Kayak Buyers' Guide
by Brian Long
Kayaks were one of the first sea-going vessels of human kind so it's no surprise that nowadays you have a couple options in kayak designs. Your particular application and preferences will determine which kayak is best for you. For the sake of this article we'll be referring only to fishing kayaks which at this point in time are mostly sit-on-top (SOT) style. SOT kayaks which offer more stability and weight capacity than sit inside kayaks. Some things to consider would be weight capacity, stability, speed and tracking. We'll get into all of them, but first let's look at some basic kayak features.
|Most sit on top kayaks are made of plastic. This allows for great durability, many design options and easy mounting of accessories. When purchasing a plastic kayak it is important to know a couple things about the manufacturing process. Make sure the kayak has been roto-molded. This method basically pours a bunch of plastic into a mold which is spun around in all directions so that the plastic sticks to the sides of the mold and the resulting kayak is one piece. Many cheaper kayaks found at warehouse stores and elsewhere are not manufactured this way. They are made by combining two separate halves which by definition forms a weak point all the way around the boat which is very susceptible to springing pinhole leaks or cracking after sometimes minimal use.
Pay attention to the shapes and surfaces of the boat as well. A very round-sided kayak will be able to use a thinner plastic because the shape of a circle holds the most force. This will reduce the overall weight, but the round surfaces will make mounting accessories very difficult. A flat sided kayak may be a little heavier but if you plan on a lot of electronics or accessories it will prove much easier and cheaper to set up. Be skeptical of heavy round boats or light flat sided boats that are made of plastic.
Kayaks come in all shapes and sizes and they all perform differently. There is no perfect kayak, but there are perfect fits. It's important to have a list of things that are important to you in a kayak design and try to match those needs. In general a round bottom kayak will be less stable than a keel design. A longer, narrower kayak will be faster but less stable than a wider boat. With that said, there are things that manufacturers have done to compensate.
The Malibu eXtreme is a round bottom boat which would normally not be very stable. To compensate they added a perforation all the way around the edge of the kayak to "bite"; the water which greatly improves the stability but still results in a very fast paddling kayak. The X-Factor is 33" wide with a keel design, making it one of the most stable sit on tops on the market but at 14'4" it is long enough not to sacrifice speed. If weight capacity is a concern, all of the Malibus have outstanding weight capacity with the X-Factor leading the way with a 600lb capacity.
If surf launching is necessary in your area you may want to consider a boat with a higher bow. When coming back in through the surf the higher bow will keep the boat from pearling (digging the bow underwater) should you catch a wave. On the way out the higher bow will help the boat pop over the waves instead of punching through, keeping you dryer and your gear safer. Tracking refers to the ability of the kayak to stay on a straight line, and also the amount that the bow "wags" back and forth with each paddle stroke. Generally any longer kayak, over 13 or 14 feet should have no problem with tracking. Shorter kayaks will sometimes have issues with tracking, but this comes with the easy handling and maneuvering that they offer.
Ordering a kayak online is easier than you'd think. If you've found a kayak in our store that interests you please read our shipping info and discover how easy it is to get it delivered to your door, your business or your local airport.Click here for a vast selection of fishing kayaks we offer. Please do not hesitate to call us if any questions - we'll be happy to talk to you.