We pride ourselves in offering a diverse line of kayaks and many are great multi-taskers, but you must know that there is not a kayak that will do everything. We group our kayaks by category and style to help explain their intended use. Once you find the right category and style the choices become much more clear.
Recreational sit-inside kayaks are perfect for small lakes and slow rivers where nimble handling wins over speed and load carrying capacity. Our recreational kayaks are designed for first time paddlers who want to experience the magic of kayaking. They are also great for more seasoned outdoor enthusiasts who like to combine their on water pleasures with other pursuits such as bird watching, fishing and photography. These kayaks are stable, maneuverable, user friendly and have easy entry cockpits that fit almost anybody comfortably, but are very limited and are likely not the choice for the beginner or intermediate paddlers that want to excel to become more intermediate or advance paddlers. For this, we would recommend that you look at light touring or touring kayaks.
Recreational sit-on-top kayaks are great for small lakes and slow rivers as well as easy surf. Sit-on-tops are stable, nimble and very easy to get on and feel comfortable with little experience. Sit-on-tops are great for fishing as the have an open deck to rig rod holders and other fishing rigging. A sit-on-top is also a great kayak for scuba divers and others that want to jump on and off the kayak to swim. They are great because they do not fill up with water, but they are not good in colder temperatures and the paddler will likely be wet all day long as water comes up from the drain holes. Sit-on-tops are also the least efficiant hull designs because the paddler’s center of gravity is much higher and in order to keep the high stability of a recreational kayak the boat must be wider and this decreases efficiency.
Light Touring Kayaks -
- Light Touring Kayaks bridge the gap between the recreational and touring categories, combining the best elements from both. Like recreational designs, they are short and somewhat wide (compared to touring kayaks). They favor stability on calm waters and easy turning over speed, but will certainly track better than most recreational kayaks. And while their cockpits are a bit smaller than recreational cockpits, they are still quite roomy for easy access. Like our touring models, they have an upturned bow to help cut through and deflect waves should rough conditions arise. They also include thigh braces for more efficient paddling and control. These are really an ideal choice for the paddler that wants to move to the next level as a paddler, but does not want to get in to the more advanced boats.
Performance Touring- North American Style -
Originally designed for open ocean coastal regions, these kayaks are more forgiving than both the British and Greenland styles. Added width and depth improves storage capacity and makes them very comfortable. New paddlers will find these kayaks easier to become accustomed to. They are more efficient, faster and have better tracking than recreation or transitional models. North American style kayaks have foot controlled rudders for added maneuverability and tracking.
Performance Touring- British Style -
Developed to conquer high-winds and confused seas, British style kayaks are a moderate form of performance touring kayak. All British style kayaks feature back-bands, which make them good for lay backs, and a skeg, which aids in tracking in wind and waves. Some British style kayaks favor more experienced paddlers.
Performance Touring-Greenland Style -
First developed for water-based big game hunting, Greenland style kayaks maintain the distinctive features that emulate the traditional bone and skin kayaks. Greenland designs utilize hard chines, where flattened sections of the hull are joined by sharp transitions. The hard chine bottom gives these kayaks high initial stability and is conducive to riding surf. The low decks are less effected by wind. They’re highly capable in rough waters and quite maneuverable.
Designs vary greatly in whitewater kayaks. You have playboats, river/play boats, river runners, river/creek boats & creek boats. Most beginners get a boat in the river running category. We really recommend that anyone that is interested in whitewater kayaking take a class. This will take a lot of the guess work out of the sport and the school of hard knocks takes a lot longer to get the hang of it. You will then have a great understanding of what to get. You can also get a little more information at the whitewater kayak design page.
So, now that you have seen the different types of kayaks out there you will have to decide what is best for your needs. When you are buying a kayak, make sure you keep in mind both what you will be doing most of the time and where you would like to be in your paddling career in 6 months to a year. The last thing that you want to do is buy a kayak that you will not be happy with down the road. It is also a really great idea to take a course to see what you like about the sport.