Kayak Buying Tips part I | Adventure Kayak Magazine | Rapid Media
Gear
Kayak Buying Tips part I Photo: Gary McGuffin / courtesy Ontario Tourism

Choose the boat that's perfect for you

When it comes to performance, longer kayaks are typically faster, while shorter kayaks boast better maneuverability. Along with width, hull shape affects stability and how well a boat edges, turns and tracks. “There are so many factors aside from feet and inches,” warns Kelly McDowell, owner of The Complete Paddler, “two boats with very similar dimensions can paddle completely differently.”

 

Why Do You Paddle?

 

“Start with the 5Ws: who, what, when, where and how,” suggests Chris McDermott of Ontario-based outfitter Muskoka Paddle Shack. Once you’ve answered these, you can start narrowing the selection based on budget and boat fit.

Reader Tip:“Take a good hard look at the type of kayaking you enjoy doing,” offers Adventure Kayak fan Bill Mart. Reader Kevin Storm of San Mateo, California, agrees, “Decide up front what you want your boat to do: tour, surf, whitewater, fish, all of the above?”

 

Where Do You Paddle?

 

“What kind of water will you be in 80 percent of the time?” Kelly McDowell, owner of Toronto-based outfitter The Complete Paddler, asks customers. “No single boat does everything well. Get something that’s suitable most of the time, and rent for the other 20 percent.”

If you’re on the fence between buying a recreational or touring model, decide how far from shore you want to paddle. For those headed further from the safety of land, “you need two bulkheads to be able to do a self-rescue,” says McDowell. “So you might need a touring boat even though you’re a recreational paddler.” For added safety, also look for perimeter lines and grab handles on bow and stern.

“If you're starting out in lakes and harbors, and then in a few years you'll be wanting weeklong expeditions, buy a boat suitable for your end use,” advises Daniel Collins, retail manager at Ocean River Sports on Vancouver Island. “You can always use a touring boat on lakes, but a small recreational boat won't suffice on multi-day trips.”

 

Get Informed

 

Talk to the experts. “A knowledgeable salesperson can help navigate to your needs and simplify all the technical terminology for you,” says Collins.

“Don’t buy what your friend has, just because your friend has it,” says Darren Bush, owner of Wisconsin-based paddle shop Rutabaga.

Reader Tip: “Research and read articles. It’s worth the time,” recommends Adventure Kayak fan Doreen Pimentel.

“The best accessory to buy is a lesson,” says Bush. It’s also the most economical. “Spend $80–$100 for a half-day class and you’ll come out with a boat that performs better than when you showed up.”

 


 

BG kayaktipsGet dozens more buying tips here in the Paddling Buyer's Guide 2015. Read the entire issue on your desktopApple or Android device.

 

Related items

  • FIONA HOUGH INSTRUCTOR TRAINER & GUIDE, BRITISH COLUMBIA “I think we’ll continue to see a movement towards more technical paddling skill development versus traditional journeying skill sets. More people are…

    Read more...

  • With a theatrical flourish, the man whips off his towel and stands facing the lake, naked and defiant, before diving into the water. He exits triumphantly, watching as I hastily…

    Read more...

  • BioLite’s first foray into the solar charging market is the ultra-slim and lightweight SolarPanel 5 and 5+. We reviewed the 5+, which adds an onboard 2200 mAh battery to store…

    Read more...

  • This little firefly is love at first light. Casting aside conventional headlamp and lantern design, the innovators at BioLite reimagined personal lighting in the form of the PowerLight Mini—a wearable…

    Read more...

  • Two years ago, we reviewed the original Oru Kayak, an award-winning marvel of engineering from California architect, designer and paddler Anton Willis and partner Ardy Sobhani. The name Oru comes…

    Read more...

  • Created in 1987, the Maine Island Trail pioneered the recreational water trails concept. By working directly with private landowners, the Maine Island Trail Association (MITA) secured a 375-mile long route…

    Read more...

  • Popular Articles

    Free Newsletter

    Join 100 000+ fellow paddlers! Get the latest paddling news and special offers delivered straight to your inbox.  

    CUSTOMER CARE
    FAQs

    CONTACT US
    1 (613) 706-0677
    Contacts