Buying a Kayak: Tips from Pro Anglers | Top Kayak Reviews for 2019

buying a kayak

If you’re just getting into kayaking, buying a kayak should be something you do after proper research. As a beginner, you should buy the kayak that’s right for you. Buying the cheapest kayak could  also mean purchasing a inefficient piece of equipment.

To avoid safety issues, consider buying a kayak that won’t hinder your learning experience. As a beginner, aim to choose a kayak that will be fun to paddle and use. Don’t concern yourself with the price as much. For example, if a touring kayak sells for less than $500, you should know it’s probably not the best choice.

We have seen some sit-on-top kayaks for bargain prices, as these are the exception to the rule. Sit-on-tops have the same shape as a traditional kayak, but instead of sitting inside the kayak, you sit on a molded-in depression. However, if you are looking for a closed cockpit kayak, don’t consider the low end choices.

The Different Type of Kayaks & Accessories

Best Fishing Kayaks

Best Inflatable Kayaks

Best Tandem Kayaks
Best Ocean Kayaks
Best Kayak Paddles
Best Kayak Coolers
 Best Kayak Fish Finders  
Best Kayak Roof Racks

The Best Kayak for Beginners

If you don’t own a kayak yet, consider the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 Sit-in Kayak. It has a large cockpit with an adjustable padded seat. We believe this is a great beginner kayak because it is light (weighs just 40 lbs) and maneuverable. Better yet, it has carrying handles and adjustable foot braces for your convenience.

But, before you even buy a kayak, consider taking kayak lessons. You’ll have a much safer and enjoyable time out on the water. You will learn how to safely navigate the water and some important paddling skills. Check your local area for paddling clubs or lessons. Expect to pay as much as $100-150 for a lesson. Don’t look at lessons an an expense, but rather as an investment that could save your life.

If you’re dead set on buying a kayak right now, invest in a roof rack, plus carrying saddles or cradles for your car. In any event, whatever type of kayak you end up buying or renting, you will require a solid roof rack. Those devices will help you secure the kayak in place for transportation.

Buying a Kayak: More Tips for Beginners

Another thing you should look at before you go kayaking is your choice of footwear. Do not wear sandals or flip flops. Sandals are dangerous to wear because they can get caught in a foot peg. Also, the sandal’s strap can get caught on a seat.

Flip flops are not recommended because they can be slippery and come off easily. The best shoes for kayaking are wetsuit booties, also good for snorkeling, sail-boarding, paddle boarding, and other water hobbies or sports.

Some “recreational” or beginner kayaks lack the most essential safety features, such as perimeter safety lines and proper handles that won’t injure your finger if the kayak rolls over. For example, a touring kayak with the appropriate buoyancy will stay afloat, even when completely flooded, even if the paddler is still inside of it. In such case, the kayak can be bailed out, assuming you have a bilge pump with you.

Keep it mind that any kayak, no matter the size or how stable it is, can turn over in the water. Buoyancy can be achieved by using front and rear bulkheads or even float bags. Unfortunately, many beginner or recreational kayaks do not have front bulkheads.

Additionally, you cannot use float bags instead because they will simply slip out of the cockpit when the kayak is swamped.

When using recreational kayaks, stay within 50ft of the shore at all times.

Choosing a Kayak: The Ultimate Considerations

Kayak Design

Turning vs Tracking: This is always a trade-off, whether to choose a boat that turns well or tracks well. Normally, a boat that tracks well (goes straight) does not turn as good. This varies across all kayaks. Some kayaks that track well can improve their turning radius, if you are able to edge them when making a turn.

Stability: When buying any type of boat, especially a kayak, the level of stability is quite important. There are two types of stability. The first one is “Initial Stability” which is also known as Primary Stability. This is the relative stability of a kayak when it is sitting flat on the water. This matters because it can effect how easily someone enters or leaves the kayak. It will also influence how comfortable the kayak feels when it is in low motion (when fishing, sunbathing, etc).

The “Final Stability” or Secondary Stability is how the kayak feels when the boat is underway. Normally, a kayak that has high initial stability will not be as stable in rough water conditions and vice versa. In order to determine what’s best for you, you will have to know that kind of activities you are looking to do with your kayak. Advanced kayakers want boats with relatively high stability because it’s vital in rough sea conditions. These types of boats with high initial stability are also relatively fast, something advanced kayak users often seek.

Kayak Material

buying a kayakThe material choices for kayaks are fiberglass, plastic, wood, carbon, inflatable plastic, and fabric with a frame.

Fiberglass is more stiff than plastic, but can crack if it hits something. While it is more efficient in the water, it cannot be recycled. Kayaks made out of kevlar or carbon fiber are still light, but can get a bit expensive.

Plastic is the heaviest of all kayak materials, but can take on more damage and less likely to break. Polyethylene is the exact plastic used by most manufacturers. It can easily be recycled after the kayak can no longer be in use.

Wood kayaks are pretty much rare nowadays. While they can look good, it would require some work to make them seem classic. Very few manufacturers make expoy-based kayaks.

Inflatable kayaks are quite popular nowadays because they are very portable. These types of kayaks are suitable for whitewater or surf activities, since they can’t track as well as a kayak with a hard shell. While prices range, you can get a truly amazing inflatable kayak for under $100. The Intex Explorer K2 is an inflatable two person kayak with solid stability and visibility.

Fabric based kayaks usually have a metal or wooden frame and can be light, but also expensive. If you have to assemble a wood with fabric kit, it could take you hours. The metal frame ones can be collapsed into a small bag you can carry. However, this type of kayaks are usually the most expensive on the market.

Kayak Cockpit

The cockpit area has contact with your feet (on the foot brace), knees (on the high braces), and hips (on the sides of the seat). All these points of contact should provide comfort and support. When you paddle your kayak, you will need to use your feet and knees to provide stability during a turn. A whitewater kayak will have a snug fit and keep you inside the kayak. A touring kayak has more of a loose fit and provides enough space to stretch and move around during long kayaking trips.

The cockpit rim opening size is very important for when you enter and exit. Current whitewater kayaks have tight but large enough keyhole cockpits. This holds the paddler snug but also allows for fast exit. Touring kayaks allow for the same and are very similar when it comes to the cockpit. Traditional Sea Kayaks have small cockpits, which reduce the possibility of a wave swamping the kayak.

Finally, recreational kayaks have fairly large cockpits, but won’t keep the paddler in the boat, should it turn over.

Boat Length

The length of the kayak is important for a number of reasons. The longer the kayak is, the faster it will be in the water. It is also important how much gear you’re looking to put on your kayak, which can influence its efficiency.

Single vs. Double Kayak

Do you like to paddle with a partner? Then a double kayak is right for you. Similar to a canoe, with a double kayak you’ll move together. Single kayaks are much more free, in the way that they allow you to maneuver more easily. Doubles have the ability to carry more gear, but cannot be paddled efficiently with just one person. While they are certainly more stable than single kayaks, they can prove difficult to rescue in the event of a flood.

Kayak Cost

Inflatable Plastic kayaks range from $100-$600, Plastic kayaks cost anywhere between $300-1500, Fiberglass kayaks range from $1500-3800, and other materials like carbon fiber can be even more costly. Generally, the larger or longer the kayak, the more it will cost.

Kayak Equipment

Just buying the kayak you want is not enough. Equipment is very important for an enjoyable and safe kayaking experiment. Rigging, hatches, rudders, a pump, a PDF, and paddles could prove useful and even life-saving in certain situations.

Our Final Say on Buying a Kayak

Try a kayak before buying it first. Take the time to try different kayaks out by renting them locally. This way you’ll know if you want something like a simple inflatable kayak, or a more advanced whitewater kayak like the Hobie Mirage Angler.

We highly recommend that you learn the skills needed to handle your kayak safely before you go out on the water. The best way to do that is by getting a few lessons or advice from certified professionals.

On this site, we feature several kayak reviews that will help you make a decision when buying.

Enjoy kayaking!