Things To Know Before Selecting A Kayak

No matter the reasons for which you’re thinking about getting yourself a kayak, we’re just glad you did decide about buying yourself a kayak. The diversity of models may become overwhelming pretty fast, especially if you’re buying for the first time.

In order to get it right from the beginning, you should give some matters a good thought. Your kayak has to fits your needs, skills, size, budget and…so many other things. Let’s do it meticulously as we all want you to get the winning ticket right from the first time.

Where are you going to use your kayak?

Even if kayaks aren’t categorized by the water type, it’s still a good idea to start your research about taking the environment you’re going to explore with kayak under consideration:

  • Rivers- you shouldn’t head to the whitewater kayaks just yet. If you’re going to paddle on a river, a sturdy and stable model that turns fast is your best choice. A short and stable sit-in/sit-on-top kayaks are going to be a solid choice.
  • Rivers and lakes- one may plan to use the kayak on both still and flowing water, in which case a short recreational sit-in/sit-on top kayak is going to be a valid option. Many of the models feature a skeg, easing the use. You may have a try with a boat with a rudder, even though it’s the longer boats that typically come with rudders and not the short ones.
  • Lakes- don’t go for the Lake Superior just yet, a local lake is going to do it in the beginning. A sit-on-top or recreational sit-in boat are great choices if the weather is fine and you’re not going very far. You may find nice models for less than $600
  • Coasts- tides, wind, currents and waves are going to come in the equation, so a sit-in touring boat with a rudder/skeg/fixed tracking fin is going to be the more solid choice. A sit-on-top may work also if you live in a warm environment and don’t mind a bit of swimming.

What are the main types of kayaks?

There are many ways to classify the kayaks. How you use them, where you sit in them, their specific purpose or their structure- these are only few to name.

Let’s have a quick look at the main categories:

  • How you sit in them
  • Sit-in kayaks- you may find day touring, touring and recreational models. Typically, they feature covered cargo compartments, moving fast and tracking straight. They’re a great option for paddling to a specific destination. Here are more details:
    • you get a lot of control as there are several points of contact inside the boat. This is great when paddling in rough water
    • they’re really comfy on a cool water and air
    • you may also attach a spray skirt, but don’t forget to get a bilge pump too (in case you end up entirely swamped). You need to know how to do a wet exit as well
    • they provide better efficiency for the paddling.
  • Sit-on-tops make the first choice for the easy flowing rivers and the lakes. Here are several things to consider:
    • They’re comfortable on a warm weather
    • They’re easy to get on and off.
    • They’re a bit heavier than the sit-in kayaks.
    • You don’t need to pump out water as they feature scupper holes, which ensure self-draining
    • They feature deck stash spots and cargo space that is tricky to access
  • What are you using them for

The kayak categories we’re talking about are only to give you an idea about what’s out there as the manufacturers have different takes on some aspects. What is “recreational” for a manufacturer may be very well considered as “day touring” for another. However, here are some rather general guidelines:

  • Day touring kayaks- these are rather versatile models that don’t disappoint on efficiency. They’re sleek and track straight, providing you better control in rough water (as opposed to the recreational boats). They’re shorter than the sea kayaks, which makes them easier to carry around and to handle. The cargo space isn’t that bad.
  • Touring kayaks –are long, tough and really efficient on long distances. They track nicely and come with a skeg/rudder for better control on wind or currents. The cargo space is really generous, but they may empty your wallet.
  • Recreational kayaks – they’re stable, affordable and easy to get in/out of. Turning them is also easy. You can use them for flatwater fun, but not for longer trips, rapids or waves. Some stash spots for your essentials is going to work as storage space.
  • The alternatives

Kayaks of the WorldIf you’re looking for a kayak to use when fishing or for some kayaking couple, here are some other types of kayaks:

  • Inflatable kayaks- they’re a great option when you’re struggling with storage space. Don’t let them fool you, as they’re in fact pretty sturdy and versatile. They may not take you very fast, but they’re a nice recreational model for close to shore play. You should use a tough, wide model for the flowing rivers or get the models made for the heavy-duty use in competitions.
  • Folding kayaks- you should get one if you’re living in an apartment or only use the kayak any now and then. They’re not very tough, but they’re easy to control and quite dependable.
  • Sit-on-top fishing kayaks- they come with rod holders (or the possibility to add them). Some also come with complicated pedal propulsion system, which explains the higher prices
  • Tandem kayaks- they’re really stable and make the perfect choice when your kids are joining in. Get them only if you’re 100% sure that you’re going to use them.
  • The materials they’re made of

Even if all kayaks are rather lightweight as compared with other types of boats, some are lighter than others. A lighter kayak is going to let you pack more gear, but you should prepare the extra-buck for them as they never come cheap and you can get an idea right now. Have a look at this post about the best lightweight fishing kayak.

Here are some materials used for kayaks:

  • Composites- the lightweight fiberglass and ultralight carbon-fiber kayaks are impressive in terms of performance, but they’re going to empty your wallet. no worries about the UV rays, but stay alert in case of major impact with rocks
  • ABS plastic- it’s a bit pricier then polyethylene plastic and takes the use for quite some time. It’s not as heavy as polyethylene and presents UV resistance.
  • Polyethylene plastic- is affordable and abrasion-resistant, but it does sacrifice the weight. It doesn’t handle the UV rays and you need to store it in a covered place for expanding its lifespan.

What else matters when selecting your kayak?

Similar boats are going to present similar features. It’s the weight capacity and length that is different, so make sure that you check them too before signing the deal.

  • Length- a longer kayak is going to cruise better and provide more storage space for your gear, whereas a shorter one is going to be capable to turn a lot faster. Even if few inches in length aren’t worth to consider, you may want to give it a second thought when it’s 2 ft. difference between the models you’re checking.
  • Width- a wider hull is going to ensure better stability, but a narrow one is going to move a lot faster
  • Weight capacity- this includes the weight of the boat, your gear and your weight too. This becomes essential especially if you’re planning for a multiday tour. An overloaded kayak is going to move slower and ruin your paddling performance.
  • Depth- a deeper hull provides plenty of room for your legs and some storage space. On the other hand, some wind isn’t going to affect a shallow hull that much.

Tracking fins, rudders and skegs- do you need them?

Each of these accessories is going to help your kayak track straight, even on a windy day. Here’s a bit of info on each of them:

  • Tracking fin-you can use it for preventing a side wind from blowing off your track. You cannot retract it as you’re paddling. Many inflatable models come with one. You may remove it before paddling, for turning fast later on.
  • Rudder- it’s a fin that flips down from the back of your boat, but it’s not fixed in one position. You may adjust its angle all the time, using the foot pedals. It’s more versatile as you can change it as you move.
  • Skeg- this is a simple dropdown fin that helps you stay on track on a windy day.

Hatches, seats and cockpit size- adding value to your kayak

Even if they’re not essential for the performance in water, they sure can raise/lower the final price of your kayak. It makes sense that you also give a second thought when selecting them:

  • Hatches- they’re going to ensure your access to the interior storage areas. A big touring kayak features two of them, whereas a day touring model or a recreational kayak only comes with one
  • Seats- they may raise the final price with $100 (to say the least). As you’re going to spend plenty of time in the seat, you should pay the extra buck for an adjustable, well-padded and ergonomically designed seat for increasing your comfort.
  • Cockpit size- a snug and small cockpit is always going to ensure better control and protection on a lousy weather, whereas a larger one is going to make the entry/exit of the boat a lot easier.

Summing it all up for the final tip

Having said all that, we’re sure that it’s going to be easier for you to decide which model suits your needs, skills and wallet the best way. It’s up to you, now!


Different Types Of Kayaks