Kayak Buying Guide: Vital Points to Consider


Kayaks are amazingly versatile tools that help you to explore local waterways. You can reach campgrounds at isolated beaches, obtain breathtaking views, or explore a nature preserve in the quiet.

Kayaking is an effective morning workout. Families can also use it as a way to play during a warm afternoon.

If you’re thinking about the purchase of a kayak today, then there are four questions you should answer first.

  • Where do you plan to use the kayak?
  • Do you want to sit in the kayak or on top of it?
  • How much can you afford to spend on it?
  • Do you plan to carry cargo with you?

Which Type of Kayak Is Best?

Sit-on-top kayaks are more of a recreational option. They’re useful for slow-flow rivers, gentle lakes, and local ponds. Some owners use them along the coast when the water is warm. They’re easy to use, safer during a wet exit, and they drain on their own.

Sit-in kayaks are lighter, so it is easier to handle them when you’re on the water. You must stay balanced better with this design too, but you can tackle rougher conditions in them. They move quickly, track consistently, and offer covered storage compartments.

Should I Purchase an Inflatable Kayak?

An inflatable kayak is an option to consider if storage space is a primary issue of ownership for you. Despite their design, these kayaks are versatile, sturdy, and durable. They’re made for recreational use only, so don’t expect a lot of speed from them. Consider this option if you’re wondering if kayaking is right for you since several models are priced below $100.

If you’re not sure about the inflatable design, then try a folding kayak instead. This option isn’t as rugged as a kayak built with a hard shell, but it offers a performance similar to what you’d find with a touring boat. You can then fold it down into a shape that fits well in any standard closet. 

Best Materials for a Kayak

Kayaks come in three general material options: ABS plastic, polyethylene, and composites.

Polyethylene kayaks are usually the cheapest ones to purchase. They tend to be heavier than other models, and susceptible to UV rays, so you must store them in covered locations for best results.

ABS plastic kayaks offer more durability, lighter weights, and more UV resistance. Several models are thermoformed, bonding the deck and hull together to form the kayak.

Composites are made from carbon-fiber and fiberglass. You get the performance you want, but it comes with a price. Your primary concern with this kayak is impact damage.

Additional Thoughts to Consider

Each kayak offers a maximum weight capacity. Make sure that you don’t go over this rating to ensure it operates safely.

Depth is a consideration if you need more room for your legs. A shallow hull isn’t affected by the wind as much as larger models. Wider hulls tend to offer stability, while narrower ones give you more speed.

Then keep your seat in mind. A good one adds another $100+ to your kayak. It’s worth the investment. 

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