Kayak Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best One for You

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Are you looking for a new kayak for your outdoor adventures?

Not sure how to whittle down your options to find the best one for you?

Well, we’re here with our expert kayak buying guide to help you with your purchase. Read on to learn more!

The Ultimate Kayak Buying Guide

With so many types of kayaks available, it can be tricky to know which option will work best for you and your needs. Here are six things you should consider before buying so you can get the perfect one for you.

1. Choose Between a Sit-in or Sit-on-Top Kayak

When considering kayaks, the first thing you need to decide is your preferred seating style.

The two seating types to choose from are sit-in kayaks and sit-on-top kayaks. By deciding which of these two options you want, you’ll be able to quickly narrow down your options.

A sit-in kayak is one designed with an interior seat. These models are more traditional and offer ample storage space, and generally, provide shelter and coverage from the wind and water. They’re also rather roomy and are often designed with foot braces.

The benefits of sit-in kayaks are that they’re easier to maneuver in rough waters and they’re more efficient for paddling.

If you enjoy quieter activities like light paddling or fishing, a sit-on-top kayak may be your best bet. These versatile kayaks are easy-to-use, which makes them ideal for people who are just learning how to kayak. They are prone to more splashing, however, so they’re best in warmer environments.

One of the biggest benefits of sit-on-top kayaks is that they’re easy to get on and off. They’re also self-draining so you don’t have to do the work. And they have cargo space inside the hull for extra gear.

If you’re a more seasoned kayaker or looking to take your ride on rougher waters, your best bet may be a sit-in kayak. If you’re newer to paddling and want an option that’s easy to get in and out of, you should consider a sit-on-top kayak.

2. Consider Kayak Category & Your General Activity Level

The next thing to consider when buying a kayak is how you plan on using it.

If you’re looking for an option that’s affordable, easy to use, and designed for quieter waters, you should consider a recreational kayak. If you’re a long-distance kayaker looking for something that navigates smoothly through rough waters, your best bet would be a day touring kayak.

For those of you who like going long distances, you’ll want a touring kayak option. These kayaks are easy to maneuver and provide ample cargo space–but they can be pricier than other kayak options.

If you’re not a serious kayaker but want to paddle occasionally, there are options available for you too. There are folding kayaks you can keep in your apartment and inflatable kayaks that you can keep in a closet.

3. Review Your Hull Options

The next thing you should think about is your kayak’s hull. This piece of the kayak determines the kayak’s overall performance and stability in the water.

If you want an option that is stable, maneuverable, and better suited for flat water conditions, you should get a flat hull. If you’re looking for an option that lets you speed up quickly or turn effortlessly, check out kayak options with a rounded hull.

A V-shaped hull is ideal for long-distance trips, as they cut through the water quickly and help orient your kayak. Pontoon hulls provide optimal stability, but they move much slower than other kinds of kayaks.

By knowing the type of stability and performance you need from your kayak, you’ll be able to pick the best hull option for you.

4. Think About Where You Plan to Use Your Kayak

If you’re having difficulty narrowing down your kayak options, the next thing you should do is think about where you plan on kayaking. If you live near a lake and plan on taking your kayak out for relaxed recreational trips, you can get away with a sit-on-top or more recreational kayak option.

People who plan on taking their kayak out on the coast should consider a kayak option with a rudder or dropdown fin. These will make dealing with things like waves, currents, and tides easier.

If you want to take your kayak on a river trip or out on the sea, you’ll probably want a sturdier, more stable option. This might be a recreation sit-in or day touring kayak.

5. Consider the Kayak’s Weight & Material

An additional thing to think about when comparing kayak options is the weight of the kayak.

Lightweight kayaks will be easier to carry and load onto your car and can speed up faster. They also enable you to carry more gear, but they are generally more expensive as lightweight materials cost more.

The three most common kayak materials to choose from are polyethylene plastic, ASB plastic, and composites.

Polyethylene is cheap and abrasion-resistant, but it’s the heaviest material option and is more easily sun-damaged. ASB plastic, while more expensive, offers the same kind of durability with added UV resistance.

If you want the highest quality kayak material, look for options that combine lightweight fiberglass and ultralight carbon fiber. These offer the greatest performance. It is important to note, however, that kayaks made from this material generally cost more than other options.

6. Review Other Additional Accessories or Attributes

Once you’ve narrowed down your kayak options to a specific type, it’s time to consider the smaller features that can impact your kayak’s overall comfort and use.

Here are some additional accessories and features to consider before purchasing your kayak.

  • Weight capacity
  • Depth
  • Width
  • Cockpit size
  • Hatch
  • Seats

If you have additional questions about these features, don’t hesitate to ask the kayak salesman. They’ll be able to help you determine the best weight capacity, depth, and width for you.

You could also check out this helpful FAQ for additional information.

Final Thoughts on Buying a Kayak

As you can see, there are many things to consider before buying your kayak.

But with the tips and tracks in this kayak buying guide, you’ll be able to narrow down your options and pick the perfect kayak for you.

Are you a seasoned kayaker or looking to kayak for the first time? Check out our latest reviews to find the kayaks and accessories you need.


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