Are you new to kayaking? There are so many options for kayaks nowadays, it can be overwhelming trying to find the right boat for YOU. Here we will try to provide a good place to start!
What type of water do you plan on being on?
Often the first question we ask, is where you plan to go with your boat. This can help determine what length of kayak to consider. Generally, shorter boats perform better in rivers and streams, or "skinny water," and longer boats are preferable in lakes, reservoirs, and off shore, or "big water."
Shorter boats (under 12 ft) are typically lighter and easier to maneuver, but at the cost of stability. To make a "short" boat stable, it must be made wider to compensate. This can affect how the boat tracks, or how strait it tends to float, as well as how fast it can be paddled. This isn't as big a deal in skinny water, since you can have the current do much of the work for you on drift trips. From a safety standpoint, you are also not dealing with wakes from motor craft or surf, so stability can be less of a factor.
Longer boats (12 ft and longer) can be a better option in big water where you have more room to maneuver. The added length can mitigate effects of chop on the water, allowing you to cut thru faster and with more stability. Longer boats also don't need to be as wide to remain stable, allowing a more streamlined design that is faster to paddle.
What are you going to be doing?
Most people that come in to our shop are either purchasing a kayak primarily for fishing, or just general recreation. Many also fall in between!
For a fishing vessel, stability is a huge concern with many people intended to stand and sight fish. It can also just be a more comfortable experience without having to worry about tipping as much when you are reeling in a big one!
If you are just a rec paddler, storage and comfort are probably what is most important. If a boat will hold the things you intend to bring (cooler, camping gear, etc.), and you are comfortable in it, its probably a great option! Beyond that, it comes down to preference.
How are you transporting your kayak?
This one is overlooked the most! Most people wouldn't want to car-top a kayak that's 14ft long and over 100 lbs. Having a realistic idea of what you can move with your vehicle can also narrow your search a bit.
For car topping, we recommend using racks that allow you to flip the boat upside down on top of the vehicle. Cam straps are also the best option to tie your boat down, but ratchet straps can be used with caution. Ratchets are too strong for plastic kayaks, and can bend and crack them when used without care.