Top Tips for Whitewater Kayaking: Beginners Edition

Whitewater kayaking is a thrilling and challenging sport that requires a combination of skill, technique, and bravery. Whether you’re a seasoned paddler or a beginner just starting out, there are a few key tips and facts that can help you improve your performance and stay safe on the water. Let’s dive into the world of whitewater kayaking!

  1. Know Your Gear
    Before you hit the water, make sure you know your gear inside and out. This includes your kayak, paddle, helmet, PFD, and any other safety equipment you may be using. Make sure everything is in good working order and fits properly. Don’t forget to check the weather conditions and dress accordingly. A little bit of preparation can go a long way in preventing accidents and ensuring a successful day on the river

2. Practice Your Roll
One of the most important skills in whitewater kayaking is the roll. This manoeuvre allows you to right yourself and your kayak if you capsize, which can prevent you from being swept downstream or getting injured. Practice your roll regularly in a pool or calm body of water until it becomes second nature. This will give you the confidence you need to tackle more challenging rapids.

3. Choose Your Line
When paddling through rapids, it’s important to choose your line carefully. Look for the path of least resistance and avoid obstacles like rocks and strainers. Keep your eyes on the water ahead of you and plan your route accordingly. If you’re not sure which line to take, follow someone with more experience or take a scouting break to assess the rapid from shore.

4. Stay Loose
In whitewater kayaking, it’s important to stay loose and relaxed. This will help you stay balanced and respond quickly to changes in the water. Avoid gripping your paddle too tightly and keep your shoulders and arms relaxed. Remember to use your whole body to power your strokes, not just your arms.

5. Know Your Limits
It’s important to know your limits as a paddler and avoid taking on more than you can handle. Start with easier rapids and work your way up to more challenging runs as you gain experience and skill. Don’t be afraid to walk around a rapid or take a break if you’re feeling tired or overwhelmed. Your safety should always come first.

6. Respect the River
Whitewater kayaking takes place in some of the most beautiful and pristine environments on earth. It’s important to respect the river and the natural world around you. Leave no trace and pack out all of your trash. Avoid disturbing wildlife and sensitive ecosystems. And always follow local rules and regulations regarding access and use of the waterway.

7. Have Fun!
Finally, remember to have fun! Whitewater kayaking is a thrilling and rewarding sport that offers endless opportunities for adventure and excitement. Enjoy the rush of the rapids, the camaraderie of your fellow paddlers, and the beauty of the natural world around you. With a little bit of skill and a lot of enthusiasm, you can make the most of your whitewater kayaking experience.

Nouria Newman in Wild Waters by Red Bull Media House

Join us this May and June for the Banff Mountain Film festival and see whitewater paddler pro Nouria Newman dominate the rapids in the film, ‘Wild Waters’. Tickets available at

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