How To Do Kayak Eskimo Roll


We’ve all been there as kayakers especially during our earlier days where the kayak flips over and we find ourselves taking an unexpected dip. The first time that happens can be a frightening experience, the second time more fun and the third time, well, you seem to revel in it.

While rolling over is all part of kayaking, there are times when having half your body submerged can be a life-threatening situation. It’s important to know how to right yourself in such an instance.

One very effective method to getting back up is the kayak Eskimo roll. If you’ve taken the time to learn the different types of kayak strokes, let’s now find out how to do Eskimo roll.

Why you need to learn the Eskimo roll

Before we dive into how to do Eskimo roll, it’s important to understand why you should learn how to roll a kayak.

If you are kayaking out in the river, and your kayak happened to roll, then there are two main ways of getting out that situation. One is that you can get out of your kayak and reach for the surface of the water or you can right yourself with the Eskimo roll.

The first method is time consuming and can separate you with your kayak. Using the Eskimo roll, you can quickly get back into the right position without worrying about being separated from your kayak.

Getting into position

The first thing you will need to do after flipping over is to get into the set-up position. Bring your body forward and close to the surface of the kayak. This one way on how to do a kayak self-rescue.

The main function of this position is to prevent you from bashing your head against rocks or the shallow river bottom. Having achieved this position, hold the paddle with both hands and turn parallel to the kayak. Put the hands and paddle out of the water as far up as they can go.

The sweep

Once you’ve put the paddle as high as it can go, rotate it such that it turns perpendicular to the kayak. Take your arm and reach it as far as you can over the kayak while at the same time extending your arm as far out as it can get.

You want to ensure that the outer blade is outside the surface of the water. Next ensure that your head is rested on the shoulder of your outer arm. This is the arm that will be holding the paddle on the surface of the water.

The hip-snap

You might think that your arms are responsible for getting you back in the right position but it’s actually your hip movement.

The paddle that is placed on top of the water surface is there to provide you with support. Make sure that your head remains down and on the outer arms shoulder.

Now you will snap your hips and bring the kayak back over all while applying pressure on the blade that is on the surface of the water. This hip-snap motion is what makes the kayak Eskimo roll possible.

The recovery


Once your kayak starts to break through the plane of the water, it’s important to ensure that you follow through to ensure you get into a stable position. Check your paddle blade as well as the water surface throughout the Eskimo roll. This prevents you from lifting your head too fast and making your roll attempt ineffective.

Also, as soon as you are in the right position, ensure that you maintain composure as you may still be in rough and turbulent waters.

Tips to for performing an Eskimo roll

Before learning how to do Eskimo roll, the first thing that you need to ensure is to remain calm. The sudden plunge can cause you to panic and swallow water. This can be dangerous. Instead, remain clam to be able to get into the right position to do the Eskimo roll.

This is especially true during white water kayaking. Ensure you have the right white water kayak for you.

Maintaining proper balance when kayaking

Kayaks have a narrow build and the purpose of this is to make it possible to easily flow through the water. Their design means that you will need to maintain balance every so often so as not to roll. The great thing is that the majority of the time, maintaining balance will be instinctive and shouldn’t be too hard.

However, it’s important to always be on the safe side and to improve your skills on balancing your kayak. Check your weight and if you are a larger person, make sure that you have a good kayak for big guys.

Always make sure that you have the right kayak for your situation. If you are out on a camping trip, for example, then get a good kayak for camping. Also, decide which is the best for you between a sit-on-top or sit-in kayak.

The first step to maintaining proper balance when kayaking is to relax. Do not be too stiff. Your mind, body, back, and stomach should be relaxed.

First time kayakers struggle to relax especially when the kayak moves with the current. This is why it easy for them to roll. It’s paramount that you know how and where to sit in a kayak.

If you find that you are still losing your balance and that you are about to roll, hit the surface of the water with the back face to get back into an upright position.

Second, maintain the right posture when paddling our kayak. Find out what muscles are used in kayaking and practice using them. This will ensure that you do not lean too much to one side. Also ensure that your feet are well placed on the foot pegs to provide added support.

Doing a wet exit

Sometimes you might just have to exit a capsized kayak. These cases are rare but if the front of the kayak is caught between two rocks, then doing a kayak Eskimo roll may be impossible.

Exiting a kayak while under water is known as a wet exit and can be the difference between life and death. You will need to know what is a kayak wet exit and entry and how to properly do it with as little obstruction as possible.

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The importance of learning how to do Eskimo roll in a kayak cannot be overemphasized. If you are further out to sea, the waves and turbulent waters means that you will almost always capsize at some point.

It is not feasible to wet exit when you are this far from shore as you can get separated from your kayak.

If you are kayaking in freezing water in the middle of winter, the Eskimo roll will enable you get out of the water fast. Always carry your winter kayaking gear and observe winter kayaking safety precautions.  Doing a wet exit in such cold waters may expose your body to the freezing temperatures for longer and put you at a risk of hypothermia.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!