Whitewater Kayaking

Whitewater kayaking. The phrase strikes excitement in anyone just thinking about it. The fast current, the drops off waterfalls, bouncing off boulders, and shooting through eddies. All of these things contribute to the danger and fulfillment that is associated with the sport of whitewater kayaking. But what is the goal of whitewater kayaking? Death wish? Adrenaline? Competition? Well the truth is, it’s whatever you want it to be. Just like many sports, there’s no set purpose or goal, only love of the sport.

There are five types of whitewater kayaking. They are as follows:

River Running

Play Boating



Squirt Boating

It’s important to understand these different types of whitewater kayaking to choose the path that is right for you. So let’s go ahead and examine each of these in their own right.

Sticking with the order we have here, let’s start with River Running.

River Running is basically the meat and potatoes of whitewater kayaking. When you are river running you are basically touring down a river, just enjoying the ride. You might find yourself taking in the scenery from your kayak while in between rapids and chutes, or you may find yourself paddling your heart out. River running can also be easily turned into overnight trips if you are on the right river. Go ahead and pack a few things in your kayak and spend a night listening to the river while sitting by a fire.

Play boating might be considered the exact opposite of river running. When you go playboating you are basically going out to do just what the phrase entails, ‘Play.’ One might consider play boating as kayaking with style points, because you are going out to show what you can do. Often times play boaters will stay in a same location on the river, because of its appealing nature or current, and they will perform whatever tricks they can, kind of like a freestyle competition.

Slalom kayaking is the most competitive form of kayaking, and it is the type that you will see most organized. Slalom is just what you would assume it is. You hop in the river with your kayak, and you go as fast as you can through gates, or certain parts of the river, and the person with the fastest time wins.

Next on the list is creeking. Creeking can be a very dangerous form of kayaking, and is very technical. If you are a beginner, do not go out creeking, it won’t end up well. Creeking often involves sliding down large wet stone faces into water, or wedging between giant rock faces with overpowering currents, just to name a couple of scenarios.

Last but not least, we have squirt boating. Squirt kayaking makes use of low volume kayaks to perform very physical manoeuvres in the kayak. Sometimes the kayaker will go underwater as one of the moves, and then pop back out after a few seconds or even up to a minute.

So those are the different types of whitewater kayaking. Figure out which one is for you and go for it. Just make sure you’ve got the right equipment, especially a helmet and life-jacket, and it always helps to go with a friend. For more information on whitewater kayaking, move to the next page, or visit KayakForLife.com

Ryan is the founder of KayakForLife.com, a website dedicated to the kayaker. Take a moment to check out the site, you might just learn something new.