Tips and Hints
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Choosing the Right Kayak
There are 3 types of kayaks to choose from. Hard-shell (made of fiberglass, carbon fibre, wood, plastic, or kevlar), folding and inflatable.
Plastic is going to be the heaviest, but is also the least expensive. They are tough, durable and can take a lot of abuse. However, once it has been damaged it can be difficult to repair.
Fiberglass kayaks are lighter then plastic models but are more expensive. They are also easier to damage but a lot easier to fix.
Carbon fiber, kevlar, and graphite will be pretty light but can still be pricey.
Wood kayaks are in a league of their own. Hand-made features, smooth, warm wood can make these kayaks a thing of beauty. They do however require more maintance, but the repairs are easy to manage.
Folding kayaks is a collapsible structure made of stretched fabric over an aluminum or wood frame. This gives them the advantage of easy portability and storage. They last longer than most hard-shell models. They are more expensive but their resale value will remain higher than most.
Inflatable are fantastic for portability with easy storage. They are the least expensive kayak out there. You might appreciate how easy it is to get it in and out of the water. Once it dries off, it is easy to store anywhere.
Consider the type of kayaking you plan on doing. This well help in finding the right kayak for you.
An experienced paddler and a beginner paddler will be looking for different qualities in their kayak. The "tipsiness" of a kayak can make beginners more uncomfortable where an experienced paddler will see this as great stability, a feature that is valued when in bigger waves. A beginner will likely choose a kayak with a bigger cockpit that is easier to get in and out of. An experienced paddler will choose a tight fitting cockpit.
The weight of the kayak is another key factor. You have to remember that you have to transport it, store it, and actually get it in and out of the water. Consider the trips you plan on taking and if you'll need to portage and if you'll be able to carry your kayak.
Another choice is single or double-passenger kayak. Doubles are great for families and couples and perfect if you and your partner are not as experienced as the other. No matter what choice you make, check to see if there is enough cargo space for the things you will need on your trip, especially if you're planning long trips.
Make sure the seat is comfortable and supportive. You'll be spending a lot of time in that seat and you don't want to be in discomfort. Also make sure there is room to stretch and change positions, again, important features on those longer trips.
A kayak can't have both initial stability and final stability. It's one or the other. The shape of the hull will determine the kind of stability it will have. A kayak with initial stability will tend to lean or shift away from a perfect up-right position. A kayak with good final stability might seem tippy but can be more forgiving by allowing the kayak to stay in a leaning position instead of tipping right over.
There are also accessories that you can purchase for your kayak. Deck fittings, a spray-skirt, cockpit cover or a holder for your bottle of water are just a few. Having these can help make your kayak trips more enjoyable.