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HASK Trip Ratings

Last Updated 8/6/2010



This rating scale was designed to give trip participants some idea of trip difficulty and the level of paddling skills you should have to go a particular trip.  However, actual conditions may differ significantly from the rating.  A lake trip that is tyically a level 2 could become a level 4-5 with a high winds or an ocean trip could be flat as a pancake.  It is your responsiblity as a participant to monitor the weather and understand the impact on paddling conditions.  It is also your responsibility to determine whether your level of expertise and your equipment are sufficient for a given trip.  You are ultimately responsible for your own safety.  The trip leader does however have the right to exclude you from a trip if he/she does not believe you have the skills or equipment to be safe on the trip. 


Most club trips will be rated between Level 2 and Level 4. Rescue practice sessions will normally be rated Level 1.  Surf practice sessions will be rated level 4.  




Level 1

Paddling will be on very sheltered water with access to the shore. No previous experience necessary. You must bring a kayak, paddle and PFD (personal floatation device), and other items in the required safety gear list. No significant distances will be paddled (0-6 miles). Part of the intent of Novice trips is to learn how to paddle efficiently and safely, and includes learning how to use safety equipment and why it is needed. The expectation is for some teaching by more experienced paddlers.

Level 2

Paddling will be on sheltered water, rivers, bayous, and lakes within 1/2 mile of shore.  Waves 1 foot or less and current up to 1 knots. It is recommended that you have taken a sea kayaking class and be familiar with the basic sea kayaking strokes (forward, reverse and sweep strokes).  Be able to paddle in 12 knot winds. Should be familiar with at least one partner rescue. Must be able to perform a wet exit. 

Level 3

Paddling in bays or lakes with slightly choppy to choppy conditions with waves up to 2 feet and currents up to 2 knots.   There will likely be boat traffic.  During such trips you may be up to 1 mile from shore.  Launch and landings will be sheltered not requiring surf skills.  You should be able to paddle in up to 2 foot chop in 15 knot winds.   You should be able to perform a self-rescue and partner rescue in level 3 conditions.  You should have good basic strokes especially good bracing skills. 

Level 4

Ocean and bay paddling near shore but may include crossing of up to 10 miles in bays or 2 miles in ocean. Must be able to paddle in 2-4 foot seas in up to 15 knot winds and be able to launch and land in surf up to 3 feet for ocean trips. There may be currents of up to 2 knots.  You must be proficient in paddling in level 3 conditions.   Having an Eskimo roll ihighly recommended.

Level 5

Ocean paddling.  Must be able to paddle in 4-6 foot seas in up to 20 knot winds and be able to launch and land in surf up to 4 feet.  There may be currents of up to 4 knots. You must be proficient in paddling in level 4 conditions and have a reliable Eskimo roll.