So you want to buy a Kayak…
Have you ever gone on a kayak excursion and thought to yourself, “Why don’t I own one of these?” Kayaking is a blast! Its physical activity, sightseeing, and fun all wrapped up in a little plastic boat.
I kayak three out of four seasons. Mostly for fishing, occasionally for adventure, but always for the enjoyment of being outdoors. People ask me what they should consider when purchasing a kayak. Here are my thoughts.
Sit in or Sit on Top?
There are all sorts of kayaks, but the main difference is how you sit in the boat. I use a sit in kayak for fresh water adventures. This offers me a place to keep my legs from the sun, or a shield from the wind. On cold days, I have a skirt that I can use to keep my lower half dry and in cased from the elements. However, I never bring it out in the ocean. A sit-in kayak is harder to recover in the event of a tip over. When I’m in the ocean, I want to be able to get out of a mishap as quickly as possible. A sit on top makes recovery easier, especially in open water.
You’re going to need to transport the kayak.
Unless you live on the water, you’re going to need to transport your kayak. The bed of a pickup truck is perfect, but not everyone has a truck. You’ll want a roof rack. I always recommend using j‐hooks. This gets the bottom of the boat off of your roof, and helps prevent dents and scratches to both your kayak
and vehicle. Remember, you’re going to need to be able to lift the boat to the roof when loading. If you’re a solo kayaker, you may want to stick to boats whose weight and length you can manage on your own when loading. If you have a friend to help you load and unload, then you have less to worry about.
What length should I pick?
Well, it depends on your planned activities. Smaller boats, 8‐12 feet in length, are fine for smooth and flat freshwater activity. To me, I like to be in a 14 foot kayak or larger while in the ocean. I feel they track better, meaning they are easier to keep moving forward without a ton of paddling effort. Some models have a rudder to help tracking too. Some kayaks, like Hobie, have pedal powered flippers to propel the boat. This is a cool option, but some classic kayakers view it as cheating.
How much should I spend?
Prices are all over the spectrum. You can walk in to some sporting goods stores and pick up a 10ft Kayak for less than $200 dollars. You can also find kayaks that cost thousands. My advice is to try before you buy, if you can. Find a boat that you feel comfortable in, one that controls and tracks the way you think it should. Don’t let the cost deter you from the sport, but at the same time don’t feel like you have to drop a grand on a boat because that’s the brand everyone uses.
Just get out there.
About the Author: Jeremy Miville is a New Englander true and through. With a hunting and fishing cabin moments away from Mt. Manadnock, a house in Rhode Island and family in northern Maine, he has fished and hiked the region since his youth. Jeremy is a contributor at Rhode Island travel insurance comparison site InsureMyTrip. You can connect with Jeremy on LinkedIn.