How to Choose a Kayak? | Kayak-101

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Looking for a different kind of water sport where you can be fit and enjoy yourself at the same time?

Why not try kayaking?

Kayaking is a watersport activity that involves using a double-sided oar and a small boat.

It’s suitable for those who want to take a different kind of adventure, alone or maybe with some of your friends and family members.

Kayaking is genuinely an enjoyable water sport activity, but how can you experience it if you don’t have one?

Many places offer kayaks for rent, but If you are going to go kayaking regularly, renting a kayak is not practical and would cost you more in the long run. 

That’s why you should consider buying your own kayaks and equipment if you are serious about pursuing kayaking as a hobby or sport.

But as a beginner, deciding which kayak to buy might be too overwhelming. If you feel that way, don’t worry, then you are in the right place! 

In this article, I’m going to talk about some tips and points you should consider when deciding which kayak to buy.

So read along!

Sit-on-Top vs Sit-in Kayaks

To help you choose, kayaks are classified into two: They are called sit-on-top kayaks and the sit-in kayaks.

Sit-on-top kayaks are recreational boats use for lakes and warm crystal waters. If your planning to have an overnight trip, this could be a good choice because it has enough storage for your stuff.

These types of Kayaks are easy to get on (even in deep water) and off of and make you feel comfortable when the air and water are warm.

They are also great when you want to play around with your kids while on the water.


It has scupper holes that make draining easy and has some deck stash spots and hard-to-access cargo space.

Sit-In kayaks are usually for day tours. In the case of getting swamped, a spray skirt may be added, but you also need a bilge pump.

Just a word of caution, if you get this type of kayak, you need to know how to do a wet exit.

These kayaks require multiple points of contact with your body for control and maneuvering purposes.

6 Common Categories of Kayaks

For beginners, deciding which kayak to buy might be overwhelming. A common mistake that beginners make is that when purchasing a kayak, they tend to based solely on the looks and not based on the essential features.

So before you buy a kayak, it is vital to know the common types of kayaks that are being sold out there, so you can know yourself which kayak is best for your needs.

Recreation Kayaks

Fit for beginners and paddling through calm waters. Short in length and usually spans for a maximum of 10 ft. with an open cockpit.


They are generally much faster than other wide kayaks. Which requires less effort from the paddler to propel them forward.

This is why they are the best suited for long-range paddling and expedition paddling.

Touring Kayaks

Touring kayaks are built for speed and distance, usually used for racing or long journeys. Narrow and long, it usually spans for a maximum of 12 ft.

It comes with a more compact cockpit for easy escape in case it capsized. If most of your trips are in oceans or large bodies of water, this will be a good choice as it is designed for touring large bodies of water.

White Water Kayaks

White Water kayaks are for the adventurous one. Buy this is you want to take a trail on rocky water rapids.

It’s best for extreme water conditions and sporting activities as it is built with harder and stiffer shells.

Just also consider buying proper equipment and safety gear if you decided to go kayaking in an extreme environment – always remember safety first.

Just like kayaks, white water kayaks also have four other variables which are:

  • Playboat Kayaks – spans up to 6 feet in length and should only be used on stagnant waves and holes in rapids.
  • River runners – a little bit longer quite fitting for river rafting.
  • Creek boats – are longer and bulkier than river runners to withstand drops.
  • Longboats – spans 12 feet long and are ideal for river runs.

Inflatable Kayaks

Inflatable kayaks are the most convenient one among the other kayaks. It is fit for traveling since it can be stored and transported easily and can give you more time for you to do your kayaking.

These kayaks are also best for weekend paddling since it can be stored easily.


Fishing Kayaks

This type of kayak is fit for fishing activities and is more durable than some other recreational kayaks.

It includes a rod holder, pedal propulsion system (can be converted to motorized), and additional storage for your catch.

Tandem Kayaks

If you want to kayak with your friends, relatives, or with your partner on calm and contained waters such as a quiet pond and smaller lakes, then you may opt to purchase a tandem kayak.

A larger sized tandem kayak allows more storage but remember, increased weight of a tandem kayak makes it more difficult to recover when capsizing.

Points to Consider When Choosing a Kayak

Since you will be spending money on purchasing a kayak, you might want to consider the following points just to make sure that the money you will be paying is really worthwhile.

You may not want to spend too much money buying an expensive kayak if you are just starting out.

And you certainly don’t want to be purchasing the wrong kayak for the occasion.



Kayaks are made out of different materials. Some kayaks are made from polyethylene, which is fit for beginners. It is affordable yet also durable and can be used for a few trips in a year. 

Some kayaks are made from composite materials such as fiberglass, aramid, carbon fiber, or the combination of the three.

These kayaks tend to be lightweight, with a much stiffer hull fit for maneuvering and better tracking in the water. 

Woods are used as a material for kayaks providing it with flexibility for the kayak to bend and to absorb shocks.

Compared to other materials, this type of kayaks is found to be more durable than synthetic composite materials.

Hull Type

Besides considering what type of materials, you should also consider the place where you will be using your kayaks.

You must also take into consideration the structure of the hull of your kayak. 

There are four types of hulls in a Kayak boat:

  • Rounded hull kayaks are usually for those who will be using kayaks in oceans and rivers and for those who are adventure-seekers and quite interested in doing water rapids.
  • V-shaped hulls are commonly used for waters with choppy waves and not calm waters.
  • Flat hulls are easy to maneuvers, especially in calm waters, and are perfect for those who want to go kayak fishing. Kayaks with this kind of hull are also fit for those who are beginning to learn the sport of kayaking.
  • Pontoon hulls, also known as tunnel hulls, are generally stable and are the easiest type to ride on. Still, they are not flexible in the water, which makes maneuvering quite hard. Compared to flat hulls, this works well for fishing kayaks but generally used for leisure boats.


Look for a kayak that is light to carry. Since you are planning to have a day for relaxation and you need to travel – Travel light!

Just bring your stuff that is just enough for the duration of your stay, and since you want to save time and effort, then look for a kayak that is light and portable to carry.

This will give a comfortable atmosphere while you are traveling and when you need to pack things up as you go home. 

Also, consider a kayak where you can have enough space to place your things. In essence, slots for water jugs, extra shirts, bags, and other light stuff that you might be needing as you paddle across the waters.



Yes! My kayak is light and easy to carry! But the question is, would it last long? 

Well, invest your money in a good kayak. Since as you go and visit some places, they do have different sites for kayaks.

Some are clear waters; some are bumpy trails, and some are rocky ground. Look for a kayak that is durable and can withstand bumps and scratches on rocks.

I am sure you don’t want to waste your money on a kayak that cannot withstand that extreme environment.

Buying another one means spending more money, why not buy something that will last longer with you?


This is one thing to consider when buying your own kayak. It is good to have a durable and heavy-duty kayak, but the question is, can you control it when you are in the water? 

Would it give you a hard time to paddle and at least traverse the sea? 

Well, try to consider the environment where you are going to use your kayaks, usually for open waters that present some obstacles. 

Here are some tips to consider: For narrow waterways, recreation kayaks will do best.

For open waters where you need to make sharp turns or sudden changes in direction, you should choose touring kayaks. 

By knowing which type of kayak is best for the water condition, you are also making your vacation not only safe but also a memorable one.

Final Tip: Expert Advice

It’s always best to ask somebody who knows something about kayak boats more than you do to help you effectively choose the best kayak for you.

They can give you tips on how to buy a good kayak and help you decide what would be best for you as a beginner. 

There are lots of sports equipment to choose from. It’s also good to consider where you will be using your kayaks.

In essence, some kayaks are used in calm waters, rivers, oceans, and every rapid. So, try to ask for expert advice to determine what will be the best kayak boat for you.


Finally, if you are new to kayaking, the wider kayak can be a good beginner’s choice as you grow familiar with being on the water.

The most important thing you should consider is your safety while enjoying this sport.

You should also find a kayak that will make you feel more confident, secured, and comfortable on your kayaking activities. 

After all, investing money on something that you know you will be able to use in the future will surely be a good thing to consider.

I hope this article helped you with deciding what kayak you are going to buy.

Happy Kayaking!