Do Kayaks Tip-Over Easily?

Have you ever wondered to yourself – “Do kayaks tip over easily?” 

Well, kayaks are designed to be stable on the water so that users can do other activities like fishing when on a kayak or whitewater rafting. However, kayaks can still tip over due to several factors.  

This is one of the common questions most beginners in kayak usually ask but that’s perfectly alright. We always have to start somewhere right?

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Here in this article, I will cover the following areas:

  • What Makes Kayak Tip Over
  • How To Avoid Tipping Over A Kayak
  • What To Do If You Flipped Your Kayak
  • 3 Easy Methods To Re-enter Your Kayak
  • Top 5 Kayaks That Won’t Tip Over Easily
  • Other Safety Tips (Before/During/After Kayak Session)

Related Posts:

So, What Makes A Kayak Tip Over?

Do kayak tip over easily

Kayaks can easily tip over if you do not distribute your weight evenly during entry and exit points, and poor weather conditions (i.e., a surge of the river stream, a strong gust of winds) can push kayakers off balance.

How To Avoid Tipping A Kayak

If you want to know how to not tip a kayak, then you should do the following:

Step 1: Get The Right Kayak! 

The general rule of thumb is the wider your kayak, the more stability you will have! 

Don’t worry; I have included a special list of kayaks that won’t tip over easily, so keep reading!

Step 2: Do Not Kayak In  Bad Weather Conditions

If Poseidon says not today, you best believe that your kayak will not be on the water on that day!

Don’t try to act tough and kayak during poor weather conditions (i.e., monsoon season); you’re simply putting yourself in danger.

Step 3: Maintain Good Balance

Pay close attention to your center of gravity. If you feel wobbly when kayaking, make sure to keep your body low and in the center of the boat. 

(Bonus Tip: hold both sides of your kayak at the same time, if not, you may risk flipping your kayak)

Step 4: Practice Makes You Better!

Oh, the irony…

Sometimes the best lesson you can learn is by making mistakes, so keep practicing tipping your kayaks (in a safe environment, of course!) so that you will know how to keep a kayak from tipping.

I know you’re probably dreading this..but practicing keeping your kayak from tripping may save your life!

So What To Do If Your Kayak Flips?

Sometimes, accidents do happen.

If you have no experience and you suddenly find yourself taking a sudden dip in the water, panic will certainly encroach within that first 10 fearful seconds.

So, let’s avoid that by learning the proper steps to self-rescue.

Step 1: Set Up Your Paddle Float

Kayaks can easily tip over

Once you fall, calmly retrieve your paddle float within your survival kit, which should be in your dry bag. 

Make sure to hook your feet inside the cockpit of your kayak so that you don’t drift away from your kayak.

If you are unsure of how to put on your paddle float, then check out this video (it’s pretty easy).

Step 2: Flip Your Kayak Back

Once you have securely attached your paddle float, then it’s time to start flipping your kayak.

So here’s what you need to do: 

  1. Keep your paddle close to you (especially when it has paddle floats as it can drift away) 

Pro tip: attach your paddle with your wrist using any strings available, or you can even use a paddle leash.

Kayaks can easily tip over
  1. You grab across your kayak if you are tall and flip it over. If you are short, you can flip your kayak from underneath the water. 

Pro tip: Try to flip your kayak as soon as you can because the longer you delay this process, it’ll be more difficult for you to flip as there will be more water inside your cockpit (especially for sit-in kayak).

Are you new and curious to know whether kayaks flip over easily?

Kayaks are really easy to flip because they are made of very versatile plastic material, specifically high-density polyethylene (HDPE) (A manufactured plastic material that is very light and highly durable).

Many modern sports equipment uses HDPE material because of its highly durable feature, which can help preserve the shape of the equipment when exposed to extreme weather conditions. 

Step 3: Use Your Paddle As Support

Once you have already flipped your kayak, you can prepare yourself into a proper position and place your paddle accordingly.

Pro-tip: Make sure to slide your paddle across your kayak so that it becomes your kayak outrigger. Ideally, place it at the back deck for more stability.

How To Avoid Tipping A Kayak

Outriggers are tools that help to stabilize your kayak. However, it’s quite bulky and not travel-friendly.

Step 4: Get Into Your Kayak

Kayaks That Won’t Tip Over

This step is the tricky part that many beginners struggle with. 

One of the more common mistakes that people usually make is that they try to climb over their kayak quickly, which only results in them getting flipped over once again and getting all frustrated and exhausted. 

If you don’t want to go through such a struggle like Max in this video, there are 3 methods on how to get into your kayak (based on your kayak experience).

Method 1: The Cowboy Scramble 

Great for: Beginners Kayakers

Key points about this method: 

  • Quite straightforward
  • Requires energy and strong upper body strength
  • Unlikely to tip back if you follow the steps properly

So here’s what you need to do: 

  1. Position yourself and place your paddle with a paddle float for support
  2. Grab across the kayak and the paddle together; you have to use your upper body strength to lift yourself onto the kayak.
  3. Once you’re on your kayak, relax and stay low. (Don’t attempt to make any rapid motions as that can cause your kayak to easily tip over) 
  4. Slowly move your way into your cockpit. 

Tip: drag yourself using your bum to keep your center of gravity low and prevent you from tipping over (which can be very frustrating and exhausting!)

Method 2: The Heel Hook Self Rescue

Great for: Beginners and Experienced Kayakers

Key points about this method: 

  • Uses less energy and strong upper body strength
  • Unlikely to tip back if you follow the steps correctly.
  • Looks effortless 

So here’s what you need to do: 

  1. Position yourself and place your paddle with a paddle float for support
  2. Hold your paddle and deck tightly and lower your kayak at an angle
  3. Put one leg in the cockpit while holding the paddle.
  4. Once it’s stable, drag yourself into the cockpit.

Method 3: Re-entry and Roll

Great for: Experienced Kayakers

Key points about this method: 

  • Effortless & fastest self-rescue method (it flips both user and kayak together)
  • Use less energy but must submerge in water
  • May need a few practice rounds
  • You can even do this without a paddle float

So here’s what you need to do: 

  1. Keep the paddle tight with the cockpit rim
  2. Put both legs in the cockpit and position yourself in the cockpit (This is where you will be submerged underwater.)
  3. Sweep your paddle, and you will automatically flip back

So there you have it, 4 easy steps on what to do when your kayaks tip over. If you are generally a visual person, you can also check out this video as they demonstrate to you a step-by-step guide on self-rescue.

Also, you can check out my other article on “How To Get Water Out Of A Kayak!” 

List of Kayaks That Won’t Tip Over Easily.

Here are some of my highly recommended stable kayaks that won’t tip easily;

1. Sevylor Quikpak K1

How To Avoid Tipping A Kayak

This inflatable sit-in kayak is for you if you are on a budget!

This kayak is also great for first-time kayakers, thanks to its wide design that helps give stability when in contact with water.  Plus, it is very portable and easy to bring about with you when traveling.

This kayak can also be a good fishing kayak as there is a lot of space to put your fishing gear, and they even have a bottle holder!

I strongly recommend using this kayak on calm water or similar water conditions.

Kayak Detail Specification:

  • Size Length : 265 cm (8 ft 7 inch) 
  • Width : 92 cm (3 ft)
  • Weight: 18 lbs / 8.1kg
  • Weight capacity: 400 lbs / 181kg
  • Seat Capacity : 1 person
  • Type of Kayak : Inflatable Sit-In Kayak

What we like: 

  • Travel-friendly
  • Easy for storage
  • Affordable Price
  • It even has a drink holder
  • One of the lightest kayak

What we don’t like: 

  • Easily drifted by wind due to its material
  • Risk of puncture if caught in a rocky area

2. Islander Kayaks Fiesta Recycled Kayak

Kayaks That Won’t Tip Over

This eco-friendly sit-in kayak is excellent for first-time kayakers as its wide design provides great stability when in contact with water. Do note that this kayak is suitable for sheltered waters

Kayak Detail Specification:

  • Size Length : 279 cm (9 ft)
  • Width : 70 cm (2 ft)
  • Weight: 42 lbs / 19 kg
  • Weight capacity: 286 lbs / 130 kg
  • Seat Capacity: 1 person
  • Type of Kayak: Hardshell Sit-In Kayak

What we like:

  • Comfortable cockpit; adjustable seat with backrest and adjustable foot brace 
  • Very stable
  • Eco-friendly (material of recycled plastics)

What we don’t like:

  • Quite Pricey
  • Limited weight limit

3. Intex Challenger Kayak Inflatable Set with Aluminum Oars

how to not tip a kayak

If you’re feeling adventurous with your partner and would like to try kayaking together, then this kayak is perfect for both of you!

The width of this kayak is sufficiently good and pretty stable, which is suitable for beginners!

Kayak Detail Specification:

  • Size Length : 351 cm (11 ft 5 inch)
  • Width : 76 cm (2 ft 5 inch)
  • Weight: 35 lbs / 15.8 kg
  • Weight capacity: 400 lbs / 180 kg
  • Seat Capacity : 2 person
  • Type of Kayak : Inflatable Sit-In Kayak

What we like:

  • Sleek design & bright color = highly visible on the water
  • You get a carry bag and a high-output pump
  • Travel friendly

What we don’t like:

  • It can be quite unstable if both partners do not balance themselves properly 

4. Sun Dolphin Bali SS

 how to keep a kayak from tipping

If you are not a fan of sit-in kayaks, fret not!

Here’s a sturdy, stable sit-on-top kayak that is perfect for those who prioritize comforts and enjoy more space when kayaking.

This kayak is also great for calm lakes and rivers.

Kayak Detail Specification:

  • Size Length : 305 cm (10 ft) 
  • Width : 76 cm (2 ft 5 inch)
  • Weight: 44 lbs / 19.9 kg
  • Weight capacity: 250 lbs / 113.3 kg
  • Seat Capacity : 1 adult person
  • Type of Kayak : Hardshell Sit-On-Top Kayak

What we like:

  • Open cockpit = very easy for entry/exit
  • Adjustable foot braces
  • Very comfortable
  • Have storage compartment
  • Lightweight

What we don’t like:

  • A bit on the pricy
  • Seats can be quite uncomfortable after a while (invest a good kayak seat if you can)

5. Intex Excursion Inflatable Boat

best kayaks for fishing

This inflatable boat kayak is another great kayak that is very stable and is one of the best kayaks for fishing! 

But wait! Do fishing kayaks tip easily?

Actually, fishing kayaks are one of the most stable kayaks in the market, thanks to their wide design. 

This kayak can accommodate up to a maximum of 4 people in one kayak. So, this boat kayak is an excellent option as it is very spacious and you can enjoy nature with your friends while kayaking all together! 

I strongly recommend using this kayak on calm water like lakes or river streams.

Kayak Detail Specification:

  • Size Length : 315 cm (10.3 ft) 
  • Width : 92 cm (3 ft)
  • Weight: 47.8 lbs / 21.7kg
  • Weight capacity: 725 lbs / 328 kg
  • Seat Capacity : 4 adult person
  • Type of Kayak : Inflatable Sit-On-Top Kayak

What we like: 

  • Very wide = very stable 
  • Very spacious
  • Can accommodate up to 4 people
  • Customizable (some even add a wooden deck and turn it into a makeshift fishing boat!)

What we don’t like: 

  • It can float away as it is inflatable material.
  • It takes a long time to inflate due to its size.

Other Safety Tips When Kayaking

Do kayak tip over easily

Since this is an outdoor activity, you will always have to factor in any potential risks that you may encounter during your kayak session.

Here are some of the highly recommended safety tips that are great for kayakers, especially beginners! 

Before Kayak Session

What To Do If Your Kayak Flips
What To Do If Your Kayak Flips
do kayaks tip over easily
  • Wear outfits that are suitable for the weather
  • Always check with local boating rules
  • Update your loved ones of your plans/itinerary
  • Equip yourself the knowledge on how to self-rescue (in case your kayak is capsized)

During Kayak Session:

  • Always wear a safety life jacket at all times (no excuses!)
  • DO NOT drink while kayaking.
  • DO NOT exceed your kayak weight capacity
  • Bring water and food onboard 
  • When kayaking at a new place, always check the map first and prepare an escape plan.
  • Make yourself and your kayak as visible as possible; wear a neon jacket and be a highlighter! 

After Kayak Session:

  • Inspect your kayak hull for any leakage or damages
  • Remove any excess water within your kayak to reduce wear & tear
  • Replace any old parts or accessories

If you are a bit more advanced and are feeling ready to kayak on open seawater, then do check out Sea Kayaking Safety Advice.


How Stable Is A Kayak? 

Kayaks are very stable for their intended use due to their design and material. However, you should keep in mind that kayaks can still tip over in certain situations. In fact, when paddled during safe conditions, almost every kayak is stable and safe. Though it is widely known that the wider kayak provides better stability.

Is It Easier To Tip A Canoe Or Kayak?

In general, kayaks tend to tip over more easily than canoes of the same length because of their lighter material and design. Additionally, canoe designs are built much bigger and longer (it can even go as long as 17 ft!) and heavier, which can provide better stability compared to a kayak. However, because of its size, a canoe is not as travel-friendly as a kayak.


I hope you found your answer on “Do Kayaks Tip-Over Easily?”. In summary, kayaks can certainly tip over under these circumstances: 

  • Improper balance distribution
  • Poor weather conditions (like strong waves)

Additionally, you may also try to practice these 3 self-rescue methods:

  • The Cowboy Scramble : 
  • The Heel Hook Self Rescue 
  • Re-entry and reroll

Hopefully, these methods will be helpful in the event where your kayak gets flipped. 

If you would like to know more tips like this, check out my other beginner-friendly article on “How To Get Into An Inflatable Kayak” so that you will be well-prepared for your upcoming kayak session.

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