A Buyers Guide to Choosing a Kayak
Nov 13, 2018
Have you ever done a quick internet search on the types of Kayaks available? Does it feel like it’s impossible to decide which Kayak is suitable for you? Here at Bay Sports we realise it can feel like you are lost at sea or paddling round in circles!
Don't worry, we have put together this in depth buyers guide to help you figure out the perfect kayak and offer a better understanding of the models available.
Before you jump right in, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself. These are;
- What style of kayaking do you enjoy?
- What type of water do you like to paddle in?
- What kind of transport do you have?
These are the three main answers you’ll need to bear in mind when looking for the right kayak, the last thing you want to do is spend big on a racing kayak when all you are really looking forward to is cruising on open waters in a sea kayak.
A Kayak for Every Setting
Life would be a lot simpler if one kayak could fit in every situation and style. Imagine not having to find the right kayak for the style of riding you want to do? There are almost as many kayak models on the market as there are destinations for the sport. So, the first step is to look at the different varieties out there to determine which is going to be perfect for you and your needs. Do you want a racing kayak or one to handle fast rapids? How often will you use it and how much are you willing to spend? Let's take a closer look...
It’s all in the name, Recreational Kayaks are basically designed as a good all-rounder. Perfect for that person who wants to go explore different types of environments, these are mainly sit-on-top kayaks, designed to seat 1-2 people. Extremely popular for families and part time enthusiasts, they feature changeable seating positions to cope with a person of any size, as well multiple length footrests. Not too technical and very easy to use… perfect for that Sunday afternoon paddle around the bay!
A common mistake made is assuming a Touring Kayak and a Sea Kayak are the same thing... There’s a difference. If you are planning to pack your camping gear and go exploring then a Touring Kayak is for you! They have been designed hollow which adds the storage space needed for these expeditions. There is space for your tent, sleeping bag and supplies without the kayak feeling overloaded. Touring Kayaks are made to fit one person but do come as either a sit in or sit on design with a focus on comfort and stability to maximise time out on the water.
Are you looking for something to take out on the open water and get you from A to B with speed? Then a Sea Kayak is for you. Designed as a sit-in kayak, compared to a recreational model, this kayak is a lot narrower which creates more speed whilst gliding across the water. What separates a Sea Kayak from the rest is the additional extras: Adding a rudder and outriggers can help maintain a direction when in choppy or windy waters. Most owners of Sea Kayaks add a spray skirt to help keep them dry when in ocean/choppy conditions.
Fishing Kayaks look very similar to a Recreational Kayak but they have modified extras. They tend to be wider than a standard kayak to add stability whilst pulling in your catch the for the BBQ. It’s not unusual to see custom made fishing kayaks as many people like to have the option to modify depending on what style of fishing they do. The kayak can feature accessories such as rod holders and mounts for devices such as electronic fish finders. The main thing you will notice with a Fishing Kayak is the storage space, designed to keep not just the fish you catch but also bait, spare lines and and even a beer or two. The seating design can differ depending on the type of fishing you intend on doing, so bare that in mind… it's well worth considering an upgraded seat such as the Stadium Kayak Seat for ultimate comfort and enjoyment for hours fishing on the water.
In the last few years we have seen a real increase in Inflatable Kayaks on the market and there’s a good reason why. Perfect for those who don't have the storage space, these kayaks can be deflated and packed away so easily there’s a chance you’ll forget where you put it. They are lightweight, making them easy to carry and most Inflatable Kayaks come in a backpack style bag, perfect for that weekend away if you don’t have much space and are using public transport.
The Air Glide 473 two-person "100% drop-stitch" inflatable kayak combines hard-shell kayak performance, with lightweight properties normally associated with expensive fibreglass kayaks.
The "drop-stitch" material used have been developed so much in the last few years that, when fully inflated, an Inflatable Kayak can be as rigid as a Recreational Kayak. If you want more info on inflatable kayaks, we are going to go more in depth in a few weeks so keep fixed on our blog page. For now, read more about the incredible 100% Drop-Stitch inflatable kayaks available
The clue is in the name right? Racing Kayaks are made for one purpose… they are the speed boats of the kayak world. Made from lightweight materials such as fiberglass and carbon fibre, Racing Kayaks designed to go at speed in a straight line on calm, flat water. If you are considering getting into a competitive side of kayaking and want to race, this is the kayak for you… Long, narrow and built for speed!
Sit In kayaks still resemble the traditional style and feature an enclosed cockpit and the option to add a spray skirt. They are generally much speedier, have better glide on the water, and ideal for a few kilometers to multi-day trips. Whether you're planning to do the Murray River Paddle, the Pittwater Paddle, or simple just want to do a 5km paddle on your local river, then a Sit In kayak is what you are after. Often overlooked by beginner paddlers, a kayak spray skirt helps stop water from entering the cockpit (keeping you dry) and are usually the go to choice for paddlers who spend a lot of time in the ocean, cold water or rapids (Click here if you want to read more info on the original kayak and the comparisons between a Canoe and Kayak).
Sit on Top kayaks are a more modern version of the 'original kayak'. The hull is enclosed with the cockpit being completely open and exposed. The design means that it's easy to get in and out of (because they are wider and open), won't fill up with water if it capsizes (which is nearly impossible to capsize a sit on kayak), and generally makes for a perfect all round kayak. This style of kayak is perfect for recreational paddling, leisurely cruising on a sunny afternoon, and great for bays where you can jump on and off the kayak as you please. Plus when the sun's out, you can get a tan on your legs!
Deciding between these will help you determine the type of kayak you need, based on the style of kayaking you want to do. But once you have come to a decision don't forget there's a few other bits you need before you can get out on the water. The two most important items to get you going are a Paddle and a Life Jacket. Without these two items you won't really get that far, so check out the ranges of paddles and life jackets on the Bay Sports accessories page here.