Get Out on the Water

Find the right kayak for you this summer.

Summer is the perfect time to get out on the water. But this year, instead of boarding a friend’s boat or renting one for the day, consider getting a watercraft of your own. You just need to decide what kind is right for you.

One of the most accessible kinds of boats for everyone is a kayak. Whether you’re an angler or just looking for a relaxing day on the water, there are kayaks out there for you. You can choose a model that you sit on or one that you sit inside. There are also kayaks made for two people and pedal-drive kayaks for hands-free movement.

“Kayaking is a great activity for almost anyone. You don’t need to be extremely athletic or have previous experience to go enjoy a paddle on a nice calm body of water,” said Matt Yablonowski of Perception Kayaks.

Your most important consideration should be where you’ll do the majority of your kayaking. Yablonowski suggests that new paddlers start off slow to get themselves acquainted not only with kayaking in the water but also with handling a new boat.

“Practice getting your boat on and off your vehicle. Practice entering and exiting your boat, launching your boat, etc.—all in a protected environment, potentially with friends to help—so you can learn what it feels like and what it takes to get paddling,” he said.

Mark Palinsky of Old Town Canoe and Kayak Company said that many people find they eventually need more than one kayak as their interests grow, so don’t limit yourself based on your first kayak.

“You never outgrow your first kayak purchase; you only outgrow where you choose to paddle it,” said Palinsky. “This sounds peculiar but is highly true in that you may have wanted your first kayak to work well on small ponds, lakes and creeks that you want to explore. The 10-foot kayak that you bought is ideally suited to these environments and is a great choice. But then the adventurer in you sets in, and you now want to do bigger waters, go out onto the Great Lakes and cover more miles of shoreline in a day.”

Maybe you’re already an experienced kayaker or you’re interested in longer-distance paddling. In that case, kayaks that are 12 feet or longer might be best for you as they track better and develop a better glide per stroke.

“If you end up loving this sport as much as we do, you will own more than one kayak suited to what you are doing and where you are going that day,” Palinsky said, “and relative to the cost, kayaking is quite inexpensive.”

When you’re thinking about your first (or second, or third) kayak, comfort should be one of the top features you are concerned with. Many Old Town kayaks are made with the Comfort Flex Seat System, which moves with you as you paddle. And its large size offers plenty of support.

“When you grab the seat, you may be left with the first impression that it seems awfully flimsy. That is not the case at all,” Palinsky said. “We developed this flex to make the kayak perform better for you when you are in it. If you were to sit on a park bench with your kayak paddle and go through the motions of paddling, you would easily see that a rigid, solid seat is not what you want at all!”

Comfort is key with Perception Kayaks as well. All of their kayaks are outfitted with padded, adjustable seating systems that allow the paddler to customize the fit for better connection, control and have an overall more enjoyable boating experience.

If you’re a fisherman, there are features for you, too! Yablonowski suggests that shoppers think about features such as storage capacity and mounting options for your accessories. There are even a large variety of color options available.

“Both the Perception Pescador Pilot Pedal Drive kayak and Pescador PRO 10 and 12 come with large stadium-style seats for all-day comfort as well as gear tracks for mounting accessories without having to drill holes in your brand-new boat,” said Yablonowski. “Both models also have mounting and storage solutions for electronics, including a large scupper and pre-set mounting inserts for a fish-finder transducer.”

Once you have your boat, you can start exploring accessories, such as the perfect paddle. You can also look into other accessories, like a boat sponge, dry box, paddle leash or rack to transport the kayak on your vehicle. And as always, don’t forget your safety gear! A Personal Floatation Device (PFD) is a must when you’re out on the water. There are PFDs that are designed specially for kayaking. They’re shorter in length than general boating PFDs to accommodate sitting in or on a kayak and some feature a high or mesh back so they don’t interfere as much with the seatback. In any case, make sure they’re properly fitted.

Stay safe, and have fun in your new boat this summer!

-Paddle Bum

*To receive exclusive Dunham’s coupons and information on new products, events and sales, enroll in our e-mail program at www.dunhamsrewards.com