In the words of Ronnie Lane of the Ooh La La’s, “I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger”—a statement that rings true when most of us think back to our years as newbie-paddlers.

Of course, there isn’t a textbook substitute for first-hand experiences; our water literacy mostly develops through trial and error. Still, we thought it would be fun to ask our readers (via our Instagram account) what they wish they had known when they were beginners. After sifting through hundreds of great responses, we’ve handpicked our favorite 17 pieces of advice.

1. It would take years to get good, but it would be worth it.

– @katbulk

2. You don’t have to eat dehydrated meals on trips! Bring a cast-iron skillet!

– @kevinkapala

Camp cast-iron skillet meals for paddlers
With the right gear, prep and knowledge, your camping meals don’t actually have to be any different from your at-home kitchen meals. Photo courtesy of Unsplash
3. You need lots of core strength.

– @_ridnar_

4. How to j-stroke!


5. To take ownership of my own goals and desires – not to wait on someone else to plan mine out.


6. Buy the boat, you can always sell it later and buy another boat.”


7. How scary the ocean can turn…

– @kolmurf

[ View all Canoes in the Paddling Buyer’s Guide ]

Man cresting a wave in a sea kayak
A kayaker demonstrates control as he paddles towards a cresting wave in the ocean. Photo courtesy of Eddyline
8. A boat that tracks is a boat that’s hard to turn.


9. UV light and uncovered storage damage everything with time.


10. It is all about efficiency.


11. That I wouldn’t be able to think about anything else.


A thoughtful woman sits by the fire and her kayak while looking out to the lake
How long was it before paddling took over your life? Photo courtesy of Eddyline
12. Stretch first.


13. Despite what anyone may tell you, it’s never too early to invest in good gear. Especially when it comes to safety gear!


14. Don’t roll until you understand what kayaking is.


15. The importance of a good paddle.


[ Also read: How To Choose The Best Kayak Paddle ]

16. To wait and save and buy better gear. Don’t rush it.


17. More about paddling safely in the ocean!



  1. Who ever wrote #8. A Boat That Tracks Is A Boat That’s Hard To Turn, needs to try an Eddyline. It maybe true of yaks with poor hull design but not true of yaks that are well designed. They also may benefit from some professional instruction.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here