Many people want to get into the sport of kayaking. They’ve rented a kayak or gone with a friend before and have finally decided to take the plunge for themselves. The question then becomes what type of kayak to buy and what to look for when choosing a kayak.
There are lots of factors to consider when choosing a kayak. The type of kayaking a person will be doing, where they will be kayaking, how large they are, their experience level, and a person’s budget all factor into the kayak that this would be paddler should end up with. Here are the questions to ask when choosing a kayak.
What Type of Kayaking Will You Be Doing?
Kayaking actually encompasses a collection of different sports rather than it being a sport unto itself. There is whitewater kayaking, sea kayaking, kayak touring, sit-on-top kayaking, surf kayaking, and recreational kayaking, just to name a few of the different types of kayaking out there. A person can’t buy a sea kayak and expect to paddle whitewater in it.
The very first question that needs to be asked, therefore, is what type of kayaking the paddler will be doing. If you don’t know what type of kayaking from that list you will be doing, chances are you are just wanting to paddle around in some local bodies of protected waters, in which case you are looking for a recreational kayak. If you are still unsure, go to your local kayak outfitter or knowledgeable sporting good store and ask to speak to someone who know knows about kayaks. Tell him or her exactly where you expect to be kayaking and they will tell you what type of kayak you need.
What Should My Kayak Be Made of?
Some beginners want to buy the best boat they can get their hands on right from the start. Others just want to get started and expect to upgrade down the road. The latter approach is the one I recommend as most people who get into kayaking will eventually own multiple boats over the course of their life. For this reason I recommend that most beginners start out by buying a used plastic kayak.
The gist of the plastic or composite kayak discussion is like this. Plastic kayaks are more durable, less expensive, and heavier than composite boats. Fiberglass, Kevlar, carbon fiber, and even wooden kayaks are all lighter, faster, but more delicate than their plastic counterparts. Unless you have lots of kayaking experience to know exactly what you want and how to take care of it, I recommend buying a plastic kayak at first.