Mats Bengtsson kayaking and kayak techniques

Issues to compare and consider when you plan or decide how to Choose a Kayak

Mats Bengtsson mib over the years

Issues to compare and consider when you Choose a Kayak

I have on another page written a long description on my route onto buying my NDK Romany, and how to choose kayak for tall people. Later, I realised that most of the considerations for choosing kayak can be condensed, since the major difference between selecting a kayak for big people and when you chooe a kayak in general, is that there are fewer kayaks to choose for large people. The general guidelines (found below) from the original long document is important independent of your own size, and thus works well as selection guide for everyone. In the same way as these general points work well in general, there is a separate page with what to especially think of when you choose kayak and you are tall. The points at that page are also valid independent of your own size, but the points in it are often less important, or more advanced considerations if you are not tall. Thus although that document is targeting tall people, it contain checkpoints also useful for people not being especially tall, and in addition to the below general points:.

  • Typical english kayak shape, a bent kayak. Bow and stern are much higher than midsection. Possibly choose a kayak like this for surfing.You should test the kayak before you choose kayak.
  • Test different kayaks and different kinds of kayaks, so you know what you are comparing with. This is so you for example do not select a kayak you think is good but later find that the choosen kayak compares unfavourably with another type of kayaks (like a sit on top compared to a sea kayak).
  • Example of kayak with straight lines and bow and stern in about same height as mid section. When you choose kayak. this could be suitable for long kayak tours.To choose a kayak you need to understand what you want to do with your kayak and what you prefer from a kayak. The two pictures to the left show two very different kinds of kayaks. One red banana shaped kayak (english type of kayak, SKUK Romany Surf), and one white straight kayak (a typical swedish VKV kayak). The two types of kayak do not behave similarly, so you must choose between the different types of kayaks.The difference between a white river kayak and a sea kayak is even bigger. You should (like already described when choosing kayak for larger perople) know what to look for when comparing kayaks
  • Choose a kayak which you find comfortable, at least if you would like to be able to paddle for hours
  • The kayak should fit you. Choose a kayak which is suitable for your size (tall people with have fewer to select among, but the advice is true for anyone).
  • Example of kayak cockpit with wings for knee grip. Good choice in kayak for amongst other eskimo rolls or for edging kayak with better controlExample of kayak without wings in the cockpit, offering less knee grip and less control for eskimo rolls and edging. Do not choose a kayak like this if you would like to do eskimo rolls.Compare how the kayak fit your needs. If you want to have control over your kayak so you can edge and roll, then it is essential that you do not slide around. For such usage, normally you would want a kayak cockpit with knee braces like the red one in the picture. That so you can control the kayak by getting a good grip in the kayak knee braces with your knees. It might be good to be sure that you can strecth out your legs fully in the kayak without having to take the feet from the foot supports (if you prefer a full foot support plate, then that consideration is less important). The white kayak in the picture has a large cockpit and no waterproof hulls, thus moving around in it is a lot easier (and also control for edging and roll is less available).
  • If you ask for advice, which is generally good, be aware that if you ask people not in your situation, their advice might be good but still not suitable for your needs and your choice of kayak.
  • Preferably, get some kind of basic skills in paddling kayak before choosing your kayak, so that you know what you look for.
  • Visit different kayak stores for trying a kayak, and try different kayak vendors. Stores tend to have a limited selection of models, and you should preferably have seen the most popular brands of kayaks before choosing the kayak that fits you
  • Be sure you can transport and store your kayak. There is no point in choosing a kayak which you can not get to or from the water, or which you can not store during the low season.
  • Decide if you want to choose a kayak with a rudder or a skeg or neither. This is very much a personal decision based on taste and on what you are going to use your kayak for. My personal opinion is that a skeg is minimum if you are going to paddle longer distances. So far, I have not been in a situation where a skeg is not enough. I belive lack of understanding the skeg often leads to believing a rudder is needed.
  • Be sure your choosen kayak can transport your needed supplies. If you plan to use the kayak for longer trips, you might need a bigger kayak.



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