How to Choose a Kayak? A Complete Buying Guide 2022

  • By: Josh Rosenberg
  • Date: July 30, 2022
  • Time to read: 15 min.

People who like adventure are more likely to buy their own kayak to have the best experience. But when you buy something, you must know how to buy the best one. We all know that we have to consider a lot of factors when searching for the perfect thing for ourselves no matter if it is an electronic device, dress, or a kayak.

In the case of buying a kayak, you must first learn how to choose a kayak that is the most suitable for you. You must check out its size, durability, maintenance level, cost, color, etc. Check out anything you want but get the one in which you feel satisfied and that could also meet your needs.

This guide is especially for you if you want to get complete information about choosing the best kayak to meet your requirements, needs, and expectations. You will also come to know about different types of kayaks used for different purposes along with their detailed features.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s begin!

Where to Use the Kayak?

First, you have to decide where you have to ride the kayak. We know that there are different types of water bodies in this world where some are very large and some are very small, you must select the one where you can feel comfortable and it is easy for you to ride the kayak.

But if you want to ride the kayak on a large water body, it would be best if you first learn how to, have a grip on the kayak handling, and become an expert. It is because it becomes difficult to handle a kayak when the weather is extreme or the pressure of the wind is very high.

So, here we have listed some water bodies where you can ride a kayak. When you are done deciding on the water body, decide to buy the kayak accordingly to make it easy for you to ride it there comfortably. Let’s have a look at them:


Kayaking in Rivers

A river is the most common water body where you can ride a kayak no matter if you are a beginner or an expert. You just need to buy the kayak which could provide you enough stability that you could ride the kayak easily there without losing balance.

There is not much pressure on the water in the rivers but still, if you want to float on a river, you must get a stable kayak. For this purpose, you can also get a small-sized kayak with one seat only. The choice is yours! You can also buy the one with more seats such as two or three. Sit-on-top and sit-in kayaks would be best for riding on a river.


Kayaking in Lakes

Having a ride to the lakes is also not so difficult. It is a water body that is the best for beginners to learn how to paddle and learn to handle the kayak. You can first try the kayak with one seat, later on, you can try larger kayaks with three seats to make sure whether you can ride a kayak with your family or not.

Here lakes don’t mean Lake Superior, you should just consider the local lakes here which are easy to go! If you see the weather condition is good and no storm is going to come, you can get a sit-in touring kayak in this situation. It will provide an amazing tracking service to you. A sit-on kayak would also be best if you want one!


Kayaking in Coasts

Have you ever ridden a kayak on a coast? If not, you must try it at least once. We assure you you will have an amazing experience and you wouldn’t be able to resist doing it again. Let us tell you there might be high pressure of wind on the coasts along with tides, currents, and waves. So, you must be prepared to handle the kayak in such a situation.

We can say you have to be an expert to have a trip to your favorite coast. For this purpose, you can get a sit-in touring kayak which offers great stability and rigidity along with the best tracking service. If the weather is warm, you can also swim in the lake if you want! So, why don’t you think of enjoying every moment?!


Kayaking in Ponds

Picking up ponds over other water bodies wouldn’t be a bad idea! If you want to have a ride to a water body and also want to do fishing at the same time, ponds are a good selection. For this purpose, we suggest you get a kayak that comes with enough storage space where you could easily keep fishing accessories such as a fish finder, fishing rod, a bucket, food for yourself, etc. 

If you are fishing or taking a moment to get away from the hustle to get back on shore, the ponds offer you a very calm and comfortable ride. If you do paddling on a large lake instead of a small water body like a pond, there are more chances of facing the waves which might put you in danger. 

Type of Kayaks You Need to Know

When you are going to buy a kayak for yourself or someone else, you must review the different types of kayaks available in the market. It would be best if you already know about that but if not, you must have a look at them at least once. It will let you determine which one would be the best for yourself and in which kayak will you be comfortable. 

You can also give a test drive to each type of kayak to know the difference between them. The features of all the kayaks might be the same but not their specifications. So, here we have mentioned some of the most common types of kayaks below so you could have some knowledge about them and you could decide which kayak would be the best for you!

Traditional Sit-in Kayak

Traditional Sit-in Kayak

Have you ever tried out a sit-in kayak? It is the most common type of kayak which is also a part of a recreational kayak and is the best for day touring. It is the one that offers you the features of straight tracking and fast moving. You can see there are extra compartments in these kayaks that provide you enough storage to keep other stuff with you too.

We can say this type of kayak is the best for paddling especially when you are a beginner. The experts can also ride it if they want. Let us tell you this type of kayak is very comfortable and often comes with padded and adjustable seats that increase their comfort level.

A sit-in kayak allows you to add a spray skirt if you want. When you get this kayak, your different body parts interact with the kayak such as your feet, knees, and butt which provides you more control over the kayak. So, we can say this type of kayak is also best for rough water bodies.

Sit-on-Top Kayak

Sit-on-Top Kayak

Sit-on-top kayaks also known as recreational kayaks are the best for lakes and easy-flowing rivers. So, if you are interested in having a trip to a river or lake, this type of kayak would be the best for you. You can also ride it in warm coastal waters. Plus, this type of kayak comes with enough storage space inside to keep your personal belongings with you too. 

It is very easy to get on this type of kayak even in deep water. We can say they are also good for casual uses such as playing around near a lakeside cabin or on any swimming platform. You will surely enjoy a ride on this type of kayak because it is not only affordable but also comfortable. You do not get tired of riding it at all!

This kayak comes with the feature of self-draining so you do not have to pump out the water from it when you clean it. It also comes with some deck stash spots. Let us tell you this type of kayak might be heavier than the others which makes them best for fishing because you need to put some other things with you too.

Touring Kayak

Touring Kayak

When you visit the market, you will come to know about the touring kayaks and their purpose. Let us tell you something about this type of kayak. It is the kayak that is considered the best if you want to have a trip to a water body in the daytime. 

It is a kayak that is 10ft to 14ft long and narrower as compared to the recreational kayak. It offers you amazing tracking performance meeting your needs and expectations. It also comes with a stable hull and a large cockpit.

Let us tell you it is the one that is also known as a multi-purpose kayak and is the best for a full-day or half-day trip. It is considered the most reliable for beginners to learn kayaking or paddling. You can keep your personal belongings with you too in them. What else do we want?

Whitewater Kayak

Whitewater Kayak

If you want a small-sized kayak, you must go for a whitewater kayak. It is the one that is available between 4ft and 10ft in length along with a small turning circle and a wide hull. We can say that this type of kayak is mostly suitable for kids instead of adults. Your children can enjoy having a ride on this kayak in the swimming pool.

There are different types of whitewater kayaks so you can get the one that seems good to you and meets your needs and expectations. These types include creek boats, river runners, and playboats. 

Inflatable Kayak

Inflatable Kayak

Do you want a kayak that is easy to carry and offers easy transport? You must go with the inflatable and foldable kayaks. You might be amazed to hear about foldable kayaks and might also be thinking about how much kayaks can offer stability and rigidity. Let us tell you the material used for such kayaks is durable and long-lasting.

Like other kayaks, inflatable kayaks also offer great stability and rigidity only if you buy the one that could easily bear your weight and is in the right size. You should also check the weight capacity of the kayak before buying one.

Let us tell you more about inflatable kayaks. These are the kayaks that are very easy to transport and store. You do not need a truck to transport them as a carrying bag is enough for this purpose which can be kept in your car. Plus, no roof rack is needed for moving this kayak from one place to another. Keep in mind that this type of kayak does not provide the tracking feature like hardshell kayaks.

Fishing Kayak

Fishing Kayak

Do you like fishing? If yes, you must be thinking of buying the best fishing kayak. Do you know how to choose a fishing kayak? Do not worry when we are here for you. You can get help from this guide. Let us tell you when you need a fishing kayak, you must know which things are needed to be considered for this purpose.

First, you have to check the stability level of the kayak as well as the storage inside the kayak. It is because you need some extra space when you go out fishing. You have to keep fishing accessories with you that are helpful in fishing alone or with a partner, it can be a friend or a life partner. 

For your information, the fishing kayaks are quite similar to the recreational kayaks that provide you amazing fishing experience. They also come with some enhanced features like a high-low adjustable seat, rod holders, deck rigging, and a storage compartment.

Tandem Kayak

Tandem Kayak

If you are a beginner, you can go for the tandem kayak to learn to paddle with a partner, family member, or friend. It is the kayak that is not a single-seater and allows you to enjoy a ride with others because we all know that we enjoy ourselves more with our loved ones instead of being alone. So, this type of kayak comes with extra storage and compartments. 

You can keep food, a bag, and many other belongings with you in the kayak when enjoying kayaking on it with your loved ones. But always check out the weight capacity of the kayak before adding more things and people in the kayak. It is because overloading will result in making you lose your balance. 

Consider the Time to Paddle

When choosing a kayak, you have to consider the time you want to ride the kayak. It is because there are different types of kayaks where some are comfortable and some are not. Some kayaks allow you to ride for only a few hours but some kayaks let you ride them all day without getting tired. So, the specifications of each kayak are different.

You can also get a kayak that can be used on a multi-day route. The major features of a kayak that can be ridden all day or half a day include deck riggings, storage hatches, and a comfortable seat. The kayaks designed for long trips can also be used for going on short trips but the ones designed for short trips cannot be used for long trips.

If you want to go on a one-day trip, it would be best if you get a recreational kayak or a touring kayak with deck riggings and one storage hatch. Such a kayak will provide enough space for your water, safety equipment, and food like sandwiches.

And if you want to go for multi-day trips, you will surely have to go for a night’s stay. In this situation, you need to get a touring kayak that comes with two storage hatches, deck riggings, and a proper place for attaching the compass. So, get the one that allows you to keep your things all day with you.

When buying the kayak, you must also know how to choose a kayak paddle. It is because the paddle must be comfortable and strong. Never compromise on the size of the paddle because if it is not right-sized, you will find difficulty in operating it due to which you might not be able to paddle properly. 

Who is the Kayak for?

You need to consider the person for whom you are going to buy the kayak. It can be you, your friend, a family member, an adult, a kid, an experienced person, or a beginner. Literally, it can be anyone so you have to determine the needs of the user first along with his size, weight, and trip planning, and then buy the kayak accordingly.

If you want to buy a kayak for a healthy adult person, you need to get the one that comes with great storage capacity so it can bear the weight of that person easily without losing stability over the water. 

Suppose you are buying the kayak for yourself, you have to consider your capabilities, are you able to handle it in extreme weather? Are you an expert or a beginner? Do you know how to get back if the weather condition is not good? Have you learned how to paddle even at a basic level?

If you are a beginner, we suggest you buy a kayak which is more stable than others and is also very easy to paddle. So, you can consider buying a day touring kayak or a recreational kayak. Both these kayaks will surely help you improve your paddling skills. When you think you have learned how to paddle, you can move to an advanced kayak which lets you face more challenging waters easily.

For your information, the kayaks are also designed for children. These are probably the ones that are available in small sizes so that the kids could easily get into them, handle them and learn how to paddle properly. It would be best if they start riding this kayak in a swimming pool where you are there with your kids. 

How to Transport and Store the Kayak?

The storage and transportation of a kayak matter a lot so be careful when you are buying one. We know that the best kayak options are inflatable kayaks and hard-shell kayaks. Transportation and storage are one of the most common features that differentiate one kayak from the other.

How to Transport and Store the Kayak

If you want a kayak that is easy to carry and transport from one place to another, you must get one that is under 40 pounds. Because the ones that are more than 40 pounds and quite heavier and the ones heavier than 50-60 pounds are the ones that are not possible to carry by a single person. You definitely need a roof rack for carrying them.

The average weight of a recreational kayak is 40 pounds and the weight of the kayak for the kids ranges from 25 to 30 pounds. If you go for the inflatable kayaks, you do not have to worry about their storage and transportation. Because you just need a carrying bag in which you can put the kayak by folding it. We can say hard-shell kayak is difficult to transport as compared to inflatable ones.

Consider Your Propulsion Method

You might be thinking that buying a kayak mostly depends upon your preferences and needs. You might be right about it but you also have to consider some other factors too. For example, you also need to check the propulsion method that plays a vital role in this concern. Some other things associated with it include convenience, versatility, and price tag.

Following are some options that are available to you which might matter more than your preferences. Let’s have a look at them!

Paddle Drive Systems

The paddle drive systems matter a lot and should be considered when you go for buying a kayak for yourself or someone else. It is a thing that can convert kayaking into a bike riding experience. So, it can be said that you are provided with an alternative way to free up your hands from paddling and consume them for some other thing, work, or tasks such as taking care of your baby or pet.

You can also consume your hands for fishing instead of handling the kayak using the paddles. It also results in allowing you to put your leg muscles to save some energy and work which results in contributing to a faster ride. 


Paddles are considered one of the most important parts of kayak propulsion that allows you to have a more traditional on-the-water experience. So, even if you select a more sophisticated propulsion method such as a pedal drive system or a motor, you will surely get the best experience of riding a kayak in your life! Why don’t you give it a try once?!

Motor Drives

Do you know you can also go for motor drives if you want such as trolling motors? These are mostly powered by batteries so make sure they are charged before you go kayaking. We can say motor drives are included in the redefined kayak propulsion methods.

It provides you with an amazing riding experience on your favorite water body such as a lake, pond, river, etc. You are provided with great speed with the motor installation and efficient range so you could cover a wide area. Moreover, kayaks with motors are the best choice if paddling is difficult for you.


How do I pick out a Kayak for myself?

You have to determine your needs first before buying out a kayak. Your needs may include the water body where you want to have a trip, your required weight capacity, size of the kayak, transportation of the kayak, etc.

How can I get the Right-sized Kayak?

You have to check out your weight first and then the size, weight, and weight capacity of the kayak to get the right sized kayak. You can also give a test drive to different kayaks to find out the best one for yourself.

What type of Kayak is the best for Beginners?

Sit-in kayaks are considered the best for beginners because they are easy to handle and are also stable because your different body parts interact with the kayak which provides great grip over the kayak.

Which Kayak is the Best, a Sit-on-top or a Sit-in Kayak?

If we compare both these types of kayaks, the sit-in kayak is better than a sit-on-top kayak. It is best if you are riding in cold water or you do not want to get wet.

What type of Kayak should be bought for Fishing?

If you want to get a kayak for fishing, you should go for the one that offers great storage inside. It must also provide you with enough space to hold the fishing rod and keep other fishing accessories such as a fish finder.


To sum up, there is a wide variety of kayaks available in the market, you must know which one is the best for you. No doubt, they all are best for some reason but some might not be suitable for you. So, consider the different factors we have mentioned in this guide and get the best and the most suitable kayak for yourself. Keep in mind never forget to consider your budget in this concern!

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