How to choose a kayak is probably one of the most frequent questions asked at Paddlecraft. The answer is always different, but the kayak selection process always starts at the same place – with you!
Single or Double Kayak?
Clearly an important decision in selecting a kayak is to know if you want to paddle solo or if a tandem kayak is preferred. Sometimes, a tandem is double the fun, but there are those who believe they can become divorce courts! In general, tandem kayaks are heavier than single kayaks and are certainly less expensive than purchasing 2 single kayaks. Most doubles are easily lifted onto car roof racks by 2 people and paddling as a team is far easier than paddling alone. So overall the work is halved, but you are certainly are dependent on a partner. Quite a few doubles come with seats that adjust to the center to allow for one paddler, but as a single paddler, the paddling experience will be less rewarding than being on a kayak built for one. For a family, double kayaks are a really great choice for family paddling. Most double kayaks have a high maximum weight capacity, and depending on the cockpit or seating layout, can accommodate 2 adults, 1 adult and 2 children, or even a party of 4 paddlers! Stability also becomes an important factor in this situation and the next decision emerges....
Sit on top or Sit in Kayak?
Sit on Top Kayaks are very stable, even allowing paddlers to jump on and off without capsizing or even being able to sit on the side of them with your feet dangling in the water. The kayak hull features a wide flat bottom with ridges that break the water tension promoting a more stable ride. The sit on top kayak also has water holes, allowing the water to flow in and drain out again, making them suitable for the surf and still water. These kayaks are great for kids and also serve as a dive platform for people interested in snorkeling or scuba diving. Fisherman are also big fans of the sit on top kayaks because it allows for a wide range of movement, easily accommodate storage and can be paddled many different places.
Sit In Kayaks offer a different paddling experience and suits a paddler with a bit more experience, flexibility and fitness. The sit in kayaks feature a cockpit that requires some flexibility in the entry of the kayak as well as some covered storage within the kayak hull. This type of kayak generally provides better seat support, is overall a dryer paddle without water holes and the smooth bottomed hull provides more speed but less stability. Sit in Kayaks vary greatly in length and storage capacity and can be fitted with or without a rudder. Recreational kayaks range from about 3m to 4 meters length and are suited for day trips and still water areas. Touring and sea kayaks boast greater lengths and storage capacity and feature hull designs and other accessories that support ocean going adventures and several day camping trips.
Single or Double, Sit in or Sit On Kayaks – these basic decisions are the first steps in choosing the right kayak for you. Of course, many other factors, like price, manufacturer, transport and weight of the kayak and material of the kayak, will provide further information to finalise your selection and is certainly deserving of much consideration. But one of the best ways to choose your kayak is to have a paddle in various models, after all people come in as many shapes and sizes as there are kayaks! Most kayak shops will have both sit on and sit in models, and at Paddlecraft, we have many demo models to paddle when you are ready to start trying some models out. Choosing the right kayak can be a rewarding experience with the right advice and match of craft to paddler. So, do some research, get out there on the water and start paddling!