Paddle safer award, what’s next?


Firstly, well done on completing the Paddle Safer Award, really! So many people start out paddling, loving the adventure side yet not knowing much about the safety. Regardless if you completed the British Canoeing Paddle Safer Award with us, at Outdoor Explore, or with another provider, it’s a great start on your journey. Let me help you with a few thoughts, ideas, and directions on where to take your paddling next…

Paddle Safer Award teaches about the sheltered environment


Paddle Safer Award is a great, yet first step into the safety aspects of the paddlesport. Regardless if you are looking to become a paid, or volunteer coach/guide, or do for just for yourself, you might be interested in a more specific environment/craft British Canoeing certified course. In the last month, there has been a number of new modules launched.

You can find detailed descriptions of them on the dedicated page, Paddles Up Training. You will find there generic, a whole day-long, Paddlesport Safety and Rescue course (which we also deliver at Outdoor Explore), paddleboarding-specific courses, inland waters, and the sea amongst many others.

Outdoor Explore and other providers can however offer you bespoke courses. So if you enjoyed learning recently about the planning, environment, equipment, and rescues, each of these subjects (or all combined) can be put together to match the fine details of what you need. The date, location, and duration of such a bespoke safety-focused course would be aligned with your request as well. This is an investment worth considering in yourself, your own skills, and the future journeys you might be planning ahead. The cost of a 1-1 course as such would cost £140 for half a day (including all the kit). If you have already your own kit, or there are more participants you wish to bring along, the price per person would be reduced.

British Canoeing has created a few good rescues videos as well, so have look, watch them here:

Some of my most ‘return to’ paddling books.


If you are looking for guidebooks it’s definitely worth starting with the publications from Pesda Press. These guys have been for a while and they really take time to make sure the books printed with their logos are really good quality. Some of my favorites, when planning trips in Scotland, are

  • Paddle Scotland
  • PaddleMore in Loch Lomond and Trossachs
  • Scottish Canoe Classics
  • River Spey Canoe Guide
  • Scottish Sea Kayak Trial

Besides the guidebooks, above, in one photo, you can see some of the skills and inspiration-focused paddling titles. The almanac is ‘out of date’ yet provides me with useful generic charts (tides directions and flows around the coast). Understanding the water, and how to read it, is essential, on rivers, loch, and seas. The two titles above explain the process quite well I think.


Wetsuits, drysuits, semi-dry cags, sport-style clothes? So many options, right? What to wear for kayaking, paddle boarding, canoeing…

Warm, quick-drying clothes. That’s it. Too simple?

Paddlesport, especially in a recreational form, will involve making some mistakes. Wrong planning (read not checking the weather) will cause getting cold, or rained on. Learning new skills, or pushing own limits will cause capsizing. Either way, you will end up wet. Just accept it, and prepare for it. Hence quick drying clothes, warm, are really the essential part.


Wetsuits are great, yet… When is too sunny, it’s so hot in them and difficult to adjust the wear of fully body wetsuits. When fully wet, they are not much windproof. Tricky to put on/take off and simply might be limiting your mobility. They do feel cozy to start with. Not great fun, yet the choice is yours. So what are the alternatives and adaptations:

  • If you stick to a full-body wetsuit, bring some windproof top, and maybe bottoms too, so if the wind picks up, and you are wet already, your body temperature stays good.
  • Maybe only wetsuit leggings/shorts and something different (e.g a microfleece) on top with a simple raincoat/cagul/cag/semi-dry cag
  • Replace it with padded/warmer leggings and jumpers. Paddling brands such as PeakPS, Palm, and Nookie make ‘neoprene looking’ stuff, e.g. neoskin by PeakPS, or neoflex by Palm, which dries so much quicker than neoprene and keeps warmth. I really like this stuff.

What do I wear for paddling?

My favorite option for kayaking, paddle boarding, and canoeing is neoskin or neoflex shorts (or a longer version in the autumn and winter) with good waterproof trousers over them. If you can afford, dry trousers with built-in socks. Then some warm socks inside the dry trousers or wetsuit socks on summer days. For my upper body, a good base layer (long or short sleeve, depending on the season), with a mid-layer (sporty jumper, or fleece) in my dry bag, or worn on cold weather days. On top a windproof/waterproof semi-dry jacket. A warm hat and pair of gloves packed in my dry bag, all year round, just in case…

If you are on the Escape Watersports website, feel free to use an additional discount code OUTDOOREXPLORE at the checkout. You’re welcome 🙂

Sea kayaking in Scotland - Outdoor Explore
Sea Kayaking in Scotland – Sandaig Islands- Outdoor Explore


If you are looking for a new destination, go on a guided trip there! Really, start with that. This feels like you might have all the kit already prior to that, all the skills yet a few hours of actual contact time with someone who has the right, local knowledge can become priceless! During the guided trip you can ask questions that interest you, and hear about places, not in the guidebooks. Like the bespoke safety and skills courses, this is an amazing investment in yourself and all your future adventures.

Earlier, I mentioned a few good guidebooks. Additionally, it’s worth checking a few good websites when researching online new paddling destinations:

  • Go Paddling – specifically, check out the Paddle Points
  • Song of a Paddle – mostly canoeing, yet applicable for touring kayakers and paddleboarders too
  • UK Rivers Guidebook – mostly rivers and sea

Additionally, you can see a lot of brilliant paddling locations in Tayside on the Outdoor Explore website. Check a few of the links listed below:

What to pack for kayaking


Travel light, on all your trips. Do however take the right/enough kit with you. Don’t forget your phone, and keep it in your buoyancy aid! Spare clothes, drinks/snacks, and a small first aid kit would be the bare minimum to take when paddling. We talked about it during the Paddle Safer Award.

Above, in the photo, you see a few more items. We have written a couple of quick articles, if you are interested, explaining each item.

If you are still not sure about the kit, for example, which one to buy, do you really need it, is the second-hand kit any good, simply get in touch! Ask, we are more than happy to help with the advice, not only on our paddling tuition classes and guided trips. you can reach us using the form below:

Which kayak is right for me?


There are so many types of crafts out there; paddleboards, canoes, and kayaks. Then each has different features, sizes, and purposes. They can be rigid, inflatable and some even folded. Brand-new ones can be pricey, and not in stock. Is buying second-hand ones a wise idea?

Firstly, you should ask yourself what are you planning to use it for.

Secondly, consider how will you store and transport the craft of your choice.

Thirdly, how often you will be able to use the craft each season?

Take extra care with the inflatable crafts, especially, as these can have punctures/deep scratches which will affect the craft, and should reflect the price. Always ask to be fully inflated before buying it when checking the second-hand ones.

For kayaks, check the seat, handles, skeg, and hatches work fine. These things can be fixed, replaced, and upgraded, yet they will cost you extra money, so make sure you are happy with that. Get in touch with us at Outdoor Explore, if you need any help with fixing or upgrading your boat. We have a big workshop in Blairgowrie and are able to help.

Any white marks in the plastic, with stress marks on kayaks and canoes, mean this boat has been seriously damaged. This is now a weak spot in this craft. Maybe it’s a good idea to check a different boat then. The same comes with the welded plastic, so double-check what you buy.

I hope you found some information in this article helpful. If you are still unsure what path to take after completing the Paddle Safer Award, contact us, we are here to help!

Happy paddling!