A collection of frequently asked questions about PIKA.

If your question isn’t answered, please contact web@pikakayak.com with your query.

Does PIKA rent kayaks and gear to members?

No, members provide their own kayak and other essential equipment. However, our Safety and Training director (safety@pikakayak.com) can rent and transport kayaks for the courses which he instructs. He can also refer you to a local outfitter who rents kayaks to qualified paddlers or for PIKA courses and clinics. You must have a suitable means of transportation and must pick up and return the kayak.

Do I need to know how to paddle a kayak to join PIKA?

No.  You are welcome to become a PIKA member whether or not you are a paddler or even own a kayak! You need only to pay the annual membership fee and sign the PIKA waiver form. However, to participate on a PIKA trip, you must meet some basic requirements including providing your own kayak and gear and annual re-entry practice (see the Paddler Guidelines document on the Join Us  page of the PIKA website). In addition to meeting these basic requirements, you must also demonstrate paddle skills appropriate for each particular trip you want to join. The best ways to demonstrate appropriate skills are to register for one of the PIKA training courses or join PIKA Class 1 trips and work your way up to higher classes. For a description of the PIKA trip classification system, see Trips .

Does PIKA teach people how to paddle a kayak?

Yes. For details about PIKA’s training and skills development offerings, see Developing Kayaking Skills .

How much does it cost to join PIKA?

For the annual membership fee, see Join Us .

What type of kayak is suitable for paddling with PIKA?

To paddle with PIKA, your kayak should meet the following guidelines:

  • Kayaks must be capable of keeping pace with the group. Inflatable and sit on top kayaks as well as kayaks less than 12 feet in length do not meet this guideline.
  • Kayaks must be made of fibreglass or fibreglass composites, wood strips or plywood, roto moulded or thermo-formed plastic or skin on frame.
  • Kayaks must be capable of maintaining buoyancy, either by means of water tight compartments or by the addition of flotation bags.
Other than a kayak, what is the minimum equipment I need to go on a PIKA trip?

For a list of required equipment, see the Paddler Guidelines document on the Join Us page of the PIKA website.

What type of kayak should I buy?

PIKA recommends that you rent a few different kayaks to get the feel of them before buying. When you go on a PIKA trip you can see what types of kayaks the other participants use. If you see one you like, you can ask the owner if you can have a short test paddle.

We can connect you with a PIKA mentor who can advise you on what to look for in a kayak to match the type of paddling you want to do.

Does PIKA allow an inflatable kayak to be used on a trip?


Should I buy a drysuit or a wetsuit?

PIKA trips require that participants dress for the temperature of the water rather than the air temperature. Usually, therefore, this means that a wetsuit or drysuit must be worn. A wetsuit is fundamentally different than a drysuit in that it keeps you somewhat warm while in the water. A drysuit keeps you dry but depends on the clothes you are wearing under the drysuit to keep you warm in the water. When you are paddling in rain and wind, a drysuit is sufficient for comfort but with a wetsuit you need a wind/water-proof paddling jacket to be comfortable. Price is another consideration; a drysuit costs much more than a wetsuit.

You may want to find someone who has a drysuit that you can borrow and try paddling in. If not, go to a shop and try them on and see how they feel just putting them on. For some people just putting on a wetsuit and then a drysuit without even paddling makes up their minds. Also, Google the question and check out what other people have reported.

Can I bring an adult guest (not a PIKA member) on a PIKA trip?

No. Every participant in a PIKA trip must be a PIKA member.

Can I bring my child (not a PIKA member) on a PIKA trip?

No. Every participant in a PIKA trip must be a PIKA member.

Can I bring my pet on a PIKA trip?

No. Pets are not allowed.

What age does my child have to be to join PIKA?

Children can join but so must their parent(s). Children can go on trips and training events only if their parent(s) are also signed up for the same event. Before the child can go on a PIKA trip, the child must demonstrate that they know how to do an assisted re-entry, both as the assisted and the assistor.

Does PIKA allow tandem (double) kayaks on its trips?


Can we use a tandem kayak at a PIKA training session or clinic?

PIKA does not recommend taking training or clinics in a tandem kayak. Tandem kayaks are for going from point to point. They do not turn well; they are not as responsive to edging or turning strokes and during a course they do not give the feedback that you need to know how effective your individual contribution to the kayak's behaviour is.

You are better off to develop kayaking skills in a single; it isn't much of an adjustment to transfer them to a tandem. You will be much better tandem paddler after a course in a single.

The one exercise that would be worth doing in the tandem is re-entry practice. PIKA recommends that you practice re-entry skills in a single kayak first, and then transfer those skills to a tandem re-entry. Tandem re-entry is different enough that it would be a very good idea to also practice that in the tandem that you normally use.

When does PIKA publish its trip calendar each year?

Sometime in February. The date varies from year-to-year. It is published on the PIKA website at Trips and Training Calendar.

What is a trip facilitator?

A trip facilitator is a PIKA member who organizes and leads a PIKA trip.

In the PIKA trip calendar, I see the phrase “on the water”. What does that mean?

On the water means the time that the trip facilitator wants every participant to be launched in their kayak and ready to begin the trip.

Do I need to report on every time during the year that I practice my re-entries?

Members are required to practice their re-entries once a year.

If your re-entries will not be out of date before renewing your membership, then do not report and hold your most recent re-entry date for your membership renewal.

If your re-entries date does expire before your membership renewal then do report your more recent re-entries by emailing a message to membership@pikakayak.com with the new date.

When you take a course with the club that requires you to do the re-entries then the facilitator will email a note to membership updating your re-entries after you complete the course.