The prospect of owning your very own kayak can be really exciting. But then, deciding which among the available choices to go for can also be overwhelming. Don’t worry though because this nifty little guide about how to buy a kayak should help make the decision-making process somewhat easier for you. Whether you’re looking for a kayak for a relaxing fishing trip or whitewater adventure, the following guide will help make sure that you find the right kayak that will give you hours and hours of outdoor fun.
Key Questions to Ask Yourself before Buying a Kayak
Before you start browsing for pictures of prospective kayaks to buy, you first need to answer the following questions:
How Much Are You Willing to Spend?
Knowing how much you can afford (or are willing) to spend for this particular purchase will help to narrow down your choices. Kayak prices vary greatly depending on various factors like the type of kayak, the material it’s made from, and others.
Also, remember that aside from the kayak itself, you’ll also need to get yourself a kayak paddle, a reliable life vest, and other kayaking gear and equipment related to the kind of kayaking activity you’re planning to engage in. You’ll need to factor the prices of all these items while setting your budget. If you’re not sure how much these things cost, you can browse our site and look at the different items here related to kayaking. From there, you should be able to estimate what’s a reasonable budget for you.
An important thing to remember is that quality comes with a price. If you want a kayak that is durable, comfortable, and heaps of fun to use, then expect to spend considerably more. That said, you don’t necessarily have to dig deep into your pockets and buy the latest model in the market (especially if this is your first time kayaking). Instead, we recommend that you buy the best kayak that you can afford; otherwise, consider putting of the purchase for now and save up for the kayak that you really, really want.
What Kind of Kayaking Will You Be Doing?
There are different types of kayaks for different types of kayaking activities. So if you want to go kayak fishing, then you’ll want to get yourself a stable and comfortable fishing kayak. On the other hand, if you’re planning to join your local kayaking club on a multi-day kayaking trip, then you’ll want a touring kayak with ample storage space for your camping gear and equipment.
There are some people who aren’t sure what type of kayaking they want to do at first. Fishing from a kayak seems like a nice and relaxing way to spend a weekend, but conquering whitewater rapids also sounds fun and exciting. If you find yourself unsure about which type of kayaking you want to do, consider the types of waterways near you or are willing to travel to.
For instance, if you have access to a calm lake brimming with trout and bass, then you may want to try your luck at kayak fishing. If you live near the coastal areas, then exploring the nearby islands or sea caves on a touring kayak is worth considering. In any case, taking these things into consideration will help to further narrow down your choices and ensure that you are purchasing a kayak that will best suit your needs and wants.
After deciding on a budget and the type of kayaking that you’ll be doing, the next step is to study the different types of kayaks available in the market.
Types of Kayaks
Despite the various types of kayaks available, all of them will fall into either one of the following categories: sit-inside kayaks and sit-on-top kayaks.
- Sit-inside kayaks (SINKs) are what most people imagine when talking about kayaks. They have a closed-deck design and a cockpit where you enter and sit. Most recreational and touring kayaks belong in this category. Because of their design, they are capable of traveling over water faster and are relatively easy to maneuver.
- Sit-on-top kayaks (SOTs) have an open-deck design which means that you’re feet and legs are exposed while kayaking. Most fishing kayaks are SOTs since the design makes the kayak more stable and allows you to bring more gear and equipment.
Kayaks can be further classified into different categories, mostly depending on how they are supposed to be used. Keep in mind that any of the following types of kayaks may either be a sit-on-top kayak or a sit-inside kayak.
As the name suggests, fishing kayaks are those that are specifically designed for fishing. As such, these kayaks will have certain features (i.e. rod holders, tank wells, fish finder mounts, etc.) that you won’t find in other types of kayaks.
Fishing kayaks can be sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks or sit-inside (SINKs) kayaks. However, more kayak anglers usually prefer the SOTs over SINKs because the former has more room and storage capacity, which is quite important especially when you consider the different types and the number of fishing gear and equipment that you’ll need to bring. They are also more stable, an important characteristic which can be very helpful when you find yourself fighting with a stubborn fish.
Recreational kayaks are shorter in length compared to a touring kayak and are often as wide as some fishing kayaks. This particular design makes these kayaks easier to maneuver and more stable. That said, this is the type of kayak which is most suited for beginners, and are great for short and leisurely paddling trips on relatively calm waters. However, do note that there are also recreational kayaks which are specially designed for more active sports like whitewater surfing.
Touring kayaks are specifically designed for paddling over long distances and carrying light to heavy loads. If you are planning to go on a kayak camping trip, then this one’s for you. Touring kayaks have a significantly longer and slimmer body than most other types of kayaks. This allows them to track better and travel faster over water. However, this design also makes them less stable and more challenging to maneuver.
There are certainly other types of kayaks out there like folding kayaks, wooden kayaks and others. However, the ones mentioned above are the general types of kayaks that you’ll commonly see in stores or online.
After you’ve decided what type of kayak you want, the next thing you’ll need to consider is the material the kayak is made from. Hard-shell kayaks are usually made from rotomolded plastic, composite materials, and thermoform ABS. We also included here a section about inflatable kayaks and the materials they’re made from.
Composite kayaks are made using fiberglass and graphite fibers, though there are many variations available when it comes to composite materials. Composite kayaks are made by layering these fibers upon themselves or blended with other fibers, after which they are set onto a mold to form the kayak. Some manufacturers add foam panels or gauze to reinforce the deck and the hull.
Composite kayaks have several advantages over other types of kayaks. For instance, they are faster and more responsive due to the stiffness of the hull. They are also quite durable, except of course against sharp and direct impact. They are also much lighter, which should be a concern if you don’t have a kayak trolley and have to carry your kayak from your vehicle to the water.
The only drawback to these types of kayaks is that they are the most expensive kayaks available. If you are planning to buy a composite kayak, be ready to spend a significant amount of money.
Rotomolded kayaks or plastic kayaks are formed by pouring plastic powder onto a mold, which is then heated to melt the plastic in order to form a complete, one-piece kayak. The quality of the plastic that is used in making the kayak will influence its weight, price and several other factors.
What many people like about these kayaks is that they are more affordable than others. If you are on a budget, then this might be a good consideration. Even high quality rotomolded kayaks should cost less (or at least almost the same) as the cheapest composite kayaks. Another thing to like is that rotomolded kayaks are some of the toughest kayaks around. They can take a significant amount of impact without showing any signs of damage, which makes them perfect for rocky waterways.
However, many people complain that rotomolded kayaks are very heavy. For sure, you’ll want to have a kayak trolley whenever you’re bringing this to the water. Also, rotomolded kayaks are susceptible to damage to UV rays which means you’ll have to apply a protective coating on it every now and then to protect the color.
Thermoform kayaks are constructed using sheets of ABS (i.e. plastic alloy with styrene) which are heated and drawn onto a mold to create the kayak’s hull and deck. After that, the two are joined together in a process similar to that used in building composite kayaks.
There are many things to like about thermoform kayaks. For one, they are very durable, almost as strong as rotomolded kayaks. They are also very lightweight and easy to transport (and looks just as sleek) like composite kayaks. Suffice to say that if you are looking for a kayak that falls between rotomolded and composite kayaks in performance, style and price, then thermoform ABS kayaks are worth looking into.
Inflatable kayaks are simply kayak-shaped inflatable boats filled with pressurized gas. Most inflatable kayaks are made from either PVC or Hypalon, although there are newer kayaks which are manufactured using Nitrylon. Each of these materials have their own pros and cons regarding the price (PVC is cheaper than the other two), durability (Hypalon and Nitrylon wins in this regard), and other factors.
Aside from those mentioned above, there are several other things that you’ll need to consider when choosing a kayak to buy.
A kayak’s length will have an effect on its cruising and tracking ability. In addition, the extra length will provide you with more space for storage, which then makes a longer kayak a great choice for kayak camping trips on the weekend. However, the longer the kayak, the more challenging it will be to maneuver.
Shorter kayaks on the other hand are much easier to maneuver, which is why many whitewater kayaks are short so paddlers will be able to turn more quickly and maneuver through rocks and other obstacles.
Narrow kayaks are more streamlined in design and are able to go faster; however, they are less stable than wider kayaks. For kayak anglers, a wider kayak is more preferable because they won’t really do much paddling. As soon as they find the perfect fishing spot, they’re most likely to drop their kayak anchor and stay there until they’re done fishing. A wider kayak is also better for children who are just starting to learn kayaking.
Manufacturers usually have a recommended carrying capacity for their kayaks. The weight capacity is the total load of the boat which includes you and your gear. This is an important consideration if you are planning to haul gears and equipment for a multi-day tour. Remember that you should always follow the recommended weight capacity. If the boat is overloaded, it will sit too low in the water which can compromise your paddling efficiency and even cause the boat to capsize.
The features that you’ll want from your kayak will depend on the type of kayak and kayaking that you’ll do. For instance, if you are planning to buy a touring kayak for a multi-day kayaking trip, then you should consider looking at larger touring kayaks with two storage hatches. On the other hand, if you’re thinking of buying a fishing kayak, then you should look for one that has rod holders, paddle holders, fish finder mounts and others.
It is strongly suggested that you buy only those kayaks that come with warranties. As with any other item, a warranty can be considered as a sign that the kayak is of excellent quality (otherwise the manufacturer won’t back it up with a warranty). When it comes to the warranty, be sure to check the length of the coverage and what is covered. Some manufacturers will not include hull damage in their warranty while others do. Also, check the conditions which can void the warranty. Some manufacturers won’t honor the warranty if you or any person has done modifications and repairs on the kayak.
Globo Surf Overview
Buying a kayak may seem like a daunting process when you think of the many factors that needs to be considered. However, as a serious kayaker, you’ll want to make sure that you have the right type of kayak for your kind of kayaking activity as this will have an impact on your performance, comfort and how much you’ll enjoy being in it. So do your research well before putting your money down to buy a kayak. When you do, you are more likely to end up with a kayak (or two) that you’ll enjoy using for many, many years to come.