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Shopping For a Kayak - The Basics

When people stop by our shop to start looking for a boat, the first thing we ask is "where will you be using the boat, and what do you want to be able to do with it?" If the customer can answer those two questions, that will point us immediately to one or another of the major boat styles. The chart below lays out the major styles of kayaks - once you can figure out which style of boat best suits your aspirations, we can help you figure out which features are going to be most important for you.



Rec Kayaks
Designed to be simple & initially stable, these 9 to 11 foot boats are designed to be easy to use for new or occasional paddlers and for those on a budget or with space limitations. Great for use on smaller lakes and rivers and for family paddling.


Performance Rec Kayaks
Longer and narrower than Rec kayaks, but still initially stable enough to be forgiving. More options for customizing comfort, and additional safety and performance features over Rec boats.



Day Touring Kayaks
Boats in the 13 to 15 foot range, with much of the same outfitting as on touring kayaks. This is the best option for people who want a big water capable boat that’s also at home on local lakes and rivers.



Touring (Sea) Kayaks
Longer and narrower than Day Touring boats, these are the boats of choice for paddlers looking to challenge the biggest waters and go on the longest expeditions. 16 to 18 feet long, these will give you the best speed of any of the major styles of boats, and offer the biggest range of custom options in colors and materials.

Fishing Kayaks 
Boats specifically designed for anglers, most of them being sit-on-top designs wide enough for you to stand and cast, have raised seats and multiple places to attach rod holders, fish finders, etc. Some, like the Old Town Predator PDL, have pedal drive units.

Whitewater Kayaks 
Boats in the 7 to 11 foot range designed for maneuverability in fast-moving water. Because they're so specific to that type of paddling, we don't carry them in stock in our Chicago-area store, though we can always order WW boats from Dagger.

Sit On Top Kayaks 
Boats you sit on, rather than in. They have a tendency to be a little wider than Rec or Performance Rec boats, which makes them a little slower, but they're easy to use for almost any paddler, and make for great fun in warm-weather conditions.

Section 2 - Materials & Hull Designs>>>