Choosing a kayak can be a challenging experience. There are several variables to consider when determining which kayak is the best fit for you. The most important thing is to consider what type of kayaking you will be doing.
Depending on whether it is for a leisurely voyage with the family, an adventurous trip for the seasoned kayaker, or mostly for use while fishing, the type of kayak you use will vary greatly. It is important to be informed about the many types of kayaks and choose the right one for your personal needs.
Types of Kayaks
Despite the ideas the word “inflatable” usually drums up, these are not just toys. With the ability to be carried in a duffle bag, inflatable kayaks are able to withstand quite a beating. The inflatable kayak is light, but require a good deal of work to maneuver by paddling. Some models offer stiffing bars to help reinforce the hull.
Recreational Kayaks – This type of Kayak is affordable, and good when a large amount of paddling is planned, making it great for novice level kayakers. Recreational kayaks are ten to twelve feet in length and have a low storage capacity. These also tend to be quite heavy.
Touring Kayaks – Touring kayaks are useful in different scenarios. While they are exceptional in peaceful conditions with calm open waters, they are also tremendous in lengthy trip over rough or unpredictable waters. Touring kayaks have storage compartments with leak proof hatches. They are twelve to seventeen feet long and constructed of durable composite. However, they are more costly than recreational.
Modular Kayaks – As the name describes, modular kayaks split into pieces for easy transportation. If you decide to take a friend along for your kayaking adventure, a modular can be added to accommodate passengers. This type of kayak is manufactured as day touring, recreational, and sit-on-top kayaks.
Sit-on-top Kayaks – Sit-on-top kayaks are a great choice for children and beginners. Their wide design provides adequate weight displacement to accommodate the rider being on top of the kayak. Ranging from ten to fifteen feet in length, they are popular with those who desire to keep their body away from the potentially frigid water.
Folding Kayaks – Represented by the name, folding-kayaks can be folded up to fit inside what is essentially a backpack. They are more rigid than inflatable kayaks, but this rigidity enables them to withstand impact better than inflatables. Experienced kayakers can assemble one of these in approximately twenty minutes.
Fishing Kayaks – Made with accessories like rod holders and cooler holders, fishing kayaks are built with the angler in mind. Some models even include built in storage for tackle and bait.
Whitewater Kayaks – Whitewater kayaks are typically four to ten feet long. These beasty kayaks are engineered with the shape of the nose rolling back towards the rider, as to deflect high velocity rapids. The kayak is designed to prevent rolling, in an effort to keep the rider’s head above the water. Whitewater kayaking can be especially dangerous, exercise caution while riding the vivacious rapids.
Length – Shorter kayaks are far more evasive and easier to transport than are longer ones. However, longer kayaks will hold better to a straight path on the water.
Width – Kayaks that are greater in width are more stable in relaxed conditions. The more slender kayaks display greater stability from rolling over while underway.
Depth – Kayaks with higher walls will allow for more storage and legroom. Lower profile kayaks exhibit better aero dynamics.
Weight Capacity – The weight capacity will affect the amount of cargo you are able carry. If you are taking a friend along for the ride, you will not be able to transport as much cargo.
Polyethylene (PE) – Under normal circumstances, polyethylene is nearly immortal. Medium-density PE is relatively malleable, while still providing a construction that will not crack or break. PE is generally affordable and very durable.
Thermoformed ABS – Thermoform ABS has good elasticity and a high-gloss finish. It serves the rider best when there are fewer chances for impact. Thermoform should not be considered if the kayak is to endure high impact white water kayaking.
Composite – Composite kayaks are more rigid, shinier, and definitely more expensive than that of polyethylene. Composite is prone to more damage if not taken care of properly. If treated well, composite will far outlast any material.
Soft Shell – Soft shell, inflatable, and folding kayaks are prone to tears and breaks, and will not stand the test of time if used often. However, they are easily transported, and require minimal space to store.
Hull Rocker – Hull rocker influences the kayak’s turning radius. The greater the rocker, the less effort it is to turn.
Hull Shaped – A kayaks hull design will greatly affect its ability to perform in the rider’s desired water setting. Additionally, stability is greatly dependent on hull shape. Flat bottoms are found on easy riding recreational kayaks.
Round hull are found on touring kayaks and are more streamline to move easier through the water than flat bottom. V-shaped hulls offer less rolling stability in the onset (getting into the boat), but have greater stability while underway.
Cockpit – A small cockpit with tight quarters, offers very little ability for your body to move around in, but allows for quick maneuvering of the boat itself. On the other hand, a larger cockpit allows for slower maneuvering, but a more comfortable ride for you.
Seats – Kayak seats come in a variety of designs that fit the particular types of kayak you have or want to use. Like the kayak itself, seats should be chosen carefully with consideration of your performance needs and comfort level.