Top 10 Kayaking Rules in 2024

Kayaking Rules to Keep You Safe While You’re Having a Blast!

Although kayaking seems to be a perfectly safe and chill water sport, it can also be the most dangerous activity there is. Why? Because no matter how much skills you have when it comes to paddling or navigating a boat, you can’t control the unpredictable nature of water, especially if it’s located in a wide-open space.

This is where kayaking rules and regulations come in. These policies can help keep you and your gear safe if you obey a few simple steps.

Kayaking Rules To Follow On The Water!

If you often go kayaking or you’re just starting now, the learning journey never ends. It’s always important to stay updated with the safety rules. So, just keep on reading this article. We’ll talk about all the different kayaking rules.

We’ll let you in on a set of basic safety policies based on the kayaking rules implemented by different states, cities, and countries worldwide.

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Kayaking Rule # 1: Always Wear a PFD

floatation device kayaking rule

The number one of the kayaking rules when it comes to any watersports is to wear a PFD or a personal floatation device. We cannot stress this enough but a PFD is the most important safety equipment you need, no matter how good you are at swimming. Just wearing a simple device can do wonders for you and can even go as far as saving your life when the unexpected happens in the water. 

In some cities, it’s part of their law to require kayakers to wear a PFD in their correct size. You can even wear life jackets in some locations. Either way, wearing any kind of personal floatation device will keep you safe so you should always remember to use one.

Kayaking Rule #2: Dress Like a Pro

Freein Explorer Kayak
Testing the Freein Explorer Kayak

When it comes to kayaking, wearing the appropriate clothes can help make your adventure go more smoothly. It should also depend on the type of water and weather condition you’re about to face, so you can either wear a drysuit or a wetsuit.

Wetsuit vs Drysuit: What Is The Difference Between Them?

Wetsuits are usually worn by watersports enthusiasts in locations with cold water and weather. The wetsuits you can find in the market today are made with foamed neoprene so they can provide you with enough thermal protection.

Learn everything on wetsuits here!

Additionally, wetsuits are supposed to feel snug so you won’t get cold, so just remember to get a wetsuit that’s right for your size. 

And while drysuits are also worn in cold weather conditions, they are made with waterproof materials so it’s meant to keep water off of you.

The Ultimate Buying Guide for Drysuits!

The only downside of using this gear is the fact that you still need to wear a base layer to stay warm since drysuits are only an outer layer type of clothing.

Kayaking Rule #3: Say No to Alcohol

kayaking rule beer by the beach

Although kayaking is supposed to be a fun activity that’s mostly done during holidays or vacations, paddling around in your kayak while under the influence of alcohol is not a very good idea. Not only is it unsafe, but it’s also illegal in some places.

For those who don’t drink alcohol but want their beverages to be cold as ice, find the 10 best coolers here!

In fact, there’s actually a law in the United States that forbids kayakers to paddle under the influence. You could face fines and penalties if you get caught with over 0.08 blood alcohol content.

Kayaking Rule #4: Choose Your Location Wisely

kayaking rules and regulations: map

When choosing your kayaking location, make sure you find a spot that is appropriate for your skill level. For example, if you are a beginner, you should probably go to flat-water lakes or peaceful rivers.

If your skill level progresses, then you can branch out to other types of water with bigger waves, stronger currents, and tougher winds. Just make sure you research about water and weather of the kayaking spot you’re visiting so you can prepare and practice your skills beforehand.

Another thing to consider is the restricted area rules since there are prohibited areas in many waterways around the world due to local safety concerns. So make sure you research well about the kayaking spot you’re about to visit when planning a paddling trip. You can look it up online or ask the local ranger or Coast Guard in the area.

Kayaking Rule #5: Work on Your Kayak Re-Entry

Freein Explorer Kayak
Freein Explorer Kayak

Your safety in the water depends on the type of precautionary measures you follow. And one of the best things you can start practicing for safety purposes is your kayak re-entry. This can be very handy when your vessel starts flipping and you fall into the water because it can actually get quite tricky to re-enter your kayak. 

Why is this important? Well, if you’ve already paddled away from the shore, chances are it’s impossible for you to be able to swim back to it. In a case like this, the only option is to climb back to your kayak by re-entering your vessel so you can paddle back to where you started. It’s definitely worth the effort to work on your re-entry even before you launch into the water.

Kayaking Rule #6: Bring the Appropriate Equipment

MOAI-Inflatable-1-Person-Kayak (15)
MOAI Inflatable kayak – Review on the blog!

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned kayaker, it’s always best to be prepared. Bringing safety kits such as your kayak emergency kit or your first aid kit can help you in times of crisis. 

Here you can find all things necessary on kayaking!

To give you an idea of what to bring, the usual components in a kayak emergency kit is a throw line, whistle, bilge pump, flashlight, kayak knife, tow bag, dry bag, map, compass, and spray skirt. There are also other essential equipment needed when you’re kayaking at night like handheld red flares or electric distress lights. 

Kayaking Rule #7: Learn The Rules

Freein Explorer Kayak
Freein Explorer Kayak manual

As we’ve previously mentioned, there are a wide variety of kayaking rules in regulations in different places around the world. Some of these policies can make you face fines and penalties if you don’t obey follow them, that’s why it’s really important to take the time to research about them.

Fortunately, there are tons of resources available online where you can learn about these policies. You can even go as far as asking the local rangers or Coast Guards to make sure you really know what you’re getting yourself into. 

You can research about the different water navigation rules in a particular kayaking spot, look up the kayaking right of way in a certain body of water, learn about safety equipment standards of a specific location, or get more details about the local boating regulations in a city. Not only does this help you stay safe, but it can also save you from breaking the law and disrupting the local community guidelines.

Kayaking Rule #8: Bring a Friend 

Freein Explorer Kayak
The Freein Explorer Kayak and us!

This one is more of an unspoken rule. Even if you’re a professional kayaker, it’s still a good idea to bring a paddling buddy with you when you’re braving the water. This is especially important if you chose a kayaking location with unpredictable water and weather conditions, whether it be a kayaking spot in a remote area, in the open sea, or in the challenging rapids.

This way, you can help each other in times of crisis, such as when one of you capsizes or one of you gets hurt.

Kayaking Rule #9: Get the Right Type of Kayak

Top 10 Kayaking Rules in 2024 1

When figuring out which type of kayak to use, the number one thing you need to know is the type of kayaking spot you’ll visit. Going to the open sea? Get a sea kayak. Exploring a state park lake? Get a recreational kayak. Touring a city canal? Get a touring kayak.

Find a great dry bag here to keep your items safe from the water!

You can either buy it yourself or rent it from the nearest kayak outfitter. Just make sure to also research the boating requirements for a specific location.

Kayaking Rule #10: Check the Kayaking Instruction Requirements

MOAI-Inflatable-1-Person-Kayak (16)

Some of you have probably never heard of this but when it comes to kayaking education and instructions, there are certain requirements mandated by the law in different cities.

Many kayaking locations require personal watercraft operators to provide basic paddling instructions to each person renting a paddle craft. Examples of cities legally requiring operators to give kayaking education are California, Arizona, and Alaska. 

Even though kayaking rules and regulations vary from one location to another, the fundamental safety requirements are mostly the same, so it definitely pays to take the time to know them.

But of course, it’s even more helpful if you research the specific requirements for certain areas to avoid safety issues and possibly break the law.

You can also stay up to date on the latest news and trends on kayaking by following us on Facebook and Instagram! Happy kayaking, everyone! 

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Review written by: Tom

Hi! My name is Tom. During the year I try to be on a paddle board as much as possible. By reading this blog you'll stay updated on everything I test on the water :)