How to Choose a Sea Kayak

How to Choose a Sea Kayak
Kayak's can be a pricey investment, ranging from $700 all the way up to $2,500, depending on the type of sea kayak you choose. Don't simply buy whatever kayak the sales clerk tells you is good. It's important to get the kayak that best suits your needs. Make sure that the kayak you buy is physically comfortable for you and suits the type of paddling that you intend to do. Spending money on features you won't use is a waste.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Step 1
Try out a few different kayaks to see how they fit your body type. Narrow the list of sea kayaks by looking only at kayaks that fit your weight range. Most kayak spec sheets will tell you the weight range suggested for paddlers on this type of kayak.
Step 2
Take a look at front height and rear height of cockpit. A cockpit that has a higher front height makes it easier to get in and out of and easier to move your legs about. Rear height is also important. Cockpits that are high in the rear are generally easier on the back.
Step 3
Think about what your primary intended use is for the kayak. Are you a recreational paddler who enjoys paddling in generally calm weather and in a reasonably stable kayak? Or are you an advanced paddler looking to do some wave riding? Generally, you'll find that kayaks for beginners have a higher initial stability but not as much speed.
Step 4
Consider whether you plan to be kayaking alone or with another person. Kayaks come in both solo and tandem. Consider what you will be doing most of the time. If you will only occasionally bring someone out with you, it's probably not worth getting a tandem since you lose some of the performance of a solo kayak.
Step 5
Consider other activities will you be doing while you're kayaking. Some people like to simply paddle about in a bay, while others want a sea kayak so they can go fishing or even diving. While you can outfit any kayak as a fishing kayak, some kayaks have a special angler model that features rod holders and other accessories important for fishing. Scuba divers should look for a kayak with an external cargo well or one that comes with a tank well.
Step 6
Decide if you need a rudder. Kayakers tend to be split down the middle regarding the importance of a rudder in sea kayaking. A rudder enhances the directional stability of the kayak and is great in poor weather. Some kayakers choose to have one, while other kayakers choose to do without.
Step 7
Test the kayak in the water. Some kayak companies allow you to rent a kayak first before buying. If the company you are buying from offers this, definitely take advantage of this feature and try the kayak in a safe, protected bay. See how comfy it is, and lean it from side to side to see how easily it tips over.

Tips & Warnings

When purchasing your kayak, don't forget to buy leash paddles and backrests!

Article Written By Shiromi Nassreen

Shiromi Nassreen has been writing professionally since 2005. She specializes in travel and outdoor topics, and her articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including "DISfunkshion Magazine" and Matador Travel. Nassreen holds a Bachelor of Arts in theatre studies from Rose Bruford College of Speech & Drama.

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