Here at GoSea we have been selling and using kayaks for many years, so we understand just what a daunting task choosing a new kayak can be, especially given the huge range of models now available on the market. We have put together the following guide which we hope will help you make a more informed decision based on your individual needs and expectations.
Buy Smart : Know who you’re buying from
There are many one man band sellers of kayaks making fictional and sometimes dangerous claims about the kayaks they sell. We are seriously worried by the number of sellers out there selling very low quality products with every possible corner cut to save money. It seems there are plenty of sellers prepared to say anything to get the sale even if it is not true or potentially putting paddlers in danger with inappropriate advice and claims.
You will probably only buy a kayak once, so make sure you buy from a reputable retailer selling a reputable brand of kayak. We know this is not necessarily going to be us, but there are plenty of good retailers out there selling good kayaks, who will give you sound advice, sell you the right product for your needs and one that you will give you years of enjoyment.
With our GoSea Kayaks you can relax with piece of mind while you are paddling because you are buying a reputable brand. Knowing your safety has been considered at every stage means you can concentrate on enjoying your paddling experience.
Every GoSea kayak goes through a stringent ten-point check prior to having a final quality check at the factory. Each kayak is then checked over by our team when they arrive at our depot. Our three-point check ensures you can be confident in your purchase. Should you encounter any problems you can be assured of help from our team and a wide community of users.
Kayak Construction : What to Look Out For
Not all Kayaks are Built the Same
• Manufacturing Materials
The vast majority of sit on top kayaks are made from LLDPE (Linear Low Density Polyethylene). There are kayaks on the market made from other materials including HDPE, from a few very specialist, reputable brands. Those who claim their lower-cost sit on kayaks are made from HDPE may be ill informed or telling a lie, either way it may be best to stay clear.
There are many different grades of LLDPE plastic. The raw material grade GoSea kayaks use is the highest quality available, which resists UV damage and has excellent memory properties. It costs us nearly twice as much but it won’t let you down, so we think it’s worth it.
• Material thickness
We have seen some suppliers claiming that the plastic thickness is as much as 7mm. The truth is, a well moulded kayak will have varying thicknesses depending on where on the hull you are looking. Thicknesses will range from 3mm to around 5.5mm max. Places where there are sharp angles may be thicker, but large, flat surfaces (the majority of the kayak) will be around 3.5mm. If the majority was 7mm there would be parts which were over 1cm thick which would make the kayak twice as heavy, which could cause buoyancy and stability problems, which in turn could put your safety at risk. So if a seller says a 3m kayak is 22 kg in weight and 7mm thick, they are either mistaken or trying to mislead you.
• Fixtures and Fittings
Many of the kayaks you see will have the fittings attached using standard rivets. This can be dangerous as rivets in plastic can easily work lose meaning your rod holder or hatch can come lose leaving holes in your hull. The GoSea kayaks avoid using rivits and all their fittings are marine grade and won’t let you down.
• Weight Capacity
Don’t be fooled by exaggerated claims of weight capacity. A 3m kayak may still float with 140kg on board but it will generally be unstable and unsafe. All our weight limits are realistic and have passed a four stage test process carried out by experts. These figures are in place to allow you to make an informed choice, meaning you can remain safe and stable while paddling.
User Requirements : Some Questions to Ask
Some questions you should think about when choosing the right kayak for you.
• Solo or multi person kayaks?
Do you want to paddle purely on your own? Will you be solo with occasional tandem (2 person) use?
Maybe you will always go out with another person – complete with the dog?
Tandem and 2+1 kayaks are very versatile because they can be happily paddled with 1, 2 or 2 adults plus a small child or even the dog! Tandems have three seating positions front, middle and back. So if you are paddling solo, you can sit in the middle seat giving good sideways balance. Tandem kayaks actually paddle very well with one person, providing plenty of glide due to their length and buoyancy. Getting a tandem on and off the car roof rack and down to the water is however, far more difficult than handling a single kayak.
• What is your weight, size and your levels of ability and confidence?
The maximum user weight shown on all our listings and on our comparison chart is a guide to help you choose the right kayak. It will show you the maximum load the kayak can take, including the weight of yourself and any kit you carry. The closer you get to the recommended maximum, the lower the kayak will sit in the water. This will affect stability, manoeuvrability and glide. The height of a person – particularly the length from the waist upwards, also plays a part in stability, as this height affects the centre of gravity of the kayak.
• Ability and balance of the user
Someone who is experienced, has good balance in a kayak and is confident on the water will be less affected by any reduction in stability due to the kayak sitting lower in the water.
To summarise, if you are getting close to the maximum weight, are tall and are new to kayaking, you will need a larger, more buoyant kayak.
Paddling: The Basic Priciples, Locations & Activities
Understanding some of the basics about kayaks and kayaking will give you a good insight into what type of kayak you should buy.
• Glide and tracking – This is a very important feature in a kayak if you are going on longer trips along the rivers, creeks and estuaries. Good tracking (straight line pointing) and glide (travelling with momentum) means you use much less energy paddling. Usually, the longer the kayak, the better it will travel in a straight line. There are however exceptions to this rule and hull design can play a big part in how well a kayak tracks and glides.
• Manoeuvrability – A big consideration if you are intending to use the kayak in the surf. Usually, the shorter the kayak, the more easily it will turn. Smaller adults and juniors may find the longer kayaks difficult to turn – this can become very tiring. The shape and design of the hull will also play a big part in a kayak’s ability to turn quickly and easily.
• Stability – The stability of a kayak is based on a range of design and load factors and is very important for some activities such as fishing, or for people who are not fully confident on the water. Usually the wider the kayak, the more stable it will be. Whilst this is generally true, certain hull designs have excellent stabilising features whilst remaining relatively narrow. Stability can also be seriously affected by the user’s weight and height, so getting the correct size of kayak for you is important -particularly if you are new to kayaking. Please check the recommended loads against your own weight.
Where will you be using your kayak?
• Rivers – Rivers come in many forms. They can be calm and flat, rough, fast, slow, narrow, wide, deep, shallow and many combinations of these. As a general rule, sit on top kayaks are excellent for slower, calm rivers and canals. If you want to get into white water kayaking but are new to the sport, you should consider getting in touch with a local kayak club who can usually offer some training and advice. Whatever type of river you are on, you should remember that water changes its characteristics constantly, both on top and underneath the surface, so always wear a kayaking helmet, buoyancy aid (PFD) and use a paddle leash.
• Lakes – Lakes usually mean you will be travelling some distance, so a kayak with good glide and comfort will be important. Remember you will quite often be further away from dry land than when kayaking on either the sea or a river. It may look calm and peaceful, but you could be far away from effective help, so always wear a buoyancy aid (PFD) and use a paddle leash.
• The Sea – There is a very important difference between sheltered, inshore sea kayaking and going offshore. Kayaking in sheltered waters is a great way to gain experience and have lots of fun. Sit On Top kayaks are far better suited to inshore waters than offshore. Kayaking offshore should not be undertaken without specific training, local knowledge and the right equipment. Again always wear a buoyancy aid (PFD) and use a paddle leash.
What activities will you be using your kayak for?
• Surf kayaking – Many of our kayaks perform fantastically well in the surf and provide lots of fun. Manoeuvrability is a big consideration in the surf as you need to react quickly to a constantly changing environment to remain upright as long as possible! Stability is also very important, as kayaking in the surf is by far the easiest way of ending up in the water. Always wear a helmet intended for kayaking, a buoyancy aid (PFD) and use a paddle leash when surfing.
• Touring – If you are travelling a long distance you will need a kayak which has plenty of room and capacity to carry the extra kit you will want to take. It will also need to have excellent glide, so you will use as little paddling energy as you can, to travel as far as possible. Big, long kayaks can be tiring to get on and off the roof of the car and down to the water if you are only going for a series of quick paddles. However, if you are keen to do some miles, then a big kayak with plenty of room is the best option.
• Fishing – Stability and space for your gear are the two main features you need in a fishing kayak. Most of our kayaks will be fine to do a spot of fishing if you attach a rod holder, but if you are serious about fishing from your kayak and this will be its main use, then you should go for one of the bigger dedicated models. Many people go for tandem kayaks for fishing as they offer a great amount of cockpit room for your kit and catch if you are paddling solo.