Kayaking is a good full-body workout and an excellent way to spend a day on the water. Two-person or tandem kayaks turned water sports into a social experience and, ultimately, sharing experiences with family and friends is the best experience.
If you want to share this great experience with a friend or family member, it is better to choose a tandem kayak over two separate kayaks. However, riding such a kayak is not easy at the beginning, although paddling together can provide a lot of fun.
In a tandem kayak, the strongest paddler should sit in the back. This is also true for the most experienced and heaviest paddlers. The reason behind this is that the person behind will take on the role of the helmsman, who should paddle more powerfully. This is also better for the driving characteristics since the weight rests on the rear. Furthermore, navigating or steering the boat requires strength and experience.
Finding the perfect equipment can be quite challenging sometimes. If you want to have a good experience with the activity that you want to try, you need to have good equipment. When it comes to kayaking, you have two choices when it comes to the kayak that you want to ride. Whether you’re looking for the best inflatable kayak or the best hard-shell kayak, we’ve got you covered.
Where should the heaviest person sit in a kayak?
In a tandem kayak, the heaviest person should sit at the back because, with all the luggage and gear, the load will be distributed a bit better, and more weight at the back is usually better than adding load at the front of the kayak.
Proper Seating Arrangement for a Tandem Kayak
Proper seating arrangements can make a big difference when you are navigating rough waters. Kayaks are susceptible to capsizing if not appropriately controlled, which is why putting the strongest paddler at the back will help both of you for all sorts of reasons listed below.
1. Steering Control
Most of the steering comes from the back of the kayak. They take direction from the furthest point from the back. So, when a strong paddler sits at the back, they can keep the kayak on course in the right direction. On the other hand, a weaker paddler may lack the strength needed to steer the canoe in the right direction over the course of a long kayaking expedition.
2. Novice Paddler can set the speed
While directional navigation mainly relies on the stronger paddler, the speed is usually set by the person seated at the front. Since novice paddlers are typically the weakest and least experienced, they are generally positioned at the front of the kayak, or the bow. Consequently, they are the ones who decide the pace of the trip.
The reason why you want the beginner to set the speed is that they can prevent things from getting out of control. If the beginner starts going too fast, they need to allow the strong paddler in the back to match their pace.
If the stronger paddler were to be seated in the front, they may end up going way too fast for the less experienced paddler to handle. Although this faster pace resulting from the swap in seating positioning may not seem significant, it can cut a kayaking trip short, especially if the novice paddler doesn’t have enough endurance to begin with.
When the novice paddler rides in front, the more experienced and stronger paddler, who is seated at the back, can examine their techniques. This process will allow them to make suggestions and corrections regarding the speed and direction, making it a great learning curve for both riders in the kayak.
Riding with a first-timer will prevent you from frequently looking back over your shoulder. Instead, seating at the back will allow you to keep your eyes on the water, control the direction, and chat with the beginner to give them a few tips along the way.
Many times, beginner paddlers don’t even know where they’re going wrong, and the very first step for them to start improving is to have them know their specific mistakes. Otherwise, it will be impossible for them to address these appropriately.
With the beginner paddler at the front, it will be easier for the stronger paddler to offer constructive criticism on how they can improve, be safer, and save energy. Overall, this seating arrangement is an excellent way to teach anyone how to ride a kayak.
Getting in and out of your kayak without getting wet is a skill that most people want to acquire. It seems impossible because a kayak is unstable and can tip over if you step into or out of it the wrong way but it’s not impossible at all. Check out our 10 tips for getting into a kayak without getting wet to learn this skill.
Seating Arrangement for Three Paddlers
For a three to four-person kayak, the heaviest paddler should sit in the middle. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll be stronger. The heaviest should be in the center, but the strongest or even second strongest paddler should still be seated in the back of the kayak.
Additionally, nobody should sit on the crossbars as they are not intended for seating during these setups. Instead, they promote protection from tipping, gear maintenance, better structural integrity, and more. The paddlers at the front and back of the kayak should sit directly on the floor.
Sitting too high in a kayak can cause it to capsize. Multiple riders sitting on crossbars or standing up on their feet will raise the center of gravity. As kayaks are narrow, having a raised center of gravity will result in rocking and eventual tipping. Fortunately, most paddlers rarely accidentally tip over into the water, as long as they avoid sitting on the crossbars. Since kayaks are designed to be extremely stable, not even beginners flip kayaks on their very first session.
How to Properly Sit in a Kayak
These are the things that you should do to ensure that you are sitting properly and comfortably in your kayak.
Set up the kayak
Adjust the kayak outfitting in a place that is stable and safe for both the paddler and the kayak.
Adjust the backrest
Doing so will provide your back with enough support. The backrest should be adjusted so that your butt and lower back form a 90-degree angle with your chest slightly forward. You may need to get out of the kayak to make the necessary adjustments depending on the type of backrest you’re dealing with.
Set the footpegs and leg position
Put the balls of your feet on the footpegs while sitting. Your toes should be pointing outward and your heels should be angled toward the center. Your knees should also bend upward and outward to allow your legs to apply pressure to the thigh braces.
Practice sitting in the kayak
Once everything has been properly set up and adjusted, you should take note of the positions of your backrest and of the footpegs. Rock your kayak from side to side, and then lean forward and backward to effectively stretch in the kayak, so that you’ll get comfortable in it. Next, practice the forward stroke while maintaining a proper body position.
Ready to go
Once you feel comfortable with the adjustments and overall setup of your kayak and lower back, leg, and foot positions, you may take it out on the water.
Choosing the right equipment is important for any kind of activity. When it comes to kayaking, the challenge that most people encounter is trying to figure out the best kayak size, more specifically, its length. To help you with this situation, we created a guide on how to figure out what size kayak you need for your height.
The strongest paddler should almost always sit at the back of a tandem kayak. When you are riding with a family member or friend, it is important to make sure that you are following proper seating arrangements to prevent capsizing and an overly challenging ride, especially for beginners.
If there are three people in a kayak, the heaviest paddler should be seated at the center, while the most experienced and strongest paddler should be seated at the back of the kayak. Furthermore, the front paddler, who is usually a beginner, controls the speed while the back paddler controls the direction.
As long as you remember the information that we shared in this article, you will be able to properly, safely, and comfortably enjoy your kayaking adventure with your family and friends. Just like what they always say, two heads are better than one.