Paddle your way into an on-the-water adventure.
If you are currently “boatless” and are looking for an easy, relatively inexpensive way to get on the water, kayaking might be for you. Compared to powerboats, kayaks cost less, are much easier to transport; and are an environmentally clean alternative to fossil fuel powered craft. Plus, paddling a kayak is a great way to stay in shape!
There are some key questions to consider when shopping for a kayak. Do you want a sit-inside kayak or a sit-on-top kayak? Do you want a rigid kayak or an inflatable kayak? Will fishing from your kayak be the primary activity?
Sit-Inside versus Sit-On-Top Kayaks
Compared to sit-on-top kayaks which place your center of gravity at or above the waterline, sit-inside kayaks offer greater stability—because they put your lower body at or below the waterline. While sit-on-top kayaks leave your entire body exposed, sit-inside kayaks offer greater protection from the elements, since they position your lower body below deck and seal out the elements with a spray skirt.
Do you want an inflatable kayak?
With features like aluminum frames, PVC floors, rugged shell fabrics, welded seams and multiple chambers that inflate to higher pressures, inflatable kayaks offer excellent performance. Of course, they also beat rigid kayaks when it comes to portability. Solo and tandem models of inflatable kayaks are available. If you want an inflatable kayak, look for models by Kokopelli and Tahe.
While sit-inside kayaks can be used for fishing, the majority of kayak anglers prefer sit-on-top kayaks. This is because they offer plenty of deck space where gear can be secured—and because they lend themselves to the addition of a variety of kayak accessories such as rod holders, a kayak camera mount, gear bag and other items. Stock features to look for in a fishing kayak include one or more storage compartments, molded in rod holders, cup holders, footrests and a molded in area in the aft deck where a tackle box, cooler or scuba tank can be secured.
While most kayakers manually propel their kayaks the old fashioned way—with a double-bladed kayak paddle, other options exist. For example, several manufacturers (Pelican, Old Town, Perception) offer peddle drive kayaks. And some kayaks can (with the separate purchase of a trolling motor mount) be fitted with a small electric trolling motor. So if you happen to be too pooped to paddle you can, with the flip of a switch, relax as you head for home at the end of your day.
To learn more about kayaks please read our West Advisor article Selecting a Kayak.