Got Kayak Fever?
If you’ve ever kayaked across the surface of a glass-smooth lake at sunrise, slipped almost silently over a secluded pond to a favorite fishing spot, or taken a relaxing trip down a lazy river, you already know the go-anywhere personal freedom and fun that recreational kayaking can offer.
Once used almost exclusively by northern hunters and fisherman, kayaks have exploded in popularity among cottagers, vacationers and weekend adventure-seekers.
“There are now about 7 million kayak enthusiasts in North America,” according to Pelican International. “If each one uses their kayak only ten times per year that adds up to 70 million adventures that might have otherwise been missed.”
If you’re new to the sport and think all kayaks are bulky, uncomfortable and difficult to handle, then you’re also in for a few surprises.
Advanced manufacturing techniques help make today’s kayaks surprisingly light-weight, yet extremely durable. Pelican’s line of Elite kayaks, for example, are formed with a special thermoforming process that fuses together precisely shaped decks and hulls under extreme heat and pressure. “Thermoforming allows us to produce light-weight, incredibly durable and highly affordable two-tone kayaks, with the look and quality of much more expensive composite types,” says Pelican International . “Less weight also makes a kayak easier to paddle, maneuver and even lift on top of your car.”
Climbing into or on-board a modern kayak… that’s right, both sit-in and sit-on-top models are available… doesn’t mean leaving comfort behind. Most have ergonomically-designed seating with excellent support for your back, thighs and legs. Some offer adjustable foot pegs and sophisticated rudder systems. You can also add a variety of amenities such as beverage coolers, fishing rod holders, tackle boxes, work tables, instrumentation and navigation packages, deck boxes and dry compartments to safely and securely stow away your swimming, snorkeling, scuba or fishing gear.
Four major types of recreational kayaks are available. If you’ve had previous experience with one before and found it difficult to handle, too slow or lacking the comfort you needed, you probably chose one that wasn’t designed for the purpose you wanted it to perform.
Recreational – the best all-purpose design. A wide and short hull makes this type highly stable and maneuverable. Single and dual seat models are available. Large cockpits make entry and exit easier. This type is the smart choice for beginner to intermediate-level paddlers who want to dive into the sport and quickly hone their skills during quick jaunts around the lake.
Sit-On-Top – the open deck design offers the ultimate freedom to bask in the sun, take a dip, snorkel or scuba. Double-hull construction and built-in floatation devices help make them practically unsinkable. If you’re not comfortable in a closed-deck kayak, this type can add hours of fun to your family vacations or weekends at the lake house.
Fishing – a fishing-friendly Sit-On-Top design that offers excellent stability and maneuverability. The best are equipped with built in rod holders and oversized storage areas to help keep everything you need to land the big ones within easy reach.
Touring – generally the longest type of kayak; designed for speed, comfort and storage. Single and dual seat models are available. Touring types are the favorite of experienced paddlers who enjoy longer trips across a bay and back, to an island for an overnight stay or exploring coves and inlets of larger bodies of water.
If you’re undecided which type of kayak to choose, take an honest look at your experience, your budget and where you’d like to paddle. Ask an expert to explain the features and benefits each type offers. Choose wisely and you’ll enjoy hours of freedom and adventure gliding over your favorite lake, river or pond.
On the Other Shore
Congratulations! You’ve crossed the bay or lake to the other shore or secluded little island you’ve always wanted to explore. You’ve also made the transition from being a kayaker to becoming an explorer or camper for a few hours, a full day or even overnight.
But, how prepared are you to enjoy the sounds of nature, the smell of the pine, or a night under the stars? Bringing the right equipment along can help make the difference between an enjoyable trip and a disastrous one.
Coleman, the world’s leading manufacturer of camping gear and outdoor equipment, offers everything you need. Here’s a short list of basic equipment to consider the next time you go wandering.
- Tent – A small dome-type or backpacking tent offers the protection and comfort you’ll appreciate if unexpectedly stranded on a distant shore or camping overnight.
- Sleeping Bag – Nothing keeps you as warm and cozy when you’re far from home. Bring along an inflatable air bed with a built-in pump and dream your cares away.
- Lantern and Flashlights – Starlight is great, but a lantern or two is better. Be sure to bring along a waterproof flashlight or two and plenty of extra batteries.
- Collapsible Cooler – Other than bad weather, nothing will cut a trip short more than not having adequate food and water. Store more than you think you’ll need in a collapsible cooler and don’t forget some waterproof matches or a lighter.
- Portable Stove or Grill – For brewing coffee or tea, cooking a hearty breakfast, lunch or dinner, camp stoves and grills are amazingly easy to use.
- First Aid Kit – Always bring along a first aid kit for small emergencies like scrapes, cuts and insect bites.
- Insect Repellant – Don’t forget the insect repellant or bug spray or you may spend most of your time swatting mosquitoes and flies away from your body and face.
Protect Yourself Against Water and Sun
Kayaking can be an exciting and exhilarating adventure. But at some point you’ll undoubtedly be caught in a sudden rain shower or find yourself out of your kayak and in the water. And remember, even on a cloudy day the surface of a lake, river or pond can intensify the sun’s harmful rays.
Don’t let the rain, water or sun ruin an otherwise perfect day or weekend getaway. Innovative new technologies from Columbia Sportswear can help protect you when you least expect it but need it most.
“Our Omni technologies help keep you warm and dry, cool and comfortable, and moving fast and light,” according to Columbia Apparel and Equipment.
Great-looking Omni-Shield™ sportswear is waterproof, breathable and stain-resistant. Specially coated jackets, pants, shirts and footwear keep moisture out, yet allow perspiration to escape, so you stay dry and comfortable even when you paddle for hours.
If you are caught in the rain, drenched by a wave, or splashed by an ill-timed forward sweep, they dry up to five times faster than untreated fabric. And, because they repel moisture rather than hold it, they also feel lighter than conventional fabrics even when wet.
Columbia’s Omni-Shade® sportswear protects you from damaging ultraviolet (UV) radiation by blocking the majority of the sun’s harmful rays, so you can stay out longer.
“Our Omni-Shade clothing carries The Skin Cancer Foundations’ Seal of Recommendation, given to sun-protective fabrics that have a minimum Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) of 30,” says Columbia.
Light-weight, tight weave construction, UV reflectors, and UV absorbing technology blocks Ultraviolet A and B rays to help prevent sun burn and long-term skin damage.
Like sunscreen, a full line of stylish hats, jackets, pants, shirts and shorts offer a wide range of protection up to UPF 50+. But, unlike sunscreen, Omni-Shade protection never wears off.
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