Choosing a Kayak
To Paddle or Not To Paddle, That is the Question!
Well, that is just one of the questions that you will need to ask yourself when you go looking for the right kayak to fit your needs. You may not already know this, but there are actually other means to propel your kayak than just paddling, like pedaling (yes that’s right, we said pedaling) and even sailing. Choosing a Kayak can be fun and easy with our recommendations listed below.
You will also need to answer the question of what structural classification of kayak best suits your needs. Then there is what you want to do with your kayak and on what type of body of water you will be using it. Will you be shooting the rapids down a river in West Virginia, whale watching by sea kayak in the Pacific Northwest, or fishing in a lake or pond with family and friends? Whatever your pleasure, you have come to the right spot, because our goal at Campers & Gear is to make your life easier and your adventures magical.
So here is what you need to know before choosing a kayak:
Paddle: The go to, the traditional, the gold standard. Long before anyone invented the means to pedal a kayak, generations of the Inuit, Yup’ik, and Aleut peoples of the subarctic depended on paddling kayaks as a means of transportation and a way to hunt and fish for their survival. In other words, the paddle has proven to be pretty darned dependable even in the harshest of conditions.
Traditional paddle kayaks are also the most affordable, with great options like the Hobie Cat Lanai and the Hurricane Sojourn 126 Touring. If you are just testing the waters (pardon the pun) and want a paddle kayak that is even more affordable an Emotion Glide Sport Kayak will run you less than $500.00, and an Advanced Elements Firefly Inflatable Kayak will only set you back a couple of hundred dollars. Paddling a kayak is a great way to keep fit and experience the fun of kayaking whether you are a class 5 rapid runner or a nature seeking novice.
Pedal: Lightning in a bottle, the brave new world, the envy of others. A while back some super genius figured out how to take the already awesome kayak and make it even more awesome. Pedal kayaks allow you to reach and maintain higher speeds with less physical effort all while keeping your hands free to do other things like bait a hook, snap a selfie, or just scratch that itch on your nose. You get the point. By using your feet to pedal the kayak, it becomes easier and faster to catch dinner thereby positioning yourself as master of your domain.
Pedal kayaks are an incredible amount of fun, perfect for anglers, and a must have for those of you high-tech adventurers. They do cost more than most paddle kayaks, but you will quickly find out that they are worth the extra money. Hobie Cat is one of the leaders in this market with its Mirage Series which comes in hard shell, inflatable, and fishing versions for one or two people. The Hobie Cat Mirage system uses fins to propel you through the water while the Native Watercraft Slayer series uses an actual propeller which is capable of causing the boat to stop in its tracks and even reverse. This feature is tremendously useful and a real attribute for the Native Watercraft Slayer line. Meanwhile, the Hobie Cat Mirage system’s fins are ideal for fishing in grassy waters. With the Hobie Cat Mirage Series, you can glide through shallow waters by putting the pedals in line with each other which causes the fins to flatten out against the bottom of the kayak. This feature has its own advantages to consider. Either way pedaling a kayak gives you more options for activities like fishing. There is a little bit of extra cost when it comes to the pedal kayak varieties but as the saying goes, time is money, and the added speed and other advantages, make it money well spent.
Sailing: The wind at your back, the hand of God, the mariner’s ode. Whether you prefer to paddle or pedal, the added feature of a sail on your kayak can set you in a world apart. A world where solar-powered winds assist you in your journey just as they have for centuries of seafarers, explorers, and all manner of masters and commanders.
Sails take advantage of Mother Nature’s gifts and assist you in traveling faster and more efficiently. There are as many quality manufacturers of kayak sails for both paddle and pedal kayaks as there are different types of kayak sails. Some great models to look into include the Advanced Elements Rapid Up Sail, the WindPaddle Scout Sail, and the Hobie Cat Mirage Sail Kit. Kayak sails are an affordable way to make your kayaking experience even better.
Rigid or Hard-shell: These types of kayaks can be made from fiberglass, plastic, carbon fiber, or Kevlar. They are the most popular and the most common of kayak types. Kevlar and carbon fiber models are the lightest and most costly. Fiberglass models are less expensive, easy to repair, and fairly lightweight. Plastic options are the least expensive, very tough, but also the heaviest of the rigid types.
Foldable: This type of kayak is collapsible, easy to transport, stable, and the closest thing to the originals used by the native peoples of Greenland, Alaska and Northern Canada. They are a bit slower than their hard-shell cousins but are fantastic when it comes to portability. For those of you looking to hike into the wilderness and kayak a remote river or mountain lake, the portability of foldable kayaks makes them the best choice.
Inflatable: These kayaks are the most affordable option there is and they offer
Great portability as well as being perfect if storage is a concern.
- What type of kayaking will you be doing? There are kayaks specifically designed to be used in the sea, for fishing, whitewater adventures, and touring.
- What is your level of experience? If you have little experience, consider choosing a kayak based on stability and ease of control.
- How much gear will you be kayaking with? If your goal is to fish from your kayak look for a boat that offers plenty of well-designed storage.
- Would a solo or tandem kayak be better suited for your needs? With a tandem kayak you can bring along a fishing buddy, your significant other, or best still take along a child and teach them about subjects like water safety, where to find the most fish, and all of the other knowledge that you have gained here at Campers & Gear!
Whatever type of kayaking you plan on doing, in whatever type of kayak you plan on doing it, we know that you will be living life to your highest level of excitement and that makes us happy. Be sure to check out our list of recommended guides and outfitters, be safe, and have a great time. You’ve earned it! And as they say in the boating world, keep a weather eye out for future articles about particular kayak model reviews, kayaking techniques and know-how, as well as the best places to use whatever variety of kayak you have. Have fun choosing a kayak that fits your needs and visit us again and let us know what you decided on by adding a comment below.