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Choosing the right kayak

If you intend to make all- or multi-day trips on big lakes or sea and not paddle only in calm water, touring-kayak is the right boat for you. But also touring-kayaks can be quite different and it is obvious, that some of them will fit your needs better than others. Choosing between different models is important decision and should be made carefully. "How should I make the right choice?" you may ask. A little understanding of hull shape and kayaks' basics will make it easier. So let's take a look, what determines kayak's speed, stability and manoeuvrability.
Kayak's length. Length is probably the first dimension you will look at. Longer kayaks have usually longer waterline. It makes them generally faster, go better straight line (better tracking) and smoother over the waves. But shorter ones are more manoeuvrable, generally lighter weight and easier to transport. So we can say, that longer kayaks are more suitable for longer trips on open water but a bit limited on tight areas. Shorter kayaks are more suitable for smaller lakes and rivers, but don't have enough speed and gear space for longer trips.
Kayak's width. Most generally, what wider the kayak, that more stable but slower it is. But wideness increases only initial stability (stability in calm water). It doesn't increase stability in windy conditions and in case, when the kayak is on its edge. In the opposite way - in case of big waves, narrower kayak is more stable (better secondary stability). Also, wideness reduces kayak's tracking ability. So wider kayak is more suitable for calm conditions, beginners and paddlers who are more interested in fishing or taking pictures while narrower kayak covers longer trips with less effort and feels better on rough water. From our product-range, Reval and Reval Duo are with slimmer body (longer, thinner line), while Mari-Mini and Argo-Mini are bulkier (shorter, wider body).
Hull shape gives the initial feel and affects performance of a kayak. We offer kayaks with flat bottom (Mari-Mini, Argo-Mini), round hull (Mari-2, Mari-3, Argo) and with v-shape hull (Mari-4, Reval, Reval Duo). Flat bottom gives great initial stability (it feels very steady in calm water). But it is not the best choice for moving water and windy conditions. So, such kayak is very good for beginners, who mostly appreciate initial stability. Round hull is extremely fast but unstable. Handling such kayak is more difficult than kayak with flat bottom. But for experienced paddlers, speed is desired... V-shape hull makes kayak go straight (good tracking) and it also slices water easily. It's moderate initial stability increases, what more cargo you put in it.
Rocker is the upward curvature of hull along the bottom. You can see it, if you take a look on the kayak from its side. More rocker increases the manoeuvrability and such kayak goes better over the waves. But at the same time it reduces tracking and makes waterline shorter. Although, longer boats and boats with v-shape hull may have more rocker without compromising tracking ability. In our product-range Reval and Reval Duo are more rocker than other kayaks.
Rudder vs. skeg. It is possible to choose kayak with rudder or/and skeg. Rudder makes directional adjustments easier. Just push the pedals while paddling and kayak is turning. It also helps you to go straight in tough conditions. But remember - rudder doesn't replace correct paddling-technique. Kayaks with skeg are more suitable for experienced paddlers who can easily manoeuvre by paddling. Skeg doesn't help to turn, but gives better straight tracking and more stability in case of strong wind from side. Skeg eliminates the need of correctional strokes (to hold the line) in difficult weather- and wave-conditions.
Now you know, what determines kayaks' main characteristics (speed, stability, manoeuvrability). This is one side in choosing process. On the other hand you should consider your size and weight, your paddling experience and also conditions, you will most likely paddle in.


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