Kayaking is one of the best ways to enjoy a day on the water.  It can be a relaxing trip across a placid lake, an exhilarating white-water run, or just a fun way to get a great workout.  If you’ve been thinking that buying a kayak might be right for you, you may feel overwhelmed by the number of options available.  Once you start looking around, it becomes clear that kayaks come in different shapes, sizes, and weights and include models designed specifically for different users.  Understanding more about the available constructs and features can help you paddle your way to a clear choice.

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If you’re new to kayaking, stability and added sturdiness should be key features, along with price.  As with many endeavors, starting with a more advanced and more expensive model could get you more than you’re equipped to handle as a novice.  More stable models, generally characterized by their wider body styles, can flatten the learning curve a good bit while you build your skills and gain confidence.  Also, until you get a good feel for rowing and maneuvering your vessel, you’re a little more likely to bump into obstacles along your way.  Models that boast the sturdiest construction can help protect your investment.  Finding a lower-priced model that meets your needs is always a plus, especially since most of us can’t afford to sink too much money into a new hobby before we’re certain that we’ll stick with it long enough to make it worth the bigger price tag.

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned kayaker, there are a quite a few different styles of kayaks from which to choose.  Recreational models are generally the most stable and best suited for calmer waters.  Touring models typically perform better than recreational ones and are well suited for longer distances and more challenging conditions.  Whitewater models, as the name suggests, are designed for navigating rapids.  Kayaks designed for fishing include space for your fishing gear and generally offer additional stability.

Kayaks are available as sit-on-top as well as sit-in models.  The sit-on-top versions offer less protection from the elements and might not be terribly well suited for colder, windier conditions.  Both, though, come in styles suitable for different applications.

Inflatable kayaks are a great option for those whose storage space is limited.  They are also a go-to for those who need to be able to easily carry their kayak to a starting point (hikers and campers, for instance).  Once upon a time, inflatables were not known for being especially durable or long lasting.  In fact, many considered them barely a step above inflatable pool toys.  Today, though, many inflatable kayaks are made of much more rugged materials and are able to readily withstand rough terrains, including rocks and fast-moving or high waters.  Some inflatables do sacrifice a bit of performance in favor of their fold-away nature, but not to such a degree that you should automatically rule one out.  There are even models that have optional frame-like attachments that offer added stability and performance.  Such an option might be for you if easy portability won’t always be a necessity.

Kayaks come in models built for either one or two passengers, so you’re sure to find the perfect match for you whether you plan on going solo or sharing the adventure with a friend or loved one.  Taking the time to determine what type of kayak best suits your needs and comparing features and pros and cons of various models side-by-side can help you feel more confident about your purchase.

For a roundup of the best kayaks from a variety of categories, best kayak review compares and reviews several models and types.

If you want a kayak designed for fishing, which means you’ll want to look for the most stability available along with space for your gear and your catch, best fishing kayaks reviews several top models.

If an inflatable model seems like a good fit, bestkayaks.reviews takes a look at today’s top contenders.

Whether you’re on a tighter budget or wanting (and able) to spring for all the bells and whistles, you’re sure to find a kayak perfect for your next adventure!