How to find the kayak that’s right for you
Buying your own kayak is one of the easiest ways to take part in watersports in the UK, especially as the costs involved are manageable. There are also many exciting places to use a kayak along the British waterways and coast, including lakes and rivers opening up to more amateur watersports enthusiasts.
This article tells you what you need to know about kayaking, including the sort of equipment you need to take part safely and comfortably.
First though, what’s the difference between a kayak and a canoe? Opinions vary, but the definition is usually that kayaks have double paddles, but canoes move around using a single-ended paddle.
The best kayak equipment
There are many different models of kayaks, and they can all look exciting and attractive! It’s important to choose one with care though.
Paddleboards and sit on top kayaks are a particularly flexible option for beginners. You can use them in many locations.
If you plan to invest in a touring or sea kayak, then you need to find open water to practice.
There are options designed specifically for more challenging locations, but white water kayaks are only recommended for advanced and confident fans of this hobby and sport.
When choosing a kayak, consider the shape, size and structure that best suits your body frame and preferences. You need to be able to use it confidently, including slipping out if you do get tipped.
One size does not fit all when it comes to kayak paddles too. Test some and find the one that gives you control and confidence. Keep in mind you can get children’s kayak paddles for smaller passengers!
Also, have you got the correct roof rack straps and supports to get a kayak around safely with the minimum of stress?
Consider the launching system for your kayak too, to find a manageable option for you. This is where inflatable kayaks bring benefits, as they are so easy to transport, prepare and get on to the water!
Lastly, don’t forget you need to store your kayak properly to prolong its life and keep its structure sound. Hangings slings or racks are great options for more substantial types.
What accessories do you need for kayaking?
Even if you’re considering inflatable kayaks and going out as a family for some summer fun, you still need to take steps to keep everyone safe. This includes finding ways to stay warm, as the UK’s waterways and seas can be chilly even on the hottest of days!
The absolute basic requirement for anyone new to kayaking is a good quality buoyancy aid or lifejacket. Modern designers have created options that allow free movement as you paddle, combined with excellent buoyancy.
You should also seriously consider buying a kayak helmet, especially for younger adventurers.
If you intend to go out to sea, then kayak wetsuits are great common sense. However, even if you’re just ‘messing about on the river’ layering up clothing – including thermal socks – makes it possible to extend your fun and spend longer on (or in) the water.