How To Choose A Kayak

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Christina Bishop


several kayaks lined up against a wall

In this post, we’ll let you know the differences between the types of kayaks that are out on the market today!

A kayak allows you to reach places you can’t get to with a motorboat or other vessels. They are also more efficient in moving through water and provide more maneuverability. But, with all of these benefits comes the need to choose the right kayak for you and where you plan to take it.

Types of Kayaks

There are a few different types of kayaks: sit-on-top, sit-inside and inflatable kayaks. I covered some of the differences between sit-on-top kayaks and sit-inside kayaks in my blog post entitled “Kayaking For Beginners” where you will find helpful information about how to get started.

So how do you decide on the best kayak to purchase? Start by thinking about where and how you will use it. Kayaks come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and each type is designed for a different purpose. Some kayaks are better suited for calm waters while others perform better in rougher conditions.

Bodies Of Water


The type of water you’ll be paddling in will also play a role in your decision. If you plan on spending most of your time on lakes and slow-moving rivers, a recreational kayak would be a good choice. These kayaks are stable, comfortable and easy to maneuver. They are also affordable and great for beginners.

If you are interested in exploring different types of water, like whitewater rapids or the open ocean, you’ll need a kayak that is designed for those conditions. These types of kayaks are usually longer and more narrow than recreational kayaks, making them faster but less stable. They also tend to be more expensive.

Kayak Style

You will also need to choose between sit-on-top, sit-inside and inflatable kayaks.

Sit-on-top kayaks are the most popular choice for beginners as they offer more stability and are easier to get in and out of. They are also the most popular choice for fishing. Sit-On-Top Kayaks are also great for warmer climates as you don’t have to be concerned about getting too cold if you get wet when you launch and land.


Sit-inside kayaks provide more protection from the elements once you are out on the water, and they are better suited for colder weather. They can also move faster across the water.


Inflatable kayaks offer the portability of a kayak with the convenience of an inflatable raft. They are great for camping and fishing trips where you might not have easy access to launch.


So what about folding kayaks? Folding kayaks are great for those who want the portability of an inflatable kayak but the performance of a hard-shell kayak. However, they are more expensive than inflatable kayaks.

Kayak Materials

After you have decided where you will go and how you will be using your kayak, you can narrow down your choices by material. Kayaks are typically made from polyethylene, fiberglass or composite materials.

Polyethlene plastic is inexpensive and resists scratching. However, it is the heaviest option. It is also the most vulnerable to UV rays if it is in the sun for an extended period of time.

ABS plastic (fiberglass) is slightly more expensive than Polyethlene, and it offers the same durability. It also weighs slightly less, and it provides better UV protection.

Composite kayaks are typically composed of either lightweight fiberglass material or ultralight carbon fiber. They offer much better performance, but they are the most expensive option. Composite kayaks are very UV resistant, but they be damaged if they strike a rock or other large object.

Size Matters

Size really does Matter. The length of a kayak will make a difference as to how well it will perform and handle. A shorter kayak will be easier to maneuver, but it won’t track as well or hold as much gear. A longer kayak will track better and hold more gear, but it will be more difficult to maneuver.

The width of a kayak also plays a role in how it performs. A wider kayak will be more stable, but it won’t paddle as efficiently. A narrower kayak will paddle more efficiently but it won’t be as stable.

The weight capacity is also something to consider. You’ll need to make sure the kayak you choose can accommodate your weight as well as any gear that you will be bringing along.

Shape Matters Too

The Hull type is another thing to consider. Here are the options:

  • A Flat Hull can be more stable and is better for beginners.
  • A Round Hull is more efficient and faster but can be a little less stable.
  • A V-Shaped Hull is the most efficient as it can easily cut thru the water, but it can be less stable.

In Conclusion

Now that you know all of this, what kayak should you choose? The best kayak for you will depend on your individual needs.

The bottom line is that there is no one “perfect” kayak for everyone. The best kayak for you will depend on your individual preference and what type of water activities you will be performing.

Once you’ve considered all of these factors, you should have a good idea of the kayak that is right for you. Don’t forget to also consider your budget and any accessories you might need, like a paddle or life jacket.

Once you have decided on what kayak to buy, head over to our blog post to learn how to launch and land a kayak!

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Christina Bishop, an ardent hiker and kayaker, distills years of outdoor adventures into expert guidance for fellow nature lovers. Her extensive experience is the foundation of trustworthy and professional advice on navigating the great outdoors. Christina’s dedication to the wilderness shines through her insightful tips, inspiring confidence and a deeper appreciation for nature’s wonders.