How to Choose a Kayak: The two factors that play a more important role when it comes to buying your first kayak is to consider what you are going to do with it and where you are going to use it. The when is not so important because surely you would like to use it as many times as you have it.
How to Choose a Kayak
To advise you choose the kayak that best suits your needs we have to describe in which you will see the most popular types of kayaks that we market and how they compare to each other. Before moving on to that, there are some concepts to explain.
SELF-EMPTYING OR CLOSED KAYAK?
Determining this from the first moment will cause your options to be significantly reduced. In the closed kayaks we sit inside the boat using his tub to enter. A self- empty, open or sit-on-top kayak is just the opposite, the paddler sits on top of the boat as they are kayaks that do not have indoor bathtubs precisely to make them unsinkable. Another differentiating element would be the drainage holes that incorporate all the self-emptying pirogues along the hull, allowing the water that can enter the deck to be evicted by them back to the water, hence the name of self-emptying. The advantage of sit-on-top is that they are more versatile and safe than closed kayaks, in case of overturning you just have to turn them around, go up and continue the march.
Both closed and open pirogues can be found in recreational models but closed kayaks are typical of whitewater and sea crossings, while open ones are used mainly for fishing, even professionally, and diving. The closed models are, in general, faster and easier to maneuver, allowing the paddlers to stay dry inside the canoe while not having to be shipwrecked or swim as we usually say. On the other hand, the sit-on-top kayaks are usually more stable offering greater transport capacity, options to install accessories and access to cargo areas. Although this is not always the case, manufacturers also launch self-emptying markets that are as fast as closed and closed models that are as stable as open ones.
DOUBLE OR SINGLE KAYAK?
Choosing between an individual kayak and a double or tandem kayak has, on occasion, to do with the opinion of people in our environment such as our partner, children or a close family member. In general, and because of the use that is given to kayaks, we tend to recommend individual kayaks since they provide us with greater versatility in our paddling trips. It happens, on many occasions, that our clients have bought a double kayak thinking that someone from their environment was going to accompany them most of the time and finally it has not been like that. With what you have a double canoe you have to load, unload and move in the water alone. We are not at all against double kayaks; simply our experience shows us that they are used less than the individual ones. An interesting question that you should ask yourself would be “Would you buy a tandem bicycle so that another person will accompany you three or four times a year?”.
However, for those who have small children, double kayaks can be an ideal option especially in those that offer the possibility of moving one of the seats to the central area in case you want to paddle alone. Virtually all modern double models have this option. In case you can not move the seat, you can shovel in the front or back, it will never be the same as shoveling in a single canoe, but it is perfectly feasible. Keep in mind that children from 6 or 7 years old can start paddling solo with smaller boats designed for them.
MADE OF PLASTIC OR FIBER?
Most of the current kayaks are made of polyethylene while they can also be made with other materials such as fiberglass or carbon, kevlar or thermoformed plastic. Without entering into scientific discussions about what equipment is better, we will make it easy for you. Polyethylene is very resistant, you can hit it and drag without worrying about the material, and its price is lower than fiber boats. As a disadvantage we will comment that it is heavier and more difficult to repair in case of breakage, although given its resistance this rarely happens. The canoes made of composites, fibers, and thermoformed plastic tend to be lighter and easier to repair, but their price is higher, and they are more delicate.
It is a recurring theme that fiber kayaks have a greater slip in the water is a good choice for paddlers who travel long distances or compete, which directly affects their price. For most canoeists, polyethylene is the chosen option.
HULL ROUNDED, FLAT, V OR TUNNEL?
Trying to explain each type of helmet design, based on its shape, can be a bit complicated. For that reason we will simplify it based on its advantages:
- Rounded helmets – good speed and maneuverability
- V-shaped helmets – good speed and course line
- Flat helmets – good stability and turning speed
- Tunnel or grooved hull – the best stability
In addition to the shape of the hull, seen from the front of the kayak, we have to talk about the “rocker.” The rocker is the curvature of the line of the helmet seen laterally, the kayaks with greater rocker rotate more quickly, but they do not maintain the course as well, on the contrary, the flatter pirogues, with less sheer, maintain the course better but are slowly turning. If you want to do outings of several kilometers, sea kayak or fishing, you will choose a model with a straighter line. If you want to navigate in whitewater rivers or areas with many obstacles, you will opt for a helmet with more rocker.
WHAT LENGTH AND WIDTH?
This is one of the most recurrent questions when buying a kayak. In general, it will depend on the type of canoeing you do and your navigation areas, also if you have limitations to store or transport the canoe. We consider that the smaller kayaks are slower but also easier to maneuver while the longer models are faster but difficult to maneuver. Also, longer canoes tend to maintain a better course than short models. When we talk about the width or sleeve, we assume that the wider models are more stable for slower ones.
At the end, it will try to obtain a compromise between length, width, and weight of the boat.
WITH OR WITHOUT A RUDDER?
Without wanting to make this entry an article about this accessory we think it’s worth commenting on. Rudders can make a difference in the behavior of your kayak. Many paddlers think of the rudder as an element to steer the kayak continuously when it has been designed to help us correct the steering of the boat when we sail in areas of current or wind.
When the canoe exceeds four meters the rudders can be interesting to help us improve the direction especially in self-emptying kayaks, wider and less maneuverable, although they are not essential, since otherwise they would be included as standard, they help a lot to correct the trajectory, especially to the novice canoeists. In the sea kayaks depend on the navigation areas but, in general, the orza will allow us to chart a good course by helping us with the shovel and the edging of the body to direct.
We show you the comparative table of the different types of kayaks and their behavior depending on the modality practiced navigation area and characteristics.