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Kayak Wet Exit

A lot of kayakers wear spray skirts and they're a great asset to a paddler because they keep the water out of the kayak. The only downside is, that to some extent, they will keep the paddler in the kayak, and that would happen whether or not you are right way up or upside down.

There's a lot of nice places to go in a kayak but one place you probably don't want to be is stuck in the kayak, upside down and unable to breathe. So before you take off in your spray skirt, you need to have the knowledge and the training to perform a wet exit.

3 Highlights to the Wet Exit

The wet exit is not hard to do. It's simple. There are 3 highlights that we tell people about and those things to remember are to Tuck, Pull and Push to come out of the kayak:

  1. Tuck, to lean forward, get your thumbs in the grab loop,
  2. Pull forward and up. Slide your hands back, clear the skirt,
  3. Push yourself back and out.

Tuck, pull, push.

A spray skirt like this Neoprene one I'm using can be very difficult to get off. It's usually so tight that just pulling on it won't work. Lifting your knee generally won't work, and trying to push yourself out generally won't work. So you need the technique of the tuck and the pull on the grab loop to make this work.

Another reason for the tuck in the wet exit is to position your body and legs the way you would come out of a kayak most easily. If you lean back, you'll actually put more pressure against the thigh braces and where you make it difficult, if not impossible to come out of the kayak. Moving forward releases that tension, lets your legs come free so that you can easily slide backwards out of the boat.

You'll want to have some training and you'll want to have some practice. But once you've done that, hopefully in a safe area, and hopefully with a certified instructor, it'll make you feel comfortable and safe to wear a spray skirt.


This has been Mike Aronoff with Canoe Kayak and Paddle Company (CKAPCO). I hope we'll be seeing you on the water!

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