What should you look for when buying a kayak?
Growing up fishing from a kayak, I never appreciated the benefits it could offer. Many times, my dad and I used our kayaks to access coves full of smallmouth bass or crappie. A couple times we hooked sturgeon from our kayaks but it was actually more scary than fun. But now as an adult, I fully understand its’ benefits. The quick, convenient access to the other side of the reservoir can lead to some amazing experiences and places not many people can get to.
It is not all about fishing and honestly a day on the water just gliding across the top of the water is a great sensation that only is fulfilled in a kayak. So, the question you need to ask yourself when trying to find a kayak is, what are you going to use your kayak for?
Used Vs New
One of the first things you need to ask yourself before buying a kayak is. Do I like kayaking? If you are unsure whether you will like kayaking or have never kayaked before, see if a friend will take you out, or maybe someone will let you borrow a kayak. Also, consider purchasing a used kayak at first. See how often you use it or how much you like it. As much as we want to sell you a new kayak we would much rather you be happy with your purchase then regret it.
4 Different choices you have when looking at kayaks
There are all sorts of kayaks. You can get clear bottom ones inflatable ones and even fold up kayaks. Down below is a break down of the most common styles of kayaks you will find.
This is your every day, medium-sized kayak. It’s usually a wider bottom made for better stability. Great maneuverability and usually made to withstand an “average” amount of use. Mostly what you would get when renting a kayak and great for someone who is just looking in into kayaking.
Also known as a tripping kayak or Sea Kayak. These are longer length kayaks that take on bigger waves and achieve higher speeds. Some people prefer to put a rudder on touring kayaks to increase the ability to track. This longer, faster kayak comes at a cost of lower stability.
Fishing kayaks are very dependent on preference. Any kayak can be fished out of, but what you need to think about is how long you can fish for. I know there have been times I just wanted to dip my pole in the water. Then there are the days I want to fish all day. A larger bottom, more stable kayak built for comfy fishing can make for some amazing experiences.
Whitewater kayaks are going to be built differently than most other kayaks. They are designed to take a beating in some rough conditions. Most other kayaks should not be taken down extreme rivers. They will get destroyed. If you are considering a white-water kayak, visit a local store before you purchase online.
Does my Hull Shape Matter?
The length of your kayak is going to be determined by what you wish to experience. Longer kayaks are more efficient with speed and glide further. They can take waves better and require a shorter stroke. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to turn quickly you might find it more difficult with a longer kayak.
Shorter kayaks are going to be preferred for streams and rivers. Not white water but rivers which need quick navigation.
Width is going to be based on how much stability you want in your kayak. Starting out, I had a very wide kayak, always felt like I needed one. Over time I grew to love the quickness of a less bulky kayak. I prefer a medium width kayak for two reasons - speed and weight.
3 Common Methods Used to Create a Kayak
This is going to be the least expensive form of making a kayak. Even though this allows for mass production and many people to get into kayaking at a cheap price.
Blow-molded kayaks are made from cheap plastics, sometimes even recycled plastics. If they do not meet durability standards, they just mix in other plastics until it reaches spec. Blow-molded kayaks can have a lot of inconsistencies and will have a rough surface.
We must be cautious when purchasing kayaks that we want to last long periods of time. Blow-molded kayaks are heavier and cheaper. Buy one if you find a great deal and are just experimenting with kayaking. If you know you love to hit the water early and want to be comfy move on.
Thermo-formed is going to be when a manufacturer takes a deck and a hull and heat stamp them together. The two parts will be created separately then melted together creating seams. This type of method is a little more difficult to learn but if done correctly can manufacture some dependable kayaks.
With Thermo-formed you can still come up with a rougher kayak that can slow you down. Thermo-formed kayaks are a step up and will be lighter, can be more durable and just a little more expensive. Just don’t leave your kayak in the sun because thermos-formed kayaks get eaten faster by the sun than other types.
Roto-Molded kayaks have been noticed by the kayaking communities for their advantages over other types of kayaks. The construction methods used to create a smooth surface in the right spots and rough spots where it is needed, creating slick, fast kayaks with-skidd footing. They are more durable because there are no secondary seams to worry about and have thicker corners.
Roto-molded kayaks can be heavier. That comes with great benefits like durability and longevity. If you are looking for a kayak that will last over time then you might consider spending a little more money on a rotomolded kayak.
The best thing you could do when looking at purchasing a kayak is either renting one or borrowing one from a friend. This will give you an idea of what you need and what you feel comfortable using. This will also tell you whether you enjoy kayaking or not. I know for me I prefer to be standing in a boat or on the shore. But sometimes I want the peacefulness gliding across the water in a kayak can give me.