How Big Of A Kayak Do I Need?

What type of kayak should I get? What size of kayak works best? What length of kayak should I use? These are some of the major questions kayakers ask quite frequently. All these questions can only be answered by asking more questions, quite counter-intuitive yeah?

Selecting a Size

A random kayak size shouldn’t just be selected by anybody. Various factors must be considered first. The functionalities you expect from the kayak, the type of kayak you want, the model of the kayak and where exactly you intend to use the kayak, are all things to consider.

Models Of Kayaks

Kayaks designed by different companies are always modeled based on two major types; the sit-in and sit-on-top kayak.

How Big Of A Kayak Do I Need

  • Sit-in Model: The ‘sit-in’ is mostly used to model recreational and touring kayaks. They are usually faster and are used for paddling to a destination. The sit-in model gives the kayaker more control because the major part of the body is in the kayak.
  • Sit-On-Top Model: Mostly used for recreational kayaks for calm lakes and easy flowing open rivers, the ‘sit-on-top’ model does not offer as much control as the sit-in. It’s actually very useful for kayakers that feel claustrophobic inside a cockpit.

Type Of Kayaks

Kayaks are made for different functionalities modeled based on the two types stated above and they are categorized based on these functionalities:

  • Recreational Kayaks: Kayaks made for recreational purposes usually employ both the sit-in and sit-on-top model since they’re meant for calm, flat water fun. They are mostly long and don’t offer much maneuverability.
  • Touring kayaks: Touring kayaks usually employ the sit-in model. This category of kayaks is meant for long paddling in more rough waters. They give more control to the kayaker and normally carry a larger storage space.
  • Specialty kayaks: These kayaks are designed to meet specific needs of kayakers like transportation of kayaks, couple kayakers. The inflatable and tandem kayaks were designed to settle certain needs of kayakers.

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Where Do You Want to Use the Kayak?

There are different types of kayak designed specifically for different locations. Some kayakers like the thrills of oceans and whitewater kayaking, while some are more than happy to just enjoy the peaceful and serene atmosphere around lakes,

Deciding the particular location you wish to use your kayak, is necessary for knowing the size of a kayak you need. 

  • Calm Lakes: If the location for kayaking adventure is a more modest local calm lake, then a regular recreational kayak would do just fine. A sit-on-top or sit-in kayak can be used since it’s highly unlikely for the gentle waves to knock you over. For this location, the kayak size needed is about 12 feet below.
  • Rivers: Rivers are also gentle but might possess a lot of curves and bends, thus a kayak with increased maneuvering would do just fine. A smaller recreational kayak will be efficient for kayaking in a riverine environment. Depending on your preferences, the best size for river kayak ranges from 8 – 10feet and 12 – 14feet if you need space for fishing gear.
  • Coast: Coastal environment is very unstable. With waves, tides, and winds coming into play, it’s wise to use a sit-in touring kayak. For divers that are quite familiar with the waves, a sit-on-top would be a good choice as it enhances mobility in and out of the kayak. A 12feet kayak works perfectly for coastal regions. For a 2-person kayak, 24feet kayak works.
  • Whitewater: Whitewater kayaking involves paddling your kayak on an actively moving body of water. This sport is done only by trained professionals and shouldn’t be an option for beginners; we all have to learn to walk before we consider running, don’t we? Since maneuverability is key in whitewater kayaking, a size of about 7.5 – 9foot would be efficient.

How Big Of A Kayak Do I Need

Kayak Sizes with Best Functionalities

7.5 – 9 feet

Quite simply, maneuverability increases as the size of the kayak decrease. Small kayaks are really easy to maneuver. Kayaks of about 8 feet are also efficient for kids and beginners, although a tall person might find it really uncomfortable.

Kayaks of this size are also really efficient for kayaking in narrow rivers. Its short length means you can quickly turn and still offer stability. As stated above, whitewater kayaks are also in this size category, although some tend to be smaller than this.

10 – 11 feet

Every change in the size of a kayak offers different functionality. The additional 2 feet here gives more room for your comfort and also offers a little storage room. This kayak is efficient for tall beginners as they have extra legroom. The speed of kayaks under this category is not as much as the stability it offers though.

For activities involving fishing and recreation where much speed is not required, this size category is best.

12 -13 feet

Kayaks in this category are just perfect if you are yet to decide what exactly you intend to use your kayak for. They combine both the stability of the smaller kayak with the speed of the longer ones, although not as good. It also includes more space for additional gears.

How Big Of A Kayak Do I Need?

Both touring kayaks and recreational kayaks are present under this category. The extra space also makes it efficient for fishing and diving. Kayaks under this size category also can withstand different water conditions, from strong coastal waves to the mild lake breeze.

14 feet

14-foot kayaks are the least maneuverable. Long kayaks are made mostly for speed. They also have a narrow, streamlined structure which obeys the laws of aerodynamics. These kayaks also have lots of storage room for touring, and camping, maybe fishing too.

A 14-foot kayak with narrow hulls are efficient for long-distance kayaking and those with wider hull incorporates better stability for fishing. A choice of two paddlers tandem kayaks is also possible.

To Wrap it All Up

By now, you should be able to choose which kayak size suits you best based on the type of kayaks, the activities you intend to carry out with them, and where you intend to paddle on.