Kayak Buying Guide: Which Kayak is Right for Me?
- Posted on
- By Ski Shack
- Posted in Paddle Sports
Kayaking has really taken off in popularity these few years. When it comes to buying a kayak, there are so many different options on the market it may be confusing which model is right for you. In this article, we are going to tell you everything you need to know about kayaks before making a purchase.
How to know which recreational kayak is best for you? First take a step back and ask yourself these key questions:
- Where and how do you like to paddle? For example, do you prefer a relaxing paddle on a lake or doing a camping trip on a river?
- In what type of weather do you paddle? Do you paddle even when it’s colder outside like in the early spring or fall?
- How will you store and transport your kayak? What kind of vehicle do you have? Where will you store your boat when not in use?
- What is your budget? Think of this as a long-term investment and choose quality over convenience.
When it comes to different types of recreational kayaks there are 3 main types available on the market.
Sit-in kayaks have a covered cockpit with an opening that allows paddlers to “sit inside” the kayak. This type of kayak tends to keep paddlers warmer and drier because of the covering. They also tend to be easier to maneuver since your body has more points of contact with the boat.
Sit-on-top kayaks feature an open deck which makes getting on and off the boat a lot easier. This type of kayak is better for warmer weather since paddlers tend to get splashed by the water in this type of boat. Sit-on-tops are usually wider, which gives them better stability. They are perfect for use on lakes and easy-flowing rivers.
This includes inflatable, origami-style and foldable kayaks. All three of these types of kayaks are great when you have limited storage space and need ease of transportation. Inflatable kayaks are sturdy, versatile, and can be inflated quickly with an electric pump and stored in a closet or under a bed. Origami-style kayaks are lightweight, versatile, and can be assembled in a matter of minutes. Foldable kayaks can also be assembled quickly and offer comparable handling to their counterparts.
How to Find the Right Kayak Size
You will want to look at both the length and weight capacity to find the correct size kayak for you. When it comes to length, typically a longer kayak can hold more gear and track more efficiently in water whereas a shorter hull may be slower but can turn more quickly. When looking at weight capacity make sure you take into account your weight plus the weight of any passengers or gear you will be bringing with you.
With kayak construction, there are a couple main types you see on the market. A majority of the low-priced kayaks found in big box stores are a 2-piece construction, which means the boat is held together with rivets or adhesive. This results in weak spots, seams and welds that can separate or fail, especially if not stored properly. These kayaks have very thin hulls which means they are lightweight and easier to transport but also makes them susceptible to tears and punctures. Roto-molded kayaks are a one-piece construction and have a thicker, more durable hull that can withstand the gravel, rocks and submerged tree limbs you are most likely to encounter on a lake or river. These models tend to be heavier and cost more money and if properly taken care of, can last a lifetime.
Other than the boat size, shape, and construction, there are 3 main features of a kayak to take into account: seating, storage, and pedal drive options. Seating is such an important part of a kayak because it can make or break your day out on the water, especially if you have back problems, so finding a kayak with a comfy seat is a must! If you plan on bringing a lot of gear with you, make sure the boat you pick has plenty of space to hold it. Look for bungees, recessed spaces, and hatches. Pedal drive options are great for getting to that perfect spot on the water fast. They are also great for those who like to fish since you can go hands-free and still move around.
Now that you have this information, you should go out and find a local kayak dealer that is knowledgeable and start asking questions. Our recommendation is not to buy a kayak just because it is in your price range. You may regret your decision later. If you have any questions or want to check out some kayaks in-person, head down to Ski Shack, where our gear experts are ready to help. We have layaway and 0% financing options to help make that purchase a little easier too.