We’re often asked “what kayak should I purchase”, so as we come into the summer paddling season and the popular Christmas kayak purchases, Reg thought he’d put together some tips:
Determine what you want the sea kayak for – you don’t need to buy a sports model if you are just going for a toddle around the bay.
Shorter kayaks (often called recreational/touring kayaks) are good for shorter journeys, have larger cockpits for ease of entry and exit and they are easier to handle both on and off water. Many also have a dry storage compartment suitable for enough gear for a day trip or overnight trip.
Longer sea kayaks are for the longer journeys and are more suitable for straight-line paddling. The longer length also provides more waterproof storage hatches (useful for that extra wine on an overnight trip!).
You may also consider a sit-on-top kayak. These are very stable, good for beginners as well as fishing, playing in the surf and diving. To gain the stability they are short and wide, making them less efficient at long distances and slower than sit-in sea kayaks. You are also more exposed to the elements in a sit-on-top kayak (sun, cold, water, etc), which is something to consider here in Tasmania.
Make sure it feels comfortable for you. Do you have sufficient hip room? Do you fit in the cockpit and reach the foot pedals/rests? Can you adjust the backrest to suit you. Even better, try and paddle the model you intend to buy. If you are not able to sit in the kayak, make sure you advise your height and weight (and age too) to the supplier.
Plastic is more robust, durable and usually cheaper than fibreglass. It is good for entry level kayakers. It will handle being slammed into rocks laden with oysters, dropped while trying to load it onto your car, and pulled up alongside other kayakers, pontoons and even rocks without fear of damaging it.
It is however usually heavier than fibreglass, although some newer thermoformed plastic kayaks are now lighter. Fibreglass has a gloss finish and can be slightly more efficient (faster) through the water. If you have a fibreglass or carbon/Kevlar kayak it is likely you will have to repair it at some stage.
Talk to someone who knows kayaks before you purchase one. Here in Hobart we recommend Kayak4Play and Mountain Creek Outdoors. Both have a great range and are really knowledgeable about kayaks and will make sure you have all the essential safety equipment to ensure you are safe on the water and enjoy your new kayak.
19 November 2016