You Bought a Kayak, You Paddled it, Now What?

| March 2, 2011 | 7 Comments

Utilize your kayak to its fullest potential.

Use Your Kayak

Too often paddlers purchase a kayak (or canoe) only to find that they end up using it for the same intended purpose each and every time they venture out into the open water. For some this is exactly their goal, but for those looking to explore other options let us guide you further into a world of paddling possibilities!

As a life-long angler I started paddling as a way to get into the hard-to-reach areas without having to spend a fortune on a motorboat. Of course, that quickly became the one and only use, that is until customers started to share their own experiences with me. Through time I began to discover so many other paddling opportunities and uses for my kayak in a variety of environments that I am now on quest to try and figure out how to make time do all the things I wish to do.

Everything written here may not apply to every reader but at least maybe, just maybe, this can help generate some new ideas to help expand your paddling opportunities year round.

Aerial Photocard Maps

The Obvious – Get out and explore our surroundings!
I’ve had so many new kayak customers tell me they’ve been paddling the same body of water for months. For some it is fear of the unknown while other just have no idea how much accessible water there actually is. Get on Google Maps in “Satellite” mode, outline a 100-mile radius around your preferred area and start searching for any river, creek, pond or lake you can find. Mark the ones you are interested in exploring. The biggest issue with any body of water is finding a legal launch point. Be respectful of private property and be informed of the local laws. Not every body of water is open to the public. I typically drive to the location I am interested in (during a lunch break or on my way home from work) and simply try to find a marked launch or access point. If I can’t find what appears to be an obvious launch point, I’ll get online to do some research and may even call the entity responsible for that body of water — they’ll usually have detailed maps and information available. If you live in Texas, I highly recommend you check out Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Paddling Trails. They’ve done an excellent job of marking designated trails throughout the state and are hard at work adding more every year. Another option is for you to purchase paddling/boating maps.

Kayak/Canoe Camping

Ever Been Paddle Camping? Do it!
You’ve probably seen those awesome lifestyle ads that kayak manufactures publish — you know, the one with the good looking couple sitting around a campfire with a majestic mountain backdrop and the sun setting behind it, yeah that one. Why can’t that be you? Find your own private cove or river island and enjoy the solitude you long for. Of course, you may have to make some minor adjustments to your camping gear to shed a few pounds but it’s not difficult and does not have to be expensive. Just leave the generator and a few other creature comforts behind and you’ll be fine! Last thing you want is an overloaded kayak. Once again, do your research; you’ll find plenty of resources to help plan your next trip.

Do Something for the Environment
Take a little; give a lot…that’s my philosophy. There is no doubt you’ve seen trash along the riverbanks and shorelines. While it’s easy to mind your own business and continue paddling on, consider picking up a few items next time you go out. I usually carry a large empty produce mesh bag on my kayak when I go fishing and pick up any trash that I run into. Paddlers tend to access areas of water that most people can’t! Of course, don’t just do this when paddling for recreational purposes, consider volunteering for “clean up” events. Many organizations throughout the country organize them on an annual basis.

Paddle Fitness

Stay or Get in Shape!
Many paddlers buy a kayak to have fun and to stay in shape. Most of the time, we tend to focus on the fun part and hope that it is enough to stay in shape. The fact is, every time you go kayaking, you are essentially working out regardless of technique, pace or activity. Just like walking, you are always using your heart and muscles. However, have you ever considered paddling as part of a daily exercise routine where your entire focus is to stay in shape? Develop a daily program that is just right for you! Kayak during your lunch break or on your way home. It’s okay if your roof rack becomes a somewhat permanent home for your kayak. You’ll surely find more enjoyment in paddling than you would hanging out at a crowded gym. We do recommend you secure your kayak with a Kayak Cable Lock whenever leaving it on your vehicle for an extended period of time though.

Use it for Work!
Okay, so maybe not for everyone can pull this off, but for those of you that do any landscaping, construction, maintenance, engineering, photography, etc. think of ways that a kayak may help you get the job done more efficiently. I once had a customer purchase a kayak so that he could better analyze the underside of bridges. He was a structural engineer that would design and build bridges but also offered ideas on how to better improve the bridges that were already there. He found that it was easier to maneuver his kayak around the water instead of his aluminum boat and enjoyed the fact that launching was a breeze.

Be Creative and Expand Your Options
Use your imagination! I once saw a couple with a tandem kayak enjoying a formal dinner while leisurely floating down the Colorado river. The front seat was turned around so that his “date” was facing him. They setup a makeshift table in the center of the boat and seemed to be having the time of their life. You’ll often find paddlers gathering around music festivals and firework displays that are just off the water. Free music and crowd free fireworks are always a good thing. And of course, if you haven’t already considered it, there is always bird watching, kayak fishing, photography, stargazing and whatever else you think may be possible to do on a kayak!

As you can see, with a little thought and creativity, you’ll find plenty more to do with your kayak than you ever imagined. As always, we are curious as to what our customers are doing with their kayaks. If you ever have a unique use for your kayak, share it with us, we may even send you a little something if we republish it!

Roland
ACK HQ

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Category: Camping/Hiking, Kayaking, Knowledge, Resources

Comments (7)

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  1. Roy Kinna III says:

    You need to follow this up with something on resources for exploration. I know my good friend Jeff Little has a quick video on YouTube that is about Kayak Exploration. It is available if you search MrJeffLittle on YouTube. It is a great video that goes over how to collect resources to plan a trip on waters you have never been on before. It covers how to find information, planning the trip, and some tips about gear that helps you keep track of where you are. I highly recommend it.

  2. Jeff says:

    Loved the suggested “other” uses for kayaks. Especially enjoyed the story of the couple having dinner on the river. Nice.

  3. shawn says:

    My friend who lives in the Adirondack mountains in NY State does winter kayaking… in order words, she snow kayaks down hills on her property. She also uses it to drag supplies when she goes ice fishing.

  4. Ken in Tampa, FL says:

    This is a great article. I’ve had a kayak for about 10 years. For the first 2 or 3 years, all I did was paddle for exercise on the small lake I live on. About 6 or 7 years ago I started fishing, and most recently have started training for expedition style kayaking with the WaterTribe club. I live on the Gulfcoast so I have plenty of water accessible, but anyone that likes water and outdoors can find new adventures in a kayak.

    You are so right, there are plenty of options. Get out and find them!

  5. Tommy says:

    how about a “starter” article of kayak camping?

  6. friendlyfire says:

    good job! some of the alternate uses are very creative…we’re lucky to have a multiplicity of kayaks & kayak designs from which to choose.

    @Tommy… lots of info already online… start by googling “Portage to Portage Paddling Project”. Jake Stachovak went, basically, around the eastern half of the U.S. Click on his “Equipment” Link – there is a pack list and even where everything went in his seakayak (Boat trim is key). Modify it for your boat & paddling venues. Each time you go out you’ll learn more about what is essential, what is optional and what is unnecessary – and how to pack and paddle with it, as your boat performance will change.

    Your experience becomes your best reference. In the meantime, many paddle clubs do weekenders, a great place to start.

  7. Terry Garvin says:

    Fla parks are also an awesome resource they spend a lot of energy on hassle-free launch sites & great trails

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