What Should I Look for When Buying a Kayak?

When it comes to buying a kayak, there are several important factors to consider. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced paddler, finding the right kayak can greatly enhance your overall experience on the water. In this article, we’ll explore what you should look for when buying a kayak.

1. Type of Kayak

If you’re new to kayaking, it’s essential to choose the right type of kayak for your needs.

There are different types available, such as recreational kayaks, touring kayaks, whitewater kayaks, and fishing kayaks. Each type is designed for specific activities and water conditions.

Recreational Kayaks

Recreational kayaks are ideal for beginners and casual paddlers who plan to use their kayak on calm lakes or slow-moving rivers. They provide stability and ease of use, making them great for leisurely paddling or short day trips.

Touring Kayaks

Touring kayaks are designed for longer trips and can handle various water conditions. They offer better tracking and efficiency than recreational kayaks, making them suitable for exploring coastal areas or larger bodies of water.

Whitewater Kayaks

If you’re into adrenaline-pumping adventures on fast-moving rivers with rapids, whitewater kayaks are what you need. These kayaks are maneuverable and built to withstand the rigors of whitewater paddling.

Fishing Kayaks

Fishing kayaks are specially designed with added features like rod holders, storage compartments, and comfortable seating. They are stable platforms that allow anglers to access fishing spots that may be hard to reach by other means.

2. Size and Weight Capacity

The size and weight capacity of a kayak are crucial considerations.

The length and width of the kayak determine its stability, maneuverability, and storage capacity. Additionally, you need to ensure that the kayak can support your weight and any additional gear you plan to carry.

Recreational kayaks are typically shorter and wider, providing better stability for beginners. Touring kayaks are longer and narrower for increased speed and efficiency. Whitewater kayaks are often shorter for maneuverability, while fishing kayaks can vary in size depending on the angler’s needs.

3. Material

Kayaks are made from different materials, each with its own advantages and disadvantages:

  • Polyethylene (PE): PE kayaks are durable, affordable, and resistant to impacts. However, they can be heavier compared to other materials.
  • Composite: Composite kayaks are lightweight and offer excellent performance but tend to be more expensive.
  • Inflatable: Inflatable kayaks are portable, easy to store, and suitable for recreational use. However, they may not provide the same performance as rigid kayaks.

4. Comfort and Features

Comfort is essential when spending long hours in a kayak.

Look for features such as adjustable seats with backrests, padded thigh braces or knee pads, and adjustable footrests. These features will enhance your comfort level during paddling sessions.

If you’re into fishing or photography while kayaking, consider additional features like built-in rod holders or camera mounts.

5. Price Range

Kayak prices vary depending on the type of kayak, material used, brand reputation, and additional features.

Set a budget range and prioritize the features that are most important to you. It’s worth investing in a quality kayak that suits your needs and will last for years to come.

Remember to factor in the cost of any necessary accessories such as paddles, life jackets, dry bags, and kayak racks or storage systems.


Choosing the right kayak is crucial for an enjoyable paddling experience. Consider the type of kayak, size and weight capacity, material, comfort features, and your budget when making a decision. By taking these factors into account, you’ll be on your way to finding the perfect kayak that suits your needs and preferences.

Photo of author

Michael Allen