Paddle Your Own Kayak: An Illustrated Guide to the Art of Kayaking by Gary McGuffin


The problem with how-to books that teach outdoor skills, is that it is nearly impossible to get a true idea of the steps necessary without seeing the details for yourself. Reading a description of the activity you are about to attempt is fine, but it won’t give you a clear image of body placement or necessary techniques. This is especially true for water sports such as canoeing and kayaking, and it is the reason why few people can claim to have learned kayaking from a book.

Gary McGuffin’s book “Paddle Your Own Kayak: An Illustrated guide to the Art of Kayaking” may be the first book to offer full visual representations of the important elements of kayaking. You may not be ready to conquer major rapids upon completion, but you should at least feel confident enough to paddle your kayak forward and backwards and to steer a kayak without hitting every single rock and tree along the way. This book is perfect for visual learners who need to see clear representations of kayaking before they try it themselves. Basic and advanced techniques are covered with step-by-step sequences of photographs that easily eliminate all guesswork from the learning process. The book also features a variety of scenic photographs and illustrations of beautiful kayaking settings, such as Lake Superior and the mountains of Greenland. With over 600 photographs and illustrations, “Paddle Your Own Kayak” certainly is a feast for the eyes.

The early sections of the book cover important information on choosing a kayak of the appropriate size and shape, as well as recommended equipment and clothing. Readers will be well-versed in kayaking jargon after examining a clear diagram of a kayak with all the important parts labeled and defined. Next, the author covers the basic paddling techniques and how to properly balance the body in the kayak, so as not to tip over. Other important areas covered in this book include executing rescues in emergency situations, techniques for kayaking in stormy weather and methods of navigation. For those of you who enjoy portaging or just traveling by kayak, there is an extensive section on kayak camping, including advice on how to pack your kayak, where to set up camp and how to prepare tasty meals.

“Paddle Your Own Kayak” serves as a great introduction to kayaking and can be used by more advanced kayakers as a handy refresher. The range of topics covered provide useful information for kayakers of all levels of experience. Best of all, this information is displayed alongside hundreds of colorful photographs and illustrations which keep the reading interesting and entertaining. After a kayak and paddles, “Paddle Your Own Kayak” is the most useful kayaking tool you can invest in.