Tips on how to choose the right kayak

Kayaking Lake Tahoe

With temperatures staying steadily warming over the last couple of weeks, and my skis safely stored for the season, I’ve turned my attention to the toys I will need to help me thoroughly enjoy my first summer in Tahoe.  Mountain bike, paddleboard, kayak, speed boat; wow, it is expensive to live the Tahoe lifestyle!

Since I’m not ready to drop an entire year’s salary on everything I need for summer, I’ll have to go to Plan B.  That means renting mountain bikes for this first summer (thank you for the 20% online discount), borrowing a paddleboard from my co-worker, and exploiting the use of my friend’s boat (honestly, it is probably better to have a friend with a boat than actually own your own).

A kayak, however, I can check off the list.  Being new to the sport, I didn’t have a clue about what to look for.  So I did some research (thank you REI for the great video), shopped at a few local sporting good stores, and placed my order for the Hobie Lanai Kayak which should be arriving this week!

If you are a newbie to kayaking like me, here are some tips on purchasing the kayak that is right for you:

1. Consider whether you want a “Sit In” or “Sit On Top” kayak: Sit On Top kayaks are generally better suited for flat water use such as lakes, bays and slow rivers.  They are also very stable making them good for beginners.  Sit In kayaks allow more maneuverability and body control making them better suited for fast moving waters.  They also tend to have more storage which keeps gear dryer.

2. Consider the type of kayak that is best suited to your usage:
* Recreational Kayak – Good initial stability make these ideal for fishing and leisure paddling.  They are best suited for calm water conditions and are great for beginners.
* Sea & Touring Kayak – These offer more stability in rough waters and are generally longer than Recreational Kayaks.  They are better for long distance paddling and have improved straight line tracking making them easier to maneuver in currents.
* Whitewater Kayak – Generally shorter than recreational and touring kayaks with high secondary stability for great control and maneuverability in rough waters.

3. Consider the length of the kayak: Generally, the longer the kayak the faster it will move through the water while shorter kayaks will turn easier. Longer boats also tend to have more storage.

4. Consider the material of the kayak: This affects the durability, price and weight.  The most popular material used today is Polyethylene plastic but there are many others to choose from.

These are just a few of the most important elements to consider as a beginner buying a kayak.  You should definitely do your own research because there are so many other factors to consider such as width, cockpit style, rudder, paddles, and the list goes on and on.

Do you have any other good tips that beginner kayakers should consider?  If so, share the knowledge.


~ Kelly Campbell, Marketing Manager



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