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New to Canoeing?

Everything you need to know to begin kayaking

Where To Start

So you are thinking about buying a kayak or a canoe, but don’t know where to start?
There are many different types of canoes and kayaks and you will need a boat that is suitable for the conditions and type of paddling you intend to do. There are a couple of questions to consider when buying a canoe or kayak which will help you decide what type of boat would suit you best.

  1. Where/what type of paddling will you be doing? Ie. Sea kayaking, touring, fishing, surfing, white water, playboating.
  2. How many people will be using the canoe / kayak / sit on top? Will you need storage space in the boat for longer/overnight trips?
  3. How easily can you load, transport and store a kayak, could you consider an inflatable kayak?

Now that you know the answer to these questions you can narrow down which type of boat will suit your needs.

Types of kayak


Sit on Top Kayak

A sit on top kayak is ideal for beginners, families and children. These boats are great for having a bit of fun on rivers and the sea as they are very stable and easy to paddle. There is no worry about being trapped in the boat as it is not enclosed. There are storage hatches in the hull of the boat and in the back. Sit on tops come as solo, tandem and three person boats, giving families the opportunity to go out together. There are angling versions of sit on top boats which are modified specifically for fishing equipment.


Sea Kayak

Sea kayaks are designed to be very fast through the water, tracking well and cutting through waves for a smooth journey. They have a lot of storage in the hull of the boat and are ideal for long, overnight trips around the coast. They are available as single and tandem boats and can also be fitted with fishing accessories such as rod holders and fish finders.


Touring Kayak

Ideal for calm coastal paddling, rivers and lakes, they have plenty of storage for equipment. They are fast through the water and easier to manoeuvre than the longer sea kayaks, they often come with a drop down rudder to improve tracking. Touring kayaks are available as both single and tandem boats.


White Water Kayak

White water kayaks are much shorter than the sea and sit on top kayaks. Designed to have the best paddler to boat contact they are very manoeuvrable, able to surf waves, eskimo role and perform play-boating tricks. They are intended for extreme white water rivers. These boats are for experienced paddlers only and require some training.


Canadian Canoe

Traditional canoes are open topped with 1, 2, or 3 seats and paddled with a one bladed canoe paddle. They are much longer than kayaks, able to hold much more weight. Canoes are ideal for long tours down flat rivers and camping trips as there is plenty of storage for camping equipment. 


Inflatable Kayak

Inflatable kayaks are the perfect solution to storing your kayak. They fold down to an easily manageable size, fitting into even the smallest of car boots and tucking away when not needed. Able to carry 1, 2 or 3 people, they are very stable, best suited for flat rivers and lakes. An inflatable kayak is ideal for holidays and family days out.


Kayak Paddle

Kayak paddles have a blade on each end. Sea kayak paddles are long with a thin blade designed to give you power through the water over a long period of time. White water paddles are much shorter as they are designed to give the paddler a lot of power to get through the rapids and drops. The shaft is made out of alloy or fibreglass while the blades are plastic.


Canoe Paddle

 Canoe paddles have one blade and a t-grip handle. The blade shape is differently depending upon if you are paddling deep water, shallow water or even advanced white water.  These paddles are available in a number of different materials from aluminium, plastic, wood and glass/carbon fibre.  


You will need clothing that keeps you warm and dry. You may also need boots and helmet to protect your feet and head. Cotton clothing is not suitable as you can get very cold when wet. Thermal and fleece materials are good even when wet. Many paddlers wear a wet suit (usually long john's) whilst others will choose dry tops and dry trousers.
The British Canoe Union (BCU) recommend that you wear a buoyancy aid at ALL times (and so do we).

Good training will make you safe and allow you to enjoy your paddling much more. It is worth joining a local canoe club or centre that provides training to the British Canoe Union (BCU) awards scheme. Here you will meet like-minded paddlers and make new friends.



Having got your canoe or kayak, you cannot paddle on any bit of water you find. Some inland water and canals require a license to paddle on them. Most inland water is controlled by 'access agreements', negotiated by the BCU, that MUST be complied with. Some areas in ports and harbours are also controlled. The sea coastline is largely accessible for paddling, but restrictions may apply in certain areas (naval areas and shipping lanes). If in doubt ask.

Thanks for taking the time to read this page.
We are sure that you will enjoy the sport of canoeing.
If you need anything, just surf across to our Catalogue Pages.

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