What Makes A Good Kayak?
Kayaking is a great way to have fun, keep fit, find unchartered waters, and even fish for food.
Unfortunately, you can’t go kayaking if you don’t have a kayak, can you? So, the first thing you should do is to find a kayak.
If this is your first time looking for kayaks, you must be wondering, what makes a good kayak? Well, there are plenty of things you should look out for when buying an ideal kayak for your needs. Some of these things include:
Kayaks are made from different materials, and it’s up to you to choose the material that is right for you. Some of the common materials are:
Plastic and aluminum: Kayaks made from either of the materials are affordable, highly durable, and the best for beginners. The downside to them is they are heavy, so they can challenge to paddle and carry especially. They also feel cold in winter.
Fiberglass: Fiberglass kayak paddles are tough, durable, light, and the best if you love going to the water frequently.
Carbon fiber: They are the toughest of all kayaks in the market. They are also light, so easy to paddle and carry around. The vessels are best for those planning to do kayaking for years, so if you are looking for a vessel that will stay with you for years without breaking, this is the one.
Inflatable materials: From their name, you pump air into these vessels to give them shape and keep them afloat. To reduce the risk of punctures, kayak manufacturers make them from tough PVC and Kevlar.
The other thing you should pay attention to is the shape of the kayak. Of course, the shape you go for depends on the type of kayaking you are doing and your experience level. Some of the popular shapes are:
Short kayaks: These are easier to control, and they tend to be stable
Slim kayaks: As you can guess, slim kayaks are less stable and best suited for the more experienced kayakers. They are good for long, straight distances and work the best for large and/or open waterways. If you are into sea kayaking, these are the best to go for.
Use of the kayak
How do you intend to use the kayak? You can use the vessel in four main ways: recreation, fishing, touring, and racing.
Recreational kayaks: If you are looking to have fun in the waters, you should go for a recreational kayak. An ideal recreational kayak has a flatter hull and is wider than other kayaks, which gives you greater stability. Unfortunately, the extra width means the kayak will drag more in the water and wind, making it a little slower.
Touring kayak: If you will be taking long trips in the water either for sightseeing or for fitness, you need a touring kayak. These kayaks are usually 14-18 feet in length, so usually longer than other kayak types in the market. The long nature of the vessels gives them better tracking, but they can be difficult to turn, especially for inexperienced kayakers.
If you are confused about whether to go for a recreational or touring kayak, think about how you like doing kayaking. If you love going deeper into the waters, you need a touring kayak but if you love staying within the safety of the land, go for a recreational vessel.
Fishing kayak: Are you looking to undertake kayak fishing? You should get a fishing kayak. An ideal fishing kayak is durable and stable. It also should have enough storage for the catch and gear. The kayak should be fitted with specialized features such as bottle holders, mounting brackets, anchor lines, rod holders, and others to make your life easy.
Racing kayak: Are you looking to be a professional athlete? You should get a racing kayak. An ideal racing kayak is light, long, and narrow to create the racing speeds you are looking for.
The paddles can make or break your kayaking experience, so you should pay close attention to them when buying a kayak. Standard paddles come in lengths varying from 210 cm to 260 cm, and you can choose any paddle length depending on your body size, height, and comfort levels.
When you are paddling, you use your back, arm, and stomach muscles, so get the lightest paddle possible, so your arms don’t tire too quickly. If you are into racing or looking to move the kayak at high speeds, you need a large paddle with a large blade.
The blade should be asymmetric and slightly curved, so it easily cuts through the water. It also doesn’t hurt if the blade is feathered. Like kayaks, paddles are made from different materials, making them ideal for different types of kayaking.
The most popular materials used in making the paddles are:
Fiberglass: These paddles are lightweight and extremely durable. This makes them ideal choices for touring and recreational kayaks. The beauty is they are easy to find, and they come in different colors so you can easily find a color you like.
Carbon fiber: Carbon fiber has a rougher look and feel, and this makes it an ideal choice when you are looking for high-performance paddling.
Nylon aluminum: They are relatively lightweight and don’t require any maintenance. This makes them the ideal choice for beginners and recreational kayakers. While the paddles are great, the major downfall is they tend to get too hot or cold depending on where you are using them.
Other factors that make a kayak great
Seats: If you will be spending long hours in the water, you should go for a kayak with a comfortable seat. If the kayak doesn’t have a comfortable seat, you will be better off adding a more comfortable, custom seat better ergonomically suited for your kayaking style.
Cockpit size: A large cockpit makes it easy to get in and out of the vessel. A small cockpit, on the other hand, gives you more control and protection during rough weather. You want a kayak that gives you a decent middle ground.
Hatches: If you are looking for kayaks for fishing, you need a kayak with hatches to access the interior storage areas.