Open canoes, touring kayaks, sea kayaks, recreational kayaks, whitewater kayaks, surf kayaks .. the list goes on. As you can see there is a wide range of kayaks and canoes for just about every possible use. Finding the one that is right for you can be a confusing task but hopefully the information provided below will help guide you in your decision making.
Although there is a technical difference between a canoe and a kayak, for purposes of keeping it simple we will use the term kayak to refer to all of our paddlable water craft.
Choosing the right kayak for you.
When deciding to buy a kayak there is a number of questions which you should answer before purchasing. This will help ensure that the kayak you buy is best suited to your needs and will give the most enjoyment.
What do you want to use the kayak for and where will you be using it?
You should decide what you want to use your kayak for and where it will be used - ponds, streams, lakes, rivers, ocean, etc. The right kayak for ponds and lakes might not be the right kayak for ocean (and it might be dangerous to consider using your kayak for the ocean based on the type of kayak you decide upon).
Who will be using the kayak?
Who will be using the kayak will also help determine what is suitable. If you need a kayak which the entire family can use then this may be different to if you buying specifically for yourself.
Types of Kayaks
As listed above there are a wide range of kayaks available for different purposes. Below is a guide as to which type of kayak is best suited for what use. In most cases each type may be able to be used for multiple purposes depending upon the skill and knowledge of the paddler.
Sit on Top Kayaks
This type of kayak has become really popular during the last few years and there is now literally a sit on top type kayak for any purpose. The advantage of a sit on top is that if you fall off, you can simply climb back on again, which makes them ideal for the entire family. They are made of plastic so can be dragged up beaches or down to the lake without worry. Having a single molded hull and deck means there is nothing to be left behind (dont forget the paddle) and they are easy to store and transport.
So if you want to hit the surf at your local beach, do some day trips exploring on the lake or inlet or want to take the rod for a spot of fishing then these could be just what you are after.
At R&R Sport we have a large range of Sit on top kayaks for you to choose from.
Sea kayaking is great way to travel with gear. Sea kayaks differ from sit on tops in that they generally have a cockpit where the paddler sits and covers with a spray deck, to prevent water from entering. They are typically heavier and longer than the sit on tops and come in a range of materials from plastic to fiberglass and kevlar. They also cost more.
One of the big advantages of a sea kayak is the ability to stow a large amount of gear in them, which makes them perfect for multi-day camping trips or epic adventures. Typically they have a front and rear sealed hatch for stowing gear and several points on top of the deck for attaching extra gear and essentials such as a map, compass or snack food.
As with sit on tops there is a wide range of uses for sea kayaks. Although all sea kayaks can be used for most purposes the shape of the hull and the length will make some models favorable over others for specific uses. Also most sea kayaks have an adjustable rudder system which makes controlling them a lot easier, especially if your paddling in ocean swells.
Whitewater kayaks are made of plastic and designed for specific use, primarily paddling down rivers! They dont have rudders or large storage compartments. They are smaller than sea kayaks both in length and volume but are extremely maneuverable. Like sea kayaks they have a cockpit where the paddler sits and covers with a spray deck.
Within whitewater kayaks there are several main types of kayak styles: Creek, River and Play. The difference between the three is that creek kayaks generally have the largest volume capacity; blunt round ends to prevent entrapment between rocks, a large easily escapable cockpit and secure attachment points allowing for ropes to be attached should the kayak become trapped. This style of whitewater kayak will tend to suit the more experienced kayaker and/or larger paddlers. On the opposite end of the scale is the play kayak. These are generally very short, with low volume and sharp ends which allow them to perform tricks easily. The river runner fits in between these two styles of kayak.
What else do I need to go kayaking ?
Depending upon the type of kayak you choose will influence what other gear you will need, however regardless of this the one essential piece of equipment will be a paddle.
There are a variety of paddles for each use, so depending upon what you primarily want to do with your kayak will help determine what paddle suits you best. For sit on tops and all round family use a basic paddle with alloy shaft and plastic blades will be adequate. If you are planning on going sea kayaking or touring then a variation on the basic paddle will be best. These typically have a longer reach and formed blades to allow for more efficient strokes. They can also come in a variety of materials such as carbon/kevlar depending upon the price.
Ideal when learning or if you have purchased a sit on top. Wearing a wind breaker jacket over top is also a good idea when paddling as it will stop the wind chill from making you cold.
Essential ! Do not even contemplate getting on the water with out a lifejacket. Now days there are a wide variety of designs and styles so there is bound to be one that will fit you comfortably with out restricting your movement.
These are required if your kayak has a cockpit, as they prevent the water from entering your kayak. They are sized based on the cockpit dimensions and your waist measurements.