From theory you can learn a couple of things about a kayak. The better you are at understanding the theory, the better you will be at comparing Kayaks. But not even a very experienced theoretical person, will be really good at comparing kayaks for another kayakers situation. What really matters is how the kayak compare in reall life, not how it will behave in theory.
That is, the absolute best way to compare Kayaks is for yourself to test them (I have been comparing sea kayaks). Compare them by sitting in them, and compare them by paddling them, and compare them by testing their limits (limits which are based on your capabilities and desires at current skill level). After all, a kayak can be a very large investment (investing in both the kayak itself as well as the time invested in paddling the kayak).
If you call it a kayak, it does not say so much. Even if you specify it a bit more by calling it a sea kayak or ocean kayak, it remains a description which is quite vague. A sea kayak is meant to be stable enough to be in the sea.
- Ok, but do you want to surf with the kayak?
- Or is the most important thing to carry a load for a week inside the kayak?
- Or is it paddling speed that is the important thing?
- How important is it to be able to roll the kayak?
- How important is a rudder?
- Do not forget it should be compfortable.
If you do not know what you find important with the kayak, it is still hard to compare different kayaks. I have tested a lot of kayaks (mentioned in choosing a kayak for tall people). I have condensed the important things to consider into general guidelines on how to choose kayak. I have discussed the importance of different things that can be used to compare kayaks with a lot of people. And then realised that some people I talk with are more or less only focusing on if the kayak is going to be fast and easy to drive forward. Others are interested in if it will be stable. I myself is very interested in how it behaves in surf. I am not expecting to surf that much, but I do want a kayak which if I find myself in waves, behaves well. The kayak I have bought (a NDK Romany), was bought for the purpose of being comfortable and behaving well in surf, and with the added wish that it should handle turns well, have good knee or thigh braces for contact with the legs for edging/rolling.
I also wanted it to be easy to drive forward, and with high paddling speed, and able to take a lot of luggage. But in order for it to surf well, I had to select a little shorter kayak, thus saying that speed was of less importance in the comparison, and also the ability to carry stuff.
A very experienced Kayaker would not compare Kayaks by listening to beginners. For example an experienced kayaker would not compare Kayaks capability and easyness to roll by asking beginners who can not roll.
- In the same way, if you are a beginner, do not expect experienced paddlers to be able to tell you if a Kayak will be stable for you based on how they experience the Kayak. Similarly, do not expect a person with very different size to be able to judge how the Kayak will fit you or behave for you, based on their experience from the same Kayak.
This means that if you can not try a Kayak yourself, but want a well based opinion on how it behaves, listen to those that has tried it and have a similar situation that you, or to those knowing peoples reactions from similar situations.
- So if you are looking for how a long beginners would feel the stability of a Kayak, listen to what long beginners says, or what trainers for beginners can tell about how long beginners experience that Kayak. Do not expect short experienced persons to be able to give an opinion that is even close to how it would feel for a long beginner.