There are many choices and considerations when choosing a kayak that include where you plan to paddle/peddle and for how long, what conditions you’ll be paddling in, and how you plan to transport your kayak. Paddle kayaks have been around for a long time and the new way of kayak transportation is pedal drive kayaks with forward and reverse. Choose your preference between paddle and pedal.
All types of boats give you options for single paddlers or for tandem boats that can accommodate two paddlers.
Paddle Vs. Pedal
Most people find pedal-powered kayaks to be less fatiguing when traveling longer distances, and you can still use a paddle if you want to or need to. You’ll want to carry a spare paddle in case something goes wrong with the pedal drive system, but then it’s always wise to carry a spare paddle anyway. Note that you will have to pay extra for a pedal-powered kayak, as they can be considerably more expensive. Native Watercraft is the recommended manufacturer of pedal-powered kayaks. Native Watercraft is the only kayak distributor that has the pedal in reverse feature, which make it the leading fishing kayak in the industry. Unless you are a traditionalist, pedaling is the new hands free way to kayak. It makes fishing much easier and you are completely hands free other than when using your rudder steering adjustment.
Inshore and offshore
Fishing kayaks are made specifically for anglers. They have rod holders, cooler holders and some even offer a built-in tackle box and a gear track to install many accessories such as GPS fishfinders and just about anything you need to install to make your day of fishing more efficient and easier. Fishing kayaks can be stable enough to stand on for better visibility and casting for the avid sight fisherman. If you are choosing a fishing kayak your best bet is to purchase a pedal kayak to be able to fish hands free.
Best for easy days on calm waters.
Most recreational kayaks are affordable and easy to use, and offer great stability that’s much easier for beginners, anglers or leisure kayakers on bays and protected waterways. Recreational are not so good for open water or use in strong wind or rushing currents.
Recreational kayaks usually have a small storage area for short day trips so you can stow away your essentials that can’t get wet, though some have a larger storage area for day touring and or camping to shove your tent into. Most are 10 to 12 feet long and have a large cockpit for easy access and a wide beam for stability
Best for recreational use in warmer temperatures.
Sit-on-tops work really good for children, beginners or swimmers and most of all anglers. They have a sealed hull and molded depressions on top for sitting. It's easy to get on and off of one whether you are on a dock, shore, or in the water.
The seats are above water level so these kayaks are typically wider not as fast as traditional sit in kayaks. With a wider hull, sit-on-tops are generally more stable, making them a great stand-up fishing, swimming or diving base.
Sit-on-tops are especially popular in warm climates. They’re less comfortable for cool locations because your body is exposed to the elements.
Size-wise, they hold single, double or more passengers. Typically they are from 10 to 15 feet in length. Most are made of plastic.
Best for recreational use; easy to transport and store.
You might think of a blow-up kayak as a toy, but these are surprisingly sturdy and versatile. Inflatable kayaks feature compartments that you inflate by foot, hand or electric pump, and the air makes them more buoyant than traditional kayaks. Once deflated, most can be transported in a duffel-sized carrying bag. This makes it easier for someone who has a beach house and needs to store their kayak for the winter. They are also good for people who travel a lot and don’t have room to store a full size kayak.
Inflatable kayaks range from 10 to 15 feet long. They easy to use and very light. However, they take more effort to paddle and they are slower and less rugged than a traditional kayak. They are usually made of PVC coated polyester.
Kayak Size Selection
Length: Shorter kayaks, like recreational ones, are easier to maneuver. Longer kayaks are easier to paddle and track very well over long distances holding a straight line better to stay on course.
Width (or Beam): Wide boats offer more stability in calm conditions while narrower boats go faster and offer better secondary stability if the boat is leaning on its side.
Depth: Larger and taller paddlers should check for enough depth to ensure enough space and leg room. Taller sides also help deflect water and may help provide more storage space. The downside is that they catch more wind, which can slow you down.
Weight capacity: Every boat has a recommended weight limit. Factors that will affect weight include the number of paddlers, length of trip and amount of gear.