What to Invest in First Kayak?


Beginner’s think they can use their intuition to buy a kayak that’s right for them. Like moths to a flame they end up attracted to the least seaworthy, most inefficient, poorly designed boats with bad ergonomics (vessels that hardly deserve to be called kayaks). In addition to having serious safety problems, the boats beginners usually choose hinder their learning and aren’t much fun to paddle. Here’s a tip: if a new sit-inside touring kayak sells for less than $1000.00, it’s not worth owning — not even for a beginner. Even if it’s only $100, it ain’ t no bargain. There are reasons why some kayaks are so cheap, and you don’t want to find out the hard way what’s wrong with these boats. The only exceptions to this that I know of are Sit-On-Top style kayaks (open deck), but if you are looking for a closed cockpit kayak, forget the cheap junk.

If you don’t yet own a kayak, but are thinking about buying or building one, the best advice anyone can give you is to take a lesson first. See our SK101 Beginning Sea Kayak Safety Skills course. If you can’t take one of our lessons, be sure the lesson you take includes actual practice tipping over and getting out of a kayak while upside down (with an instructor supervising). When you’ve done enough wet-exit practice to overcome your fear of capsizing, come take our SK111 Paddle Strokes and Rescue Techniques course or SK115 Training Camp. These courses cover the many ways to steer without ruddering (i.e. leaned turns, carved turns, sweep strokes, sequentially combined strokes, etc.) as well as bracing and rolling. If you have already learned to roll, brace, etc.

Kayaks for Dogs

Size does matter! A large, excited dog can capsize a canoe. However, large dogs do have their value for protection, and a breed in the 30- to 50-pound range is ideal for a canoe. Consider temperament too. An excitable dog can get you into trouble fast. Minor situations can turn major if a pup is excited by the roar of rapids, animal encounters, or weather. There are several great breeds such as the Labrador Retriever, Nova Scotia Duck Toller, and Husky that, when taken early into a canoe, quickly learn to relax and enjoy the ride. All breeds work as early warning systems and can pick up on smells and sounds long before we do.

Don’t let a dog board any boat until you’ve given the command. I use, “Up we go,” but whatever works for your pup is fine. It’s the same for exiting. Spitizii has learned to look at me when approaching the shore. If I say, “Okay, my boy, time for a break,” he’ll scan the shore for movement and sniff the air for critters.