Kayaking is a great sport that can be practised solo or in a group. Sitting close to the water’s surface and feeling every stroke push you effortlessly through the water allows you to enjoy nature and your surroundings. There’s no noise, other than the gentle splash of your paddle in the water.
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As great as kayaking is, it won’t be as great without the correct equipment. With any outdoor sport, it’s important to choose the right equipment — in this case the best touring kayak — for you. You wouldn’t fully enjoy a bike that’s too big, skis that are too short or running shoes that aren’t comfortable. A kayak is the same: When you finally try one that fits right and that you can paddle and handle with ease, you’ll know it. Here are a few things to consider when purchasing a touring kayak:
When choosing a material for your day touring kayak, you have to consider the price and the weight. Many low- to mid-priced kayaks are made from plastic, while the higher-end ones are constructed from composites (such as fibreglass). All touring kayaks are designed to handle open water and provide a decent amount of space for your gear. Therefore, the choice in hull material really comes down to how much you plan to spend and what weight you can easily handle.
Obviously if you’ll be pulling your kayak in and out of the water a lot and transporting it to different bodies of water, a lighter-weight composite will make your life easier. If you aren’t yet sure how much you will be using your touring kayak and want to ease into the sport, a more affordable plastic model can be a good starting place.
Every kayaker has a unique morphology, and it’s only by testing various sizes of touring kayaks you’ll find the one that’s just right for you. Here are some questions to ask when searching for the best touring sea kayak:
Can you comfortably lower yourself into and climb out of the kayak? Do you have enough room for your legs? Can you brace your knees and feet adequately? Are you able to lift and carry the boat for when you’re transporting it out of water? Is there enough storage space for the gear you plan to carry with you?
All of these points will guide you in your choice of size of sea kayak.
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Kayak Rudder type
The other main factor to consider is if you want a rudder you can control, a fixed skeg or neither. This decision will come down to the type and the location of kayaking you plan to do. Here’s the breakdown:
A rudder that you can control with foot pedals helps you turn your kayak left and right. You still need to paddle to steer, but a rudder can make it a bit easier. This kind of rudder is going to add weight and complexity to your kayak.
A skeg is a simple keel that can be inserted and retracted into the bottom of your boat. It will add some of the stability against crosswinds and currents that a rudder does, but it will not help you steer the kayak. Choosing a kayak with neither a rudder nor skeg will help you learn to control your kayak in all situations. You need to constantly use your arms and upper body to move, steer and keep going straight.
The best way to decide how much or how little directional control you want is to get out and try the different options. Try to find a boating club or store that will let you try different models of touring kayaks.
Making Your Choice
Only after you’ve worked through this list of factors to consider when choosing a touring kayak will you know which one is best for you. Once you do find your kayak, you’ll be able to enjoy the pleasure and challenge of the sport. You can find all of the models and features we’ve mentioned in all the top boat and kayak shops around Australia, so get out and find your kayak today!
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