What you need to know before you buy your first kayak

 In Whitewater Blogged

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I found an article written for anyone who is a kayaking beginner and who is thinking about buying their very first kayak. The author Scott Edwards is describing a “good ´all around´ kayak affording the paddler a plethora of paddling opportunities.”. I thought that this could be an interesting article to many of our awesome followers so I decided to share it with all of you. However I had Mike Pennefather – one of our very experienced and knowledgeable kayak instructors comment on the article to give you all an even better understanding of the ins and out when buying your first kayak. To complement the article I also asked Mike to give you his advice on what to think about when you know you want a kayak better suited for a more specific water condition – such as sea kayaking or white water kayaking.  The article and Mikes comments should give you a very good and broad understanding of what you need to look for when buying your very own kayak.

To read the ThePaddlerezine article by Scott Edwards click here

COMMENTS BY MIKE PENNEFATHER

 

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YOUR WHITE WATER KAYAK

General

Buying a second-hand  kayak first is a good idea. Additionally, learning how to deal with a capsize is also a good idea. When buying a white water kayak it is important to think about what sort of kayaking you will be doing. If you want to paddle at your local play park, do not invest in an enormous creeker, but rather, a freestyle kayak. If you are going to go run some big water and have a good time paddling some rapids, then don’t buy a freestyle kayak to begin with, simply because you won’t learn as much.  What you want is instead a river runner or a creek boat. You should always try it out before you buy it. Get it fitted by your local kayak salesmen and have them  help you set it up so that hip pads, foot braces, etc. are fitted for your personal comfort. If it is not a good fit you will have a hard time paddling it.

Learning a wet exit

The article recommends learning how to execute a wet exit which is very important but don’t stop there! You should learn how to roll right side up again without exiting the kayak- a crucial skill if you’re going to improve in kayaking.

A Bulk Head

If you’re into white water kayaking, then using a bulkhead is not such a good idea – use air bags instead.

Bungees & Hard Lines

The article recommends that you buy a kayak with bungees; I would not recommend a kayak with bungees on the deck for white water kayaking. The bungees create unnecessary snag potential and the same goes for hard lines. Instead, remember to always keep your deck nice and clean – that’s a health tip, folks.

The Handles

The next thing I’d like to comment on in this article are handles. They suggest T-grip handles, however  I would not suggest t-grip toggles on a white water kayak since it is yet again another snag hazard. The author does mention that your hands risk getting stuck in the luggage type handles and he’s right about that, but most modern white water kayaks actually have small enough luggage handles that a hand cannot get caught. They are solid and are good attachment points for extracting your kayak after having  wrapped it around a rock or a tree.  In short, I definitely recommend using nice solid handles rather than the t-toggles for your white water kayak.

The Paddle

Get as strong and light of a paddle as you can afford. This will make your paddling much more fun and enjoyable than if you were using a big heavy aluminum paddle. It is well worth the investment.

 

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YOUR SEA KAYAK

General

For sea kayaking you should go as long as you can afford. The longer the boat and as little rocker as possible means the more distance you’ll be able to cover effortlessly. Room for storage is important just make sure it’s got a good waterproof seal. The weight of the boat does not matter as much as the rigidity of it. Transporting  a light boat to and from the water might be easier but it’s also going to be flexible which means it will flex in the water and this will cause you to lose momentum. If it’s slightly heavier but more rigid it’s going to cut through the water like a knife through hot butter.

Bungees & Hard Lines

As I said earlier deck lines on white water kayaks needs to stay clean, but on sea kayaks you do want a couple of bungees. They should be placed right in front of you as they will offer easy accessible storing for things like your pump, your paddle float, and your water bottle. On the back you want the same kind of set up. You should also have a rigid line all the way around the outside of your kayak. This so that if you end up taking a swim you’ve got something to grab onto to stop your kayak from being swept away from you out in the ocean – which, if it happened, would suck!

A Bulk Head

I said not to get a bulk head for white water, but for sea kayaking it’s crucial. A solid bulk head is the way of the future and it will improve your kayaking experience.

The Handles

Handles aren’t as dangerous on a sea kayak as they are on a white water boat. However bear in mind that you will have to carry your kayak, so make sure they feel comfortable in your hand.

The Paddle

Sea kayak paddles are longer than white water paddles. Strength isn’t as important  when sea kayaking therefore I recommend a nice light paddle. There are various paddle blade shapes and sizes – so try before you buy. A general rule is to figure out your size (small, medium or large) and try a corresponding paddle size. For example a small person will find a big paddle blade difficult to use to pull the kayak through the water. It is important that you are able keep a good and consistent cadence (paddle stroke speed) for a long time.

 

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STARTING WITH KAYAK INSTRUCTIONS

If you want to learn how to kayak in the river then there is no better place than Dvorak´s Kayak & Rafting Expeditions where you’ve got some good internationally experienced instructors to teach you the wet exit, the roll and all other important ins and out of paddling a kayak, in the most enjoyable manner. We will teach you to paddle a kayak in white water or flat water. We will also give you the opportunity to try out a few different boats before you go out and buy a kayak, that may not be the right fit for you. Rather make mistakes with our boats and we’ll help steer you in the right direction. We will show you what to look for and teach you how to use the features that are most fitting for you. In other words we can teach you ham rolls, salmon rolls, chicken rolls, oriental rolls,  sashimi rolls and even vegetarian rolls. We’ll get you rolling in no time, don’t you worry!

MIKE’S FINIAL ADVICE

No matter where you go kayaking remember to ALWAYS wear a PFD (personal flotation device) and learn to roll before you take on any trips without an instructor. White water in Colorado can be very cold, so to prevent hypothermia (or just feeling miserable) you should also consider getting yourself a dry suite.

 

// We, at Dvorak’s Kayak & Rafting Expeditions,  hope you’ve found this information useful! The only thing left now is to wish you endless fun on the water during all your future kayak endeavors. We hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we do!

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