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Kayaking is the ultimate outdoor activity to take part in with friends and family. It can be enjoyed by individuals of all ages and is quickly gaining popularity throughout the state of California.

 Kayaking for the First TimeKayaking can be a rewarding experience if you follow some basic guidelines. First, you need to determine what type of kayaking you are interested in; weekend getaways, extended excursions, day jaunts, kayak fishing, long distance touring, boat-in camping, etc., or if you want to partake in several different types of kayaking.


Purchasing a kayak will be your biggest expenditure if you decide to own instead of rent. The different kayak model designs are specific to what the kayak will be used for. Wide kayaks are more suitable for novice kayakers, anglers and photographers because they provide more stability. The wider the kayak, the more stable, but the slower and harder it is to paddle. The narrower the kayak, the less stable it is, but the more speed it has. Narrower width and longer length kayaks are a good choice if you want to paddle long distances. Shorter kayaks are easier to turn and maneuver and are less cumbersome to transport than longer kayaks.

SOT (sit-on-top) kayaks are usually wider and provide more stability than narrower and longer sea kayaks. SOT kayaks aren’t designed to paddle a white water river, but they work well on slow moving or flat water. SOT kayaks offer a variety of uses for boat-in camping, kayak fishing, kayak photography, day jaunts as well as longer distances, but you will extend more energy paddling and travel at a slower pace than you would paddling a sea kayak if you expended the equal amount of energy.

Sit-on-tops (SOT) have a molded depression on top of the kayak, above water-level, to sit on. It's easy to get on and off a SOT and more difficult to capsize than a sit-in model, but if you do tip over, it's easier to get back on board. Sit-on-tops are popular in hot climates. You can dive into the water and cool off, whereas with a sit-in kayak you cannot.

SOT’s and sea kayaks can hold one or two passengers, (tandem models). SOT’s are more affordable and easier to use than most sea kayaks, but they do not track as well as sit-in sea kayak models. A few SOT kayaks have rudders to help steer in open water.

You sit inside of a sea kayak from the waist down. A spray skirt is worn by the paddler which is pulled over a lip around the cockpit of the kayak to create a watertight seal. This prevents the cockpit from filling up with water and at the same time keeps the paddler dry.

Sea kayaks are designed to travel long distances. Most sea kayakers paddle in the ocean but many also paddle on lakes and rivers. Some sea kayak models have bulkheads with sealed hatch covers which offer dry storage, and many have a rudder which allows you to turn with greater ease. The combination of a skeg and a longer waterline improves straight-line tracking and makes it easier to control the kayak while paddling.

Inflatable kayaks are popular for people who don't have space to store their kayak, or who cannot lift the kayak on top of their car. Inflatable kayaks can be deflated and inflated quickly, usually with the help of a foot or an electric pump. They have one problem though, they can pop if over inflated or punctured.

When purchasing a kayak, the material and construction of the kayak are important considerations, as they will play a role in price, durability, and weight. There are three main types of materials used in making SOT and sit-in kayaks: plastic, fiberglass, and Kevlar. The two most common inflatable kayak materials are PVC and Hypalon. There is also a newer material being used for inflatables called Nitrylon. All three inflatable materials are durable, though some more than others.


PVC coated inflatable kayaks are long lasting with proper care. PVC is less expensive than Hypalon coated inflatable kayaks and easier to patch. The downside to PVC coated kayaks is they are not as resistant to chemicals, gasoline, temperatures, abrasions and sunlight as Hypalon-coated fabrics – though some PVC fabrics are strengthened to be more cold resistant.



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