Choosing the Right Kayak for Maximum Lake Fun
Purchasing your first kayak can be a very intimidating process. There are literally hundreds of models to choose from. Some are very cheaply made and others are very expensive and made with high quality. You may not need an expensive one but you also do not need a super cheap one. The top 5 factors to consider when purchasing a new kayak are Budget, Activities, Weight, Tow and Fitness.
- Budget – Depending on how much money you wish to spend will determine what kind of quality kayak you will be able to purchase. Kayaks generally run from $200-$4000 depending on what you wish to use it for. I advise you to start off buying something cheap like the Sun Dolphin Aruba 8 or the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10′. This way you can get a feel for kayaking without going broke. If you find that you enjoy kayaking you can move up to a more sturdy kayak like an Ocean Kayak, Dagger and Perception Kayak. These start off in the $400 -$1000 range. They are longer, made of much better plastic and generally more stable. The most expensive and best kayaks will run you $2500-$4000 easily before any add-ons. These are your Hobie, Native and other propelled kayaks. These have pedals that you use your feet to propel you and some even have motor kits that you can add a trolling motor and let it do the work for you. Make sure you bring a paddle with you incase the pedals or motor fails.
- Activities – There are many uses for a kayak other that just paddling around a trail or lake. The most common is white water, fishing, racing, hunting and padding around.
You could do any activity out of any kayak you wish but some kayaks are more geared towards a specific use. The most common white water kayaks are sit in, where you literally sit in a kayak and you can buy a skirt so water does not enter the vessel and sink your boat. Fishing kayaks tend to be wider and start in the 12’-14’ range. Most of them you can stand up in them without falling in. Hunting kayaks are normally the same as fishing kayaks, same width and length but most people choose camouflage colored or a tan colored kayak. Racing kayaks are mostly sit in, longer and very slim, just enough to get your body inside them. Paddling kayaks are any kayak of your choice from cheap to expensive.
- Weight – Kayaks range from light to very heavy. The cheaper ones like the Pelican Kayaks are the light ones that you could lift up over your head if you are in decent shape. The wider and longer kayaks are the heavy ones. Hobie Kayaks in my opinion have to be some of the heaviest boats I have ever lifted. You have to be in pretty good shape to be able to lift them off the ground and set them on your tow vehicle’s roof or bed. It is better to have a friend with you kayaking so you can help each other lift your boats. If you can’t life it yourself you do not need it.
- Towing – Whatever kayak you choose to purchase most of them you can tow on the top of a car as long as they have storage racks on the roof. The only exception to this is the heavy kayaks like the Hobie and Native. These could crush the roof of your car and be a costly insurance claim. If you have a SUV or truck you can haul any kayak and more than one at a time. Some people even use specially designed trailers that can hold 4-6 kayaks. These trailers are easy to build and they take about a half day to complete. Or if you are lucky enough to live on the beach you could just carry it!
- Physical shape of yourself – You do not have to be in tip top shape to enjoy a kayak. It might take you a little longer to get where you are going but you still get there. Just remember you have to paddle back to where you started your day at. Kayaks also have a sticker on the inside to tell you how much weight it can hold. This includes you and your gear. Definitely do not exceed this or and sudden movement in the wrong direction can send you into the water. Please make sure you practice re-entry in a shallow area before you go into depth over your head. There are many good videos on YouTube that teach you how to do this.
In conclusion there are many types of kayaks to choose from and this can be a very daunting task for the untrained. Watch as many videos reviews and read as many online reviews as you can before you make the leap into the kayak world. There are many safety precautions you need to take like always wearing a life jacket and learn how to re-enter your kayak after you fall out because it will happen. Read your vehicle manual and make sure your vehicle can tow your kayak beforehand. If you are not in the best shape or cant swim, a kayak might not be a good choice for you. Whatever you plant to use the kayak for there are many activies you can enjoy, don’t just stick to one. Most importantly read your laws about kayaking and be aware of your surrounding vessels because you will be the smallest one on the water. Have fun and be safe!