What to know when buying a kayak

Here are some tips on finding that perfect kayak, whether it’s a pair of solo inflatable kayaks for casual paddling or a touring tandem kayak for big adventures.

What to know when buying a kayak

1. Choose a kayak based on where you’re going

  • Recreational: These kayaks are usually fairly basic and affordable, designed for the novice or casual kayaker who will be paddling in open, calm waters.
  • Touring: Designed for multi-day excursions, a touring kayak is larger than other kayaks, so you can store everything you need for your trip.
  • Sea: A sea kayak sits close to the water and is usually fairly long, made for paddling on the open ocean. Sea kayaking requires some extra features, like rudders for crosswinds and compasses to keep you on track.
  • Whitewater: A whitewater kayak is a must for advanced kayakers who want to navigate rapids. These kayaks won’t have a keel as they’re designed for maximum maneuverability, but they will have an extra-tight cockpit to keep you in the boat during rougher conditions.
  • Fishing: A fishing kayak has extra room for your catches, an anchor to stay put and a rod holder to make fishing easier. They’re usually fairly stable as well, so you won’t tip when reeling in a big catch on your kayak fishing trip.
  • Inflatable: If you don’t have a kayak rack, an inflatable kayak can be carried in your vehicle and blown up on site, so you can have a kayak even if you don’t have the space.

2. Consider performance and size

Kayaks have different designs that can help you make the most out of your activities. Think about some of these details when kayak shopping.

Turning vs. tracking: Kayaks are generally good at either staying straight, also called tracking, or turning. Choose a maneuverable kayak for whitewater and smaller excursions, or a tracking kayak for long journeys.

Solo vs. tandem: Kayaks are meant for one or two people. A tandem, or two-person kayak, is a good choice if you’ll be kayaking with a partner, and they can save you space if you don’t have a kayak carrier that can hold two solo kayaks.

3. Try before you buy

If you’re new to kayaking, try taking lessons before buying one. This will give you a sense of how a kayak should feel and can help you make a better decision when shopping.

The first step in finding the right kayak equipment is thinking about where you’re going and being honest about your own skill level. Once you've picked the right one, you'll be out and enjoying the open water.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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