Oh the places you can go with a kayak! Paddling streams, rivers, lakes, and even the ocean means the opportunities for adventure are almost endless! Also seemingly endless are the varieties of kayaks on the market. This easy guide will help you find the kayak that’s right for your adventures!
What Kayaks are on the Market?
For a deeper look at the various kayaks on the market, check out our earlier blog post. Here are the three most versatile and popular designs on the market to get you started:
Sit-on-top recreational kayaks like this Perception Pescador are popular choices for river and lake goers in warmer climates. They are fun, easy to use, and very versatile but their design leaves you open to the elements. For this reason they are not as popular in cooler climates or colder waters.
Sit-in recreational kayaks are stable, lightweight and just as easy to use as the sit-on-top varieties. Sit-in kayaks like the Perception Prodigy cater to the lake and easy-flowing river settings. Because their design offers more protection from the elements (especially with an added skirt), they are more comfortable in cooler climates or water temperatures.
Touring kayaks are usually a sit-in design with longer, narrower hulls. Touring kayaks like the Perception Carolina and the Perception Conduit offer more stability in rough conditions, travel faster, and track straight. They often have a bit more storage space for longer adventures. But because they are longer, they don’t navigate smaller, narrower bodies of water as easily.
What is Your Experience Level?
Recreational kayaks cater to beginner and intermediate paddlers while touring kayaks are best for intermediate and experienced kayakers.
What are Your Destinations?
Think of the places you will most frequently take your kayak. Touring kayaks are designed for lakes, bays, rivers, currents, and can even handle some ocean use.
Recreational kayaks are best for small bodies of water, slow moving rivers, and protected bays. Recreational kayaks are best for day trips while touring kayaks are designed for day and weekend trips.
Once you decide what type of kayak best fits your adventures you have narrowed your options dramatically.
What Activities Will You Want to Enjoy?
If you would like to go kayak fishing, then consider a recreational kayak or fishing kayak. For a weekend at the lake or a day on the river with family, a sit-on-top recreational boat is the most versatile and fun.
If you are itching to set out on that weekend kayak-camping trip or an open water expedition then you should consider investing in a touring or sea kayak.
What’s Your Budget?
You will surely find something that meets your price point, but it’s helpful to consider how much you would like to spend and it may help you choose between two fairly comparable kayaks.
As you think about your budget, remember to account for the additional purchases like car racks for transporting your new kayak, life jackets, and paddles. Even these come at a wide range of price points, but it’s helpful to be aware of everything you will need to enjoy your kayak adventures and it may impact your choice of kayak.
How Much Storage do You Have and How Will You Transport It?
Larger kayaks offer more cargo space, but transportation and storage are considerations. Do you have a place to store a larger kayak during the off-season?
What size kayak will your car handle? It would be a shame to have a beautiful kayak marooned in your garage because you can’t get it to the water.
Does Weight Matter?
This is a two-pronged question. First, does the weight of the boat itself matter? Lighter kayaks are easier to carry and load onto your car without help.
Second, does the amount it can carry matter? Lighter boats also tend to have a higher weight capacity (the total weight of you, your gear, and your kayak). If you overload your kayak it will sit too low in the water and be more difficult to paddle… or take on water.
This factor is important to consider if you plan on doing multiday trips or carrying a lot of gear. As a general rule of thumb, recreational kayaks have the least storage capacity and touring and sea kayaks have the most storage.
Once you’ve identified your ideal kayak, consider looking into after-market features to customize your craft. From extra-comfy seats to special features for fishing, the options to build your perfect kayak are endless!