How to paddle safely on Lake Vänern


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Paddling a kayak on Lake Vänern is a fantastic nature experience, with many beautiful areas to explore. To have the best paddling trip possible, it’s important to prioritise safety, especially if you’re paddling in a small group without a guide. Avoid paddling alone – you are much safer in the company of others.

Always use a life jacket

Choose a life jacket that fits comfortably and securely and allows for easy movement. Always wear it on top of any other clothing. It’s preferable for the life jacket to have a bright color, as it makes you more visible.

Check the weather forecast

Lake Vänern is an inland sea and behaves more like a sea than a lake. Weather conditions can change rapidly, and waves can become large within minutes. Check the weather forecast in advance and stay close to the shore if there is a risk of rain, strong winds, or sudden weather changes.

Bring your mobile phone

ways carry a fully charged mobile phone in a waterproof bag that you can easily access, even if you fall into the water. It’s best to have it in a pocket on your life jacket.

Inform others about your paddling destination

Always inform someone on land about where you are planning to paddle, when you expect to depart, and when you anticipate returning. If something were to happen, that person can raise the alarm.

Bring a change of clothes

The water can be cold, even well into the summer. If you happen to fall into the water, quickly make your way to land and change into dry clothes. If you become chilled, it will be difficult to move and speak, and your judgment may be impaired.

Avoid boat lanes/traffic areas

Kayaks can be difficult to spot from boats, especially on sunny days when reflections on the water surface hide the kayak. Therefore, never paddle in boat lanes; instead, cross them as quickly as possible while keeping a lookout for boats.

Pack correctly

The heaviest items should be packed in the middle and at the bottom of the kayak. This helps the kayak maintain stability and responsiveness in the water. Use waterproof containers for anything sensitive to moisture, and it’s better to pack in several small bags than a few large ones

Bring a float and other safety equipment

If you are going on a longer trip over open water, you should bring a float and other safety equipment. Never set out on long trips on Lake Vänern if you don’t know how to use safety equipment or don’t know how to recover from a capsize.

Change your plans to avoid unnecessary risks

Do not overestimate your abilities. It takes time to become a confident and experienced paddler. If the waves make you feel uneasy, it’s better to cancel the trip. If you have rented your kayak, the rental company can often refund or reschedule. If you are caught off guard by the weather, find a safe place to stay and call the rental company, who can assist with transportation back.

Knowledge and education are, of course, the best way to learn how to paddle safely. Several rental companies and organizations around Lake Vänern offer paddling courses where you can learn all about safety and rescue techniques. Our recommendation is for everyone who plans to paddle on Lake Vänern to take such a course. And if you are a beginner or want to learn more about the fascinating nature of Lake Vänern, consider joining a guided tour. Have a pleasant paddling trip!

You can book a course or rent kayaks at:
Naven Outdoor Experience
Vänern Outdoor

Unmanned kayak stations:
If you are an experienced paddler familiar with the waves of Lake Vänern, you can rent a kayak at unmanned kayak stations in Sweden.

Download paddling maps of the archipelagos in Lake Vänern