Ready to take the kids out for kayaking in the summer? Or are you yourself a beginner in the eccentric sport? Well, whatever the case, we understand how expensive renting a kayak for beginners can be every week or even every month. Well, chances are you would be better off by simply buying a kayak of your own. It would save you rental costs and you wouldn’t have to wait in lines. You could simply go the edge of the river and start paddling away.
However, most beginners tend to get overwhelmed by the wide variety of kayaks the market has to offer. Since there are so many types to choose from, it can get frustrating not knowing which one to choose. So, you need to get more information if you wish to make a more sound decision.
How to Choose the Best Kayak for Beginners
To help you choose only the best kayak for beginners, we have compiled a buying guide. Here are the top things you need to consider:
The body of Water
The first thing you should consider is where you will be paddling your Kayak. Each body of water needs a specific type of Kayak.
Lakes: Since the water is mostly calm, a sit on top or a regular kayak will do. Recreational ones are more preferred.
Coasts: For the shore, you need to ensure you have a sit-in boat with a rudder so you can control the direction of the kayak amidst the powerful waves.
Rivers: You need to have a more sturdy boat that can easily turn with the river.
Beginner kayak boats come in a wide variety of sizes. Some are more catered to the younger users, while some bigger ones are perfect for a larger adult. So, ensure whichever boat you buy suits you or your child well and is not oversized or undersized.
Kayaks come in the following two types based on where you can sit:
Sit on: In this type, users normally sit on top of the boat. These are best for the more relaxed kayakers as they can easily enjoy the sun and fish from their kayaks. They are perfect for use in lakes.
Sit in: In the sit-in type of kayak, kayakers are mostly seated in the hull. These are best suited for the more daring and adventurous type who want to kayak with the waves or rapids. The plus points are that they will keep you drier and will help you store more gear. They are easier to control as well.
So, once you decide where you want to kayak, you can choose the style of the boat accordingly.
Turning or Tracking
Next, you should decide which you would prefer more: turning or tracking. Tracking means how well you kayak can stay in a straight line. So, obviously if your kayak is great at tracking, it will be poor at turning and if it is great at turning, it won’t stay in a straight line for long. It basically depends on where you want to kayak. Lakes normally do not need a lot of turning. On the other hand, river kayaks need to turn and twist with the route of the river. For beginners, we recommend you go with the tracking kind as they are much easier to manage.
Since you will be investing in a kayak, you should ensure that it is made up of durable material. As a beginner, you might know that the most common construction materials used in kayaks are:
Carbon fiber: Lightweight but expensive.
Kevlar: Lightweight but expensive.
Fiberglass: Lightweight but much more expensive.
Wood: Heavier than most others and not very durable.
Fabric: Collapsible and light but they tend to be expensive and not so durable.
Hard plastic: Heavyweight but durable and resistant to damage.
When it comes to stability, there are two kinds of stability to look for:
Primary Stability: This refers to how stable the kayak is while sitting still or engaged in low motion activities. It also indicates how easily you can get into or out of the kayak.
Secondary Stability: This indicates how stable the craft is while engaged in severe motion activities.
So, if you’re just going to the lake for fishing, a kayak with better primary stability will be better while for those daring enough to go through rough waves, a kayak with a better secondary stability is what you should choose. For beginners, we would recommend starting off with a kayak with a better primary stability.
Next, you need to determine how many persons will be riding with you in the kayak. If you wish to have your kids with you then choose a boat with a slightly higher capacity. If it is over the weight limit, it might compromise on the paddling.
In conclusion, as a beginner, we would only recommend you to go with the easier boats that are lightweight and easy to handle. We recommend that you first decide where you intend to use it first. Kayaks for beginners have never been so easy!
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set
The Intex Explorer is an inflatable kayak perfect for two persons. The streamlined design makes it easier to take the waves with this kayak. It is available in a sporty yellow and black graphics. What we loved the most about it was the easy setup. It quickly inflated within a few minutes. It was very lightweight which made it easy to maneuver
The rugged vinyl construction was pretty durable and sturdy. However, that’s not all! We found that the removable skeg that came with it provided it with directional stability which made it easier to turn. The inflatable seats include a backrest so you and your friend can be at ease while relaxing in the middle of the lake.
All in all, the Intex Explorer is best suited to be used in lakes or mild rivers with a friend by your side!
- Quick and easy to inflate and deflate
- Easy to store
- Directional stability is remarkable
- Lightweight and easy to maneuver
- Comfortable backrests
- The material of the seats is thinner.
- Needs to be pumped again after an hour of use
What to Look for when Buying a Kayak?
Kayaks are available in a wide variety of types. However, you must know which kind of kayak you should use. It is quite important to choose the right kind of kayak. Otherwise, you could end up being disappointed by your kayaking experience. So, what should you look for when buying a kayak? Well, it’s quite simple! Follow our tips below to find out the best kayak for yourself!
Different kayak styles
Kayaks were originally made by the Inuit people living in the Arctic Ocean over 4000 years ago. Since then, they seem to have gained more popularity all over the world. Originally, these kayaks were made of timber wood or bones of whales. To provide them with extra support, they were covered with the skins of a seal which also granted them waterproof properties. Where they were originally used for hunting purposes, today they are used for a wide variety of different activities including touring and other recreational activities.
Today, Kayaks are available in a wide range of shapes and sizes as well as materials. Each of them serves a different purpose and each of them has their own pros and cons. So, these types are:
Recreational Kayaks are originally used for recreational purposes and happen to be quite large. The cockpit of these kayaks is closed, however, there is a large opening which allows you to enter easily into the kayak. The inside of the kayak is quite spacious and can easily fit up to 2 people. However, these do tend to be shorter than the touring ones at about 10 feet or less.
The number one advantage of these kayaks is that they can be used in the summer easily. Opening the cockpit in the summer allows you to enjoy fresh, summer air for an amazing cool ride. However, you can close the cockpit in the winters as well to allow for a warm and dry tour.
What’s more is that the recreational kayaks are much cheaper than other touring kayaks due to their shorter size. However, their shorter size has its benefits as well. It makes storing and transporting them much easier.
They also are not as fast as touring kayaks and do not track well either. They tend to turn left or right when you paddle them instead of going straight. However, tracking can be easily solved by using a skeg.
Touring kayaks are easy to use and are very comfortable to sit in. They can be used by amateurs as well as beginners to even experienced individuals who have had immense experience paddling kayaks. They are specifically designed to be stable on water so you can rest assures, touring kayaks won’t be turning over any time soon.
These kayaks are usually long at about 12 feet or even longer, however, their cockpits are quite small. They also tend to be narrower than usual and are equipped with thigh braces that kayakers can use to get themselves back up in the rare case that the touring kayak turns over.
Since these kayaks are very long, they also tend to be quite expensive. The average price range is about $800-$1200. However, the price does come with its perks! The touring kayaks are exceptionally fast due to their aerodynamic narrow design.
On the other hand, the length also means that these kayaks are quite difficult to store and transport. Most kayaks of this style also include a rudder which can help them turn or stay on track. Mostly, they are used on longer trips where you need to cross a lake or other larger bodies of water.
A great example of a semi-modern boat is the pedaling kayak. Since people might suffer from arms or back pain, they might not be able to paddle their way around. For them, these pedaling kayaks are great since you only need to use your arms while pulling the boat into shore. Plus, they allow you to travel larger distances since your legs are stronger than your arms and are much better for the longer run. They have more slow-twitch fibers than the fast ones.
Of course, benefits like these are bound to come at a price. They are pricey and can cost a lot. But, they definitely seem to be worth it. Pedals are available in many types including a propeller one which uses pedals like a bicycle.
Sea kayaks are usually used for larger bodies of water such as the ocean and the sea. Since the seas can get very rough, these kayaks are equipped with two sealed bulkheads. These are present in the front of the feet in the bow section, while the other is in the stern behind the seat.
Most folks confuse sea and touring kayaks with one another. However, sea kayaks tend to be much longer and narrower for better performance on the high seas. They’re quite heavy as well and can often reach about 15-19 feet in length. Along with the bulkheads, the sea kayaks are also equipped with various hatches and deck layouts to allow for maximum storage space. These allow kayakers to store their gear which makes these kayaks perfect for a longer trip.
They are quite easy to paddle as well and often include a rudder to help you steer. This allows them to cut through waves like butter.
Sit on top kayaks
Sit on top kayaks are versatile boats that are very stable on open water and are quite easy to paddle no matter what your experience level is. These kayaks can be sued on the sea, rivers, canals, lakes and even estuaries.
Their cockpits are not closed which makes them easier to get in and get out of. These boats are all about stability which is why they are broader than most other kayaks and feature better primary stability. These make for the perfect fishing boats since all the fishing gear will be easily available to you.
However, they have their drawbacks as well. This includes getting wet while riding, which might be fine in the summers. In the winters, this can be quite annoying and can even get you sick. Since they are so easy to get into, you can even use them for diving or swimming.
In the current fishing industry, fishing kayaks seem to have gained a lot of popularity recently. Of course, they were actually used for fishing purposes by the Inuit so it’s no surprise to us. Most people prefer these fishing kayaks over other fishing boats such as a fishing canoe. This is due to their light weight bodies which makes them much easier to steer. On the other hand, they also provide you with space on top of the kayak so you can lay down all your gear including fishing crates.
Plus, they do tend to be much more stable which is perfect when it comes to fishing. Since you might wrestle back and forth with a fish, you might want to ensure that you do not topple over. These boats can easily withstand casting the line.
They are available at different prices, however, they tend to lie on the expensive spectrum since they can be customized.
Whitewater kayaks are actually perfect boats for using in the running water such as in the rivers. They include playboats, creek boats, river runners, inflatable and old-school boats as well. Playboats are actually not meant for braving the dangerous waves. They are mostly used for going to a spot and staying there to play with the water there. These do not make for very good boast when it comes to traveling down the river. These kayaks tend to be very short at about 6 feet and tend to be quite uncomfortable. This is because playboaters need to train with the boat. They provide playboaters with a ton of resistance exercise. A few hours on this boat and you’ll turn into a hunk! We’re not kidding. These are a very enjoyable and adventurous alternative to exercising in the gym.
River runners are the boats that can be used to travel down the rivers. These are usually about 7-8 feet long which allows you to track better on the flatter sections of the river and turn better as well. These kayaks are quite comfortable and have plenty of room for you to store gear in them.
Inflatable kayaks are not usually preferred by the professionals as they usually consider them as toys. However, regular folks tend to love the easy storage and accessibility they provide. They are designed mostly for recreational paddling on flat waters such as lakes. They are quite stable as well and can be easily inflated within minutes.
However, they do tend to track terribly and are not very comfortable. Not to mention you might be bothered by the constant worrying of popping it. And more importantly, they do often tend to deflate, if not pop. This is why they are quite inexpensive and why people mostly buy these kayaks.
Why paddle alone when you can share the horrible burning feeling in your arm with your friend? A two-person kayak, or as it is most commonly known as the tandem kayak, has seats for more than one person. This makes it easier to paddle since you will be sharing the burden with someone else.
Choosing the size of your kayak can be quite challenging. You do not want to get stuck with a longer or a shorter boat than what you originally wanted. However, the general rule is that longer boats are better for cruising through the waters as they offer a lot of storage spaces and are perfect for camping overnight.
On the other hand, they might not have the maneuverability of the shorter boats. The shorter boats can turn more quickly. So, it all depends on what type of situation you want to be in. Of course, you might want to get a medium sized boat that balances both speed and maneuverability as well.
However, a few inches of difference in length is likely to not make any difference. In fact, you won’t even notice any performance issues. So, 2-4 inches of differences in length is likely not to count.
For the length, you should also look into the type of paddling you will be doing as different bodies of water need different lengths and types of boats. For example, an ocean kayak might be about 17 to 20 feet long while a play kayak might be about 7 to 9 feet long.
Another factor to look for is also your own weight. If you are buying the boat for a child or a woman, it is likely that you will not need a longer boat. But for a grown man who weighs about 250 pounds or more, you would need a longer boat.
Another important feature to look for when buying your favorite kayak is to watch out for the hull. Before adding other accessories such as a seat, skirt, mount, pedal drives etc., you need to ensure your hull supports these designs.
The hull of the kayak is its bones. The hull is covered with other materials before it leaves for the shops. There are many different types of hulls each of which has their own pros and cons. Even if the basic structure of the hull is the same, you might still not be able to tell if two kayaks have the same hull or not.
The reason is that the hulls are designed to fit a specific purpose. For example, a whitewater kayak has a hull that is rounded on the sides and is short. It has a curved bottom which makes it easy to maneuver. On the other hand, a sea kayak hull is actually quite long, pointed and has a flat bottom. So, it is quite easy to differentiate between these hulls and their designs.
Hulls are generally classified into the following four types:
These hulls are designed in a way to give them round edges which makes them resemble a torpedo or a missile. So, it should come as no shock to anybody when we say that these hulls are best suited for speed. This is because their torpedo design which grants them less resistance to water.
Rounded hull kayaks are better at maneuverability and have better secondary stability than primary. This means they are far better at severe motion activities.
Next up are the V-shaped hulls. These hulls are not rounded, instead, they have a sharp V shape which makes it easier to cut through the water. This means that the V-shaped hulls are much better at tracking or following a straight line. They are efficient at great speeds and are generally very fast. They offer more secondary stability than primary stability. This means getting on them or out of them can be quite hard.
Flat hulls see a lot of applications in kayaks. These are used in various boats, from play boats to fishing kayaks and even touring ones. Moreover, if we discuss about the shape, they are flat from the bottom, allowing better maneuverability and stability. In addition, in terms of length, width and curvature, they are ideal. They also offer better primary stability so you won’t have to worry about getting in or getting out. .
A rather unique type of hull is the pontoon hull. However, stability is the main feature of the pontoon hulls. These kayaks are a hybrid between a flat and a round hull. Thus they offer users with the primary stability of a flat hull and the secondary stability of the rounded hull. This means that these boats are the most stable out of all the kayaks. They offer great tracking and turning as well. However, they do lack in speed.
All in all, beginners would do best if they first try to figure out what they are trying to do with their kayaks and then choose the best one for themselves. Now you can find the right shape, size and the right features in the kayaks. This will ensure that your first experience will be nothing short of a dream. You can cruise on the lake, or go wild with the rapids. But, at least you will have the right boat for it now!