How to Choose a Kayak and Paddle

When choosing your first kayak and paddle, there are a few factors you should consider.

1.) Where would you like to paddle?

Kayaks: Not all kayaks are created equal. Each type of kayak is designed for use in a specific body of water.

Some kayaks are specifically designed for whitewater kayaking. Others are shorter and wider for recreational paddling in slow moving rivers, lakes or bays. Then there are the long and slender touring or sea kayaks, the super stable recreational sit-on-top, and the ever-popular accessorized fishing kayaks.

Paddles: Like kayaks, paddles are designed for many different types of kayaking. It’s up to you to determine your skill level and where you would like to paddle.

For the most part, you get what you pay for with paddles. Aluminum and plastic models are inexpensive and are great for recreational kayaking, but they can be heavy. Fiberglass and carbon fiber paddles are an excellent, lightweight option for more serious paddlers. They offer the durability required for sea and river kayaking, and their light weight is perfect for long distance paddling.

2.) What is your body type?

Kayaks: Things like height and body type can play a role in the model of kayak that you would find most comfortable.

Tall people or people with larger body types may find sitting in certain kayaks uncomfortable due to limited leg room and cockpit size. The taller individual may prefer a longer kayak, such as a touring or sea kayak, as they offer more leg room and a medium to large sized cockpit. People with larger body types may prefer a wider kayak, such as a recreational or sit-on-top kayak. These kayaks will have either a larger cockpit or no cockpit, making it easier to get in and out as well as offering more stability. Small children do well in tandem kayaks as well as in regular sit-in kayaks. The average teen or adult will be able to operate most kayaks without difficulty.

Paddles: Height and body type also play a role in which paddle is best suited for your needs.

Paddle length is important for both comfort and efficiency. Length is determined by the width of kayak and height of paddler. For the recreational paddler, a general way to determine proper paddle length is to stand next to the paddle and reach up. If you are able to curl your fingers over the blade of the paddle, that length should work for you. When it comes to finding the right paddle for a touring or sea kayak, you should consult a paddle sports specialist.

Whenever you purchase a new kayak or paddle, it is important to consider your price range, where you want to paddle, your body type and other physical factors. Be sure to stop in and get our expert opinions before your purchase. As always, we’re here to help you have a great time on the water!