Canoeing and kayaking can be really fun, especially if an individual has a background in boating. Keep in mind, though, that canoeing and kayaking are significantly different from each other. Kayaking will tend to be more extreme, and the rivers that you ride through tend to be more difficult. Canoeing tends to be more leisurely, and a canoe can typically carry more people and/or supplies and therefore can be more suitable for camping trips.
- Know the difference. One difference between kayaking and canoeing is that with kayaking, you use a double-bladed paddle. With canoeing, you can either use a single-bladed or double-bladed paddle. The sitting position for kayaking is also different in comparison to canoeing. In kayaking, the person paddling needs to be facing forward, and his/her legs must be at the front. With canoeing, the person paddling is in a kneeling position, or is sitting on the canoe's seat.
- Know the boat. A canoe and a kayak use similar materials. Examples include wood, canvas, aluminum, fiberglass, Kevlar, and royalex for canoes. Each type differs in its weight, speed, and price, so find one that suits you the best and allows you to paddle well. Kayaks also come in different types, and each one has its different uses. Examples of these are:
- Sea kayaks, which are often used for open water,
- Whitewater kayaks used for rivers that need a lot of maneuvering,
- Surf skis, which are kayaks that are built for speed.
- Your money should be wisely spent. Buy quality, but do not spend money on really expensive kayaks or canoes if your ambitions are modest. Find a kayak or canoe that will perfectly suit your needs. Every type of canoe or kayak is different, depending on where you will use it for. Some are built for speed. Some are built for withstanding rapids. And the size depends on how many people will be riding.
- If you're a beginner, find an expert. Admit that you're a newbie. It's time to put your ego down for a second and seek advice from an expert paddler. He/she can give you helpful tips - especially when it comes to harder obstacles and faster rapids.
- Know and make use of the International Scale of River Difficulty. The International Scale of River Difficulty is used to measure the safety of a river or a stretch of rapids. It also indicates the difficulty level of a river. It ranges from Class I, being the easiest of all, up to Class VI, being the most dangerous and difficult.
- Know how the water flows. Water flows differently in each rapid or river, so make sure you get to know them, and make sure you have an expert with you who will guide you through, until you become more experienced yourself.
- Kayaking is fun when carefully planned. Do not rush for the hardest rivers. A beginner should always start with the easiest rivers, then progress as your skill level increases. If you think that you are getting the hang of the river already and want somewhere that's more thrilling, then it's time to go somewhere with a higher difficulty level.
- Stay focused on safety. Kayaking and canoeing does not only require expertise in paddling. An expert should know what to do when you encounter emergencies and trouble in the water.
Keep in mind that canoeing and kayaking are fun sports, but dangerous too. Always have a keen eye for danger, and stick to safety standards.