How fit to you need to be to go sea kayaking?
Kayaking is great for people of all abilities. The required fitness level depends on the session you book, so read on to find out more. For size and weight info, please scroll down.
Half Day trips
If you are thinking about booking a half day session, you don’t need to be an athlete to take part. Most people can enjoy a half day session, discover a new way of exercising and enjoy the scenery. We have a choice of single and double kayaks. Double kayaks are a great stable choice and great for anyone, including those with disabilities. Single kayaks are a bit more wobbly, but fast and fun and perfect for those who want to learn more about kayaking. If you’re not sure, why not get in touch and speak to us.
Full Day trips
For a full day trip you need a reasonable level of fitness to enjoy it. What does “fitness” mean for kayaking? Sea kayaking is all about balance and core strength. Sea kayaks are a bit more wobbly than sit on top kayaks or holiday rental kayaks you might have used in New Zealand etc. They do not have a back rest that comes high up your back, so you need to be able to sit upright yourself to some degree (like the young lady in the photo above, not like the gent in the double kayak). This position is a little unusual, and your stomach muscles and flexible hamstrings help you achieve this position. You can try out sitting on the floor on a cushion with your legs slightly bent in front of you making an O-shape, your knees slightly out and your heels together. This is the position we have in a sea kayak. Can you sit upright in this position for any length of time?
Full Day trips usually mean that you will be paddling between 4 and 5 hours plus breaks. We will normally stop for 2 or 3 breaks. Most day trips cover between 12 and 18km for beginners and 18-25 for intermediates. We will give you coaching on efficient paddling techniques to help you achieve this without getting exhausted.
These types of people usually do well on a full day trip in a single kayak:
- People with a healthy weight (see NHS guide)
- People who practise these sports or used to for a long time
- Yoga or Pilates
- Whitewater kayaking
- Horse riding
- Martial arts
- Serious cycling
- Rock climbing
- People with movement, core strength and balance
How you can prepare
If you think you have tight hamstrings or a lack of core strength, you can prepare with some simple stretches. If you want to prepare for your kayak day with us or generally get fit for kayaking, we recommend doing some Yoga or Pilates for a few weeks before joining. This will not only benefit you for the one day you’re with us , but for your general wellbeing. Why not check out some youtube videos? This may also help with generall stiffness, back pain, hip pain, neck pain and stress. Give it a go!
Size and Weight
All our kayaks are different sizes and shapes. However there is a limit to size and weight in terms of comfort and safety. If you are very overweight, please speak to us before you book.
It is impossible to set a maximum weight, as it depends on so many other things. However, if you are more than 120kg, we will struggle to rescue you, should you capsize, so we would have to stay close to the shore all the time, which may impact on the enjoyment of the rest of the group. Double kayaks will be the answer for you, as they are more stable, and the chance of capsizing is reduced. The maximum weight for double kayaks for one person is 130kg.
Single kayaks have a recommended weight range. If you are at the top of that range, you will find the kayak very unstable and wobbly. If you are a well-practised kayaker, that is not a problem, but if you are a novice, you will feel uncomfortable. How comfortable and stable you are in the kayak depends on your flexibility, mobility, balance and core strength.
If you are heavy, but fit (see above), we can find a kayak for you that suits you. If you are heavy and don’t exercise regularly, you may find kayaking difficult and possibly uncomfortable, but you might enjoy it in a double kayak for a half day.
It all also depends where your weight is sitting. If you have very wide hips or big thighs, that might be more difficult to accommodate than a big belly. However the big belly might indicate that you find sitting upright difficult.
We can find a boat for most leg lengths, it might be tight though, as the space for your feet decreases with length in the boat.
Small adults are easy to accommodate, but children under 12 might be too small to successfully handle a single kayak on their own. Again it depends on other aspects of fitness and confidence. Double kayaks are great for children, as the competent adult can make up for the weaknesses of the child. The smallest shoe size we have is adult size 3, and the smallest wetsuit will fit a 6 year old. Also see our article about children in Sea Kayaking.