Are you looking forward to an outdoor water activity with your friends and family? Kayaking is a great option for getting active, spending quality time with loved ones, and enjoying nature at its best. But with all the different kayaks and styles available, you might be wondering how to choose the best one. That’s why we’ve put together five tips to help you choose the right kayak. With this guide, by the time you’re done, you’ll be kayaking in comfort and style.
1. Consider Your Skill Level
It’s important to be realistic about your paddling experience and skill level when you start shopping for a kayak. Sure, it may be tempting to purchase that ten-foot touring kayak, but if you’re a beginner, you may want to try a shorter, more versatile recreational kayak first. For more experienced paddlers, a longer, narrower touring or Whitewater kayak will provide the speed and control you’re looking for.
Types of Kayaks by Skill:
- Beginner: Recreational kayaks
- Intermidiate: Touring kayaks
- Advanced: Whitewater kayaks
No matter where your skill level lies, it’s important to take a basic kayaking class or two before you hit the water. These courses will provide invaluable instruction on paddling technique, whitewater safety, and how to rescue yourself and others if you capsize.
2. Think About Where You’ll Kayak
Your location and conditions of your typical kayak plan will have a big impact on the kind of kayak you’ll need. While recreational kayaks are great for lakes and slow-moving rivers, touring or whitewater kayaks may be necessary for long, open waters or fast-moving rivers. If you envision yourself kayaking in the ocean, you’ll want to make sure the kayak you buy is specifically designed for saltwater and rougher waters.
Types of Kayaks by Loaction and Condition:
- Lakes and Slower Rivers: Recreational Kayaks
- Long, Open Water: Touring and Sea Kayaks
- Fast-Moving Rivers: Whitewater Kayaks
- Saltwater: Sea & Touring Kayaks
You may also want to consider the size or weight of your kayak. If you plan to transport your kayak yourself, look for a lightweight model that is easy to load and unload. If you plan to just paddle around the lake or bay on your own, however, you can choose a heavier model.
3. Look at Different Types of Kayaks
Knowing the different types of kayaks and their benefits can help you find the kayak that best meets your needs. Recreational kayaks are longer and wider, making them more stable and easier to paddle. Touring kayaks, on the other hand, are longer and narrower, providing greater speed and less drag. Whitewater kayaks are shorter and wider, great for navigating whitewater or achieving aggressive boat maneuvers.
Types of Kayaks:
- Recreational: Stable and easy to paddle
- Touring: Longer and narrower for less drag and greater speed
- Whitewater: Shorter and wider for aggressive boat maneuvers
When considering the shape and size of the kayak, think about how you want to use it. Are you looking to explore waterways that require little maneuvering, or do you want to be able to explore whitewater rapids easily?
4. Think About Your Size
It’s important to choose a kayak that fits your body and how you paddle. A kayak that is too large can be too difficult to paddle, while a smaller kayak might feel unstable. As a rule of thumb, while sitting down in the kayak, your knees should be slightly bent. Most kayaks come in many different sizes and can adjust to fit paddlers of most heights.
Types of Kayaks by Size:
- Short & Wide: Stability & Control
- Long & Narrow: Speed & Manuverability
If you plan on kayaking with a partner or two, make sure you take the combined weight of everyone into account when selecting your kayak. The maximum recommended weight capacity of the kayak should be greater than the total weight of everyone who plans to use it to ensure safety.
5. Look at Price & Quality
Be realistic about the type of kayak you can afford. Yes, a lightweight and super versatile sea kayak may be super tempting, but if a basic recreational kayak fits within your budget, that’s where you may want to start. You can upgrade later, or even better, rent a higher-end kayak for that special occasion!
When it comes to price and quality, know that the more expensive kayaks are typically made from higher-end materials, making them more durable. Be sure to pay attention to the construction of higher quality materials to ensure you’re getting a kayak that will last you for years to come.
People Also Ask
What type of kayak should I buy?
The best type of kayak to buy depends on your skill level and the type of water you’ll be paddling in. Beginners should start with a recreational kayak and work their way up to a touring or whitewater kayak as they gain more experience.
What is the best material for a kayak?
The best material for a kayak depends on the type of kayaking you’ll be doing. High-end kayaks are typically made from fiberglass, butpolyethylene plastic is a durable and affordable option for recreational and touring kayaks.
How much does a good kayak cost?
Good quality kayaks typically range from $500 to $3,000, depending on the type and features. The cost will also depend on the material construction and brand.
How long should a kayak be?
The length of a kayak should depend on the type of water and your paddling experience. Recreational kayaks are usually between eight and twelve feet long, while touring and whitewater kayaks can be up to fifteen feet long.