If you are considering buying a kayak, there are many things that should be taken into consideration before you make a purchase. First and foremost, what kind of kayaking do you want to get into? There are three main types of kayaking: touring, recreational, and whitewater. Once you decide that, there are many other things to think about.
The type of kayak you get will decide in many ways what your paddling experience will be like. Different boats are better suited for different kinds of paddling. Touring kayaks are designed for long paddles in open water, and are typically used for coastal and sea kayaking. They are great for overnight trips as well, with spacious hatches that will carry plenty of gear. These are usually between 12-17 feet long and often come with a rudder that can be operated with the feet inside the cockpit. These kayaks often tend to be on the more expensive side. Recreational kayaks on the other hand are affordable and easy to use. They are designed for paddles on calmer waters and for shorter distances. They are frequently used on lakes and calm rivers. They tend to be between 10-12 feet and are popular for beginner paddlers, as well as fishermen due to their customizability and stability in the water. Whitewater kayaks are very specialized and come in many different designs such as creek boats and play boats. They are typically 4-10 feet long and are shapped with whitewater in mind - the bow and stern typically curved upwards and a orunded hull.
The size of your kayak is very important. No matter what kind of kayaking you are doing, they come in many different sizes. A longer kayak will glide through the water faster and with less effort but it will be harder to turn. A shorter and wider kayak such as whitewater kayaks will be more stable and much easier to turn, and will perform better in rougher water than longer models. Wider kayaks are much more stable but require more paddle effort to move forward. When considering the length of your kayak, take note of your height and weight to ensure the cockpit is comfortable and there is enough leg room. Also think about whether you will be packing gear for overnight trips and buy accordingly. Some kayaks have more hatches and storage space than others.
Cost is another major factor to consider. Kayaks can range anywhere between a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, so there needs to be a fair amount of thought put into the buying process. The cost depends on the brand, type, size, and material. What time of year you buy a kayak can also have a large impact on the cost. Offseason during the colder months is the best time of the year, price-wise, to buy a kayak. It may be harder to find exactly what you want during this time though, as many retailers are clearing out their current stock to make room for the new models. Buying used kayaks is also a good option for those on a budget, but it can sometimes be difficult to find exactly what you want.
Color may not seem to be of the greatest importance to many paddlers, although some paddlers may be very particular about the color to fit their personal preference, and that is ok. However, the most important thing to remember with color selection is safety. If you are in trouble on the water, you want to be as visible as possible, and the brighter the color of the kayak, the more visible it will be. With this in mind, it may be smart to steer clear of any colors that might blend in.
These are many of the main factors to consider in buying a kayak. However there are additional features that should still be given consideration. The world of kayaking is immense and the possibilities for recreation and fun seem endless. Get out there and go explore the water!