The Ultimate Guide on How to Pick a Kayak

Good for you, you have decided to give kayaking a go. Whether you wish to connect more with nature, want an active way to bond with your family, or are seeking a thrill, kayaking offers a variety of ways to enjoy the water. From exhilarating whitewater rafting adventures, to a relaxing paddle across a lake as you watch the sunrise, there is much fun to be had. Now that you have decided you want to experience this amazing water sport for yourself and are ready to have some fun, all you need is to acquire a kayak: Easy, right? If you have spent any time looking online or in stores to purchase a kayak, you may have discovered that it is a tad more complex of a task than you initially thought. If you are overwhelmed by the vast array of types, sizes, and differently priced kayaks on the market, do not fret: step by step, we will help you make a good choice. Stay tuned as we break down the important aspects you need to consider while buying a kayak to make sure you know how to find the kayak that is right for you.

Kayaks come in a variety of sizes, styles, and materials. Each of them have special features that serve a specific purpose. To figure out what style, size, materials, and features you want in your kayak, consider the following questions:


Where Do You Want to Kayak?

There are many different bodies of water that offer a good kayaking experience. Depending on the body of water, you will need a specific type of kayak. Each kayak type has added features to help you tackle the challenges each body of water presents.

For example, if lakes and ponds appeal to you, a simple recreational kayak will probably suffice.

If you want to take on the fast rapids of the whitewaters, you will want to look for a kayak that is built to withstand the rough currents and hidden underwater rocks. Look for whitewater kayaks that have good maneuverability and can adjust to change in direction well to allow you to battle to strong river currents.

If it is the ocean that calls your name, a kayak designed to move among the choppy waves is what you will need. In this case, you may want to look for a kayak with an attached skeg to help you maneuver as you paddle through the strong ocean currents.


How Do You Want Your Kayaking Experience to Be?

If you are looking for a relaxing, casual kayak outing, then look for a recreational kayak that provides you with comfort and convenience that will make your time on the water enjoyable and hassle-free. Look for kayaks with comfortable seats and plenty of legroom. Inflatable kayaks are a good option to look into, for they provide convenience as they are collapsible and lightweight, making them easy to transport and store.

If it is an adrenaline rush you are after, then you may want to try your hand at whitewater rafting and higher level sea kayaking, where you will face strong rapids or big waves. For such activities, you will want to find kayaks that have a thoughtful design that provides you with the stability and added features needed to take on more intense bodies of water. For example, you may want to look for a kayak with I beam supports or reinforced seams that provide you with added support. Keep in mind that you will also want secure storage space, such as cargo clips or netting, to ensure your gear will not fall out as your kayak is thrown around the water.


What Type of Activities Do You Plan to Do in Your Kayak?

In addition to simply enjoying the water as you paddle, there are many more activities that can be done in kayaks, including fishing, wildlife watching, and touring. If you plan to fish in your kayak, look for a kayak that has plenty of room for your fishing gear and equipment, as well as a sturdy base that allows you to move around with ease. For wildlife watching and touring, look for kayaks that have good maneuverability. Often touring kayaks have slim, sleek designs that allow the kayak to glide easily on the water.


Do You Prefer to Paddle Alone or With a Partner?

If it is solitude you seek on the water, then look for a single passenger kayak. If you would prefer some company on your kayak trips, find a tandem kayak. If you would like the best of both worlds, then explore options that have removable seats, so you can convert your tandem kayak into a single upon your choosing. You are more likely to find such a convertible kayak in the inflatable kayak category.


What is Your Experience Level?

Though most of you reading this article are probably new to kayaking, or are at least new to buying one, there may be some of you out there who have some experience with kayaking. If that is the case, you may have already developed good balance, tracking, and paddling techniques.

Yet for those of you who still need help balancing and maneuvering the kayak, you may want to look for features that will help keep you stable and moving in your desired direction. Look for kayaks with a stable base and support structures, such as I beams. A stable base will help you balance and prevent your kayak from toppling over. A skeg is a good feature if you have trouble with direction. A skeg helps your kayak track with less work and concentration from you.


How Do You Plan to Transport Your Kayak?

If you have a car that is sturdy enough, or large enough, to hold a full sized kayak, then you can consider a hard shelled kayak. If you have a smaller car, but are still set on buying a hard shelled kayak, then you may need to also purchase roof racks to make sure your kayaks are properly supported during transportation. However, if you haven’t got the money for roof racks, or if there’s no storage space in your house, you may want to opt for an inflatable kayak. An inflatable kayak is lightweight and collapsible, making transportation and storage much easier. However, with inflatable kayaks, there is an added set up and pack up time, as you will need to inflate and deflate the kayak.


Do You Need Space for Gear?

For those of you who are planning to go on long day, or even multi-day trips in your kayak, you will want to keep in mind cargo space. You will want to look for kayaks that have plenty of room for all the gear and provisions you will need to last you through your adventure. Look for kayaks with cargo nets or bungee cord storage systems. Some kayaks even have separate, waterproof areas for storage. This will come in handy when you want to take your phone, camera, or dry towels, without having to worry about them getting wet or falling out if you capsize.


What Aspects Are Important to You?

  • Quality
  • Comfort
  • Style and Aesthetic
  • Convenience

There are kayaks available ranging from cheap to high end. As with most products, the less expensive the kayak, the cheaper the material, and therefore, the lower the quality of the kayak. Though there are exceptions to this logic, you usually get what you pay for.

So determine if quality is important to you. Of course you are going to want a quality kayak, but you may not need to spend a ton of money, depending how long for and how often you intend on using it. If you are planning to use your kayak only on occasions, you may not need to spend a ton of money to buy the best one on the market. However, if you are planning to kayak often, or want a kayak that will last you for years to come, you may want to invest in one that is well constructed and made of a higher grade material, such as polyethylene.

Having explored these questions, you probably have an idea of what features and qualities you should look for in your kayak. Now that you know what type of kayak is best for you, all there is to sort out is what brand and model of kayak you want to go for. If you need a place to start, or seek some inspiration, check out our in depth reviews of the different brands and models of kayaks that we recommend.

Kayaking is a wonderful way to enjoy the water. Once you find the kayak that is right for you, you may never want to leave your favorite lake, pond or river! So go on and find your kayak: the sooner you do, the sooner you can get out on the water!

Leave a Comment: