How to Choose a Kayak
Kayaking can be one of the most enjoyable experiences one can have on the water. Us at WhiteWaterCoach.com love kayaking and most of our first experiences on the water was paddling a kayak but to ensure you have that experience you need to have the perfect equipment for your experience and lifestyle. This guide will help you decide how to choose a kayak that is perfect for you because it is important to know that no kayak does everything so choosing the right kayak is very important. The very first decision you must make is how you will use your kayak because this will make the other decisions much easier, like the category of the kayak you need.
Where Will You Use Your Kayak?
Kayaks and Scuba Diving
Let’s talk about the type you sit on. The sit on kayaks are generally used for fishing, and carrying extra equipment. These types of kayaks have tie downs and spaces to carry any extra you need to bring along.
If you are a scuba diver or snorkeler, the sit on type will suit you well. You can carry your scuba equipment and use it as a base while you are underwater. Placing divers’ flags will alert other people that you are diving. You can also use it as a resting platform between dives. Check with your local dive shops to make sure you are following the regulations for diving from a kayak. Since scuba diving requires a friend, then you will want the two-seater.
Kayaks and Sightseeing
If you like to explore and camp along rivers or lakes, then a sit upon kayak is the type of kayak you will want. The tie down straps and cords will help you carry your camping gear.
If you haven’t ever taken a trip along a river, you are really missing out on a wonderful experience. Kayaks are excellent for maneuvering and are easier to learn how to paddle. They balance well and catch less wind than a canoe. While there is nothing wrong with a canoe, kayaking is easier to learn to control, especially in the wind and in rough water.
Kayaks and Fishing
If you are a fisherman, sit upon kayaks are great. You can get in and out of the kayak easier if necessary. If you really want control while you are fishing, there are sit upon that come with underwater paddles that can be paddled with your feet.
Kayaks and Whitewater
Sit in kayaks are used to control rough water and experiencing the thrill of challenging nature. They are also used to keep you warm when kayaking in cold water. The downside to sit in kayaks is that they roll over a lot easier. For people who like white water rafting, the role is essential and is what causes the excitement. As you can imagine, whitewater kayaking is not a sport for the squeamish or faint-hearted.
Types of Kayaks
Now you have decided how you want to use your kayak, so it eases your decision on which type of kayak you need. Here is a list of the popular categories of kayak:
Inflatable Kayaks are built with storage and durability in mind. These kayaks can be used for a nice relaxing day out on the day or an adventurous trip on whitewater rapids. Most have multiple air chambers so if one chamber gets punctured then you have other chambers that will keep you afloat. With its self-bailing features and overall design, you get a durable kayak that can withstand most any water conditions you throw at it. For more information, be sure to check out our guide on the best inflatable kayaks.
Recreational Kayaks are ideal for calmer water locations like smaller lakes, rivers, and/or ponds because they are lightweight, easy to maneuver, and easy to get in and out of. It also gives you enough durability that your kayak can withstand the work you put it through plus return back to shore in one piece. They are best used on short trips because of the lack of storage space will not give you enough room for long trips out paddling.
Whitewater Kayaks are one of the most durable kayaks you will find because they are built to withstand fast-moving and choppy water. Beginners tend to use these kayaks because of the durability so they will last longer. It is adviced that only experts use this kayak in fast-water conditions. If it is your first time, then it is advised that you take a class first or go out with an experienced paddler.
Touring Kayaks are designed for paddlers wanting to go long distances and/or just wanting to go fast. The hull design has extra length to give you to paddle quickly and the durability to withstand choppy water conditions. Its storage compartments are hatches so you can protect your gear from the elements and has enough space in case your journey lasts over a couple of days. Most models are equipped with either a rudder or a drop-down skeg system that will give more maneuverability when paddling.
Fishing Kayaks are built for, well, exactly what they are named for, fishing. These are extremely stable kayaks because what is worse than reeling in a huge fish and your kayak tips over. They have large storage compartments for coolers, rod holders, etc. Seats in these are built with comfort in mind, so you can stay out on the water for long periods of time. Most fishing kayaks are sit on kayaks that way you can stand up to cast and haul in your huge catch.
These kayaks are really good for paddling long distance or in rougher waters. They are faster and are easier to handle than sit-on kayaks. They also have compartments for your gear to keep them safe from the elements.
These kayaks are best used in tamer wet conditions like a lake or pond. They are easy to get onto and get off but a major con is that they are only ideal in warm conditions because you are normally always going to get wet.
Picking out a kayak can be a very daunting task but we help you decide how to choose a kayak that best fits your needs. There are a few different types of a kayak so follow this guide to help you determine the ideal kayak that best fits your desired usage. Water condition where you are kayaking is very important to know before choosing your kayak. Once you decide that then you will be able to pick out your perfect kayak. If you are a beginner be sure to read our how to kayak guide to get the basic techniques needed to keep you in or on your kayak and out of the water.