The basics of kayaking - Whitewater kayaking gear: tips on buying a kayak
Buying a whitekayak can be a big investment. Follow these tips to learn how to go about purchasing your own boat.
hasing a whitewater kayak is a big investment. Sure, you may spend a lot of money on rentals throughout the year but that is in small increments. This time you must put down a lot of money all at once. How can you make sure you are buying a kayak that will fit your needs and your budget? Follow this advice and you will be on your way to paddling in your own whitewater kayak.
Whitewater kayaks usually are shorter (less than 8.5 feet in length) than traditional kayaks in order to make them more maneuverable in choppy seas. Whitewater kayaks are shaped with more rounded bottoms, and they have more upturn on the ends. These two structural differences allow whitewater kayaks to better ride through waves and turn easily. Whitewater kayaks are not easy to keep in a straight line because their use mainly is for traveling through choppy whitewater and rapids.
Since whitewater kayaking is becoming more popular, you now can find more "beginning" whitewater kayaks. These boats are built with flatter bottoms and less steep upturns on the ends, making them more stable and less likely to change direction when a paddler places slightly more power on one stroke. While whitewater kayaking relies heavily on speed and maneuverability, these kayaks offer beginners rugged, stable boats that can handle the pressure of whitewater without the potential of being unable to control the boat or flipping upside down.
Nearly all whitewater kayaks are made of plastic. Plastic kayaks are rigid and strong and, therefore, less likely to need a lot of upkeep than fiberglass boats. These durable kayaks can be of very high quality and are usually on the low-end of the price scale. Most manufacturers now use plastic exclusively for non-racing whitewater kayaks. One thing to remember: if you damage a plastic kayak, repairs can be difficult or impossible.
All kayaks have built in storage space you can fill up with gear when you head out for a day trip or a week-long adventure. The amount of storage can determine how long of a trip you can take; this space needs to hold all your camping gear, as well as extra water and food. The size of the storage holes is something to be checked out prior to purchase if you plan to take any large items (such as extra water jugs) with you.
Another consideration is to make sure the cockpit is comfortable for you to sit in for long periods of time. Today many kayaks are built with larger cockpits that allow paddlers to enter and exit the boat without having to squeeze in and out of a tight space. Many cockpits are ergonomically designed so that paddlers can put their legs out at a comfortable position, as well as have room to shift during a whitewater excursion. Comfort should not be overlooked since you often may wish to paddle for hours at a time. If you do not try out the seats to make sure they offer the necessary support and comfort, you could be uncomfortable and unable to paddle efficiently and effectively.
The important thing to do when buying a whitewater kayak is to assess your ability level, make a list of the features you most desire, and determine how much you are willing to spend. Then, take that list with you to a reputable, well-informed retailer. The salesperson should be able to help you find a whitewater kayak that fits your needs, as well as your budget. A final thought on the purchasing process is to make sure you find out the return/exchange policy at the store you purchase your boat at ? many kayak retailers will allow you to ?test drive? your kayak for a limited amount of time in order to make sure you get a boat that satisfies your needs and desires.