Buying the right kayak can mean the difference between discovering a passion and throwing away money on a miserable experience. Steer clear of these 5 common mistakes and discover why so many people are passionate about kayaking!
1. Assuming beginners and recreational kayakers don’t need an expensive kayak. Actually, this is the wrong way around. An experienced kayaker has a much better chance of being able to get a cheap kayak to go straight and not in circles. If you are just interested in occasional recreational kayaking, you need an easy-to-paddle kayak, and cheap kayaks are never easy to paddle – they are like trying to steer a bath tub. People often say to me – I’ll start with something cheaper and if I like kayaking, I’ll get a better one, but if you get a cheap kayak, YOU WILL NOT LIKE KAYAKING!
2. Buying a short kayak because its easier to carry and transport. Long kayaks go faster and straighter – and if you don’t think this matters, try paddling a pool toy across a lake and you will see what I mean. Short kayaks are great for white water because they turn easier. But if you are not into white water, DON’T GET ONE. If you want a lightweight kayak that fits in your car, check out the huge range of quality inflatable kayaks that are now available – you’ll be much happier than you would be with a short hard shell.
3. Buying a no-name brand. Design is the most important factor in determining the performance. A well designed kayak will glide through the water, be comfortable to sit in, be stable and be durable. If you go with a no-name brand, it is unlikely that the company will have invested heavily in the design, and you may find that it has no momentum, goes in circles or continually veers to one side, digs uncomfortably into your back or your bum, and then breaks.
4. Buying a tandem kayak. If you are soon to participate in the Olympics tandem kayak race, then this purchase might be justified. But if you are a recreational kayaker and you think you might get a tandem so that you can go out with your partner, think again. A bit of independence and distance is healthy in all relationships! Tandems are a cause of tension between kayakers – the person in the back gets splashed, the person in the front isn’t setting a steady rhythm, either person isn’t paddling enough, etc – and when you want to have a break from all this, you are stuck with a kayak that you can’t take out by yourself. If you are hooked on the romance of the tandem, compromise with a convertible kayak that can be paddled solo or tandem.
5. Reading kayak reviews without considering 1-4 above. When you are reading a review, think about whether the person might have made any of the mistakes I have listed. They may be complaining that an inflatable kayak got a puncture on the second use, for example, but did they buy a cheap unknown brand? Similarly, if they are complaining that the kayak is hard to steer straight, is it too short? And if they are complaining about their paddling partner, forgive them – tandem kayaks bring out the worst in people!