AMC AMCNH PaddlersFacebook PaddlersMeetup PADDLERS
Bring your boat or rent ours.
Most trips are Free Open to all!

Sea Kayak Trip Difficulty Guidelines

These sea kayak trip difficulty guidelines will give you an idea of the difficultly and duration of the trip. It will also indicate the speed of the trip as well as the paddling skills that are recommended for a sea kayaking trip of that level.

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Level 4


protected waterway with easy access to shore.(Lakes, ponds, rivers with slow current, and small protected estuaries or harbors)

semi-protected waterway with access to shore. (Lakes, ponds, rivers with moderate current, and semi-protected estuaries or harbors)

exposure to open ocean with access to semi-protected waterway or shore. (Lakes, rivers with strong current, ocean, surf zone, and large estuaries or harbors)

open water, open ocean, and surf zone with limited access to semi-protected waterway or shore.


less than 2 miles

2 to 5 miles

5 to 15 miles

greater than 15 miles


less than 2 mph

2 to 3 mph

3 to 4 mph

greater than 4 mph


less than 5 knots
(less than 4 mph)

5 to 10 knots
(4 to 9 mph)

10 to 20 knots
(9 to 17 mph)

greater than 20 knots
(greater than 17 mph)

Wave Height

less than 1 foot

less than 1 foot

1 to 3 feet

greater than 3 feet

Recommended Paddle Skills

forward stroke

forward stroke
reverse stroke

draw and bracing strokes helpful

good balance, bracing, paddling, navigation skills
and Ability to ferry and cross eddy lines in strong currents

strong balance, bracing, paddling, and navigation skills

Recommended Rescue Skills

wet exit (with or without spray skirt)

wet exit assisted rescue

assisted rescue
self rescue tows

reliable roll
assisted rescue
self rescue

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Level 4

(1.) This guideline has been developed to establish expected sea kayak trip condition levels to help ease communication between leaders and trip participants.

(2.) Although trip levels should generally be decided by the condition of the highest rating, these guideline levels are not rigid. Additional trip requirements and information is detailed in the trip listings.

(3.) Please be aware: Conditions may vary at any point during a trip due to changes in weather, participant actions or other variables.

Berkshire - Boston - Connecticut - Delaware Valley - Maine - Mohawk Hudson - Narragansett - New Hampshire - NY-North Jersey - SE Massachusetts - Washington DC - Worcester
Contents and design Copyright © 1999-2019 , New Hampshire AMC Paddlers, Appalachian Mountain Club. All rights reserved. Other copyrights may also apply.
Click here to view our privacy policy.
Use of any of the information contained in this website means that you are agreeing that the NH AMC Paddlers, its trip leaders and committee chairs, and the AMC will not be held liable for any damages sustained directly or indirectly from taking part of any activities mentioned at this site.
Appalachian Mountain Club New Hampshire Chapter Paddlers - Appalachian Mountain Club