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How to Choose The right Kayak

How to Choose The right Kayak

Kayaking is one of the most popular and sought-after activities that people love to indulge in. A kayak will help you to reach a favored destination of your choice – a beautiful beachside, an estuary, or any other view or place that cannot be viewed from the shore. Additionally, kayaking also helps you in working out and just spending some time in the water.

Difference between Sit-In and Sit on Top Kayaks:

When choosing among kayaks, there are two main types – sit-ins and sit in tops. Here are a few key pointers that differentiate them from each other:

Sit in Kayaks Features

Sit in Kayaks are basically recreational boats, which are fast-moving and come with covered-cargo compartments. Some key features about such kayaks are:

  1. Paddling is more efficient in these types of kayaks
  2. You can position your body in such kayaks to assume better control, which is a very much needed requirement when kayaking in rough waters
  3. These boats are much suited for cool and breezy weathers

Sit-on-Top Kayaks Features

Sit on top Kayaks are boats which are more suited for lakes and light rivers, having quite a bit storage for overnight tours. Here are some key features of such kayaks:

  1. These kayaks are quite easy to get aboard on and can be used for rejuvenating, relaxing and light trips
  2. These types are generally heavier and are suitable for weathers where the waters are hot or warm
  3. The cargo space is not very accessible and is situated in the hollow hull

Factors that You Must Consider

However, to enjoy the kayaking, you need to first consider which kayak you should go for. There are many choices available in the market, but choosing the right kayak is of utmost importance. You need to determine the best kayak for you. Thus, here are a few tips that will help you select the best kayak for you:

1. Types of Kayaks

1. 1. Recreational Kayaks

Recreational kayaks are primarily designed to be used on calm bodies of water under optimal weather conditions. They are usually a bit heavier and wider which makes them more stable than other kayaks. If you are new to paddling and looking to spend most of your time on small lakes or ponds, these make a good choice. If you spend time in windy areas, these are not ideal because their size makes them more susceptible to catching gusts. Keep in mind also that because of their size and weight, they will be more difficult to maneuver than other lighter and more narrow vessels.

Because of their stability, recreational kayaks are often used by photographers and anglers. Their size, in contrast to the other kayaks we will discuss, are a bit smaller (usually 10-12 feet in length). Because of their smaller size, they offer less storage space.

Considering the above, recreational kayaks are relatively inexpensive. This is normally due to the fact that the material they are normally composed of (polyethylene) is cheaper than lighter materials. But. polyethylene is very strong. These kayaks can be pulled up on rocky beaches without worry. I spend a lot of time on the Colorado River and many of the places I explore are quite rocky. With this type of kayak, you will have few worries about holes or damage when learning to paddle.

1.2. Touring Kayaks

Touring kayaks are known as sea kayaks and they can best be identified by the long, “skinny” look that they possess. These are designed to travel long distances and remain stable in rough conditions. And while they are stable in rough conditions, many people live to use them on calm waters as well due to their sleek design and speed as their hulls are designed to increase lift to keep them on top of the water. Also, touring kayaks are typically equipped with rudders or skegs to make maneuvering a snap.

The extended length of touring kayaks (12-16 feet) allows for dry storage and sealed hatches which allow you to carry more gear and supplies. The cockpits are usually quite small and confining and can make some people feel a bit claustrophobic.

The touring kayak is divided into two subcategories which are single-day touring and multi-day touring. The difference in these will be the amount of space they have which will determine the amount of gear you can take with you.

These are normally much lighter than recreational kayaks but they can be equally heavy as you increase in length.

1.3. Sit-on-Top Kayaks

Sit-on-tops are typically the heaviest and most stable of all kayaks. These are the ones you normally see at kayak rental shops because of their versatility. This is a great choice for beginners and kids because of the ease in getting in and out of them (no cockpit). They are also very durable and can be taken anywhere without fear of rocks or sharp bottom waters causing any structural damage.

One great thing about sit-on-top kayaks is the fact that they are extremely difficult to capsize. And, if you are even able to tip it over, they are very simple to right and they don’t hold any water once you get ti right side up. Because of their stability, these sit on tops are the #1 choice of anglers and divers as they provide a very stable platform to work from. Because there is no cockpit, these are normally found in warmer climates where the occasional splash won’t cause you to freeze.

While these are a bit heavier than most kayaks foot per foot, they are usually a bit smaller in length (10-12 feet) making them manageable.

1.4. Inflatable Kayaks

Over the past few years, there have been remarkable strides in the construction of inflatable kayaks. What used to be considered toys, these kayaks are now extremely sturdy and very capable in the water under both good and bad conditions. Make no mistake. These are not the inflatable boats that you grew up with. Their construction is usually composed of a hard shell which resists rips, tears and holes. Also, even though they are inflated with a hand or foot pump, many have high pressure floors that keep the kayak perfectly stable as you stand up and walk the length of the kayak, making them as sturdy as the biggest and heaviest polyethylene ones.

Inflatable kayaks are the perfect choice for those who lack space in their home to store a traditional kayak or for those who don’t want to buy or own an expensive roof rack to transport. Inflatable kayaks traditionally come with a large duffel bag that holds the kayak. Most of these can be stored under a bed at home and transported in the trunk of a small car. Inflatable kayaks are the lightest of all kayaks and can easily be handled and transported by virtually any adult.

The only drawbacks of the inflatable kayak is that they take a few minutes to inflate once you get to the water (usually 5-10 minutes) and that they are not as resilient as a hard-sided kayak. If you want to see inflatable kayak reviews, feel free to explore this website as we have something for everyone.

Size and Shape

This is another thing that you must factor in as this determines the cargo space, which is yet another important factor to take into account.

Paddling Location

This is the first thing that you must think about. Where would you like to paddle – in a river, lake or in coast? This is important as this will help you streamline your selection. Sit inside or on top – This is yet another thing that you must focus on. What is your preference – do you like the traditional sit-in kayak, or do you like the airy sitting on top kayak? These questions will further help you in making your choice

Weight and Budget Considerations

This is one of the most important aspects that you must take into consideration. You need to assign a budget and decide on how much you want to spend on the kayak. Determining the weight is also a good step as the weight of the kayak is an important factor in the pricing of the kayak.

There are many kayak types, so make sure that you have given due thought and choose the one that is best for you.

Usage of the Kayak:

Another way to go about this is to think about the water type where you will be kayaking, and then make your purchase decision. Here are a few water types and the suitable kayaks for each:

Sea Coasts

Sea Coasts are vulnerable to tides, waves, winds quite frequently. Thus, if you wish to frequent into sea coasts, it is recommended that you purchase a kayak with a fixed-tracking fin, skeg, or one with a rudder. You can also go for an on-top sitting kayak as you will be able to enjoy the view, along with the winds and breeze.


If you wish to float on a river, then go for a stable and sturdy boat that can cut through the movement and turn rapidly. This could wither be a sit-in or on the top boat, but make sure it is sturdy and strong.


If you want to frequent the local lakes, then you can opt for any recreational kayak – either on top or sit in, as per your choice.  

Last modified: November 15, 2020