Choosing a Kayak

Kayak Design Can be a Delicate Negotiation

Designing a kayak is a complex proposition. For every performance element gained, another may be diminished. Kayak design can be a delicate negotiation which, when done well, minimizes this sort of compromise. Of course the paddler and the water also have a say in how a boat performs. Each paddler is as distinct and different as our kayaks, and the water is an ever-changing medium. So a kayak must be built to come alive and respond to the conditions and possibilities of both.

With that said, there are some basic features to understand before you choose your kayak. Performance comes down to a few things combined: The shape of the hull (remember that no perfect hull exists, except maybe in theory), the skills and condition of the paddler and the nature of the water. We suggest you take time to study kayak design, talk to a dealer and seek out instruction to help you make the best choice.

Performance Factors

Length and width affect speed and maneuverability. When it comes to speed, it's all about surface area. A long, thin line allows paddlers to slice through the water quickly-a real advantage if you plan on touring, but a drawback on twisty rivers. A 17 foot-long kayak will go much faster than a 10 foot-long kayak, but a 10 foot-long kayak will turn easier than a 17 foot-long kayak. A narrow kayak is faster than a wide one, but wide kayaks tend to be more stable (depending on hull shape).

View these pages for more information on performance factors:


Kayak Types


Wider, more stable designs with larger cockpits for easy entry and exit. Ideal for beginners or anyone seeking casual fun on the water.

Day Touring

Slightly longer kayaks for increased efficiency and speed. Perfect for beginning to intermediate paddlers who may want to spend time on the water.


Longer and narrower kayaks for efficient long distance paddling. The choice for paddlers who are continually challenging their kayaking skills.


The perfect blend of styles, with sit-on-top stability and sit inside performance.


The fun of solo kayaking, doubled. Models for recreational use, day touring and longer expeditions.


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