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How to pick suitable kayak and waterproof gear

Buying your very first kayak is an extremely exciting but also somewhat intimidating experience.

Where do you even start? There is a plethora of different kayak options to choose from. And then there’s the design, features, size and weight all to consider.

The best place to start your kayak buying journey is by narrowing down the types of Kayaks available and suited for you. There are a few specific questions to ask yourself when buying a kayak which will help you decide which boat would be right for you, based on your needs. 

Ask yourself: 

  • What kind of paddling do I plan to do? I.e., is it recreational, fishing, white water, or sea kayaking?
  • Do I have space to store and transport my new kayak? (If not, you could consider getting an inflatable kayak.)
  • How many people do I want to fit into my kayak at one time?
  • Do I want storage space within it for any longer or overnight trips?

Once you’ve gone through all these key questions you should be able to narrow down the type of kayak you should buy that suits your needs.

OverBoard Blog - How to pick suitable kayak and waterproof gear

So once you’ve decided this, where do you begin your search?

Read on for some tips to help you pick your perfect kayak and the suitable waterproof gear to go with it.

First things first, what are the different types of kayaks to choose from?

To get your head around all the different kayak terminology out there here’s a quick and easy guide on the different types of kayaks to pick from. There are six primary categories that you’re likely to encounter on your kayak hunt:


1. Sit on top kayaks

 OverBoard Blog - How to pick suitable kayak and waterproof gear

The clue is in the name. You ‘sit on top’ of the kayak rather than sitting in an enclosed cockpit. These are undoubtedly the best kayaks for beginners (as we’ll look at in a little more detail below).

  • Available in 1 - 3 person seaters.
  • Great for all abilities - from novices to experts.
  • Easy to transport, thanks to their lightweight and relatively compact nature.
  • Suitable for all types of waters.


2. Recreational kayaks

OverBoard Blog - How to pick suitable kayak and waterproof gear

Also known as ‘touring’ kayaks, these boats are designed for paddling on flat water for (you guessed it) recreational purposes. They’re designed for easy paddling in a straight line.

  • Recreational kayaks are comfortable so you can spend quite a bit of time on them (whether you’re paddling or simply stargazing).
  • Wide range of sizes available within this category.
  • Storage compartments are often built within, so you can take along all your belongings and waterproof gear.
  • Easy to transport in most cars.


3. Sea kayaks

OverBoard Blog - How to pick suitable kayak and waterproof gear

These are usually longer than recreational kayaks, and are designed to go faster. They’re often made of plastic and fibreglass.

  • Higher cruising speed than white water kayaks.
  • Built for comfort during longer journeys.
  • A wide range of boats available for different lengths of trips.


4. White water kayaks

OverBoard Blog - How to pick suitable kayak and waterproof gear

Built for white water rapids and surfing, these are designed to navigate fast flowing waters and steep descents.


5. Inflatable kayaks

OverBoard Blog - How to pick suitable kayak and waterproof gear

If you’re a beginner kayaker (or just don’t plan to use it that often and don’t have oodles of storage space), an inflatable kayak can make a good choice. The size is super convenient as it’s simple to transport and easy to store when deflated. 

  • Available in 1 - 3 person seaters.
  • Easy storage and ideal for caravanners or those with mobile homes.
  • Generally, quite quick to inflate and deflate.


6. Fishing kayaks

OverBoard Blog - How to pick suitable kayak and waterproof gear

Many paddlers love to use their kayaks for fishing, and a special fishing kayak can help boost your chances of fishing success. They’re packed with angling features such as bait buckets to help you really get the most out of your fishing trip.

  • Available in both sit on top and open cockpit options.
  • Can be easy to transport using most cars.
  • Suitable both for inland and coastal use.


Best kayaks for beginners

There are plenty of kayaks out there with entry level prices that will make a perfect fit for those of you that are new to the world of kayaking. And you don’t necessarily need to ‘upgrade’ to a newer model soon after. These beginner-friendly kayaks are actually great long after you’ve surpassed your beginner stage.

OverBoard Blog - How to pick suitable kayak and waterproof gear

If you’re only just embarking on your kayaking journey, we’d recommend starting with a sit on the top kayak as opposed to a closed deck one. Here’s why:

  • Safety-wise, sit on top kayaks are ideal for beginners. Why? Well, for starters it’s pretty much close to impossible to capsize in a sit on top kayak (unless you want to, of course). And even if you did, you wouldn’t be trapped under the boat.
  • There are storage hatches located in the back and the hull of the boat. Making them perfect for longer or overnight trips.
  • You can take the entire family out in these as well - they come as solo, tandem or three person boats.
  • They’re comfortable while still being stable and easy to paddle. The deck is slightly wider and there’s plenty of room for your legs.
  • They’re relatively lightweight which makes them easy to lug around. Most also have carry handles so transporting them is really simple.
  • Sit on top kayaks are customisable based on your needs. You can find the best sit on top kayaks for touring or fishing, depending on what you’re looking to use your boat for.
  • Generally, they’re the most affordable type of kayak.
  • And you don’t have to worry about getting stuck in the boat as there’s no enclosure!


Best fishing kayaks

If you want to use your kayak primarily for fishing, you want to opt for a boat that has been designed to boost your performance rather than a recreational kayak. Fishing kayaks are usually longer as well as this makes them more suitable for longer distances, and have additional features to help you make the most of your fishing trips.

 OverBoard Blog - How to pick suitable kayak and waterproof gear

Check out some options below:

Feel free Fish "N" Tour

This 12-foot-long angling kayak is sit on top, and is a good choice for both touring and fishing. It works well for sea and lake fishing.

Feel free Moken 10 Lite

Want something geared for fishing trips but relatively light and compact? The Moken 10 Lite is an ideal choice as it’s nimble yet stable. The compact design and lightweight nature mean it’s perfect if you want to fish in rivers and smaller lakes.

Viking Kayaks Profish 400

Sitting in the medium size category of fishing kayaks, the Viking Profish 400 offers stability and performance. And it’s comfortable to boot.


Best inflatable kayaks

Inflatable kayaks are the way to go if you don’t have storage space or the transport means to lug around a full-sized kayak. Check out some our top picks below:

OverBoard Blog - How to pick suitable kayak and waterproof gear

Intex Explorer K2

Intex is undoubtedly one of the best brands in the inflatable kayak category. And the simple but sturdy Intex Explorer 2 is a great starting kayak for beginners that want something inflatable. Made of durable vinyl, this two-seater is built to last and stand a number of rough water conditions.

Sevylor Tahiti Plus 2+1

One of the other leading brands in this market, Sevylor has built a high quality inflatable kayak to fit three people (two adults and one child). Inflation and deflation are quickly and easily done thanks to its quality valves, and its super compact when deflated.

Advanced Elements Unisex

This impressive boat is more similar to a permanent boat as it already has an aluminium skeleton which the inflatable bits are bound around. It is a good choice for more experienced kayakers and can hold up to three people.


Additional gear for your kayaking trips

Other than the kayak itself, you need to invest in some accessories to make the most of your paddling trips.

Invest in a spare paddle or two for your boat, just in case you lose one on a fast stretch of water. Don’t forget your life jacket, and a patch kit for your kayak.

OverBoard Blog - How to pick suitable kayak and waterproof gear

To keep all your belongings dry, invest in some durable waterproof bags for your kayaking trips. A good dry bag will help keep your valuables nicely protected from the elements and you can focus purely on enjoying the waters. 

OverBoard Blog - How to pick suitable kayak and waterproof gear

Where should I buy my kayak from?

Now that you may have an idea of what kind of kayak you need, you may be wondering where to actually make your purchase. We’d recommend finding your closest specialist kayak shop. They’re often staffed by people who love and have more expert knowledge of kayaking and will be able to offer advice.

Another perk of getting it directly from a specialist store is that you can physically assess the quality and size, and even try out sitting in it to see how you feel.


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