How fit to you need to be to go sea kayaking?
Sea kayaking is a sport, and a reasonable level of fitness is required to take part. What does “fitness” mean for kayaking? Sea kayaking is all about balance and core strength. Sea kayaks are much 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. This position is a little awkward, and good 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?
Half Day trips
If you are thinking about booking a half day session, you don’t need to be an athlete to take part. Your session will be more enjoyable though if you have a general level of fitness, for example you exercise lightly, for example walking, swimming, yoga etc or you used to be really sporty when you were younger and have kept some of the flexibility and strength.
Full Day trips
Full Day trips usually mean that you will be paddling between 4 and 5 hours. This does not include breaks. We will normally stop for 2 or 3 breaks. Most day trips cover between 12 and 20km for beginners and 20-25 for intermediates. We will give you coaching on efficient paddling techniques, but ultimately you need to paddle it all yourself.
These types of people usually do well on a full day trip in a single kayak:
- Slim people
- People who practise these sports or used to for a long time
- Whitewater kayaking
- Horse riding
- Yoga or Pilates
- Martial arts
- Serious cycling
- Rock climbing
- People with good flexibility, core strength and balance
What “fit” means is different for every sport, as the requirements on the body are very different for gymnastics, rugby and swimming, for example. Some very fit people might still find kayaking hard, for example football players, rugby players and anyone who has got tight ham strings.
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 will find kayaking very difficult and possibly uncomfortable, but you might still find it enjoyable 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 your core strength is insufficient.
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.