How to Choose the Right Kayak Length

How to Choose the Right Kayak Length
Kayaks are an excellent way to explore waterways, as they are relatively easy to use and provide good exercise. When purchasing a kayak, choosing the proper length is essential to safety and enjoyment. Whether it's maneuvering in open ocean or patrolling a back yard pond, each kayak is designed with a particular use in mind. Before making your purchase, consider all the variables.


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Determine the type of waterway where you intend to use your kayak. This is very important. A smaller, or recreational, kayak, one under 12 feet in length, is light and maneuvers easily, but is slower than a longer kayak and is more likely to overturn in choppy conditions. Small kayaks are ideal for estuaries, small lakes and rivers. A long kayak, over 12 feet, is heavier and moves faster, making it more suited to handle the rougher conditions one is likely to encounter in open water.
Step 2
Consider the distances you'll be traveling in your kayak. Will you be making a long trip, for instance, or just a quick paddle across the lake? Long kayaks commonly contain multiple bulkheads and sealed hatch covers, allowing for dry storage of camping items and other necessities. These kayaks can reach up to 16 feet in length, and are ideal for exploration and overnight ventures. Short kayaks should be kept to short distances.
Step 3
Ask yourself how you intend to transport your kayak and where you're going to store it. A small, recreational kayak can sometimes fit in the rear of a pickup, but a large kayak will never go anywhere except on the roof of a vehicle, requiring an expensive set of racks. Do you have enough space at home for your kayak? Some kayaks are as small as 6 feet in length, and these can be easily stored in the corner of a room. A 15-foot kayak, on the other hand, will likely require a back deck or outside area to accommodate. Consider your storage options before you make your purchase.

Tips & Warnings

Comfort cannot be underestimated. Among all other considerations, be sure to sit in a kayak before you buy it. You don't want to feel cramped, or overwhelmed, which will certainly lead to problems later on.

Article Written By Matthew Ferguson

Matthew Ferguson is a writer living in Savannah, Ga. He has been writing for over 10 years and his work has appeared on various online publications. A collection of his short stories was published in spring 2010. He is a graduate of Appalachian State University.

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