So, you wanna be a kayaker?!

by Alison McPherson

Congratulations on reading this document – you are officially on the road to becoming a kayaker!  If you know nothing about kayaking except that you want to be in one, continue reading and this will (hopefully) answer some of your questions. 

If you know a little bit about kayaking but want some more helpful information on getting integrated into one of the best sports ever, then also continue reading as this will (hopefully) answer some of your questions. 

If you’re already a decked out, well-seasoned paddler, I still recommend you to keep reading as you may get some helpful hints or tips that you haven’t thought of before and let’s face it, what kayaking guru doesn’t love reading an article about kayaking stuff?!

STEP 1:

Determine where you want to paddle.   Some options include: lakes, oceans, mellow rivers, whitewater.

STEP 2:

Determine what kind of kayaker you want to be.  Some options include:

1. The chilled out recreational paddler – this type of paddler likes cruising around lakes in a stable boat for a few hours at a time. Enjoying the sunshine and some snacks along the way are key to making this paddler’s day a success.

2. The kayak touring guru – this type of paddler would like to go on multi-day kayak trips in the ocean or big lakes. Having the right gear, proper planning, and good friends is key to making this paddler’s day a success.

3. The gung-ho whitewater paddler – this type of paddler would like to kayak down mountainous rivers by crashing through waves and catching eddies along the way. Safety equipment, a solid crew, and adrenaline are key to making this paddler’s day a success.

4. The jack of all trades crossover paddler – a little bit of lake, a little bit of river. Change is good, and so are kayaks that allow you to do this.  Being able to paddle wherever you feel like it with just one boat is key to making this paddler’s day a success.

STEP 3:

Based on the above selection, these are the types of boats you should be looking for:

1. Stable, comfortable, and not too heavy is what you’re after. Generally between 10-14 feet long is a good sized boat for lake-cruising and mellow river running.  The wider the boat is, the more stable it will be.  Some options include: Pungo 120, Manitou Sport, Tsunami 120, Tribute 10.0, Axis 12.  CLICK HERE to view our selection.

2. Long, sleek, and efficient is what you’re after. The longer the boat, the better it’s going to track, which will save you energy and time on your long trips.  Anything 14 feet and longer is what you want to be looking at.  Some options include: Tsunami 140, Necky Elias, Stratos.  CLICK HERE to view our selection.

3. Short, round, and maneuverable is what you’re after. Whitewater boats generally all have 2 or 3 sizes, which are determined by the paddler’s weight.  You can look at different whitewater boats depending on what style of whitewater paddler you want to become (eg. Playboater, creek boater, river runner, etc.).  Some options include: Mamba, Zen, Remix, Nomad, Karma, Rockstar, Jitsu, Axiom, Antix.  CLICK HERE to view our selection.


4. A mid-sized boat (9-11 feet) that has a drop-down skeg is what you’re after. Crossover boats are short enough to be able to maneuver in rivers but long enough that with the help of the drop-down skeg, it will still track well in flat water.  Some crossovers are more directed towards the river side of things whereas others are more directed towards flat water – depends on where you want to be paddling most of the time.  Some options include:  Katana, Traverse, Remix XP, Axis, Aspire.  CLICK HERE to view our selection.

STEP 4:

Get all the other essential gear based on your new-found-kayaker-self.

1. Paddle, PFD, safety kit (50 feet of floating line, signaling device, bailing device)
2. Paddle, PFD, bilge pump, dry bags, throw rope, paddle float, whistle, skirt, paddling jacket.
3. Paddle, PFD, throw rope, float bags, whistle, dry bags, dry top & wetsuit or drysuit, paddling-specific footwear, helmet, skirt.
4. Paddle, PFD, throw bag, whistle, bailing device, skirt (optional), splash top or dry top, helmet (for river use).

CLICK HERE to view our selection of kayak accessories.

Give us a shout or stop by the shop if you want to learn more about anything paddle-related - we're always stoked to talk about kayaking!