There are many kayak brands and types on the market and if you do not know how to select the right kayak for you, the choices can be overwhelming. You can narrow down your options by assessing your budget, kayaking experience and possible kayaking destinations.
Choosing a Kayak
- Determine the type of kayak that suits your needs. For example, if you will be kayaking for extended periods, a touring kayak may be most suitable. On the other hand, if you like to ride waves, consider purchasing a whitewater kayak. If you’re thinking of doing some thing specific in your kayak such as fishing, there are likely to be kayaks specifically designed for you.
- Select the right kayak size for your kayaking needs. A kayak that measures 12 feet is suitable for those looking for a kayak that is easy to turn and maneuver. A wide kayak is easier to steer on strong currents.
- Determine the hull shape of your preferred kayak. Kayaks come in three main shapes including flat, round and V-shaped.
- Flat-shaped kayaks are slower and more difficult to paddle, but are more stable on water. Round-shaped kayaks move faster than flat-bottomed kayaks, but are more difficult to keep upright in water. A V-shaped kayak is easier to paddle in a straight line, stable and faster than the flat-bottomed and the round-bottomed kayak.
- Set a budget. Kayak prices range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars depending on their make, model and material. Plastic kayaks are the cheapest while polyethylene kayaks are the most popular.
- Visit a kayak store and choose the kayak that meets your specifications. Rent the kayak for a day to test-drive it. If you like how the kayak handles waves, buy it. Some kayak fees will charge you for the test drive.
Buying a Kayak
- Look for boats that can handle the waters you are likely to encounter on your kayaking trips. There are different types of kayaks for different water bodies. For example, a touring kayak is not suitable for river rapids.
- Understand kayak designs. White water kayaks measure nine feet, sea kayaks measure 10 to 22 feet.
Whitewater kayaks are designed for tight maneuvering while sea kayaks are shorter and are designed for beginners. Longer boats are less maneuverable but are preferred by experienced paddlers because of their speed, maneuverability and improved tracking.
- Spend time inspecting and paddling the kayak before buying it. Make sure you are comfortable sitting inside the kayak.
- Determine hull advantages. Consider buying a kayak with shorter molded plastic hulls if you are a beginner. Plastic hulls are more durable and can tolerate scrapes and bumps. Fiberglass hulls are more rigid and durable but do not handle scrapes and bumps well. Wooden hulls are more beautiful, but require extra care and regular maintenance.
- Consider the aesthetic qualities of your preferred kayak. High quality fiberglass kayaks are more durable than molded plastic kayaks. If aesthetic appeal is more important to you, consider buying a fiberglass kayak. However, this type of kayak requires extra care and attention.
- Consider purchasing a kayak with a rudder if you are a long-distance paddler.