How to Get In an Inflatable Kayak, and Other Safety Tips

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Inflatable kayaks can be a lot of fun to take out on a paddling trip. However, trying to sit inside one in order to launch can be tricky. 

Let’s take a look at some of the easiest methods to use in order to get in and out of your kayak. 

Key Takeaways

  • Getting into and launching an inflatable kayak can be tricky but you can do it from a flat shoreline, irregular shore, or a dock.
  • Slide your kayak into the water, sit in the kayak, and then bring your legs in. You can use your paddle to steady yourself or hold on to the dock or rock, depending on where you’re launching from.
  • You should also know how to get into the kayak if you fall into the water.
  • Stay calm, right the kayak if it’s upside down, grab onto both side chambers, kick, and lift yourself onto the kayak.

How to Get In Your Inflatable Kayak From the Shore

To launch from a flat shoreline on the beach or river, you’ll need to slide your inflatable kayak into shallow water so that it is floating and not touching the floor. 

First, adjust yourself so that you are standing over the kayak with it nestled in between your legs. 

Next, carefully take your seat into your kayak. At this point your feet should still be placed or somewhat touching the floor while your kayak is floating. If your kayak is on the wider side, this can be trickier to pull off. In this case, adjust yourself so that you are entering from the side, using your paddle to steady yourself, and as a counterbalance.

However, you must make sure you do not place too much weight on your paddle’s shaft – as you don’t want it to snap!

How to Get In Your Kayak From an Irregular Shore

One of the best places to slip into your inflatable kayak is from an irregular shore. Typically, irregular shores like a riverbank or lake usually have things like rock formations or tree stumps that you can use for support. 

If you’re on an irregular shore, look out for some rocks that you can balance on. Next, aim to sit in your kayak’s cockpit. 

There will likely be small waves crashing along the banks as you try to get into your kayak from an irregular shore. Because of this, don’t use your paddle to help you. Instead, try to secure it onto your boat’s hull or spray skirt. You can also simply lay it down inside your boat so that it doesn’t float away. 

Getting in Your Inflatable Kayak From a Dock

One of the easier ways to get into your inflatable kayak is from a docking area. Start by placing your paddle on the dock’s edge. You will grab it once you’ve completely lowered yourself into the boat. 

Next, line up your inflatable kayak parallel to the dock and position yourself so that you are sitting with your feet dangling directly above the boat. If there are cleats or grips along the dock that you can use for support, then use them. 

If you’re getting into a tandem kayak, have your partner hold the back of the kayak as you get in. 

Carefully lower yourself into your boat so that your legs both go into the cockpit and you can sit comfortably. You’ll need to use a lot of upper body strength as you’ll need to depend on the dock to keep your balance as you take your seat. 

Aim to keep your center of gravity rather low so that your inflatable kayak remains stable. Don’t spend too much time trying to get the other half of your body in the kayak. Doing so will cause you to waste too much energy and compromise your stability. 

As you lower yourself, use your hips to help you stabilize the kayak so that you can lower the rest of your body in. 

With one hand holding onto the dock’s cleats or base, use your other hand to grab your paddle and bring it on to your kayak. Adjust your weight and gently push away to start paddling into the water

Exiting from your inflatable kayak using a dock is the same, just in reverse order. 

How to Get Into Your Kayak After Falling Out

If you fall into the water, you can still get back into your inflatable kayak. It just takes a little bit of patience, a lot of calm, and some strength. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. If your inflatable kayak has flipped over, you’ll need to get it right side up first. Grab the kayak from either the bow or stern and lift it up. This will be easier than trying to flip it from the side.
  2. Next, locate any gear that might have fallen out of your kayak. The first thing you should look for is your paddle. Once you find it, secure it onto the kayak. 
  3. Collect any additional gear that is easy to reach as well or ask kayakers around you to help. 
  4. Grab onto both side chambers and give a strong kick so that you can lift yourself onto the inflatable kayak. Your goal is to have your belly button facing the cockpit. Aim to land perpendicular to the boat. 
  5. Once you’re in this position, take a moment to stabilize yourself. 
  6. Next, your goal is to sit in the cockpit. Once you have taken your seat, take a moment to again stabilize yourself – this is very important!
  7. After you are stable, try to get one leg and then the other leg into the cockpit. This is easier to do when you keep your center of gravity low and your weight in the boat. 
  8. Once you have taken your seat, start paddling to further stabilize yourself. 

Of course, this whole method gets easier with practice – so the best thing you can do is spend some time learning to enter your kayak from the water. Also – when you get the hang of it – it’s a good idea to practice at the end of a paddling session, so that you can master it even when you’re a little fatigued.

You’ll thank yourself in the long run!  

How to Safely Jump Into the Water From Your Kayak

There’s really no one safe way to jump into the water from your kayak. However, the type of kayak does make a difference, and some are safer to jump out from than others. 

For example, a hybrid kayak or a stable fishing kayak can be a great inflatable kayak type to launch from. Sport inflatables and touring inflatable kayaks on the other hand can be tricky to jump out from. 

To safely jump into the water from your inflatable kayak, start by paddling into an area that you know is deep. Then, dive in with your legs first. Steer clear of rocks or any other obstructions. 

Inflatable Kayaks: Tips to Remember

It goes without saying that safety should always be your number one priority when you’re out on the water. In addition to practicing how to safely enter (and exit) your kayak, you should also keep these safety tips in mind: 

Always Secure Your Paddle

Even if you manage to safely enter your kayak from the shore or a dock, you won’t get far without your paddle. Whenever you’re launching, always secure your paddle, unless you are using it to balance. 

Check to Make Sure You Have Brought All Needed Gear

Whether for sport or enjoyment, always make sure you have your proper gear. Never leave without your safety kit, an emergency radio, and a hand held air pump.

Advise Someone of Your Expected Return 

While this doesn’t necessarily have any bearing on how well you enter or exit your kayak, it’s well worth repeating. Whenever you head out on a paddling adventure, always let someone know where you’re kayaking. Tell a friend or family member where you plan on going and when you intend to get back. 

Remember to Dock Your Kayak Safely 

Whenever you come back to shore, look for a safe place like a water access point to bring your boat in. 

Once you have safely back on land, it’s important to secure your boat so that it does not float away. Even if you set your kayak along the edge of the water, the tide can always pull your boat in. 

Inflatables can be even more susceptible to drifting back out on the water because they are lightweight and the wind can blow them away. Always keep your kayak safely secured. 


Staying safe and having fun on the water begins well before you even enter the water. I hope this helpful guide has given you some confidence in both setting out on your kayaking expeditions, and coming back home.

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