Kayak Buying Guide
Types of Kayaks
Kayak Safety Tips:
• Prepare for changes in weather or accidental capsizes by wearing a wet suit or dry suit to stay warm and comfortable
• Compared to sit-on kayaks, sit-in kayaks offer better protection from the elements
• Always follow the local safety rules and regulations for boaters
• Do not exceed the weight capacity of your kayak
• Always check your kayak for wear and tear before going out for a paddle
• If you are new to the sport, take some lessons to learn proper techniques, water safety and even basic first aid
• Always wear a personal flotation device that's specifically designed for kayaking
• Always tell someone your paddle plan, including where you’re going, what you’ll be doing, how long you’ll be gone and how many people are in your party
• Always wear a helmet
• Always bring plenty of water and food for your outing
Sit-On-Top Kayaks +
The sit-on-top design keeps you on top of the boat. It’s a popular seating style if you don’t know how to do a kayak roll or safely exit a sit-in kayak. It's also practical for activities such as fishing and diving. In addition, sit-on-top kayaks are a good fit for people with mobility or flexibility concerns and those who feel confined by the cockpit-style seating of sit-in kayaks. Another benefit of many sit-on-top kayaks is they're self-bailing, meaning water that comes in over the top drains out the bottom.
Sit-In Kayaks +
Sit-in kayaks feature cockpit-style seating that encloses most of your body inside the boat. This design provides good protection from the elements as well as from water spray. Cockpit seating also allows you to control the boat using your body. The size of the cockpit will depend on the type of boat. For example, recreational kayaks have relatively large cockpits for easy entry and exit, while sea kayaks and white water kayaks have snug-fitting cockpits to keep out water and prevent you from falling out in rough conditions.
Single or Tandem Kayaks +
Most kayaks are made for solo riders, but kayaking can be great fun with a partner or friend. Tandem kayaks seat a second rider behind the first: there’s more weight, but with two sets of arms you can still go faster. From a storage standpoint they’re a little longer than a solo model, but one kayak takes up a lot less garage space than two.
Initial Stability +
Stability refers to how well a boat stays upright in the water. Initial stability, also known as primary stability, is a measure of a boat's stability when it's at rest.
Secondary Stability +
Secondary stability refers to the stability of a boat when it's moving. Good secondary stability helps keep the kayak upright when traveling through rougher water.
Storage Hatches +
Some kayaks are equipped with storage hatches for stowing clothes, food, tackle and other items. Touring kayaks have enclosed storage areas at one or both ends. Some hatches seal airtight so that, in the event the kayak capsizes, the sealed hatch provides additional buoyancy. Hatch lids are made of plastic, neoprene or rubber.
Fishing Rigging +
Some kayaks come rigged for angling. Examples of fishing rigging available on fishing-specific kayaks include rod holders, cargo nets, cooler holders and even built-in tackle boxes.
When sitting in the cockpit of your kayak, your contact points with the boat should be your feet, thighs, buttocks and lower back. Each of these points should feel comfortable and provide support. If you fit snugly you’ll be able to manoeuvre the kayak more effectively and keep it upright. Larger cockpits are easy to get in and out of and have more room for storage.
Traditional kayaks are made from a range of materials, including plastic, fibreglass, Kevlar and carbon. Polyethylene plastic, which is inexpensive, recyclable and extremely impact resistant, is the most popular material in use. Fibreglass is lighter and more rigid than plastic but cracks more easily and can’t be recycled. Kevlar and carbon fibre are extremely light but more expensive. Most inflatable kayaks are made from PVC-coated polyester.
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Kayak Maintenance Tips:
• After use, especially in water that's dirty or polluted or in salt water, rinse the boat and hardware thoroughly to keep all moving parts operating smoothly
• Check hatch covers, cables, buckles, straps and other moving parts for wear and replace as needed
• Make sure all nuts and bolts are tight and check hardware exit holes for leaks or improper seals
• Check the hull and deck thoroughly once a year
• Avoid dragging the boat across rough surfaces