How to Buy the Right Kayak

How to Buy the Right Kayak
Anyone new to the sport of kayaking can find the process of choosing the right kayak overwhelming. With so many different brands, styles and materials available, choosing the best kayak for your needs can seem like a daunting task. The good news is that kayaks are intended for very specific purposes, so once you identify your paddling style and desires, choosing the right boat becomes a significantly easier process.

Instructions

Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Identify the general type of kayak you need. This involves identifying your own paddling style and desired paddling environments. Whitewater paddlers, touring paddlers and recreational paddlers all need a different type of kayak, tailored specifically to their variety of the sport.
Step 2
Choose the specific type of boat you desire. If you are a recreational paddler, you may want a sit-on-top, a sit-in or a fishing kayak. As a touring paddler, you may want a longer, roomier boat for extended touring or a shorter more maneuverable one for lakes and short trips. If you paddle whitewater, you will either want a playboat, a creekboat or a river runner depending on your particular style.
Step 3
Research available kayaks of the type you need. Most kayak retailers will only carry one to three brands of boats, so the internet is a great research tool to determine what is available and what retailers in your area carry which brands.
Step 4
Determine the size and volume requirements of your kayak. Kayak models come in different sizes to accommodate paddlers of differing heights and weights. Recommendations based on height and weight will be available on most manufacturers' websites.
Step 5
Demo as many kayaks that meet your requirements as possible. You would not buy a car without taking it for a test drive, and you should follow that same logic when it comes to purchasing a boat. Even boats of the same type will have subtle differences which can make a big difference depending on your paddling style. Outfitting will vary between manufacturers as well, and you may find one significantly more comfortable than the next. Most reputable kayak dealers will have a demo program, and fees paid for demos are often credited toward the price when you purchase the boat of your choice.

Tips & Warnings

 
When testing a demo boat, have someone help you adjust the outfitting unless you are experienced in doing so. Properly adjusted outfitting makes a huge difference in the way a kayak paddles. If you have trouble finding demos in your area, look for a local kayak club. Members of these clubs are enthusiasts of the sport, and are often willing to let you try out their own boats at a local spot to help you pick just the right one.
 
When testing a demo boat, have someone help you adjust the outfitting unless you are experienced in doing so. Properly adjusted outfitting makes a huge difference in the way a kayak paddles.
 
If you have trouble finding demos in your area, look for a local kayak club. Members of these clubs are enthusiasts of the sport, and are often willing to let you try out their own boats at a local spot to help you pick just the right one.

Article Written By Christopher Williams

Christopher Williams has spent over 11 years working in the information technology, health care and outdoor recreation fields. He has over seven years of technical and educational writing experience, and has brought strong skills and passion to the Demand Studios team in articles for eHow and Trails in 2009.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.

FREE UPDATES

Subscribe

We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.