Tips to Stay Safe While Whitewater Kayaking


When the water in a rapid begins to appear frothy white due to the strong turbulence, it’s known as whitewater. Kayaking in such sections of a river can be extremely dangerous. Then again, that’s exactly what extreme sports are all about. Having said that, you will still need to practice caution while exploring the frothy rapids and we will discuss some of the necessary safety measures next.

Safety in Numbers

You can never go whitewater kayaking alone and this tip is actually true for almost every extreme sport out there. The element of danger is what makes it exciting, but if you do manage to get yourself into an accident, it’s important to have at least one other person with you to help you get out of the situation or call for help. Preferably, it should be someone fairly experienced with the sport.

Check Your Kayak

You should buy only the best inflatable kayaks, to begin with, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to check it for leaks or weak points multiple times before venturing out on the river. The same goes for hard shell kayaks as well, although inflatables are better options these days due to the ease of portability and long-term durability of the material.

Don’t Forget the Lifejacket

This should go without saying, but a lot of kids still make the mistake of not putting on the all-important life jacket. When you are in a rapid, your swimming skills don’t count for much and that lifejacket is probably your best hope of staying afloat if you lose consciousness after a tumble. While it is possible to swim in whitewater if you have experience, don’t count on it!

Match Your Rapid to Your Skills

It’s only natural to try and find a location where people don’t kayak much or a rapid where the waters are particularly deadly and treacherous, but it’s important to understand that they are not meant for beginners or even most experienced kayakers. Before you take on a dangerous rapid, make sure that your level of skill and experience is high enough to handle the dangers.

Don’t forget Your Gear

You probably won’t forget all your gear at once but missing out on even one of the essentials could mean the difference between life and death. Check out the most important pieces of kayaking gear everyone needs to carry on their adventures.

  • Personal Floatation Device (PFD)
  • Helmet
  • Spare whitewater paddle (specific to the sport)
  • Spray skirt
  • Drysuit
  • Kayaking gloves
  • Throw bags
  • Knife
  • Dry bags
  • An emergency kit and first-aid kit

Finally, there’s one more thing that experienced kayakers do before heading out to take on a dangerous rapid, and that’s making sure they have backup. People need to know your float plan so that they can locate and rescue you if something goes wrong and both you and your partner are unable to help each other out in time. Doing a bit of research about the area you are going to tackle helps a lot too, so get to know your geography first.