How To Outfit Your Whitewater Kayak

Few whitewater kayaks are really river-ready without some outfitting. Check the following standard outfitting details carefully. Some makers use different types of outfitting systems; ask how they compare to these basic standards. In short, be sure the outfitting is up to your safety standards in whatsoever boat you paddle.

The Seat
In some kayaks, the seat part helps add rigidity and contributes to the structural integrity of the boat, which is a crucial safety consideration. When the seat has been changed, the safety and integrity of the boat might be compromised in certain Whitewater situations. Even so, you may need to

make minor adjustments in seat position. In several boats, it's a simple matter to loosen screws on either side of the cockpit to reposition the seat a bit forward or slightly back to get a better "fit" in your boat or to adjust your weight distribution if you are running "bow-heavy" or "stern-heavy." If your hind end slips around in the seat, you may need to put in some padding so you don't slip right out at a crucial moment. A simple way to do this is to tape foam to the sides of the seat so it hugs your hips. Duct tape is typically used for this. Keep in mind, though, that any time you alter your seat outfitting you must practice a wet exit to make sure you can still get out of the boat rapidly.

Kayaking isn't only an upper-body sport. You will utilize your legs far more than you may now imagine. The footbraces installed in the sidewalls of a boat help you "lock" yourself in and help keep you from sliding to the front when going over steep drops. Adjust the footbraces so that when your legs are held out in front of you with your knees slightly flexed, the balls of your feet rest comfortably on the pegs.

Thigh Braces

If you're inside an appropriately sized boat and your footbraces are correctly adjusted, your knees must be cocked slightly toward the outside edges of the boat and your thighs must fit in the thigh braces. If your proportions are slightly different than those of the ideal paddler the boat designer had in mind, you may have to make some minor adjustments. Move the seat slightly forward if you have short legs, or back if your legs are quite long, until you can "grip" the thigh braces using your thighs; adjust the footbraces accordingly. Just be sure your seat adjustment does not result in being bow-heavy or stern-heavy when you get the boat

in the water: when you have to move the seat that much to get good contact in the thigh braces, the boat may not be a suitable size for you. Most kayakers pad the thigh braces for a more comfortable fit. Cheap pre-cut foam pads are available from most kayak dealers, or you can cut your own. Install the pads using a flexible waterproof contact cement.

Internal Walls

The internal walls or "pillars" placed along the centerline of the boat give structural support for the deck. The walls are a significant safety feature: If a boat having an unsupported deck gets pinned in a rapid, the water pressure may cause the deck to collapse on the paddler's legs, trapping the person in the boat. Internal walls help support the deck so there's adequate clearance for the paddler to get out. Minicell foam is generally the material of choice for internal walls due to its light weight quality and stiffness, and because it soaks up less water than other types of foam. Foam can also be notched out if you must create heel wells in the wall to keep your feet from cramping.


While the internal walls usually provide sufficient flotation to keep a swamped kayak from sinking to the bottom of the river, it is recommended to install additional flotation inside your boat. Inflatable flotation bags help displace more water. In the event of a capsize, the kayak floats higher, it's easier to rescue and it's less likely to suffer damage from being wrapped around a rock. In short, correctly secured flotation bags are inexpensive form of insurance for your investment in a boat.

Grab Loops
Loops of nylon webbing or rope must be mounted on both ends of the deck. The loops provide a swimmer an easy-to-grasp handle.


Whitewater Kayaking: The Eskimo Rescue

Kayaking Tips: Tuck and Wet Exit

Tips on Whitewater Kayaking and Choosing Kayaks

Article Written By Athena

Freelance writer since 2007 Content Provider Musician Educator Homeschooling WAHM

Last updated on 29-07-2016 4K 0

Please login to comment on this post.
There are no comments yet.