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Chicago Kayak Sea Kayaking Class FAQ
FAQ Chicago     FAQ Florida

Dressing properly can really make your experience more enjoyable. 

We sometimes see folks who come dressed for the beach in nothing but bathing suits, and sometimes they come in flannels and hiking shoes or jeans.  Neither is ideal for what  we do. 

Having clothing that covers and protects from the sun, and from any possible scraps is always good. Having clothing that is tighter fitting, yet not constrictive is also good. You don't want loose clothing, that will absorb water like sweats, jeans, or tennis shoes. these all get really heavy when wet and will make you cold if it is not really hot out. 

Since the lagoons is a large body of water, it can be cooler here than in the city, maybe even 10 degrees in the spring and fall.  Plan on wearing clothing that will protect your body from sun, and if the weather changes, or it is cold to start with, will keep you warm even if it gets wet.


Please arrive at least 10 minutes before class begins. We do start promptly!

Classes will be cancelled only in torrential downpours or if thunder and lightning are present. Drizzle or light rain means the class is still on.  If you can't make class, please be sure to find someone to give your spot to. We do not issue refunds for cancellations without proper notice. You must notify us one week in advance to reschedule or get a refund.

Chicago FAQ
How do I get to the Skokie Lagoons? 
Most classes are held at the Skokie Lagoons.  You can drive, bike, or take the Metra. Please look at our page of locations, and determine the best method of transport for yourself. Remember that 94 frequently has construction, please leave early enough so that you make class on time. If you are late, you may not be able to take the class, the first part of class is really important, and if you miss that part, you will not be able to participate in the on water portion.

What equipment does Chicago Kayak provide?
We provide high quality sea kayaks equipped with two bulkheads, adjustable foot pegs and dry storage. We also provide paddles, life jackets (PFD's), spray skirts, pumps, and paddle floats.  Wetsuits and paddle jackets when are supplied when ever appropriate. 

What should I wear?
If it is in the early part of the season when the weather and water is still chilly, synthetic long underwear (top and bottom) is recommended.  Usually Polypro or Capilene or any type of material that will keep you warm when wet, but is thin enough to fit under a wet suit. If the weather is warm and water temps are over 75, then shorts, running tights, lightweight wicking materials for tops, are all appropriate.  Please note, your clothing should be well fitted and not loose or baggy. 

No cotton, jeans, or anything that is going to make you cold once it is wet!

What about my feet?
We recommend that you wear shoes that will stay on your feet!  Something like sandals or water shoes that are securely fastened are best. You should not wear something that will fall off in the water! Tennis shoes and flip flops are not recommended. When it is still cold, wool socks can be a nice way to add some extra warmth.

Physical Fitness
You should be in reasonable shape to take this class. While nothing we do is particularly taxing, if you have a bad back or have had recent surgery than this class is not for you. You will be out on the water for about 3 hours, so the ability to sit up and stay in the kayak during that time is necessary.  If you have partial paralysis, we may be able to help you, but please contact us privately.  Prosthetics should be removed if they are not waterproof.  Part of our class involves capsizing, or being out on the water and flipping it over on purpose. You are taught how to do this and to exit your boat in a safe manner.  You are also taught how to get back in, while still out on the water - with the help of a friend.  Most people can do this pretty easily. If you are extremely overweight, then this  can potentially present problems for some people. We are committed to safety for all of our students and instructors, so if you have a medical problem that could interfere with taking the class, please have a doctor evaluate your situation and contact us before signing up to determine of the class and level of physical activity is appropriate for you and for the safety of all.

Most of our kayaks have cockpit openings of 17"-17 1/2"   A few are larger.   You need to fit into the cockpit to take the class.  If in doubt, check your measurements or e-mail us. This is large enough to accommodate a man who is 6 foot and weights 260 pounds.  This may vary depending on your build. 

Most people are able to fit into the boats - if you have any questions or concerns, please contact us before signing up at chicagokayak@comcast.net

Ages for the adult Intro class are 15 and up.  We have had many people in their 70's complete the class also!

What else should I bring?
Sunscreen, plenty of water, a snack for before or after, dry clothes and shoes to change into, and a towel (for after). Cameras are also welcome - remember the day and take lots of photos but put your camera in a waterproof bag!!  Sometimes while on land, the mosquitoes can be out - especially in the morning classes. Bring bug spray or clothing to keep covered while on shore to avoid bites. 

What can I take on the kayak with me?
Mostly you just take YOU.  If you are out for a 4 hour class, we spend about 3 hours on the water.  Snacks and water are good before and after - you can bring water on the kayak, but we find that most folks do not drink it.  Backpacks, purses, other bags and food should all be left in your car. We sell small drybags for $5 that can store your keys or other valuables so you can bring those with you and keep them dry. Anything larger, especially extra clothing and towels should be left in the car for after the class.

What if I have an inhaler?
If you suffer from a medical condition that requires you to have special things on the water such as asthma or you are allergic to bee stings, please contact an instructor before the class. We have special dry bags that are good for inhalers, epi pens and so forth.

Other things to think about
Hats
Wearing a hat is a great way to keep your head warm on the cooler days, a wool cap can do wonders! As the summer progresses, remember that while a hat keeps the sun out of your eyes, they also tend to blow away or get lost when you get into the water. 

Glasses
Whether they are sun glasses or prescription glasses, they all sink the same way!  If you need to wear glasses during the class, please have Croakies or some like device that will keep them attached to your head. Long, dangling cords are not recommended.  Remember you never want to have anything that can get tangled in the boat!  Glasses put in the PFD pocket frequently get damaged or forgotten, so if possible, leave the glasses in the car.   We sell Floaties that will keep your glasses on your head, and if they do fall off, they will float - just ask, they are $5 per pair.

Hair
If you have long hair, you may want to tie it back or put it up.

If you have any further questions, please contact chicagokayak@comcast.net

FAQ Florida classes
Clothing- Warm weather means people tend to wear less clothing - beware, the Florida sun can be fierce.  Bathing Suits, tank tops and shorts may all be comfortable, but can leave tender skin exposes.  Try to find clothing that wil protect your skin from burning - long sleeve tops work great- many sports stores or even Target or Walmart will carry inexpensive clothing options. Non cotton is preferred.  If you are going on a long trip, please contact us to discuss clothing options and check out the gear list on the FL trips page which lists clothing requirements. 

Shoes- the Ocean can contain shells, sting rays and other things that have potential to damage your feet - please wear good water shoes - do not plan to go barefoot.

Essentials to bring: Sun hat, sunscreen, plenty of water, clothing options that protect your skin.

Directions:  Classes are held in different locations.  Check the Schedule if you are unsure where your class will be held.  We also have a page of Directions to different parks, please be aware that some State Parks may have entrance fees - if you are taking a class (Intro or Women's Class or Intermediate Class) you get there.  Usually, these are minimal - under $5.00

Physical Fitness
You should be in reasonable shape to take this class. While nothing we do is particularly taxing, if you have a bad back or have had recent surgery than this class is not for you. We are in a natural area, away from shore, so Part of our class may involve capsizing, or being out on the water and flipping it over on purpose. You are taught how to do this and to exit your boat in a safe manner.  You are also taught how to get back in, while still out on the water - with the help of a friend.  Most people can do this pretty easily. If you are extremely overweight, then this will can present problems for some people. 

Most of our kayaks have cockpit openings of 17"-17 1/2"  You need to fit into the cockpit to take the class.  If in doubt, check your measurements or e-mail us. This is large enough to accommodate a man who is 6 foot and weights 260 pounds.  This may vary depending on your build. 

Most people are able to fit into the boats - if you have any questions or concerns, please contact us before signing up at chicagokayak@comcast.net

Ages for the adult Intro class are 21 and up.  We have had many people in their 70's complete the class also!