There’s so much to love about kayaking – it’s a great way to get out on the water, it’s a gentle form of exercise, and it can be a fun way to bond with friends and family. If you go kayaking frequently, you’ll want to invest in your own kayak for future trips. However, it can be difficult to determine what types of kayaks are going to give you the best value for money. Here’s what to keep in mind when choosing a kayak. 

Size

One of the first things to look at is the size of the kayak you’re buying. Kayaks come in many different sizes and shapes, and the one that’s most ideal for you will depend on the type of kayaking you like to do. If you are a beginner or generally prefer a calmer kayaking experience, then a wider kayak will offer stability. If you are more focused on speed, a narrower kayak is going to be much more aerodynamic and cover ground more easily, but is less stable. 

Recreational kayaks usually go up to 13 feet in length, while touring kayaks go up to about 18 feet. Touring kayaks are better for navigating large waves and rapids that you might encounter on larger bodies of water. For many beginner to intermediate kayakers, a recreational kayak is fine. Your kayak should be somewhat proportional to your height – if you’re taller, you will likely be happier in a longer kayak, but people of shorter stature will likely be fine in a smaller boat. In a similar vein, you should also check the weight capacity of the kayak before purchasing to make sure it can support you and any cargo that you want to bring. You should also look at transportation solutions such as using a universal roof rack for instance, or a specifically designed kayak rack. Consider the size of your car and make sure that your kayak can stay stable. Rackfact.com is a good place to start looking, if you’re considering investing in kayak transportation and storage racks. 

Seat Style

Another key factor to keep in mind, when shopping for a kayak, is whether you want a sit-in kayak or a sit-on-top kayak. A sit-in kayak has the seat built into the design of the kayak, and they are much roomier than they initially appear. They typically provide a decent amount of storage space for any gear you need to take with you. They also will protect you more from the water, wind, and cold, and provide some stability as you paddle. Their lower center of gravity provides more control as you move through the water. 

Sit-on-top kayaks have the seat built on top of the kayak frame. They are often used for fishing and feel very stable, making them popular with beginners. However, you are almost definitely going to get wet using one of these kayaks. Unlike sit-in kayaks, however, they do drain on their own, making for fewer cleanups after you go kayaking. 

Hull Shape

Kayaks come in different types of hulls, and they inform the way the kayak moves through the water. A flat hull is the most stable option and works well for beginner kayakers or kayakers that paddle mainly in calm waters. However, flat hulls usually can’t pick up as much speed as other hull types. Rounded hulls, on the other hand, can move faster and are easier to maneuver. They may be slightly less stable at some points.

Pontoon hulls, which have two prongs on the front of the boat, are very stable, but have some of the features of a rounded hull, which allows them more control while you’re moving. However, they can be quite slow. Finally, V-shaped hulls are great for kayakers who want to move a bit faster. They are slightly less stable to get in and out of, but once you get traveling at a decent speed, they actually offer more stability and control. 

Materials

Kayaks can be made from many different types of materials. Polyethelyne plastic is the most affordable type of kayak material, and it’s very resistant to abrasion as well. However, it is sensitive to sun, so it needs to be kept covered when you aren’t using it. It is also quite heavy. ABS plastic is similar to polyethelyne, but is lighter and better at resisting sun damage. Therefore, it is more expensive. On the higher end, you’ll find fiberglass and carbon fiber kayaks. These are much lighter and perform better in the water, so they’re great for serious kayakers. However, they are more susceptible to abrasion, so you’ll need to watch out for obstacles in the water. 

Specialty Kayaks

There are a few types of specialty kayaks you may want to consider as well. The first is an inflatable kayak. If you want a fun, lightweight kayak for family use, this might be a good option for you. They aren’t great for long distances, but they’re surprisingly stable and durable in the water. You can find some inflatable kayak models that are designed for flowing rivers. This can work well because they bounce off of obstacles they encounter. 

Another specialty kayak to consider is a folding kayak. Like inflatable kayaks, they’re great if you have limited storage space because they can fold down to a small square footage. They’re not as durable as a traditional kayak, but will still get the job done. Many folding models have excellent maneuverability as well. 

A final option to consider is a tandem kayak. This kayak has two seats instead of one, so you can go with a friend in the same boat. If you prefer kayaking with friends anyway, this is probably going to be a good option for you. Tandem kayaks come in the same hull shapes as solo kayaks, so you’ll still have plenty of flexibility in terms of what you want. 

There are so many different types of kayaks on the market, so you’ll be able to find one that best suits your needs, which is a huge sigh of relief for newbie kayakers! Whether you love cruising calm lake waters or navigating exciting river rapids, a kayak will be a great investment and enable you to have fun on the water. 

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