How to Choose a Kayak

Looking to buy a new kayak? Not sure where to start? There are several things that you should take into account before purchasing a new or used kayak, and several different ways that you should go about doing it.

To begin with, take the time to decide what kind of kayaking you will most likely be doing. Will you be participating for sport, or just for fun? Will you mostly be riding smooth and calm waters, or rough and dangerous currents? There are many different things you should take into consideration when deciding on which kayak is the perfect fit for you. From acquiring information to testing it out on the open waters, choosing a kayak is a process that should not be taken lightly.

One of the most common types of kayak is the Recreational Kayak. Its inherent stability is quite useful to those who are new to the kayaking world and perfect for those who just enjoy low intensity and stress free kayaking. These types of kayaks are best for gliding through calm waters such as lakes, streams, ponds, and creeks. Recreational Kayaks can be either the sit on top kind or sit inside, both kinds providing a substantial amount of stability for a beginner kayaker. This can be helpful when learning the foundational skills it takes to kayak. The slighter chance of tipping over provides beginners with a basis for understanding, and is good for acclimating oneself to be comfortable with the motions. Sit-in kayaks are the drier option of the two since the rider will be inside the vessel as opposed to the sit-on kayak where there is no cover for your legs, leaving you exposed to the elements.

Fishing kayaks are equably stable. As you can guess, the high stability allows people to fish from the kayak. These kayaks are particularly wide and some even have outriggers to improve the stability of the boat so that it will not tip over when reeling in a prize catch. An important fact to consider is that these kayaks are significantly cheaper than most of the others, making it a wonderful starter boat. Photographers may also appreciate this kayak due to the high stability.

Another common kayak for beginners is the Touring Kayak, which can be used for long excursions on the water. These are generally much more comfortable due to the larger cockpit, which is convenient since the rider will remain within the kayak for a longer duration than they would a casual excursion. Touring kayaks are fairly easy to navigate, and the ampler cockpit allows for dry storage space. These are good for touring calm streams or rivers, creeks, and other flat waters.

Kayaking is not limited to lakes and rivers and ponds. In fact, they can actually be used on the open sea! Sea kayaks are usually lower to the water and have smaller cockpits. They are also sleeker and longer than other kayaks. The reason for this is so that the wind doesn't give them too much resistance. Many of these kayaks will have bulkheads or upturned bows and rudders to enable them to skim over harsh waves. Stability in these types of kayaks are significantly less than a recreational or touring kayak, but are generally easier to maneuver. Obviously this would be the kayak to choose if you lived near the ocean and were planning to go out to sea often.

Whitewater kayaks are the most maneuverable and agile of the kayaks, and are used to navigate rough rivers or streams that have strong currents. Whitewater kayaking requires great skill to stay upright and is very fast paced. The length of these kayaks are short-less than ten feet. Some are even less than seven feet, and the cockpit is small and tight so that there is little chance of the rider falling out. These kayaks are also generally more sturdy than the others so as not to capsize on impact with materials in the water such as rocks or logs. The two main types of Whitewater kayaks are Playboats and Creekboats. Playboats are used to perform tricks in the rough currents, and they favor maneuverability over speed and stability. Creekboats are the more stable and swifter of the two subtypes, and are used to participate in downriver races.

A type of kayak that exists but is no longer used, is the traditional kayak. These typically were made of a wooden frame that was covered in the skin of an animal, usually a seal, and were developed by the eskimos. They were used for hunting and fishing. Traditional kayaks had sit-in cockpits,sometimes more than one so that they could transport multiple persons. Today, kayaks are made with many different materials ranging from plastic to fiberglass to wood. There even exists an inflatable kayak!

In your excitement to purchase a new kayak, do not forget the paddle! It is imperative that you have a paddle that is comfortable for YOU, the wielder. Paddle shapes and lengths can vary, so it is important that you are fitted with one that will not put a strain on your body and in turn, make kayaking miserable for you. With a proper paddle, you can go a long way (literally) and have many enjoyable experiences while kayaking!

A final, but very important thing to remember when buying a kayak, is to take it out for a test ride before purchasing. It is suggested that you go to a reputable establishment where there is someone who can actually help fit you with the perfect kayak instead of just relying on this article, and someone who will provide you with adequate information on the specific style and brand of the kayak. If the place really is good, than they will let you give it a go on the water. But remember, don't paddle away with it before buying!

As you can see, no kayak is suitable for meeting every single need, so you will have to decide which will be the most useful for you. Kayaking is a fun and stress relieving sport that is rewarding in many different aspects.

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