how to buy kayak

A very important tip …I have found that designs that locate the seat in or nearest to the center of the kayak (between the front and back) track (move) and turn more efficiently compared to seats located more aft (to the back) of the kayak.
In my experience, centering the weight gives the kayak better balance – so you may want to take note of seat location before you buy a kayak.
Other weight considerations depend on how you plan on using your kayak.
This tends to confuse someone new to the sport – but don’t worry, go to the page titled Kayak Types.
The width (or beam) of the kayak determines how much paddle effort will be needed and how stable it is.

Spray skirt: This fits snugly around the paddler and attaches to the cockpit combing (rim) to keep water out of the kayak.
Most have bulkheads with sealed hatch covers for dry storage and enhanced safety (these compartments trap air which allows the kayak to float even if the cockpit fills with water).
This, the body of the kayak, is another determining factor in how a boat handles on the water.
A kayak allows you to quietly explore an estuary, enjoy breathtaking views that can’t be seen from shore, get in a morning workout around the lake or just play in the water with the kids.
Cockpit size: A small cockpit holds you inside the kayak better and helps you maneuver efficiently in rough conditions.
The combination of a skeg and a longer waterline improves straight-line tracking and makes it easy to control the kayak in currents or side winds.
Touring kayaks are usually 12 to 16 feet long, and their hulls are shaped to increase lift in waves and rough water.
This is essentially a paddle that attaches to the top of the kayak’s stern and is lowered into the water with a hand lever.
Car rack: Unless you have an inflatable, folding or modular kayak, you need a rack on your vehicle to transport your boat.
Pros: Easy to store and transport; quick, simple assembly; additional sections can be purchased to make a double or triple kayak.
Wide boats offer more initial (primary) stability in calm conditions while narrower boats go faster and offer better secondary stability if the boat is leaning on its side.
The following elements of kayak design are less important for novices to know when shopping for a boat, but they do help explain how a kayak works.
Pros: Better performing and more versatile than recreational kayaks; more storage space (especially multiday boats); bulkheads with sealed hatches enhance safety.
This refers to the edge of a kayak’s hull where it cuts through the water.
See our Kayak Wet Exits and Rescues article for tips on righting a capsized boat.
These are made to travel long distances in open water and provide stability in rough conditions.
Tip: When kayak shopping, get in and out of the cockpit several times to see how easy (or hard) it is.
Once you’re experienced assembling your kayak, it takes only 15–20 minutes to go from car to water.
Recreational kayaks usually have a smaller bulkhead (storage area) for short day trips, though some have a larger storage area for day touring.
And a touring-style kayak can still also be made out of the polyethylene material, but you will notice that it is going to be alot thinner, they are going to be a lot longer, it will have a little bit different sized openings to get into the cockpit itself, and they are more for the advanced paddling where you might take yourself out into more adverse conditions or different types of paddling situations.
But in my experience for the last 35 years in kayaking, what usually happens is people will like the sport, they will buy an inexpensive boat to get into it, they will paddle that boat around for maybe a summer or so and then realize that they want to paddle more often, they want to go to more places, they want to do more things and in some cases a recreational style boat is not the proper boat for going out into more advanced paddling areas.
There are some that are sort of a hybrid between the two, and this particular boat, it is a real light-weight kayak, but it does have a large cockpit, so it has a recreational size cockpit and yet the material is a thermal formed material called carbonite.
The reason why I ask what you are going to do with a kayak is because people have a tendency to want to buy the least expensive boat they can to get into and onto the water.
As you progress up into different styles of boats based upon your own paddling skills, you might also start working yourself up into boats like we call this a touring-style boat.
If you need assistance with shopping on our site, please call us at 1-877-846-9997 and a customer care representative will be happy to assist you.
Recreational kayaks are designed for ease of use and maneuvering, while whitewater and fishing kayaks are engineered with utility in mind.
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Sit In style kayaks generally have a more efficient hull design; allow for greater gear storage; are dryer, allowing for an extended paddling season for most paddlers; a properly fitted cockpit (the area you sit in) will allow the paddler to very effectively use his/her body to control the boat.
Almost all sit on top style kayaks are self bailing…no need to worry about swamping the boat! Sit on top style kayaks generally (cons) must be wider to compensate for the resultant paddlers higher center of gravity; are slower for their length due to extra width, do not allow (without thigh straps) a paddler to effectively use his/her body to control the boat; are a little more cumbersome to handle on and off the water.
Quite a few of the larger touring kayaks are made of this type of plastic as well, although if you are buying a touring boat and need the lightest, fastest kayak out there then you need to find a model that is made of a composite material.
If you choose a wide boat with great primary stability, this means that simply sitting in your kayak on the water the boat will feel very stable and not "tippy".
It wasn’t until I got it into the water however that I found out why the boat didn’t fit me; I was over the recommended weight for the kayak, and it made the boat ride lower in the water and water came into the cockpit everytime I leaned over even a little.
A lot of first-time kayak users choose short, wide kayaks because they feel more comfortable with the perceived stability of the boat.
Now take a very narrow touring kayak; while sitting still in the water the boat will feel very unstable.
Second, there are moving pedals in the cockpit, with cables that usually run back past the padder from the pedals to the rear of the boat, usually through the bulkhead foam (if your kayak is equipped with bulkheads) and to the rudder in the rear.
A touring kayak on the other hand is usually a boat that is more than 13′ in length, and for longer multiple-night trips and heavy duty use you will want a boat that is at least 16.5′ to 17′ in length.
The shorter length of a recreational or day trip touring boat will not track as well (go in a straight line) as a longer touring kayak.
The other major reason not to get a rudder on your kayak is that if you are a beginning paddler, a rudder might seem like an easy way to steer a 16′ kayak but it will actually keep you from becoming a good paddler, as you will learn to steer with the rudder and not your paddle.
While most plastic kayaks can spend a whole day bouncing off rocks without a scar, and most airalite boats can skim over rocks with barely a scratch, the gelcoated hull of a composite kayak will almost certainly scratch, chip, or crack anytime it touches a sharp rock (or other hard surface).
Plastic kayaks have a much more noticeable amount of flex to their deck and hull than airalite or composite kayaks, and while this makes them more resilient to bumps and bangs against rocks, it also makes them feel a bit cruder than the "luxury" feel of an airalite or composite kayak.
But unlike plastic kayaks, with a little TLC and some occasional wax, you won’t have to worry about your composite kayak gradually losing its performance and shape in the heat.
Did you know that kayaks come in different shapes? It’s true! The shape of a kayak is classified as "symmetrical," "Fish-form," or "Swede-form." Read the section entitled Symmetry: Sym, Fish, or Swede? for more information about these shapes and their effect on performance.
Of course, there are obvious exceptions to these recommendations, such as if you paddle in tiny creeks too narrow or swift for longer kayaks to navigate, if you plan to use your kayak only as a means to serve some other end (such as fishing or hunting), or if age or disability prevents you from paddling a narrow kayak safely.
Maybe I’m just imagining it, but after paddling a gelcoated kevlar kayak for so long, I swear that most plastic kayaks feel noticeably slower to me&#151and I know many others who feel the same.
A kayak that is approximately 23 to 26 inches wide, for example, will offer very good initial stability, but also have sufficient secondary stability to handle unexpected patches of rough water, like the wakes of passing boats or the choppy waves kicked up in moderate to heavy winds.
The downside of folding kayaks is that they need to be assembled before you can paddle them (on average, most folding kayaks take anywhere from 25 to 60 minutes to set up), and their shape will never be as stiff, fair, fast, or efficient as a well-molded hardshell kayak of the same size.
The difference may seem incredibly small and virtually unnoticeable to most people, but theoretically, over time, it takes slightly more effort to paddle a plastic kayak versus a composite kayak if all other factors are equal.
Since good tracking is so crucial to a kayak’s performance, most kayaks on the market (with the exception of white-water kayaks) have very little rocker built into them.
A kayak with a rounded, U-shaped hull (called "rounded chines") will generally possess a mixture of good initial and good secondary stability, but it will take some practice to get a good feel for how far the kayak can be leaned before it capsizes.
If you know what type of kayak you’re looking for but aren’t sure which make and model, check out the appropriate page for some guidance (e.g., Inflatable Kayaks, Fishing Kayaks, Sit On Top Kayaks, Recreational Kayaks or Touring Kayaks and Sea Kayaks).
As was mentioned in the sea kayak section above, longer kayaks track a straight line better and that’s pretty important when you’re touring because you’ll want to get from point A to point B without wasting lots of energy constantly correcting your course.
Longer boats also provide more room for gear and if a kayak can’t easily accommodate enough gear for a trip that includes one or two nights of camping, then I’m not sure I’d put it into the category of touring kayaks.
To learn more about how to choose a touring kayak, please visit the Touring and Sea Kayaks page.
To learn more about how to choose a sea kayak, check out the Touring and Sea Kayaks page.
Welcome to Kayak Review! If you already know which kayak you’re looking for, then by all means go straight to either the Cheap Kayaks (Kayaks On Sale) page to see if it’s currently on sale at any of our recommended retailers or to the more general Kayak Search page.
To learn more about how to choose a recreational kayak, check out the Recreational Kayaks page.
Whitewater kayaks have become very specialized and, therefore, there are several subcategories (creek boats, play boats, etc.). Due to the plethora of information pertaining to these various subcategories of whitewater kayaks, I have not yet added guidance about how to choose a whitewater kayak.
To learn more about how to choose an inflatable kayak, please visit the Inflatable Kayaks page.
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Custom tailored features like the chine groove, planning hull width and bow & stern keels for play hogs like you.
Any which way, shoot the rapids, sit in it in the middle of your living room floor, or just drive around with it on the roof of your Volkswagen to make people think you’re cool but get on over here and buy this dumb thing for three hundred bucks.
Sometimes he comes back to pick something up but somehow it always seems to coincide with needing to borrow money, though he doesn’t seem to need to borrow it to pay me any rent.
Bow and stern keel lines provide great tracking when moving from one play spot to the next.
Engage the low volume ends for hesitation-free wheels and spark up the flat bottom for spin-mania.
Superior comfort and an ergonomic fit for medium to large sized paddlers with large.
This lightweight play hound has great stability on the flats and awesome control in the vertical world.
I’m a little frightened to know what the "large sized paddlers with large" are going to do with this boat, so I’m not gonna ask.
There are a few things you should keep in mind when initially looking around.  What are the most important features to you?  These may include stability, ability to stand, maneuverability, speed, storage, price, etc.  Do I want a sit-inside or sit-on-top?  Most fishing yaks these days are sit-on-tops (SOTs).  However, a lot of folks like sit-inside kayaks (SIKs) as well as hybrid yaks.  It really is a matter of personal preference.  However, if you are looking for a good all-around boat, I would lean toward an SOT.  How much does the boat weigh?  This is particularly important if you are going to be loading it, solo, onto an SUV or into a truck bed.  What length boat is best for you?  Generally, a 12′ boat is a great all-purpose length.  14′ and up is best for lakes, inshore, and other big water applications.  Less than 12′ is best for technical rivers, small flows, and ponds.  Personally, I think a 12′ boat is the best of both worlds.  I have taken my Malibu Kayaks Stealth 12 on all types of water this year and it has consistently kicked butt.  What is the weight capacity?  Naturally, you want a boat that fits your build.  Small paddlers may not like big boats.  Bigger paddlers will need a bigger boat.  The great thing is that there are boats available for every size and shape of paddler.  What kind of material do I want?  Most boats are made of a plastic polymer, but some are now being forged out of ultra-light materials, fiberglass, and even kevlar.  The key is to again remember what you will be using it for.  A fiberglass boat may not hold up well in shallow, rocky rivers, but will do great on lakes.  One other material related thing to rememember is to make sure the boat has been roto-molded.  Roto-molding is a process that basically pours plastic into a mold, melts it, and spins it so that it is one solid piece.  Some yaks use two pieces of plastic and join them with heat or glue.  These yaks are much more susceptible to issues.  How comfortable do I want my yak to be?  Let’s face it, spending hours on end in a small, plastic boat can be hard on the back, legs, and butt.  Comfort is important espcially in regard to the seat.  Make sure the boat your are looking at has a comfy seat with good back support or can have a good seat added to it after purchase.  Other factors to consider include shape, keel design, scupper arrangement, width, and bow height.  But keep in mind that there is no perfect kayak.
The awesome thing is that most places these days will let you test paddle boats for little to no charge.  I would pick a top 3 and paddle them all.  Rate them in different categories and see which one does the best.  Keep an eye out for speed, maneuverability, stability, comfort, design, and tracking.  Tracking is how straight a kayak goes.  The better it tracks, the less side to side movement it has when paddling.  A boat that tracks better is easier to paddle and much more efficient.  However, they can also be less maneuverable on flowing water.   And again, I can’t stress comfort enough.  Remember, you are going to be sitting in this boat for 4-12 hours at a time.  You don’t want to make appointments with your chiropractor after each fishing trip.  Another biggie is stability.  If you don’t feel stable you aren’t going to have a good time on the water and won’t be able to fish effectively.  Rule out any boats that don’t feel stable enough (this varies a lot based on personal preference).  Other things to think about are how easy it is to enter and exit the yak, how wet do you get from paddling the boat (either from waves, spray, or paddle drip), how does it do in the wind, and how low or high does it sit in the water (low might mean you need more weight capacity and high might mean it will perform poorly in the wind).
In this video, speaks with an expert kayaker to learn the differences between the various models of kayak, and find out which model is right for who.
There are various different styles and materials of kayak that range from something appropriate for a novice to something for a more experienced boater.
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River kayaks tend to be shorter because they need to be more maneuverable, where as for open water and longer distance paddling, longer is better because it gives you better speed and tracking.
First you need to ask yourself a couple questions such as, what do you want to use it for? How much previous kayaking experience do you have? Do you want a single or a tandem? Where will you store it and how will you transport it? The answers to these questions should help you make a more educated decision on which kayak is right for you.
Will it be a river, lake, bay, or ocean? There are a few styles of kayaks that are good in a wide variety of conditions, but most are somewhat specific to one type of paddling.
A touring kayak usually has 2 sealed storage compartments fore and aft, that allow you to keep your gear dry over your expedition.
All of the kayaks that we have discussed come equipped with different features that allow you to improve things such as maneuverability, storage, and comfort.
As an experienced kayaker, I feel that it is my duty to inform you, the public, about the wide variety of kayaks available today so you can make an informed decision and get the most out of your boat and money.
If you are suspicious of an ad for any reason (maybe the price sounds too good to be true, or there is no photograph of the actual kayak for sale in the add (a generic photo likely copied off the web could mean the seller doesn’t have possession of the kayak yet, but knows where he can steal one to deliver to you), or if the seller wants to meet you somewhere or offers to bring the kayak to your location (rather than you coming to their home), or someone other than the seller you had been talking with came by with the kayak to complete the transaction so you never see the seller face to face and therefore can’t identify him to police, or the seller claims to have another kayak of the same model but of a different color  than the one he first advertised and is now offering you the chance to buy that one at a good price, or if anything else makes you even a little suspicious about the transaction call Matt at Mariner Kayaks at (206)367-2831to report it while the conversation is fresh in your memory.
The dealer may also know if a kayak has been reported stolen (a theft victim often needs to call their dealer to get the serial # for the police because they never wrote it down–unfortunately a lot of dealers never bothered to write it on the invoice and now have no records they can go back to to get the serial number of you missing kayak so FIND THE SERIAL NUMBER ON YOU KAYAK, WRITE IT DOWN AND PUT IT IN A SAFE PLACE YOU WILL REMEMBER.
If you do this and your kayak is subsequently stolen the new buyer may quickly show up at a kayak dealer for parts replacement items (so if your kayak is stolen without the items you removed call the manufacturer and all the dealers of that model in your area to report the theft and the items the thief or new buyer may be trying to buy–as well as filing a report of the theft on our Stolen Kayak Report form and with police).
There may be a reward and in the past Seattle dealers made special offers of selected new kayaks at cost or offered a great deal on a used kayak to help keep the thief’s honest victims (who had reported the stolen kayaks they bought when they discovered the kayak might be stolen) paddling.
Several people we are aware of have called the police to report what they were sure were ads for stolen kayaks (or suspicious circumstances in answering an ad) but even though they were later shown to have been absolutely correct, they were told by the police that unless they knew for a fact that the kayak was stolen, there was nothing the police could do.
If you don’t know what type of kayaking from that list you will be doing, chances are you are just wanting to paddle around in some local bodies of protected waters, in which case you are looking for a recreational kayak.
Unless you have lots of kayaking experience to know exactly what you want and how to take care of it, I recommend buying a plastic kayak at first.
The type of kayaking a person will be doing, where they will be kayaking, how large they are, their experience level, and a person’s budget all factor into the kayak that this would be paddler should end up with.
There is whitewater kayaking, sea kayaking, kayak touring, sit-on-top kayaking, surf kayaking, and recreational kayaking, just to name a few of the different types of kayaking out there.
Tell him or her exactly where you expect to be kayaking and they will tell you what type of kayak you need.
Solo Kayak or Tandem Kayak? Many people who want to buy recreational kayaks initially think they may want a tandem kayak , that is one that can hold two people.
There are bungie deck rigging, different types of hatches or storage compartments, ratchet adjustable backrests, and fishing rod holders to name just a few of the various kayak equipment .