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How to Get Back Into An Inflatable Kayak?

How to Get Back Into An Inflatable Kayak?

It’s a beautiful summer day, and you’re out riding the rapids in your trusty inflatable kayak. But suddenly, you come upon rougher waters than you were expecting.

Maybe a flash flood comes out of nowhere to take you by surprise, or the rapids suddenly become fiercer than you expected. Maybe a storm blows in, catching you out in the water with no time to get back to shore.

Whatever the reason, you find yourself falling into the water as your kayak capsizes. What are you supposed to do?

How can you get back into your inflatable kayak? And what are some good safety tips to keep you from falling out in the first place?

Great questions!

This article will explore the answers to these questions and more.

Can You Fall Out of an Inflatable Kayak While Paddling?

falling out of an inflatable kayak

Kayaks, especially inflatable kayaks, are extremely stable in the water. It takes a lot of force to overturn them.

That said, it is still possible to fall out of an inflatable kayak while you’re paddling it.

In fact, it is surprisingly easy to shift around too much, lose your balance, and fall out, especially if you’re new to kayaking and you put too much faith in your kayak’s buoyancy.

Overloading a kayak or having the weight distributed uneasily makes a kayak less stable and more prone to capsizing as well.

If your paddle hits an unseen obstacle underwater, like a rock or a net, it may temporarily get hung up on the obstacle, which could make you fall out. 

If the waters are especially rough, you may also fall out because the kayak is getting tossed around.

You could be standing, shifting your weight around too much, or sitting in the wrong area. Doing this may cause the kayak to become unbalanced, causing it to capsize or flip.

As you can see, there are many circumstances that can lead to you falling out of an inflatable kayak.

The best way to avoid this is by practicing common sense; kayaks are generally buoyant, but you have to treat them with respect and behave responsibly while using them.

What Do You Do if You Fall Out of an Inflatable Kayak?

to get back into the kayak

While behaving in a responsible manner can increase your overall safety when using a kayak, there are times when you simply can’t keep yourself from falling out.

As mentioned above, you may have to deal with a sudden storm, rapids you didn’t know you were going to encounter, hidden obstacles underwater, and sudden flash floods. All of these can present hazards when you’re in an inflatable kayak.

So, if a worst-case scenario comes up and you fall out of your kayak, what should you do?

  • Stay calm: The first step is to avoid the tendency to panic. As long as you’re wearing a lifejacket, you should be able to stay afloat and return to your kayak, but you need to be able to think clearly. Staying calm will help you do that.
  • Hold onto your paddle: If possible, don’t let go of your paddle while going overboard. If you do let go, attempt to retrieve the paddle, as it can help you get back to your boat and paddle to safety.
  • Return to the kayak: If at all possible, try to get back to your kayak. Depending on the water conditions, it may have ended up some distance away from you, and you may have to swim for it.
  • Lift yourself back into the kayak: Once you reach your kayak, you may have to turn it upright if it has flipped over. Do this from the bow or stern, then move to one side of the kayak, put your hands on the side, and launch yourself into the kayak.
  • Remove any water: Once you are safely back in the kayak, bail out any water that may have collected in the sitting area. Water in the kayak will add to its overall weight load and could make it more prone to capsizing again.

What is the Best Way to Get Into an Inflatable Kayak?

How to Get In and Out of an Inflatable Kayak from a Bank, Pontoon, Dock or Jetty

If you’re getting into an inflatable kayak from the shore, check out the above video. It shows you the basic steps of entering and leaving your kayak in a controlled environment.

Of course, if you have fallen out of your kayak and are flailing around in choppy waters, you’re no longer dealing with a controlled environment. The steps for getting back into the kayak will be much different in this case.

Check out the below video to see how to do it:

How to get back into an inflatable kayak from the water

Then, follow these steps:

  1. Hold onto the side of the kayak midway between the bow and the stern. If there is a seat in your kayak, you’ll want to hold onto the side just in front of the seat.
  2. Pull yourself up and use a scissor-kick to launch yourself into the kayak. As you use your arms to pull yourself out of the water, kick your legs for added momentum and launch your body across the kayak.
  3. Turn yourself over and swing your legs into the kayak. Turn over onto your back, rising up into the seat as you bring your legs out of the water and into the kayak. 

Tips for Getting In and Out of a Kayak Safely

The hardest part of kayaking is getting in and out. If you’re new to the process, the last thing you want is to find yourself falling into the water while you’re trying to get into your kayak.

Fortunately, there are many things you can do to make getting in and out of your kayak easier.

Tie Your Kayak to the Dock

tie your kayak to the dock

If you’re planning to launch from a dock, choose one that is low to the water–the farther down you have to go when stepping from the dock to the kayak, the greater your chances of falling.

It also helps to tie your kayak to the dock to keep it from drifting while you’re trying to get into it. Tying it off will not fully stabilize it in the water, but it will keep it close if you do fall in the water and will limit your chances of falling in the first place.

Choose a Shallow Spot

choose a shallow spot

If you’re launching from the shoreline, choose a spot with a gently sloping shore and only a few inches of water. 

You may find that it’s easiest to have your kayak half in and half out of the water. This way, you can straddle it to get in, then use your hands or paddles to push yourself out into deeper water.

Have a Friend Stabilize the Kayak

have a friend stabilize the kayak

Regardless of where you’re launching from, if you have a friend with you, have them stabilize the kayak while you get into it.

You can have them do this either from the shore or from another kayak. Simply having someone to hold onto the boat will keep it from moving around so much as you get into it, which in turn will greatly reduce your risk of falling into the water.

Familiarize Yourself With the Process

There are many different techniques for getting in and out of a kayak. Some may be better than others depending on the specific situation–for example, you may need to use a different technique for getting in from a sandy shore than from a rocky coastline or a dock.

Check out the following video for a great visual of the best ways to get into and out of your kayak from different places. Follow these tips, and hopefully, you won’t end up falling into the water as you attempt to enter or exit your kayak.

How To: Safely Get in and Out of Your Kayak


Falling out of your kayak can be a scary situation, but try not to panic. If you follow the steps outlined in this article, you should be able to get back into your kayak and get back to riding the waves in no time.