunburnt. Sunscreen and a protective sun hat are a must.
  • Sunglasses
  • Lip Balm
  • Spray jacket (male) and (female)
  • Paddling gloves (optional)
  • Shorts and a t-shirt
  • Water bottle
  • Snacks and food

Additional gear for cold weather recommend

  • Woolen hat/beanie
  • Wet suit
  • Long underwear

Final Thoughts

With kayaking offering physical and mental benefits why would you not go kayaking if it means going kayaking solo?

The only difference going kayaking and by yourself, you won’t have a company or someone to help you provide immediate help if you get into strife.

To minimize the risk of something happening its just a matter of taking precautions.

These include but not exclusive to providing friends or family with details of where you are going and the time you will be returning.

Other precautions include checking the weather conditions and tidal information.

Being safe also includes maintaining appropriate sun protection and hydration.

Further Information

If you enjoyed this article you will enjoy our other articles. Below are some of our other popular resources;

How hard is kayaking? (for beginners)

Can 2 person kayak be used by one person?

How to paddle a kayak, basic strokes