Buying a kayak – Tips for beginners

Kayak buying guide

Buying a kayak – tips for beginners

One of our favorite pastimes is kayaking, which allows us to explore almost any body of water. Our experts have put together some buying tips for a kayak that suits your skills and environment to assist you in making the best decision.

Where will you use your kayak?

You should think about the main environment in which you will use your kayak before deciding on one. Of course, any kayak can float in any body of water. Some kayak models, on the other hand, are designed to perform best in specific conditions. When comparing a kayak to a car, any type of car can drive on hard surfaces, but a sports car cannot go off-road due to its lack of terrain adaptation.

Kayaks, for example, are designed to perform best in the environment for which they were created. There are two types of aquatic habitats in general. Small rivers, lakes, bays, inlets, ponds, canals, and other small bodies of water make up inland waters. All other large bodies of water, such as oceans, seas, larger lakes, and rivers, are considered open waters. You will have a different experience if you kayak on a small lake, a narrow river, or a large body of water, for example.

Lakes and ponds

Consider paddling peacefully on a calm lake or pond. The waters of a small lake or pond can be a relaxing walk, whether for fishing, sports, or simply to get away from the hustle and bustle of the shore. If you’re kayaking on a large lake, however, you’re more likely to run into waves that could be dangerous to you and your boat.

Rivers and canals

Waterways come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Some rivers meander peacefully downstream, while others provide an adrenaline rush in the rapids. Regardless of your previous experience, keep in mind that these waterways are subject to change at any time. Water’s speed and activity, both above and below the surface, can dramatically increase or decrease in an instant.

Oceans and Oceans

The activity in the seas and oceans can vary depending on weather conditions, just like it does in rivers. The easier it is to navigate the closer you are to the shore, but wind speeds, tidal fluctuations, storms, and a variety of other factors can make maneuvering your kayak difficult at any distance.

When choosing a kayak, the type of environment is not the only factor to consider. It’s also crucial to consider how you’ll use the kayak. One of the benefits of a kayak is that it can be taken almost anywhere and used to explore a variety of lakes, rivers, streams, and oceans. Consider your ideal kayaking adventure. Would you prefer to relax or go fishing? Do you intend to paddle long distances or compete with other paddlers?

Kayaks come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with applications ranging from simple recreational kayaks to high-speed whitewater kayaks. Let’s take a look at kayaking in general before we break these boats down into specific types of activities. Topside kayaks and sit-on kayaks are the two most common types of kayaks. A sit-on-top kayak has a seat that is attached to the kayak’s surface rather than the feet. In the area where you sit in sit-on-top kayaks, there is a cabin.

Self-storage. Water has the potential to enter a kayak. If water gets into the cockpit of your sit-on-top kayak, you’ll have to clean it out yourself.

Movement. The advantage of a sit-on-top kayak over a sit-on-top kayak is that the seat on the top deck allows for more movement. When getting in and out of a sit-on-top kayak, the limited range of motion in the cockpit can be an additional challenge. Sit-on-top kayaks, on the other hand, make it simple to get into the water.

Improved Control Kayaks of both types are stable, but sit-on-top kayaks provide more control. Your back, knees, and feet should all be in contact with the kayak when you get into position so you can maneuver more easily.

You are more likely to get wet because your entire body is outside the kayak. In warmer climates, this may not be an issue, but those who want to kayak in colder climates or during changing seasons will not want to risk getting wet. Because the lower half of the body is below deck in a sit-on-top kayak, it’s less easy to get wet. The cockpit is also well insulated, shielding you from not only water but also wind, rain, and snow.

What is the best kayak for a beginner? When it comes to sit-on-top kayaks, we recommend that you try one out first. Sit-on-top kayaks are generally easier to use. These kayaks are easier to get into and out of, which can come in handy in an emergency. It’s simple to get out of a sit-on-top kayak without learning how to get out wet, which is a requirement for sit-on-top kayaks.

Recreational Kayaking

Sit-on-top kayaks have a larger opening than touring kayaks, which makes getting in and out a little easier. The majority of recreational kayaks have a maximum length of 10 feet and are shorter. They don’t have to be fast, but they do need to be stable for recreational purposes, and they’re perfect for short trips in calm waters.

For beginners, the recreational kayak is the best option. The open cockpit is not claustrophobic, and many people, including small children and adults, can board. They don’t have the maneuverability of touring kayaks, but they’re simple enough for beginners to handle. Our recreational kayaks, which can be used by people of all ages and abilities, are recommended if you prefer a kayak with a seat on top.

Touring Kayaks

These boats, also known as sea kayaks, are more refined than most recreational kayaks. They are sleek and long, with a typical length of at least 12 feet. These kayaks also have a smaller cockpit, allowing you to capsize by turning over with your buttocks or thighs. Kayaks for touring are built for speed and distance. Kayakers frequently use them for racing and long trips on rivers and oceans.

Kayak tours are a fun way to explore large bodies of water. Kayaks for touring can be used near oceans, rivers, and lakes. However, when compared to other recreational activities, learning to sea kayak can be a little more difficult for beginners. It’s also not the best kayak for families or single paddlers looking for a relaxing stroll along a lake or stream. We recommend starting with a smaller, more suitable kayak if you are a beginner.

Whitewater kayaks

Whitewater kayaks are more active kayaks that are used for whitewater. Playboats, riverboats, powerboats, and longboats are the four types of kayaks. Playboats, which can be up to 6 feet long, should be used for standing waves and whitewater holes rather than going downstream. Riverboats are slightly longer and can make a longer journey downriver. River boats that are smaller are longer and heavier, and can take a spill. Longer boats, which are 12 feet long and ideal for river trips, are available.

You may need to consider the length and durability of these kayaks depending on the type of rapids you plan to run. We do not recommend purchasing a whitewater kayak if you are a beginner. Any water sport has risks, but kayaking is even riskier than paddling slowly down a calm river. Before moving on to these more advanced types of boats, it is recommended that you choose and master a sit-on kayak or a recreational sit-on kayak.

Inflatable Kayaks

The first benefit of inflatable kayaks is that they are easier to store and transport than traditional kayaks. These kayaks are ideal for people who live in small apartments or who want to store their kayaks easily when they are not in use. They can fall over or be damaged during use because they function like any other kayak. Inflatable kayaks are available for both flatwater and whitewater, so you can pick one that best suits your needs.

Inflatable kayaks have a number of advantages for beginners and those who don’t use their kayak as frequently as those who do every weekend. To begin with, they are simple to store and transport. Even if you don’t kayak on a regular basis or have time to do so, you can store them on a shelf out of the way. It’s also perfect for families who only use their kayak when they go on vacation.

Tandem Kayaks

Beginner kayaks are available in a variety of sizes and styles. You can buy a tandem kayak instead of a one-person kayak if you want to learn how to kayak with a friend, family member, or partner. Purchasing a tandem kayak has several advantages. A larger tandem kayak, for example, has more storage space. A tandem kayak’s extra weight, on the other hand, can make it more difficult to recover from a capsize.

A tandem kayak is the best type of kayak for beginners if you plan to paddle regularly with a partner on calm waters, such as a quiet lake or small lake. It is not recommended, however, if you plan to paddle alone or learn on rough waters like rivers or the ocean.

Kayak dimensions What size kayak should I buy?

Recreational kayaks, light touring kayaks, and touring kayaks are the three types of kayaks available.

Recreational kayaks have a length of 12 feet and a width of less than 24 inches. They are typically under 50 pounds and provide excellent stability.

Light touring kayaks range in length from 12 to 16 feet. The width varies as well, but it usually falls between 22 and 25 inches. Weight increases as length and width increase. Recreational kayakers who enjoy both sports and leisure activities will appreciate light touring kayaks.

Touring kayaks can be up to 22 inches wide and over 16 feet long. These kayaks are used by kayakers for advanced touring and in bad weather.

The length, width, and weight of a kayak have a direct impact on its ability to move across water. A smaller, wider kayak, for example, is more stable, whereas a longer, narrower kayak is faster. You must also consider storage capacity, transportation issues, and size in addition to speed and maneuverability.

Sit-on-top kayaks

Beginner sit-on-top kayaks are ideal for recreational use by beginners, families with children, anglers, and swimmers in warm weather. These boats are easy to get in and out of because they are wide, stable, and shallow (with recessed seat and legs). Traditional kayaks are slightly slower than these boats. They are usually made of plastic and are between 10 and 15 feet long. Because the body is frequently exposed to the elements, they are best suited for warmer climates.

Do you have more faith in your ability to find the best kayak for you? To see our kayak selection, visit us in person or browse our online store. We’d be delighted to assist you in finding the ideal kayak for your next adventure.

Single Kayaks

Perception Kayaks’ Expression 11.5 Single Kayak |

Perception Kayaks’ solo kayaks are designed specifically for single paddlers. There is a kayak for every purpose, from water sports to recreation to fishing.

Foot kayaks

Native Watercraft’s Slayer Propel 10 is a pedal-powered kayak.

Native Watercraft provided this image. It’s very useful to have both hands free in the water, whether you’re fishing or taking pictures. With a pedal-powered kayak, you use your feet to propel the fins and propeller attached to the kayak’s bottom.

The boat is also guided by a rudder. Due to their lower clearance, pedal kayaks are unable to enter shallow water like paddle kayaks. They are likely to be faster and require less effort because they use the strongest muscle group (legs, not shoulders).

Hard shell or hardshell kayak

Sandpiper 130 Hard Shell Kayak by Eddyline Kayaks.

Eddyline Kayaks provided this image. A hard-shell kayak is probably a better choice than an inflatable kayak if performance is important to you. They’re faster in the water and sit lower, making them easier to control in the wind and waves.

Rowboats and sailboats Rowboats are less capable than sailboats in general “The Complete Paddler’s Kelly McDowell explains. “The rudder has nothing to do with the tail fins. The manufacturer has decided to equip a rudder on a lower-performance boat and a stern fin on a higher-performance boat. The Sternfin has a winch for better tracking in crosswinds and currents, as well as a fixed footplate to make rowing easier. Because the fins are closer to the cockpit and more likely to stay in the water at high tide than stern rudders, many rough water boats use the stern.

On a kayak like this, is it better to use a fin or a rudder? | Photo by Francis Lepine Rudders are best for longer boats, such as kayak fishermen, sailors, tandem kayaks, and racing kayaks, as they aid in steering and turning.

“Many recreational kayaks don’t have a rudder,” McDowell explains, “so you don’t need a stern or rudder if you only paddle in good weather, don’t paddle in the wind, or your boat is shorter than 14 feet.”


In other words, a recreational kayak is a beginner kayak in its early stages of development. This opening is in the shape of a recreational kayak, which has a large cockpit. They’re simple to get into and out of, and they’re suitable for children and adults of all sizes.

It is very stable and, in comparison to other materials, a little heavier. It’s made of milk bottle plastic, also known as polyethylene, which has to be very thick to be stable and, as a result, heavier to maintain structural integrity. The basic models for beginners are a little heavier, but more stable, due to their width and length.


How to buy the right size kayak

“A boat is similar to a shoe. You’ll need proper running shoes if you want to run “According to McDowell. “Flip-flops are nice to wear around the house, but they’re too sloppy for sprinting. Boat shoes with a loose fit are similar to slippers. It’s better if they’re as tight as possible.” Sitting in a kayak is the best way to ensure you buy the correct size.

You can do a lot of research and find the ideal boat, but once you sit in it, you realize it’s not for you “Julian Hoare, an Ocean Rivers Sports employee, agrees. Make sure the seat, straps, backrests, and other equipment are all adjustable and comfortable.

According to Darren Bush, owner of Rutabaga Paddle Shop in Wisconsin, “Try paddling a boat that’s been loaded. It may ride well when empty, but “it may feel like a completely different boat” if you plan to travel with a hatch full of luggage. Here are a few more pointers to help you choose the right boat size.

You must understand the breakdown of each size in order to select the best kayak for you. The longer the kayak, the faster it is, the better it moves, and the more gear it can carry. Kayaks under 12 feet are easier to maneuver in confined spaces.

The wider the hull, the more stable and comfortable it is, but it requires more power to move around. The narrower the hull, the faster it is and the easier it is to tilt and stabilize.

When purchasing a speed boat, however, there is a difference between theory and reality. “The thinnest boat is not always the fastest boat,” Busch cautions. “It’s not just about the boat’s design; it’s also about you.

You’ll have to work harder to brace yourself if it’s too tight, when you could be paddling faster. Some kayaks look great on paper but are completely unsuitable in practice. It’s not just the kayak’s length and width that matter, but also the cockpit’s length and width.

It should be possible to enter the kayak without dislocating your body or bumping your knees in front of the cockpit opening.

The kayak’s volume is also a variable indicator of whether or not the boat is suitable for you. Although volume indicates how much space is available in the kayak, different people have different body shapes and weight distributions, which can have a significant impact on the fit of kayaks of various volumes.

Hull shape

Primary and secondary stability are determined by the shape of the bottom and hull (where the sides of the kayak meet the bottom). A flat-bottomed boat has high primary stability and is initially very stable, but it will capsize quickly if it leans too much.

Kayaks with flat V-shaped or flat arched hulls emphasize secondary stability and offer better performance and stability at the edges, which is beneficial when paddling in open or rough water. The feel of the boat on the edge and the aggressiveness of the turns are influenced by the backbone, which can be rounded, stiff, or rigid.

“The final element, ‘rocker,’ is the upward curve of the bow and stern, which determines maneuverability. A boat with prominent rockers is more eager to turn and is better suited to rough-water use. Kayaks with less rocking are easier to maneuver and are better for fitness paddling and long trips.

Kayaks and Kayaking Equipment

A lightweight kayak is easier to transport, load into a vehicle (in some cases, also by yourself), and accelerates faster than a heavier kayak.

You can carry more gear on a smaller boat since the boat itself is lighter.

Polyethylene plastic is the heaviest option and will degrade the fastest when exposed to the sun’s UV rays over time, despite its resilience and low cost.

ABS plastic, on the other hand, is much more expensive than polyethylene but has a comparable degree of durability.

Despite its higher price, polyethylene is a good value due to its lighter weight and UV resistance.

Composites have significantly increased the performance and cost of lightweight fibreglass and carbon-fiber vessels.

Hull design

The hull design of a kayak is also important to note. The bottom of the boat is called the hull.

Hull Dimensions

Chines, in addition to width, contribute to the primary and secondary stability of a kayak.

When it comes to stability, picking the right hull style is crucial because it increases performance and edge stability, which is useful when paddling on open water or in rough water.

Weight carrying capacity

Kayak carrying capacity differs significantly between manufacturers.

Make sure this is stated explicitly before purchasing a kayak.

The kayak’s ability is improved by adding the paddler’s body weight and any other items that might be inside the kayak.


Longer lengths and narrower widths kayaks ride faster and straighter than shorter lengths and broader widths kayaks.

Turning is simpler with a larger and shorter kayak, but at the cost of speed.

The recreational kayak is designed for use in small lakes, rivers, creeks, and other clear waters and ranges in length from 8 to 13 feet.

It can quickly navigate across narrow passageways or inlets.

Keep your height in mind when selecting a kayak.

A sit-in kayak, in my opinion, is particularly relevant.

You must be able to fit comfortably inside your kayak to enjoy your time on the water.

A longer boat is usually more comfortable for those who are larger or heavier; however, a shorter boat may not be as comfortable for those who are smaller or lighter.

You can adjust the footrests in your kayak to suit your height.

You should feel at ease and comfortable when making such a large purchase.

If you’ve settled on a theme, you’ll want to find a paddle that goes with it.

You can help your boat track straighter in the wind by doing a few things. Skegs, tracking fins, and rudders are only a few examples. A good seat could set you back $100 or more. Tiny, crowded cockpits give you more leverage in rough water.

Several hatches provide access to various storage compartments on the interior.

Prices for kayaks

There is also a wide range of price points for different products.

For as little as $500 to $600, you can get a boat built for recreational use.

You may be able to find a less expensive style, but it will be smaller and will not fit you when you go shopping.

It will be more durable if you have more experience with higher-quality materials. The more rugged it is, the lighter or heavier it is. Aside from the materials, the cost of construction, design, and everything else has increased.

The Life Cycle of a Kayak

People want to buy the cheapest kayak they can find in order to get onto the water and into the water in the first place.

You have a feeling this boat will be yours for the rest of your life.

People adore the sport as a whole.

When they first start out in the sport, they can buy a boat for a few hundred dollars. Take it for a spin with a paddle for a while; they’ll eventually figure out that switching boats makes the sport less fun.