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Haynes Kayaking Manual Review

Here at iboutdoor we’ve been lucky enough to get hold of a review copy of the Haynes Kayaking Manual. Here’s our thoughts…

For those that have been around the paddling world for a while, Bill Mattos is a name that will need little introduction. The renowned professional kayaker and co-founder of Nookie Paddlesports Equipment has often found a voice in the pages of the UK’s kayaking magazines. In April of last year, he added another contribution to his writing achievements, in the form of the Haynes Kayaking Manual: An Essential Guide to all Kinds of Kayaking.

As soon as I saw the Haynes title, my thoughts went straight back to an old Pyranha Kayaks advert that showed a boat stripped back to it’s component parts. Luckily, Bill takes the book in another direction, teaching sound paddlesport principles, which you can then build upon yourself.

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You won’t find any of this here…

So what’s inside?

The 176 pages of this book are dedicated to providing a concise overview of our wonderfully varied sport. It should be noted here that this is a kayaking book. Although time is spent discussing touring and multi-day trips, this is not a resource aimed at canoeists. For our one bladed friends, I can recommend the excellent “Canoeing” by Ray Goodwin.

The book starts at the very beginning, introducing the reader to the basics of the sport and how to become involved with it. Moving on, Bill tackles the subjects of paddle strokes, open water, white water and sea kayaking, before looking at the competitive disciplines, with insights from the pros.

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One thing that is noticeable straight away is the quality of the images in the book. The photographs are beautifully composed, with happy paddlers shot in warm locations. Here is the perfect coffee table book, ideal for leaving around to convert friends to the sport… Having been brought up on the paddling books of old, that featured black and white line drawings of bearded men with fibreglass boats, it was truly refreshing to see modern equipment featured throughout. 

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The Haynes Manual is an ideal introduction to the sport for beginners, but there really is something for everyone here. Time after time, I found myself agreeing with Bill, as he tackles concepts and aspects of technique that I learnt several years in to my paddling career. He manages to express his opinions without pulling any punches and often with a humorous, chatty style. A recurring theme in his writing is the idea of making informed decisions – thinking for yourself, rather than blindly following others.

The book touches on a number of subjects that I wasn’t expecting – shuttling cars before a trip, for example. As experienced paddlers, we do it without thinking, but we forget how some things are not quite so obvious at first. Likewise, his discussion of outfitting boats is the first time I’ve seen so much useful information in one place.

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I found The Haynes Kayak Manual to be an interesting read that will earn its place on any paddler’s bookshelf. 

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