In the world of water sports and recreation, kayaks are a popular option. Solo trips, group tours, or doubling up with friends or a spouse, there are countless ways to enjoy the water in a kayak. These unique boats come in a wide array of sizes, styles, and seat options; how do you know what is the best for your waterfront needs? CRS has provided some information about our kayaks and how to choose the correct kayak for your body of water and the guests you serve.
Types of Kayaks
There are four main types of kayaks on the market. Each kayak style is created for a specific type of use. Its best to determine where and how your kayaks will be used most often before buying.
- Recreational kayaks can be both sit-on and sit-in style. These are the most popular style of kayak, making them affordable and stable, with easy entry and exit. Recreational kayaks are ideal for flat water and rivers, but not for long tours, waves, or rapids. Check out Access Kayak options!
- Day touring kayaks are typically sit-in style boats. They are sleek and more efficient than recreational kayaks to track straight and provide more control in rougher waters. The Perception Tribe Kayak is a great choice!
- Touring kayaks are also sit-in boats. These are long and slim for efficient paddling over long distances. They track well and have a rudder or skeg to help manage currents and wind. Touring kayaks also contain cargo space for longer tours.
- Specialty kayaks have some unique features and may require some extra research to determine if they are right for your guests. These kayaks include tandems (two-seaters) (take a peak at the Rambler 13.5 T), child size (take the kids for an adventure in the Recruit 66), foldable, inflatable, and even pedal powered!
Seating and Positing
There are two types seating arrangements for kayaks. A sit-on-top, and a sit-in. The question to ask yourself is, what option will best meet your guests’ expectations and make sense for your waterfront – to sit on top of the boat, or sit inside the boat?
Sit-on kayaks are primarily used for recreation on lakes and easy-flow rivers. Below are a few key features of a sit-on-top kayak to consider.
- Easy of entry and exit
- Great for casual use
- Comfortable in warm air and water
- Better view of underwater/beneath the boat
- Self-draining with scupper holes
- Heavier than sit-in kayaks
Sit-in kayaks place your lower body inside the boat. These are exceptional choices for recreational use and touring (longer outings). Some considerations include:
- Wet exit – users will have to learn to exit the boat within the water
- Comfortable in cool air and water
- More efficient to paddle than sit-on-top kayaks
- Multiple points of contact with your body inside the boat (butt, knees, and feet) give you more control in rougher waters
Kayak Hull Design
- Flat Hulls–Provide flexibility fora variety of purposes. Flat hulls combine both stability and maneuverability and are great for beginners and those who use their kayaks for activities such as fishing.
- Rounded Hulls–Shaped in a “torpedo” with round edges, these hulls provide speed and maneuverability in rough waters. The rounded edges allow the kayak to tilt in either direction during possible rough waters.
- V-Shaped Hulls–The v-shaped kayak cuts quicker and easier through water, making them ideal for tracking in straight lines. These have a decreased maneuverability and are trickier for beginners to manage.
- Pontoon Hulls–Ideal for beginners and those looking for excellent stability. These are great for leisure kayaking and tracking but are move much slower through the water.
Most importantly, consider where your kayaks will be used. Will kayakers be exploring a bay, lagoon, or small lake; or taking a long trip to the other side of a large lake, or through a winding river of rapids? The type of water determines the type and style of kayak needed. Below are some of the typical types of water kayakers tour.
- Lakes–Still water, good weather, and little wind. Recreational use sit-in kayaks are best here.
- Coast Lines–Wind, waves, currents and tides. Sit-ins with fixed tracking fins or skeg (dropdown fin) are ideal.
- Rivers–Currents and quick turns. A sturdy and maneuverable sit-in or sit-on day touring kayak is the best option.
- Weight Capacity–The weight capacity of a kayak is the total sum of the user, the cargo, and the boat itself. Weight capacity is especially important for long, multi-day tours. Overloaded boats become slow and inefficient, creating more work for the user.
- Depth of the Hull–Deeper hulls provide more leg room and storage, but shallow hulls are less affected by wind.
- Skegs, Tracking Fins, and Rudders–These fins improve tracking of the kayak and should be considered for use depending on the types of water and environment you wish to tour.
- Seats–Seats can either be molded into the kayak or purchased separately. The seat of your kayak is especially important when completing long tours.