Last updated: August 10, 2021

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A kayak is a small boat for sport and recreation. This time, we'll tell you everything you need to know to choose the best one and set off on a great adventure.

There is a wide variety of kayaks on the market, and to find your ideal boat, you should check several characteristics, but above all ask yourself about the use you will give it: learning on calm waters of a lake? racing? fishing? sea kayaking? navigating on whitewater rivers? We'll tell you more about it so that you can make the best choice.




Summary

  • A kayak is a small boat with paddles for getting around. The related sport is called kayaking and is paddled by one to four people. This discipline provides emotional well-being by eliminating stress, and is great for your physical condition, as it is a cardiovascular exercise.
  • There are three varieties of kayak: rigid, rigid, inflatable and inflatable. The rigid kayak is usually made of fibreglass and wood. The rigid one, as the word says, will be very practical if the place where you will practice the sport is far from home. The inflatable is the slowest, although it has the great advantage that it can be stored in small spaces.
  • When choosing a good kayak there are factors to consider, such as where you will use it, whether in rough or calm waters, the purpose of the kayak, i.e. whether it is for recreational use, fishing or competition, and the size of the kayak to consider whether it is for group or solo rides. We'll tell you more about this later.

The Best Kayak: Our Picks

Buying Guide

Before buying a kayak, you should know all about it, to make sure you get a product that meets your needs and expectations. We tell you about its features and accessories, as well as its advantages and disadvantages depending on the purpose you plan to use it for.

Kayaks are fun tools for extreme sports and adventure or a simple walk. (Photo: Mihtiander/ 123rf.com)

What is a kayak and what are its advantages?

The Kayak is a small boat that can be constructed of rigid, inflatable and rigid materials that, unlike paddle boats, uses paddles that are not attached to the boat and are used to travel on rivers, lakes and seas. Another characteristic of the kayak is that the person sits facing the bow, i.e. forward. Today it is common to find people who have practised it, from tourists who spend a sunny afternoon on a lake, to sportsmen and women who compete in rivers, from children participating in recreational activities to adults who want to practise fishing.

The first image that might come to mind when we think of a kayak is a great adventure full of adrenaline in wild currents, but it is much more than that, it is also a boat for contemplative strolls, relaxation and pleasure.

Advantages
  • It improves your physical and emotional condition
  • It helps you to cultivate trust in others and teamwork
  • It is fun and recreational
  • It allows you to have contact with nature
  • It will help you to breathe better and lower stress levels
Disadvantages
  • It can be dangerous when you are a beginner
  • Some can only be used in calm waters
  • You must buy accessories depending on where you will navigate
  • Rigid kayaks are difficult to move

The kayak according to the material it is made of - what should you pay attention to?

It is very difficult to find a Kayak that is suitable for everything: competitions in rivers, fishing in lakes and calm seas, group and solo rides. This is because the user is usually clear about what and where they want to use their Kayak for, so brands have been striving to design them with more and more specific features. What we can see is that there is a general classification of the Kayak and it depends on the material with which it was built. We have Kayaks made of rigid materials, such as fibreglass and wood, Kayaks that can be assembled and inflatable Kayaks. We will show you the characteristics of each type below:

Rigid.

They are the most traditional and commercialised, but not for this reason the most popular. They are made of different types of plastic and fibreglass. The main disadvantage of this type of kayak is that they are not practical to move, which is why they have lost popularity.

Inflatables.

This is a kayak that can be moved anywhere as it is inflated and deflated with an air pump. They are usually the best for people who have never owned a kayak before, and they are less expensive. On average, they can weigh up to 7.26kg, but on the downside they are difficult to manoeuvre in strong winds. Most of them are made of strong materials, such as PVC, so that they do not explode when rubbing against rocks, in the case of rivers.

Armountable.

A type of kayak that has become popular in recent times as it combines elements of rigid and inflatable kayaks. It can be assembled and disassembled, which is a great benefit if you consider the time savings of transporting it more easily. It has the advantages of a rigid kayak: resistance in the water and capacity to navigate in open sea waters. Assembled kayaks are the most practical as you can have the same rigid product but foldable, being able to store it wherever you want and without fear of it getting damaged over time.

Rigid Inflatable Assemblable
Budget High Medium-low Medium
Endurance in navigation Lakes, seas and rivers Lakes, seas and rivers Lakes, seas and rivers
Moving Not very practical to move Very easy to move Moderately easy to move
Storing Difficult Easy Easy
Frequency of use Twice a month Once a month or sporadically Once a month

How much does a kayak cost?

Certainly the most expensive models are the rigid type kayaks, because of their resistance, durability and speed. However, we can find inflatable models, with lower costs, that adapt to our needs and expectations. Let's start with the rigid Kayak, which can be between 30,000MX and more than 60,000MX. You have to take into account that as it is made of resistant plastic and fibreglass, it could last a lifetime. This Kayak is designed for long routes and open sea trips.

However, an inflatable kayak has a much lower price range, from 1,799MX to more than 25,000MX. In the range between 7,000MX and 9,000MX you can get many options of a very good quality, which are even suitable for competitions in fast rivers. The Kayak that can be assembled can be more than 17,000MX.

Did you know. In its beginnings the Kayak was used as a means of transport by the Eskimos, but since the seventies Kayaking started to be practiced as an official sport?

Kayaks are the main tool for a fun and adventurous sport. (Photo: Terry Schmidbauer / 123rf.com)

Buying criteria: Factors that allow you to compare and rate different Kayak models

Nowadays, there are an infinite number of designs that adapt to the tastes and needs of each person who wants to practice kayaking, so the performance of the product rather than its price will depend on whether it was chosen wisely. To refine your search for the perfect kayak for your adventure, we will show you other factors that you should take into account according to your budget, purpose of use and expectations about kayaking.

  • High endurance vs Low cost
  • Beginners vs New Challenges
  • Accessories
  • Solo vs Group Kayak

High endurance vs. low cost

How many times have we heard that "cheap is expensive"? The selection of the ideal kayak is not far from that reality but there are solutions for small budgets. This is probably the most relevant aspect when choosing a kayak.

Inflatable kayak.

Good quality inflatable kayaks, such as those from INTEX, are a perfect example of quality for a reasonable price. This is a good option for those going on an adventure or a simple trip. You should also consider that if you are going to get into kayaking or want to buy a kayak to use it for a trip with friends, relaxing or fishing, the best option might be an inflatable.

Rigid kayak.

On the other hand, rigid kayaks are more expensive because they are practically designed to navigate anywhere. They are resistant to strong currents and long sea routes (more than 6 hours). So it is an investment that will not disappoint you.

Initiation vs. new challenges

There are many cases where we start a new activity or sport and for various reasons we stop practicing it. There are also others where you discover something you really like and you don't stop practising it. The selection of your ideal kayak should depend, in part, on this factor.

Initiation.

If your plan is to experiment and see if you feel comfortable kayaking, we recommend you not to make a big investment but to start with something of good quality but not more than 15.000MX. The disadvantage is if you decide to continue practising the sport and the cheap Kayak is not enough.

Frequent use.

Certainly buying a rigid or rigid Kayak ensures that you can use it anywhere and that it will last for many years in good condition. The main question is: how far do you want to go with kayaking?

Accessories

When buying a kayak, we must take into account that we must acquire accessories to navigate it. Some of these accessories are essential for navigation, while others function more as complements.

Essential accessories for navigation.

Mainly, the paddles, which unlike the paddles are not anchored to the kayak. They are usually made of a fairly resistant material and are integrated in the purchase, although not in all cases. You should also buy protective equipment, which includes a helmet and a lifejacket.

Accessories that complement navigation.

In addition to paddles, there are important accessories for kayaking, including tow rope, gloves, nylon skirts or covers, fishing rod holders, patches and air pumps. The accessories will vary depending on the type of kayak (rigid, rigid, inflatable or inflatable) and we advise you to buy them together with the kayak as in some shops there are special offers for buying the products together.

Kayaks can be used for an extreme adventure as well as for a leisurely stroll on the water. (Photo: tbel / 123rt.com)

Solo vs Group kayak

To choose your ideal kayak you should take into account whether you want to use it alone, with a partner or in a group. There is a wide range of offers on the market but if you are just starting out in kayaking, we recommend you opt for a two-person inflatable boat. Here's why:

Inflatable kayaks weigh very little, so they are easy to handle in calm breeze. This means that you could perfectly well use it on your own and sometimes you could share it with a partner. Otherwise, by choosing a single kayak you are limiting yourself to endless and sometimes boring solo use.

However, if you decide to buy a kayak for two or more people, you should check that the weight resistance is sensible (at least 120kg), that the material it is made of is resistant (such as PVC in inflatables, and fibreglass in rigid ones); you don't want it to wear out quickly or create cracks. Kayak rides are long and require a lot of physical effort, so it's important to stay comfortable.

So check to see if your dream kayak has comfortable, adjustable seats with backrests. Also check if the boat has a UV protective coating, to help you avoid severe burns, and salt water protection to avoid accidents.

(Featured image photo: epicstockmedia / 123rf.com)

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