Choosing A Kayak
Buying the best kayak for you begins with three questions:
Will you cruise in open waters prone to waves, or along narrow rivers with calm water?
Will you ride for a few hours, all day, or all month?
Will you paddle up the coast, or across the bay and home again?
Types of Kayaks
Sit-on-top kayaks make being in the water for a few hours at a time easy and fun for both adults and kids. They’re designed for cruising calm waters on clear days where jumping into the lake or ocean after a long paddle just seems natural. Best suited to shorter rides over small distances, you can also use these stable and maneuverable craft for finding the best fishing spots to drop your line.
This type of kayak is highly maneuverable and an excellent choice for both beginners and intermediate-level paddlers. Recreational kayaks are designed for easy riding on calm, stable waters including narrow waterways, are best suited for short trips over small distances, and provide a fun introduction to the joys of kayaking. They offer storage to carry cargo for camping or a picnic, even pets (with the right safety gear for your animal), and are engineered to provide years of outdoor fun.
Designed for more experienced kayakers, touring kayaks cut through the water more easily which increases their speed of travel on wide-open stretches of water. They’re long and narrow, offer greater secondary stability in rough conditions, and enable the paddler to cruise for long periods of time over great distances. Touring kayaks also feature extra storage, deck rigging, and two bulkheads.
These craft are extremely easy to assemble and offer a great portable solution to kayakers who must travel a long distance before launching their vessel. Pack it in your vehicle, on a charter bus or even on a plane. Considered a recreational style kayak, these inexpensive inflatable craft are a good way for casual kayakers and beginners to enjoy time on the water.
Find an Atmosphere location near you.
Kayaks have a primary and secondary stability function. Understanding the difference between these is critical when choosing the best craft for your skill level and needs.
Remember: Stability improves as the amount of surface area of the boat touching water increases.
How stable the kayak feels at rest.
A wider base on the boat provides greater primary stability, making the craft harder to tip when sitting flat on calm waters. Hull design as well as width affects the primary stability. Most beginners will find this type makes them feel safer on the water.
How stable it feels when tipped.
As a boat is rocked back and forth on rough waters, its ability to maintain contact with the water by tilting with the waves determines secondary stability. Craft with greater secondary stability may have lower initial stability which makes them seem tippy and unsafe to inexperienced kayakers. But secondary stability has a much greater effect on a craft’s ability to overcome capsizing on open water.
Recreational and sit-on-top kayaks are usually shorter than other designs, making them more maneuverable. Longer kayaks like the touring style travel faster and stay straighter on water but become more challenging to turn the longer they get.
Wider boats including many recreational and sit-on-top styles provide great primary stability because they cover more surface area of the water when sitting flat. Narrow boats like a touring style move across the water more easily but can seem unstable to inexperienced kayakers because they move back and forth with the waves and seem prone to tipping.
Depth & Volume:
When paddling, you require sufficient room within the cockpit to allow your body a full range of motion. Struggling to lift your arms and move your paddle through the water will result in an inefficient and less enjoyable paddling trip. Consider your comfort and maneuverability when looking at the depth and volume of the craft because larger paddlers may benefit from extra space.
A rudder is a device attached to the rear of the kayak that can be directed by controls at your feet. You’re able to keep the craft straight at any speed and also help turn it when needed.
Skegs are fins attached to your craft that provide straight tracking and stable performance over long distances. They can be retracted inside the craft and deployed as needed.
Barriers designed to stop water from travelling throughout your kayak, these can also be used to create more storage space safe from any water.
Designed to allow access to inner compartments of your kayak that are protected from water, these extra storage spaces enable paddlers to pack what they need for a midday meal, and also allow for longer trips over long periods of time.
Comfort is one of the essential elements of a fun and efficient cruise on the water. Make sure your torso has a full range of motion, you’re not sitting too low in the kayak, and you’re comfortably positioned for paddling.
Try adding a few items to your kayaking checklist to enhance your comfort and performance on trips out on the water.
Drybag: Protect your gear with bags designed to withstand water but also allow easy access to things like extra clothing, maps, electronics and food.
Waterproof phone case: Have quick access to your phone with protective cases for keeping it dry.
Footwear, apparel & gear: Equip yourself with waterproof shoes to keep your feet dry and warm, sweat-wicking apparel to help regulate heat while paddling, and gloves to protect your hands.
Safety equipment: Ensure your safety on the water with emergency gear like a flashlight or headlamp and a first aid kit.
Spray skirt: Designed for touring kayaks, these can prevent your kayak from taking on water during long trips over turbulent waters.
Water Safety Equipment
Staying safe on the water is your responsibility but preparing yourself for an emergency isn’t a daunting task if you take a few simple steps. There will be no reason to panic as long as you prepare your craft properly with a combination of mandatory safety pieces regulated by the Government of Canada.
The Government of Canada requires all vessels to be equipped with these items:
- Personal floatation device
- A bailing device like a bucket or bilge pump
- 15m buoyant rope
- Sound signaling device like a whistle
- Six water-resistant flares (for extended trips)
- Water-tight flashlight
Atmosphere recommends the following items in addition to the above list:
Please Note that boating regulations change from time to time, so make sure you are up-to-date with the current information by visiting the Transport Canada's Safe Boating Guide. If the Safe Boating Guide differs from the regulations, it is the text in the current regulations that will apply.