Selecting a Kayak
Choosing the right kayak can be a tough decision. There are so many different makes and designs on the market all offering to do a whole heap of different range of things its no surprise it can be quite hard. All of the designs, colors, and cool names can make anyone’s head spin.
As most kayaks are either designed for a specific purpose or for a more generalised use. The best advice we can give is for you to think about what you would like to do with your kayak. Have a chat with a specialist and then if you can, try before you buy.
How to tell the difference between the different types of Kayaks
Kayaks are typically made from two materials. Roto-molded polyethylene or hand laid composite. Both of these materials have their strengths and weaknesses.
Roto-molded poly is an extremely durable plastic and is the most common material used in kayaks. It handles impacts well and resists UV damage but is heavier than composite and not as smooth.
Composite is much lighter and stiffer with a smoother finish. These kayaks are faster and paddle easier but are much more expensive and less durable. Many composite boats are designed with performance in mind and may be difficult for new paddlers to paddle comfortably. They can be made from a whole variety of different materials such as fibreglass, carbon, kelvar etc.
For most paddlers, a kayak made from roto-molded poly will satisfy all of their needs and provide years of enjoyment.
Sit-on-top kayaks have seen a recent surge in popularity and they make great recreational kayaks. Having a wide open deck makes it easy to enter and exit the kayak from land or water and stability is often heightened due to the width of the designs. Plush seats are often added to increase paddler comfort and the ample deck space makes adding accessories such as fishing rod holders an easy task.
Sit-on-top kayaks are a good bit heavier than sit-inside-kayaks and do not paddle as well over long distances. A paddler looking for ease of use, room to stretch out, or a great swim platform for the kids will be happy with a sit-on-top.
Sit-inside-kayaks lower the paddler’s center of gravity and increase stability. Recreational models often have extra-large cockpits for easy entry and exit and to ease any concerns of entrapment. More advanced models will have tighter cockpits that can be fitted with a skirt to keep water out in rough conditions. Sit-insides are narrower than most sit-on-tops and paddle easier. They are also lighter and easier for one person to carry. Beginner paddlers should be familiar with rescue equipment and techniques before venturing out in a sit-inside-kayak because a capsize often results in a kayak filled with water and partially submerged.
A qualified sales person at a local outfitter is a great resource of knowledge and experience and will often be your greatest resource when it comes to selecting your new boat. When you go into the store and ask for advice always make sure you are speaking with the “kayak guy” and not the “rock climbing guy.”
Most outfitters offer test-drive programs so that their customers can try a variety of models and determine which is .When your trying to choose the kayak thats right for you don’t be afraid to take them out. Paddle around a few different makes and styles and find the one that is the best fit and feel for you.