Hi all, Sal here – physio and avid paddler. No, not the K1 or K2 kayaks and not those crazy river rapid ones either. The type of kayaking I do is relaxed, non-competitive and something everyone can have a go at if they’re keen. I have been kayaking/surf skiing since I was 10 and have managed to accumulate a few water toys over the years to share with friends and family.

So how much do kayaks weigh? And can you get lightweight ones?

Kayaks range massively from 7.5kg inflatables to 70+kg fishing kayaks.

This kayak is a Scrambler Ocean Kayak (no longer on the market) and weighs 19kg. This type would look very familiar to you as it is a common type of kayak: sit on top, high volume, safe as houses! Of all the kayaks this would be my go-to recommendation of type to try – you’ll be comfortable, you’ll feel safe and if you fall in you’ll be able to jump back on relatively easily. Sea-to-summit have wheels (on the back of the kayak in photos) that attach SUPER easily to sit the kayak on for transporting them to the water. This is the best thing you can do for your body (walking and rolling a kayak with you is infinitely easier than carrying them) – investing in this, is money well spent. I used to try making trolleys out of old golf bags and bicycles before these types of thing were on the market.

Now if you’re more into the heavy fishing kayaks you need to know how you are going to get them down to the river/ocean and you also need to consider if you have the ability to lift them on to the top of a car. There are kayaking trailers available but this isn’t really my thing – I go for the lighter weight options that I can manage quite easily.

Of note there are good inflatable kayaks out now (yes I was sceptical for a long time). Advanced Elements Ultralite Sport is the one I have and to be honest I was very pleasantly surprised with it. This is of course a different type of kayaking but the portability and ease of use meant that for me that when I ducked into Noosa on the way home from Toogoom I went for a paddle in the Noosa River, for 40minutes. That is my hot tip. Make setup/packup as easy as possible so you feel like you can go for a short paddle and not feel like it’s a waste of time with regards to how much type is spent before and after.

What’s the best type to use if I get back pain?

I’d recommend going and having a short go to see what your body likes (and avoiding lifting them too much). There are hire places on the Coasts (or borrow off a friend). As a whole I’d recommend ones that have an adjustable seat (see photo). Play around with the seat as much as you like because it’s likely you’ll be able to find a position that works for you. The other big thing is; just go for a short paddle. I am an advocate for doing what your body loves and some days that’s being out on the water for a couple of hours or some days that’s a fun little 20min kayaking session. Or have breaks while you paddle. We often will paddle over to the island and have a swim, paddle further up then come home – that ability to stand up and stretch makes all the difference.

How do you prepare for paddle season?

Well to be honest there is nothing specifically I do apart from making sure the first couple of paddles are only short ones to get back in the groove. If your body doesn’t have the movement (hip flexion, shoulder range) to be able to kayak the first step would be to see a physio to get that range and keep it.

What is the best paddling technique? 

1 – the one that means you go as straight as possible and don’t fall in

2 – the one that feels good to your body

Hot tips – pull the paddle as close to the kayak as possible (see photo), this loads your upper traps less and you are more powerful through the water. And remember you have 2 hands on the paddle so have a try of pushing and pulling at the same time (for example right hand down pulling paddle through the water while left hand up gives more push). Also remember to have the paddle up the correct way (see photo) with short edge cutting the water. Also if possible get a paddle the correct length: standing height with you reaching up with fingers just wrapping over top.

Any scary encounters? Like sharks or fear of falling in?

The only two of note were:

  • Off Bargara quite a way out to sea I was on a Surf ski paddling around (relaxing with my feet in the water) and a shark fin came up near me. My feet came in pretty quick I can tell you!
  • In Toogoom Creek something bumped the bottom of my kayak – so similar feeling of ‘uh oh’ as above but then a Dugong came up beside me to say hello. I am very privileged to have had such a close encounter with a gentle giant of the ocean 😊

There are plenty of more things to talk about with regard to paddling (ocean vs river, tides, types) but we hope this is helpful to give you the confidence to give it a go. If you have questions please ask me – I’m always keen to talk paddling!