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Kayaking in the Wind A Helpful Guide for Breezy Days

Kayaking in the Wind: A Helpful Guide for Breezy Days

Kayaking is a fun sport – that is until the wind picks up and you are somewhat terrified for your life! 

Kayaking in the wind can turn into a terribly dangerous sport if you do not know what you are doing! However, it can also be one of the best days to work on speed and build up stamina as a kayaker. You may also have the entire water to yourself as the wind tends to scare most people away.

Kayaking in the Wind A Helpful Guide for Breezy Days

Being prepared for the wind is something every kayaker should know, and in this guide, we will look at the top things every kayaker should know before they set sail.

Safe Wind Levels For Kayaking

The good news is that in most kayaking adventures, the wind is there, though there are better and worse days for you to go kayaking. Of course, if you are well prepared, it should be too much of a worry!

If you are kayaking in smaller bodies of water, you will do just fine with 15 – 20 miles of wind per hour and should not worry if the wind is around that speed. However, when the wind reaches above 20 miles per hour, especially when you are in a larger body of water, you should start making it towards the sore. 

kayaking in calm water

The larger the body of water, the greater the risk. When you are in particularly large bodies of water, you should head for the shore if the wind reaches 15 miles per hour. This will ensure your safety!

How Much Wind is Too Much Wind For Kayaking

Too much wind for kayaking will be determined by the skill level of the kayaker. 

However, this again depends on the body of water you are sailing on, and being safe, you should never go sail if you feel uncomfortable or uneasy!

Too much wind for kayaking will be when wind reaches 20 miles per hour. Even for professional or experienced kayakers, this becomes a dangerous situation to be in, and you should be heading for the dry land as soon as you can. 

kayaking in the wind

The most important part of kayaking is that you feel comfortable and safe – the wind may be slower. Still, as soon as you start to feel unsafe, it’s best to stop kayaking and remove yourself from the dangerous situation before something ends up going very wrong. 

When Does Wind Start Effecting Kayaking

Wind always affects kayaking, to a point. Even a slow breeze will be felt if you are new to this adventure sport. However, things tend to get dangerous when winds reach 15 miles per hour. This speed is enough for any amateur to run for the shoreline (Or, in this case, swim for the shoreline). 

The best thing to do is to follow your intuition, and if you feel the wind is too strong for your preference, instead head out and come back another day!

Sea Kayaking in the Wind

Kayakers should always be prepared for dangerous situations before setting a sea, make sure that you have a detailed outline of the wind, and do not take any chances. 

Sea kayaking is more dangerous. Lower wind speeds can be worse than a lake. Here are some tips you can follow to ensure safe sea kayaking in the wind:

Exit Strategy: Whenever you are sea kayaking, you should ensure that you have a proper exit strategy in place if things go wrong. This means that you should check the wind before going to the sea and ensure that if the wind is picking up you are not too far from the shoreline!

Pack Extra: Nothing is worse than being cold and wet. If by chance, you capsize or need to make an emergency landing someplace, the extra clothing can be a form of warm comfort. 

Paddle Onto the Wind: If you are in extreme winds and you need to exit quickly, the best tactic would be to paddle into the wind until you reach a shoreline. Paddling against the wind will cause you to tier out and could result in you capsizing or not making it safely to the shoreline.

What Type of Kayak is Best for the Wind

If you are a kayaking enthusiast, you may have noticed that wind plays some role every time you set out for the adventure. If you don’t want the wind to impact you significantly, there are a few different options. 

Longer kayaks tend to stay straighter and are more stable in rougher water. If you are in the ocean and the wind picks up, a longer kayak is going to keep you on course with less effort. 

However, if you are on a lake or a river you should opt for investing in a shorter kayak for windy days.

Why is a shorter kayak better for windier conditions?

  • Shorter kayaks are wider, which gives you a better grip on the water
  • Shorter kayaks are more maneuverable

Overall, shorter kayaks are better for windy conditions because of their length, width, and ability to change direction easily.

Still, it would help if you also looked into finding a kayak that suits your preference since short wider kayaks will be much slower than long and narrow kayaks.

Sit-In Vs Sit On Tops Kayak for Windy Days

Sit on top kayaks may take a little more time to get used to but generally provide you with more stability and easy movement. 

With high wind conditions, this may not be the best choice. You will get wet and cold easier, and you can fall off the kayak easier too. However, if you were to capsize, getting up would be much easier. 

A sit-in kayak is just as easy to master as a sit-on kayak. However, the downside to it is that you cannot get in and out as easily as with a sit-on-top kayak.


If you were to capsize, it could lead to dangerous situations and you will have to do a wet exit,

However, with a sit-in kayak, you are more likely to stay dry but you may need a spray skirt and a bilge pump. Windy days can cause water to get into the kayak easier so it’s important to have a way to get it out.

Sit in or on a kayak generally comes down to preference, and if you were to end up in windy conditions with your kayak, it might not make such a big difference. 

We typically prefer a sit-in kayak as you are lower in the water and more stable against rougher water as compared to the sit-on-top kayaks.

Our choice is traditional sit-in kayaking for windy days.

Tips For Kayaking When it’s Windy

The wind is a natural part of kayaking but may not be something you enjoy, so what are some of the best tips for kayaking in the wind? 

  • Have a good, strong paddle. This will make all the difference in ensuring you get to where you need to be faster – this can be the difference between life or death if you face severe wind. 
  • Keep it Slow and Steady: Slow and steady wins the race, right? If you are kayaking, and there is some wind, ensure that you paddle slowly not to tire yourself out and get in danger! 
  • Staying close to the shoreline will eliminate the most significant amount of wind and give you a sense of relief since if something were to go wrong, you could have a quick and easy escape plan!
  • Use the wind to your benefit: Make sure that if you are in a windy area that you “go with it”, this will usually lead you to a shoreline, and will be particularly helpful if you tire out, get injured, or find yourseld in extreme danger.


If there is wind, first assess the situation. It may be dangerous to kayak if you are in rough water or don’t understand what it takes to maneuver the kayak well.

However, if you are able-bodied and know how to move around with ease then take advantage of the wind! If you are on a lake or river, keep close to the shoreline so you can have an easy escape.

If possible, try your best to stay on a lake or river rather than on the ocean if there is wind because it is much harder for you to maneuver out of trouble and get back to safety.

The wind isn’t always bad! Take advantage of its force and use it to your advantage, but always remember to put safety first and look out for any danger or potential hazards.

Happy windy day kayaking!

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