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How to choose your Kayak

Today I am going to share the knowledge about what type of kayak suits you the best! Let’s choose your kayak. Choosing the right kayak will help you to enjoy it much better and give you much fun kayaking in beautiful Sri Lanka.

You would probably have already read my first blog about the introduction to kayaking in Sri Lanka by now, if you have missed it please visit it here. I was discussing the pros and cons and benefits both spiritual and physical there. 

Reminder from SAM

Key things to consider when choosing a Kayak

So what are the key things you should ask from yourself if you think of choosing kayaks? 

Your Safety

Obviously number 1 would be your safety! The Kayak you choose should come from a reputed vendor with quality material and safety standards. There are no cutting corners here! Just like the airlines use the best material and technology it is important that you choose a kayak that will take you through the white water to flat water with no compromise.

Your Budget

And then the budget! And here I would recommend you to spend some brainstorming before your emotions kick in. The first investments are always the most painful and if not done correctly it’ll end up you wasting your bonus check.  So I’ll mention a checklist you can tick before you make a purchasing decision! But before that I’ll take you through,

The types of kayaks and uses.

  • Mainly you can categorize kayaks in the material used. Kayaks come in high density plastic, fiberglass and a mix of both. 
  • Number of cockpits (wait what? I thought plans have that?) well the cockpit is the seat of the kayak and it could have 1 to 3 seats so the size increases 
  • The place you kayak? Is it in sea or in lakes and rivers? 
  • How the seating of kayak is done! If the seat is inside the kayak it’s called a sit in kayak if you’re sitting on top of it it’s called sit on top or SOT kayak. 

Sit in kayaks need special training so I’ll stick to SOTs (Sit-On-Top Kayaks) which I’m sure is the easiest and cheapest. 

So the checklist is simple and should be easy to understand for obvious reasons!

What do you want to do with your kayak?

Is it for a few hours of fun ride close to your home? Is it for multi-day kayaking trips through beautiful landscapes of Sri Lanka? Now the choices are much clearer and easy.

If you want just a few hours of fun with it and you only decide to paddle calm waters where there are no hazards like rocks and logs you could choose a low-cost fibreglass kayak. If you look for a good quality you could use composite fibre and plastic kayak. But if you have a chèque en Blanc I suggest you to go for an HDP plastic kayak which is light, durable and UV resistant. 

What kind of a kayak do you need for multi-day kayaking?

paddling a kayak
I am on my tandem Kayak with camping equipment for multi-day
Mahaweli expedition

For the folks like me who wants to hook a kayak to my trailer get into my beloved T-Rex (that’s my Toyota Hilux 4X4) and travel to distant corners of beautiful Sri Lanka, you definitely need a good quality kayak which should be plastic, so it’ll not brittle like fibreglass and save you from all the troubles in the middle of nowhere.

It should be ideally a tandem kayak even if only you paddle it. Why? You’ll have to stack up your food, camping gear, cooking wear, and clothing bro survive a few days. And being light it’ll be easy to handle and you could carry it or drag it in a case there are low water levels or you find obstacles like logs or dams. 

Think about How do you transport your KAYAK!

Please also decide your mode of transportation before the purchase!  Do you have a small car? An SUV or mid-size sedan or you don’t like the smell of petrol so you decide not to buy a car? Without a proper transportation set and plan you will end up leaving your kayak at home and it’ll take up space and sooner or later your mom or wife will ask you to get rid of it. 

Transporting Kayaks
My Toyota Hilux 4X4 with Kayaks on trailer and top.

Choose a kayak depending on your transportation method

  1. Small lightweight Kayak if you own a Small Car or Doesn’t own a vehicle

If you have a small car or no mode of your own transportation the kayak you buy should be small, lightweight kayak so it’ll even fit in the top of a tuk-tuk and that way you’ll have more easy loading -unloading and mobility.

So it’s ideal you choose a one-man SOT kayak. One man SOTs are small in size and can be easily carried by a single person.

  1. Tandem Kayak if you own a method of transportation

Now let’s see about guys who have a mode of transportation like a double cab or a sedan. And things get pretty simple here and my best advice is you go for a tandem (a double) kayak. Why? So you can tag a friend alone and that way you always have a helping hand!

Also, You could choose between Fibreglass (bit heavy) or a plastic tandem kayak (lightweight) which is easy to manure. 

Fiberglass Single Kayak
Single Person Fiberglass Single Kayak

After deciding what kayak will do the job for you best is to find few friends who have the same passion and start small kayak trips across lakes and rivers! But don’t go No kayaking on your own till you are professional and competent enough!

Advice from SAM

So let’s recap

When you are choosing your kayak look at following factors.

  1. Your safety – choose a good manufacturer
  2. Your Budget – Don’t break your bank
  3. Learn about different type of Kayaks and their Uses
  4. Choosing a kayak that fits your need
  5. The way you transport your kayak

I’d really love to help you with learning and explore Sri Lanka in a Kayak. Please follow our page, visit our blog or signup for our newsletter so we can keep you updated. 

And next time when I come, I’ll share a few points on how to read water, getting prepared for your first camping kayaking trip and best places to star kayaking in Sri Lanka! Meanwhile, read our 7 tips for kayaking for beginners article.

Feel free to leave your kayaking Questions with me in comments. I will happy to help you out <3

Till then happy paddling! 

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