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How to Sit in a Kayak


Kayaks lined up at edge of lake
Nick Daly/Cultura/Getty Images
Most people wouldn't think there would need to be instructions on how to sit in a kayak. Of course, those who would think that have probably never gotten into one. The truth is, while properly sitting in a kayak isn't difficult it does require some guidance the first time in the boat.
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 5 Minutes

Here's How:

  1. Setting Up the Kayak
    Bring the kayak to a soft grassy area so that you can properly adjust the kayak outfitting in a stable and safe place for both the paddler and the boat. Adjust the back brace so it is loose yet still supported. Adjust the foot supports, also known as foot pegs, to a position that you estimate will allow you to comfortably get into the kayak yet will be within reach of your feet when you sit in the kayak.
  2. Get into the Kayak
    Making sure to wear the footwear you will be paddling with, get into the kayak. Be sure not to sit on the back support and that your feet are in front of the foot pegs. If either prevent you from getting into the kayak, get back out and adjust as necessary.
  3. Adjust the Back Rest
    Once sitting in the kayak, ensure your buttocks is sitting comfortably in the contour of the seat. Adjust the back rest so that it provides your back support. You should not be leaning back in the seat nor should the seat force your torso forward. The back rest should allow your lower back and buttocks to be at 90 degrees to each other while your chest will be slightly forward. Depending on the type of back rest you may need to get out of the boat to make the adjustment.
  4. Set the Foot Pegs and Leg Position
    While sitting with your back supported in the kayak seat, place the balls of your feet on the foot pegs. The toes should be pointed outward and the heels should be toward the center of the kayak. The knees should have a upward and outward bend to them allowing the legs to contact and apply pressure to the thigh braces. There should be contact, even slight pressure, in this position between the feet and the foot pegs and the legs and the thigh braces. You may have to exit the kayak in order to adjust the foot pegs to acheive the aformentioned orientation.
  5. Practice Sitting in the Kayak
    Once everything is properly adjusted, take notice of the positions of the back rest and the foot pegs. Rock the kayak side to side and lean forward and back, effectively stretching in the kayak. This is your kayak. You should feel like you are one with your boat. Practice the forward stroke while maintaining proper body position in the kayak.
  6. Ready to Go!
    Once you feel comfortable with the setup of the kayak and the lower back, leg, and foot positions within the boat, you may exit the kayak, take it to the water, and launch!


  1. It is helpful to practice the above steps without the kayak. That's right, you can practice sittin in a kayak while in your living room (without the boat of course). Its all about body position.
  2. Stretch before sitting in a kayak, particularly your lower back and hamstrings.

What You Need

  • Kayak
  • Foot Protection
  • A Safe Place to Practice
  1. About.com
  2. Sports
  3. Paddling
  4. Technique, Training, and Fitness
  5. How to Correctly Sit in a Kayak the First Time

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