Choosing the Right Kayak for You

Kayaking is a great way to get out and enjoy the summer. Whether you’re using it to cast for your favorite catch, get in some exercise or just take in the warm air, there’s a kayak for you!

The most important aspect of your kayak purchase to consider is what you’ll be doing with it. Will you be cruising through calm, open water? Or will you be storing all your fishing gear? Are you planning a short, morning paddle or a day-long adventure? Answering these questions is the key to finding the right boat for you.

If you are going to be towing a lot of gear, fishing or otherwise, look for a kayak that is longer and has several compartments. Fishing kayaks also come with rod holders and offer more stability, so you can even stand up on them.

A wider kayak will offer you more stability, but a narrow model can be easier to paddle and will stay more straight in the water. Longer kayaks will also stay straight, but a short style can be lighter and easier to move.

Choosing the right paddle makes a difference as well. Consider the width of the kayak you’re purchasing when looking for paddles. You need paddles that can reach the water with ease and won’t knock against the sides of your boat. In addition to considering your kayak’s frame, you’ll want to think about your own frame.

“Two people that are 6-feet tall may not use the same length paddle. If it was a SUP [stand up paddleboard] paddle, it would be the same—but since you sit when paddling a kayak, the most important distance is the length of your torso,” said Tracy Lamper of KL Outdoor. “Likewise, a 6-foot person who’s very active and physically fit may be more ready to handle a more aggressive paddle than someone just starting out or not very physically fit.”

Lamper also said that the material a kayak is made from can offer perks. Thermoformed kayaks are a lightweight and cost-effective option. While a rotational molded kayak may be a little bit heavier than thermoformed kayaks, they can often be more impact and abrasion resistant and offer unique color blends. This style is best for rougher waters and longer trips.

You can find kayaks by KL Outdoor, Future Beach, Perception, Pelican, Old Town and other top brands and your local Dunham’s Sports. You’ll also find all the accessories you need and any other gear for summer fun.

 Don’t get stuck up a creek without a paddle. Visit your local Dunham’s to get the kayak and the paddles that fit your needs 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

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