I’m currently looking at swapping my main kayak for more of a sea kayak-playboat – as I spend most of my kayaking hours in and around the surfy rockpools of Fife and East Lothian these days. Here are my considerations…
For water adventurers, finding the right kayak boat is their ultimate concern. However, the task is not as easy as picking the most appealing or most colorful candy in a candy shop. There are so many kayak models to choose from. It can be especially confusing for neophyte kayakers. It would help if you had some criteria or a list of considerations to base your choice on.
The first real consideration that you would have to decide on is the material of the kayak. This is generally the top difference among different kayak models. Kayaks can be made of fiberglass, plastic, wood, composite material or special fabric. Each of these materials has special qualities that will fit your particular needs.
Choosing the right material should be based on how it rates on certain standards and should not be based on personal preferences alone. Here are the common standards kayakers base their decisions on:
The most durable materials are said to be plastic, composite and fiberglass. Some types of composites are nearly indestructible although they can still get cracks. Fiberglass is also tough and lighter than most plastics. It does require special care though since fiberglass can be difficult to repair depending on the type of damage. A fabric, inflatable kayak boat isnt any less durable. Special fabrics are double coated or layered for extra durability. Do remember though that intentionally dragging inflatable material on sharp surfaces could eventually damage a kayak.
If you’re after stability, then inflatable kayaks are also the best choice. This is mainly because of their multiple air chambers that promote optimum floating. Other than material though, kayak stability also has something to do with the structure of the kayak itself. Flat bottoms are often most stable but those with less flat bottoms are easier to paddle and control. Small kayaks are also generally easier to maneuver and keep stable.
On the question of portability, there is no doubt that inflatable units are the most portable. They can be partially inflated for transport or they can be inflated on the spot. Even when fully inflated, they are still lighter than kayaks made of other materials. Some weigh only a little over 20 lbs. These are the perfect units to take on adventures in remote locations. Fiberglass and plastic may require a van for safe transport and are of course, naturally heavier than inflatable material.
When it comes to maintenance, fiberglass and plastic require the most attention. They may have to be wiped dry or polished to maintain their material. Dry storage space is also required. Inflatable kayaks are easier to store because they can simply be deflated and stored on a shelf. Special attention however should be paid to drying an inflatable kayak before storage. Otherwise, molds could form and ruin the material. It is not advisable to expose inflatable kayaks to direct heat and extreme cold.
There are other criteria which you can base your decision from. For new kayak users however, they are the best criteria to start with.
These are some of the boats I’m looking at (maybe a bit diverse, I admit):
Teksport Rockhopper 340
Venture Kayaks Flex 11
Point 65N Picnic
And this is what I currently have:
Perception Method Air
Perception Method Air: Paddler Reviews (L:236cm W63cm V:212L Wt:17kg)