Kayak Buying Guide & Best Kayak Reviews 2018

Do you like going outside to enjoy the beautiful sun and the blue sky?  Of course you do. Kayaking is a great way to get up close to mother nature and her endless beauties. Therefore, it is no surprise that of late, kayaking has become one of the most sought-after outdoor activities in the world and people from all over all walks of life are taking interest in kayaking because it offers an amazing opportunity to explore natural beauties while at the same time helping us all to stay fit and stay strong.  These slim little boats are offering breathtaking views of beaches or big lacks that are otherwise impossible to behold unless you are seeing it from the mechanical eyes of a drone.

If you wish to get a completely different perspective of the world and the natural world, you must learn how to kayak. Definitely learning kayaking is not a rocket science. As obvious, there is a steep learning curve involved, but before even you start learning kayaking and its various complex aspects you need to purchase a kayak at the first place.

Buying a Kayak may simple and straightforward to some people but it is not.  There are hundreds of different types of Kayaks available in the market and therefore for choosing the one that suits you need is a herculean task. Most beginner kayakers feel overwhelmed and they often feel lost when they go to a local market to purchase a Kayak. To help you out, here we have listed some tips that both beginners and pro Kayakers should check out to identify a well-built yet affordable Kayak –

Kayak Buying Factors & Guide

Here are few factors that need to consider while you are trying to purchase the best Kayak for your next outdoor adventure –

1-Person Inflatable Kayak
1-Person Inflatable Kayak

1. Budget

You simply can’t ignore this obvious factor. The price of a Kayak plays a pivotal role here. Don’t just settle for the cheapest Kayak available in the market because chances are quite high that it could be made from low quality materials. Cheap Kayaks usually don’t last long and they tend to have lots of issues that even pro Kayakers struggle to deal with. So, you need to have a decent amount of budget before you can even start your quest for the perfect Kayak within your budget.

2. Weight

Weight of the Kayak should not be ignored. Of course, lightweight Kayaks are easy to move around but there is a catch to it. It can get tilted easily when you will be paddling with it in rough current. So, choose a Kayak that is not too light or too heavy because that would make it tough for you to maneuver it on water. Try to hit the sweet spot in between.

10-Foot Sit-in Kayak
10-Foot Sit-in Kayak

3. Sit-on-Top or Sit-In

This is probably one of the oldest dilemmas that all beginners face when they decide to purchase their first Kayaks.  If you are an adrenaline junkie and like to face the brave new world, we would suggest you to opt for the Sit-On-Top Kayak. But if you want some semblance of safety, you should settle with Sit-In Kayak.

4. Place

To narrow down your requirement, you need to first figure out where you are planning to paddle. A Kayak that performs precisely and perfectly in a lake may not be the best choice when it comes to paddling in an open sea. So, you need to first decide where you want to start peddling and then start looking for a Kayak which is developed for that particular environment.

Where You are Planning to Paddle

As you can understand, choosing a Kayak has a lot to do with its environment. A Kayak that sails smoothly on a river may not sail that smoothly on local water bodies like lakes or ponds. This is the reason why most Kayak Experts tend to give due attention to the water type while purchasing a Kayak.

10 Foot Angler Sit On Top Kayak
10 Foot Angler Sit On Top Kayak

Coast

Unlike Lakes or ponds where the wind and waves don’t bother you that much, Coasts throw a gauntlet of challenges to both beginner Kayakers and veteran Kayakers. There are way too many factors like – current, waves, tides, wind etc are in play and that means, you will have to be extra careful while purchasing a Kayak for this particular unpredictable environment. Sit-In Kayaks are best for such condition and make sure that the boat has skeg or rudder associated with otherwise you will have to struggle a lot while kayaking in the coastlines.

Rivers

Unlike open sea where there are no sharp turns or underwater objects that can damage the Kayak, Rivers are notorious for throwing up challenges to the Kayakers in the form of strong current or sharp turns. So, you need to select a Kayak that can be maneuvered easily and effortlessly. It should be lightweight and stable otherwise you will find it to keep the kayak stable in rough weather. Sit-on-top kayak should be in your mind if you are planning to kayak on a river nearby.

Lakes

Okay first thing first. We are not talking about giant lakes like Lake Michigan or Lake Victoria. Nope we are talking about small lakes that we come across in countryside every now and then. Recreational sit-in boats are perfect to paddle in local lakes. If you are looking for some level of comfort as well, just opt for a sit-on-top Kayak and you will be just fine.

Both Lakes and Rivers

We understand that some of you might want to take your boat to both river and lakes and that should not be a problem. Actually, we need to understand that the River and Lakes have different kinds of water. Yeah, you heard that right! Rivers have flowing water whereas Lakes have still water. So, paddling in river and paddling in a lake is not the same. Sit-on-top kayaks should top your list here because these types of Kayaks are known for their versatility and flexibility. Make sure that the Sit-on-top kayak has a skeg attached to with it otherwise you are going to have a rough time while paddling.

Different Types of Kayaks

Depending on the structure, their usage and the sitting positions, Kayaks have been categorized into different types –

Recreational Kayak – Single Person Sit On Top Kayak
Recreational Kayak – Single Person Sit On Top Kayak

1. Sit-On-Top Kayak

Sit-On-Top Kayaks are usually made from plastic that makes them lightweight but they are tough enough withstand the rough conditions. Easily maneuverable, Sit-On-Top Kayaks are a hit among beginners because they stay steady on river and usually don’t need much intervention from the Kayakers to keep them afloat. So, if you want to experience the thrill of Kayaking for the first time, Sit-On-Top Kayak is the best choice for you.

With a little bit of training, you will easily be able to make it move around wherever you want and that means, you will be able to save considerable amount of energy. This will prove lifesaver for you if you are planning to paddle for long. Majority of Sit-On-Top Kayaks that are available in the market have enough room available for keeping your storage dry.

Easy to get on and off, Sit-On-Top Kayaks are ideal for deep water canoeing. Where the water is still like in a Lake or in a pond, they can prove extremely helpful. Sit-On-Top Kayaks are also immensely popular among kids.

Comparatively bulkier than their counterpart – Sit-In Kayaks, Sit-On-Top Kayaks have a unique mechanism integrated into them and that is – self-draining system. No need to pump out the water from the Kayak manually because Scupper holes will get it done for you automatically. Does not that sounds amazing?

10-Foot Sit-in Kayak
10-Foot Sit-in Kayak

2. Sit-in kayaks

Sit-in Kayaks are mostly made for recreational purposes. They are ideal for exploring water bodies, rivers etc. They are really good for paddling and the best thing for Sit-In Kayaks is that they can be moved around very quickly. During the winter, these Sit-in Kayaks can provide you all the comfort that most Sit-On-Top Kayaks are unable to provide. Spray skirts can be attached to it if you feel that the water is little bit choppy and there is a slight chance that the water might swamp the boat. In case, your boat gets swamped by accident, you can make use of a bilge pump to drain the water out.

foldable kayak
Foldable kayak

3. Folding Kayaks

Accept the fact that most of us don’t have a mansion to live and that means, we need to find a Kayak that does not take too much space. Folding Kayaks can come handy in such cases. In case, you are planning to go to a remote place for kayaking, Folding Kayaks can prove useful. These Kayaks are lightweight but that does not mean that they can’t withstand minor scratches or impacts. Assembling these Kayaks is as easy as pie and if handled correctly, they can prove to be a great travel companion for a long time to come. Rain, snow or stormy weather, these folding Kayaks can be ridden by a true kayaker without trouble.

Inflatable Kayak
Inflatable Kayak

4. Inflatable Kayaks

Strong and dependable, Inflatable Kayaks are no longer being treated with contempt by pro Kayakers. Previously people didn’t use to take these Inflatable Kayaks seriously because they were mostly handled by kids on the beaches. In those bygone eras, Inflatable Kayaks were made from cheap materials and were unable to withstand even minor impacts.

But things have changed. Modern Inflatable Kayaks are made from finest quality and highly durable materials that give them the strength that they need to withstand even the worst climatic conditions. Be it paddling through choppy water or through strong currents, Inflatable Kayaks are the best choice you have. The main advantage of Inflatable Kayaks is that they are extremely lightweight and that means they can be lugged around for your weekend excursions easily.

Sit On Top Fishing Kayak
Fishing Kayak

5. Fishing Kayaks

Fishing Kayaks as obvious from its name are developed and designed in mind with the requirements of the anglers. There is extra room for legs so that you fish comfortably and a rod holder is being attached to it so that you can free up your hands whenever you want. Extra storage space is also available in these types of Fishing Kayaks. Drag-resistant design gives the kayak a much needed stability that this kind of activity sorely needs while not making any kind of compromise on the maneuverability of the Kayak.

Sit Inside Recreational Kayak
Sit Inside Recreational Kayak

6. Recreational Kayaks

Recreational Kayaks are designed for shorter trips on flowing rivers or on Stillwater Lake. The main USPs of Recreational Kayak is that it has a large cockpit area and also they are extremely affordable. If you are a first time Kayak Buyer, we suggest opting for Recreational Kayaks as they are pocket-friendly yet fun to operate. Get in and out of Recreational Kayaks is super simple. It does not matter whether you are a 40 years old grownup man or a 10 years old kid, maneuvering Recreational Kayaks is as easy as 1-2-3. These boats stay steady. Though made from polyethylene plastic, you would not find any issue with its structural integrity.

Tandem Kayak – White Water Kayak
Tandem Kayak – White Water Kayak

7. Tandem Kayaks

There is no point in spending money on two kayaks when a single Tandem Kayak can meet your needs. If you and your friend don’t have any issue sharing a single Kayak, you should purchase a Tandem Kayak without further delay. They are great if you are planning to go for a romantic excursion with your girlfriend. Offering better stability, Tandem Kayaks are also ideal for rescue mission.

Touring Kayak
Touring Kayak

8. Touring kayaks

Touring Kayaks are made to cover long distances. They are sturdy, robust and have all the strength to deal with rough weather. To deal with unpredictable wind and erratic waves, a skeg is usually attached to it. Touring Kayaks tend to have more space where you store things. The price of Touring Kayaks is on the higher side when compared with other types of Kayaks.

Hull Types

The performance of the Kayak is directly dependant on the design of the Kayak’s hull. Even the stability of a Kayak also depends on the design of its Hull and that means, while purchasing a Kayak for the first time, you need to have a solid understanding of the different types of Hull design and the purposes they serve –

1. Flat Hulls

Flat Hull makes it easier for the paddlers to move around easily on open water.  This design is often used in Recreational Kayaks and also in Fishing Kayaks because the design allows the Kayaks to stay stable on still water. The design also offer support to the Kayak’s primary stability which is a plus for those kayakers who love to go on a fishing trip every now and then.

2. Rounded Hull

Rounded Hull gives kayaks a torpedo like shapes and thus allowing them to move on water rapidly and elegantly. Its torpedo shapes adds to its speed as the Kayak has to face little resistance or friction of the water. Rounded Hull Kayaks are well known for offering greater Secondary Stability and thus making them the perfect choice for long distance travel.

3. V-Shaped Hull

If you are looking for a Kayak that can cut through the water effortlessly, you need to settle for a V-Shaped Hull.  These V-Shaped Kayaks are ideal for going in straight line. For recreational purposes, V-Shaped Kayaks are great. They move faster than traditional Round Shape Kayaks. V-Shaped Kayaks may appear a bit unstable when you get in it since it offers least initial stability but as soon as you get in, the secondary stability kicks in and gives you all the stability that you need to move around effortlessly.

4. Pontoon Hulls

Stability is the hallmark quality of a pontoon hull kayak. They are basically a hybrid version of a rounded hull Kayak and a flat shaped Kayak and that means, they have the best of the both worlds. They offer decent amount of primary stability and secondary stability. But there is a downside of Pontoon Hull Kayak and that is they are not that fast on water. They tend to move very slowly and requires greater efforts from the paddlers.

Kayak Materials

Kayaks are now made from wide range of materials and depending on the material, the speed and the performance of the Kayak can vary significantly. Here are the three different types of materials that are widely being used while making Kayaks –

Sit-Inside-Kayak
Sit-Inside-Kayak

1. ABS Plastic

It is an expensive variant of the otherwise commonly used material – polyethylene. It is expensive compared to the traditional polyethylene but it weighs less and thus making it easier for Kayakers to carry it around easily. It also offers some level of UV resistance which is a plus.

2. Polyethylene Plastic

Kayaks made from polyethylene plastic go easy on the pocket because this material can be procured on the cheap. Polyethylene plastic is also abrasion-resistant. There are some serious downsides of polyethylene plastics and that is – it makes the Kayaks heavy and it does not offer any kind of protection from the Sun’s UR rays. So, after certain time, the Kayaks made from polyethylene plastics will start degrading gracefully. To extend its life, you need to keep in a shade away from the sunlight. Polyethylene plastic is mainly used for making recreational kayaks targeting groups like – kids and noobs.

3. Composites Materials

Carbon-Fiber and Fiberglass are mixed together to create a unique composite material to manufacture Kayaks that offers both stability without making them heavier. Let’s dissect individual materials to get a proper understanding.  Fiberglass is extremely lightweight and thus helps keep the weight of the Kayak in check whereas carbon-fiber offers protection from the impacts as this material gives strength to the Kayak.

Other Kayaks Buying Factors

The performance of a Kayak depends on a lot of other factors that most of us like to ignore. Here we are going to give a detail analysis of some other additional factors that you need to keep in mind while buying a kayak –

Sit-On-Top Kayak Paddle
Sit-On-Top Kayak Paddle

1. Length Of the Kayak

The speed and the stability of a Kayak are invariably associated with its length. Ignore this and you are sure to make a wrong decision at the end. Of course, longer Kayaks offer great performance offshore but they also need additional accessories like a rudder otherwise, you will have a hard time to control this beast in open water. Shorter Kayaks are easy to control and move around and thus making it perfect for white water kayaking.

2. Weight of the Kayak

Wide Kayak offers greater stability and thus making it perfect for fishing or hunting trip but we should ignore the obvious fact that these wide Kayaks will be hard to turn or move. It will be a real struggle to control them on choppy water and they are comparatively slower than their slimmer counterparts. Narrower kayaks offer more stability when paddling in sea.

3. Weight of the Kayak

Transporting a Kayak to and from the water is a tough job especially if you are a skinny guy like me. So, it makes sense to opt for a lighter version. Lightweight Kayaks are easy to transport and they are also easy to control on patchy water. But heavyweight kayaks offer some level of stability on erratic water that you simply can’t expect from a lightweight Kayak.