Common Kayaking Terms to Know

If you are new to kayaking or just interested in learning more about the terms used in kayaking, you have come to the right place.

Learning the kayaking terms will help you know how to use a kayak in the right way. Also, you can start an interesting conversation with your fellow kayakers.

Following is the list of terms used in kayaking. Give it a read and share it with your fellow kayakers if you find it helpful.

1. Back Band

The band is located behind the seats that will help you sit upright while kayaking. You can adjust the position of the back band to get your comfortable seating position.

2. Bow

The bow is the front part of a kayak. It points towards the direction you’re going.

3. Blade

The blade is the front section of a paddle. It helps in propelling the water.

4. Bow lines

Bow lines are straps used to tie down the bow or stern of a kayak to the bumper of the vehicle.

5. Bulkhead

A bulkhead is a block placed on the inside of the stern of the kayak. It prevents the water from entering the kayak from sinking when it is flipped upside down.

7. Brace

A brace is used to prevent the kayak from capsizing.

8. Bent Shaft Paddle

A paddle that is designed to be bent to allow the user’s wrist to be in a neutral position.

9. Carry Handles

These are handles located in the front and the rear that is used to lift the boat.

10. Coaming

The outer edge of the seat in a sit-in-kayak is called coaming.

11. Cockpit

The cockpit is the area where the paddler is seated while kayaking.

12. Deck

The top of the kayak is known as the deck.

13. Deck Bungees

Deck bungees are flexible cords that can be used to store gears in the deck.

14. Foot Braces

A foot brace is where you can keep your leg while kayaking.

15. Feather

Feather is the offset of the paddle blade.

16. Grab handles

The handles are located at the bow and stern of the kayak allowing you to carry and tie down the kayak.

17. Hull

The bottom of the kayak is the hull.


A storage compartment built inside the kayak can be accessed from the deck.

19. Hatch Cover

A removable cover to the hatch that prevents water from entering inside.

20. Heading

The heading is the point where the bow point towards.

21. Keel

Keel is a strip that runs along the hull of the kayak.

22. Paddle

The paddle is a shaft that enables you to steer the kayak.

23. Rudder

The rudder is the drop-down fin at the rear that can be swiveled to steer the kayak.

24. Scupper Holes

Scupper holes are holes added in the front and back of the kayak that drains water that comes inside the boat.

25. Shaft

The shaft is the pole that connects the handle to the blade of the paddle.

26. Skeg

Skeg is used to steer the kayak straight.

27. Spray Skirt

The spray skirt protects the kayakers legs from sunlight, wind, and rain. The cockpit is sealed off tightly when the kayaker wears the skirt preventing water from entering inside the cockpit.

28. Stern

The stern is the back of the kayak.

29. Thigh Braces

Thigh braces are pads on the inner kayak where you can rest your thighs.

Commonly Used Kayaking Accessories

1. Carabiner

Carabiners are hooks that kayakers use to clip their belongings to the boat compartment.

2. Cam straps

Cam straps are pieces of metal buckle used to tie down the kayak.

3. Dry Bag

You can use dry bags to store essentials and gear to avoid water damage.

4. J-cradle

A J-shaped accessory allows the paddler to easily tie down the kayak to the bumper of the car.

5. PFD

PFD is the personal floatation device or a life jacket that you have to wear no matter how great a swimmer you are. One of the important safety gear on the list.

6. Stacker

Stacker is an accessory that allows you to tie down multiple boats to the car.

7. Water Sandals

Water sandals are waterproof sandals that are specially designed for water sports like kayaking.

Common Kayaking Techniques

1. Backstroke

Backstroke is a technique used to paddle backward.

2. Downstream

The direction of the current flowing in a water stream.

3. Edge Control

Edge control is the capability of a paddler to maintain the kayak at various angles while kayaking.

4. Forward stroke

The forward stroke is the stroke that you can use to move forward.

5. Hole

A hole is an obstacle in the river. It can trap boats and block them from moving downstream.

6. Portage

Portage is the act of carrying a kayak overland from one place to another instead of carrying it through the water.

7. Port

The left side of the boat is called a port.

8. Open Water

A large body of water unprotected from the wind by trees or shorelines.

9. Roll

Roll is the method of righting the overturned kayak.

10. Rapid

The rapid is the part of the river where the flow of water increases causing more turbulence.

11. Sculling Draw

An eight-shaped stroke that used to pull the kayak sideways through the water.

12. Starboard

The right side of the kayak is known as Starboard.

13. Strainer

A strainer is a broken tree in the flowing stream that can block a kayak from moving forward.

14. Swamp

Swamp is the action of filling a boat with water.

15. Trim

The movement of the boat is controlled by the trim in the water.

16. Upstream

Upstream is the opposite direction of the flow of water.

17. Wet Exit

A wet exit is swimming out of the kayak rather than jumping out of it.


Knowing the kayaking terms will help you understand more about kayaking and the types of kayak. It makes you a better kayaker among your fellow buddies. Hope this article helped you in expanding your knowledge about kayaking. Drop your questions if you have any and we will get back to you soon.

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