Today’s kayaks offer safe, inexpensive fun for the entire family.
If you’re a frequent visitor to our lakes and streams, you’ve likely noticed that more people are enjoying the same waterways while paddling a kayak. In fact, according to The Outdoor Foundation, 32 percent more participants took up the sport between 2009 and 2011. That’s not surprising when you consider that it can be enjoyed by young and old, is relatively inexpensive and the equipment requires little maintenance.
“Kayaks are friendlier today than they have ever been. They are more stable, more comfortable and easier to use. They’re also safer. The cockpit opening is longer and goes past your knees, making it easier to exit the kayak in an emergency situation,” said Mark Palinsky, of Old Town.
If you’ve considered joining this extremely enjoyable and relaxing activity, here are a few options and suggestions.
Fishing and River Kayaks
As our experts pointed out, we’re seeing two significant kayaking trends in: people are buying them to fish and to paddle along our scenic rivers.
“The river kayaks are simply an extension of what people have experienced for years. They have rented kayaks and canoes at liveries and have enjoyed the experience so much that they have decided to purchase the kayak for personal use. Our Swiftwater 10.5 kayak is ideal for this use. The fishing kayaks are great for those who want to get away from fishing from shore and don’t want to use a powerboat. I recommend our Patriot or Blast models. They are designed to carry fishing rod holders and come in camouflage colors,” said Greg Larson of Confluence Water Sports.
Another option for anglers is Pelican International’s Castaway 100 sit-on kayak. It offers plenty of speed, capacity and storage space. Mark Palinsky, of Old Town kayaks and canoes, offers yet another approach.
“You don’t necessarily have to go out and buy an angler kayak. Kayaks that are serviceable, with a large cockpit and high level of stability, such as our Vapor 10 model, are very good for people who like to fish. What many of our customers have found is that it’s less expensive to buy a base model and customize it to their specific needs,” Palinsky said.
As many parents are discovering, kayaking is an ideal activity that can be enjoyed by the entire family, including children. Before you purchase a kayak for junior, Palinsky offers the following advice:
“Like shoes, the kayak has to fit the child. Shoes that are too big make the child clumsy and shoes that are too small are not comfortable. Frequently, parents will buy a 9-foot boat and will have their kids grow into it. It’s not necessarily the best approach,” he said.
Palinsky recommends making sure the kayak is designed to accommodate the child’s weight and that the foot pegs can be easily reached, since they help provide stability.
Stand Up Paddleboards
Also extremely popular nowadays are stand up paddleboards (SUPs). In fact, The Outdoor Foundation reports that nearly 60 percent of stand up paddling participants tried the activity for the first time in 2011.
“SUPs are wide surfboards that you stand up and paddle with and are more versatile than kayaks. You can sit, kneel or stand up on them. Women are using them for yoga and core exercising,” said Lisa Senecal, Pelican International.
Dunham’s Sports carries three different Pelican International models: Vibe, for smaller paddlers (up to 120 pounds), Flow, for intermediate paddlers and Surge, for more performance-oriented paddlers.
“We’re seeing an increase of SUPs in river use, especially in Michigan,” Palinsky added. “What a wonderful way to go down the river; they provide a much better view of what’s in front and around you.”
One of the most appealing aspects of this sport is that the equipment requires little maintenance.
“Pretty much all of the kayaks that Dunham’s carries are low maintenance – even no maintenance,” Senecal said.
“We have sun protection built into the boat, but not on the seats. We recommend using a good UV protectant to prevent sun degradation,” Larson added. All of our experts recommended storing kayaks on their side when not in use.
Dunham’s Sports carries a wide range of kayaks and SUPs for a variety of purposes, configurations and price points. Be sure to consult with a sales representative to help you make an informed decision so you too can enjoy our area’s wonderful waterways.
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