Spin in a Kayak & Kayak Rental Basics

Kayaking in a southern Virgina Resevoir

By Cat Perry

Ever been kayaking? If not, you're so missing out. True, it's not the most popular water sport, but it's awesome. Exercise, blissful, a rush, a retreat, a fun way to soak in sun—it's just the sky, the land, the water, and you. Although it's not often a beginner's first choice compared to the It sport of standup paddleboarding, or say, jetskiing, it's a worthy underdog; plus, it's a super-decent core, upper-body, and even lower-body workout.


But there's something about an inflatable kayak that changes the sport completely. IMO, it's more raft or inner tube than superaccurate watercraft nav tool, even NRS's super durable versions. You can't really steer it (aka track a course) easily; so, many times, you just have to give into its whims, even if that means doing donuts in the middle of an reservoir. Get the spins once in a while with these inflatables like I do in this video. Life. Is. Good.

Kayak Rental/Buying (Very) Basics

But if you're curious about what to pick up when you go out on the water, here are a few things to keep afloat in your mind. To have truly great kayaking experiences, remember:

  • Safety first. Go with a guide your first time or two so they can teach you about general water safety, how to abandon the kayak in an emergency or in case you flip over, and efficient paddling techniques; and can take you to familiar and safe waters.
  • There are several types of kayaks: recreational, touring, modular, sit-on-top, inflatable, and folding. You'll often be given a choice of recreational, sit-on-top, or inflatable at an outfitter. Go with recreational to start. They're a bit heavier and therefore much easier to keep in a straight line (though not as good as touring kayaks, but are easier to get a feel for) and maneuver. They also have a storage area. Note: If you're a couple that 's relatively comfy on water, just get individual 'yaks. These babies are deigned to go your own way on the water and to relax, not to coordinate and possibly disagree over pace, direction, how much to soak it in. Believe me, it's a shame when one of the most relaxing sports (on calm waters) becomes a battleground. Individual kayaks!
  • Buy a small dry sack like those from Sea to Summit to put your food and electronics in. Nobody wants to munch on nuts and snacks that have kayak water in them. I should know. Bring lots (and lots) of water, too. You never know how much fun you'll be having and thus want to stay out longer.
  • Wear a life vest, bring a compass and phone, and mark your put-in point (where you enter the water) with something bright if returning to the same place to exit.
  • But if all else fails and you find yourself on a calm, beautiful reservoir in an inflatable kayak and all you're doing is going in circles because the slightest touch and wind are turning it 35 degrees every time, then just take my example and just give in to the spins for bit. You won't regret it.

Video of my attempt to track a straight course in the inflatable below.