Kayak Tipping Over – What are the Dangers?

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What is the Danger of a Kayak Tipping Over in Deep Water?

Can a kayak tip over when it is in deep water?

  • yes, it absolutely can!

That answer can also depend on many factors. One of the biggest factors is the depth of the water and the size of the kayak.

Kayaks with smaller floats are more prone to tipping over because they lack the ability to float a person completely in the water.

Always wear your personal safety floatation device

The boating industry tends to market the recreational capabilities of their products as opposed to safety features, but the former holds true with most designs.

One area where some kayaks are well-known for their safety features is the weight limit and depth of the water.

Re-entry after kayak tipping over occurs

The first is the re-entry from deep waters. We have a full article on how to do this step by step called How to Reenter a Kayak in Deep Water.

The objective is to slowly and safely re-enter your kayak while keeping track of all of your gear.

However, if the water is rough and the person making the reentry is exhausted, this can be a very difficult event.

This is why we recommend practicing a reentry in a safe depth of water first. The video we listed above does it in a swimming pool but you can do it anywhere that you have access to shallow water.

It is recommended that a person is prepared for tipping over and re-entering a kayak before going out.

Your backup is the investment you made in a personal floatation device. These will keep you afloat, on your back, for as long as necessary until you are able to get back in your kayak. Or be rescued if needed.

Personal floatation devices should fit snug but comfortable. You don’t want it too loose or it might slip off over your head when you need it most.

Making sure your kids have adequate personal floatation devices will also give you peace of mind in case their kayak tips over.

Outriggers can help too

Outriggers can easily be placed on both sides of a kayak to increase stability.

I see them more on fishing kayaks owned by larger men. The extra stability gives peace of mind in case they hook a big one and lose track of how much they thrash about in their kayak.

A personal floatation device is a good investment because it will increase the safety of an experience.

Personal floatation devices will also decrease the risk of an individual becoming pinned under the kayak and drowning.

Use a safety tethering device

The last issue to consider with the use of a kayak is to ensure that gear is securely fastened to the boat.

A safety tether is a good idea for personal belongings, coolers, and dry bags. Some kayakers like to tether their paddles too.

I don’t care for a paddle tether personally. It tends to get in my way when paddling. I am more concerned about dry bags filled with camera gear.

Tether straps have helped me regain control of my gear when I have tipped over. Other than the initial “well crap” feeling of being totally wet, it’s nice to know all of my stuff didn’t float off and get lost.


There are many safety issues that can occur during a kayaking trip. We’re always trying hard to keep it fun for our kids too.

However, the chances of a kayak tipping over are greatly reduced with proper use of all the boat’s features and basic training.

Don’t get too close to waterfalls or other turbulent water features. Pay attention to the environment around you at all times.

kayak tipping over

The unexpected event of a kayak tipping over is not as worrisome when a person has a personal floatation device.

So always have one with you and wear it when kayaking. The net result is a safer trip.

And consider practicing how you will get back into your kayak after a tip…before you actually go out into deep waters.