5 Things People Do Wrong When Buying a Kayak

Buying the right kayak can mean the difference between discovering a passion and throwing money away on a miserable experience. Avoid these 5 common mistakes and find out why so many people are passionate about kayaking!

1. Assume that beginner and recreational kayakers don’t need an expensive kayak. Actually, this is the other way around. An experienced kayaker has a much better chance of being able to get a cheap kayak to go straight and not in circles. If you’re only interested in the occasional recreational kayak, you need an easy-to-paddle kayak, and cheap kayaks are never easy to paddle, they’re like trying to steer a bathtub. People often tell me: I’ll start with something cheaper and if I like the kayak, I’ll get a better one, but if you get a cheap kayak, YOU WILL NOT LIKE THE KAYAK!

2. Buy a short kayak because it is easier to carry and transport. Long kayaks go faster and straighter, and if you think that doesn’t matter, try paddling a pool toy across a lake and you’ll see what I mean. Short kayaks are great for whitewater because they turn more easily. But if you don’t like whitewater, DON’T GET ONE. If you want a lightweight kayak that will fit in your car, check out the wide range of quality inflatable kayaks now available; it will be much happier than it would be with a short hard shell.

3. Buy a no-name brand. Design is the most important factor in determining performance. A well-designed kayak will glide through the water, be comfortable to sit in, stable, and durable. If you choose a no-name brand, it’s unlikely that the company invested much in the design, and you may find that it lacks momentum, spins in circles or continually drifts to the side, digs uncomfortably into your back or your butt, and then it breaks.

4. Buy a two-seater kayak. If you’ll be entering the tandem kayak race at the Olympics soon, then this purchase might be warranted. But if you’re a recreational kayaker and you think you could get a tandem to go out with your partner, think again. A little independence and distance is healthy in all relationships! Tandems are a source of tension among kayakers: the person in the back is getting splashed, the person in front isn’t setting a steady pace, either one isn’t paddling hard enough, etc. this, you’re stuck with a kayak that you can’t get out by yourself. If you’re hooked on tandem romance, commit to a convertible kayak that can be paddled solo or tandem.

5. Reading kayak reviews disregarding points 1-4 above. When you read a review, think about whether the person might have made any of the mistakes I’ve listed. They might complain that an inflatable kayak got a flat on the second use, for example, but did they buy a cheap unknown brand? Likewise, if they complain that it’s hard to steer the kayak in a straight line, is it too short? And if they complain about their paddling partner, forgive them – tandem kayaks bring out the worst in people!

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