A kayak can be a great way to enjoy the open water without the hassle, expense, and constant repairs of a motorized boat. Padding a kayak can also be a good way to get some exercise while on the water. If you've never purchased a kayak before, you may be overwhelmed by your choices, so note a few important things to consider before you even hit the store.
1. Length and width
Before you decide on a length and width of a kayak, first note how you will store it and if you can easily transport it with your car. If you have a roof rack on a small car, you may see that a 17-foot long kayak hangs well over the front and back of your car so that it's difficult to drive and maneuver around tight corners and turns. It may even lean forward or backward since your roof is too small to keep it level and even; a shorter kayak may be a better choice. You also need to consider your garage, shed, basement, or other storage area. Can you get a long kayak in and out of your basement area easily, or do you have room in the garage to hang it up and out of the way?
Managing the kayak while on the water is also something to consider. A longer kayak will go faster than a shorter one, but will be harder to turn around bends in a river or canal. You may not even want a kayak that goes faster, if you're unsure of your abilities to keep it under control. Note too that wider kayaks are more stable than narrower models, so if you're afraid of tipping or tend to kayak on rough waters, you may want something wide and more secure.
2. Hull and bottom shape
A v-shape or keeled kayak is more able to ride straight in the water, so it's good for touring or just straight paddling. Because the v-shape or keeled bottom helps the kayak to propel forward, it may be a good choice for those who tire easily, as it can make paddling easier on you overall.
A u-shaped hull is more stable in rough waters, so if you enjoy faster rivers, short falls, or even racing your kayak, the u-shape hull will offer better support. The smooth bottom of a u-shaped kayak will be better for spinning rather than tipping, so for tight turns and otherwise rough handling of the kayak, choose one with a smooth or flat bottom.
For more tips, visit a local sports equipment retailer, like Wetspot Water Sports.