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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Comparing Kayaks

A fair warning - today's post is all about kayaks. It's a subject that's been on both of our brains a lot lately, and Trent and I have found it to be a fun hobby, even though we haven't been able to go much yet. We hope to change that soon, though. We've been on the hunt for new kayaks for a while and seem to be close to finding the perfect ones for us.

In this post I've put together some thoughts and tips as we look for our perfect kayak, and maybe it will help others on their hunts as as well. So if you're on the hunt for a new kayak, or a soon to be first-time kayak owner, or maybe you're just interested in our kayak-search story - read on!

A little backstory - last year we sold our Pelicans and have been searching for the perfect new kayaks to replace them. The Pelicans just didn't fit us as well as we would have liked. The first time we went, it was fun but not as relaxing as we wanted it to be. I think that not being able to test them before we bought them, and being a little naive to the world of kayaks, we just ended up buying the wrong kind for our needs.

We found the Pelicans to be a little more "rocky" and less stable. We want something that we can just hang out in, have fun, and be comfortable. And not worry about possibly tipping over in the process! So we sold them and planned to get something else.

We've done our research since then and have looked at a lot of places and several different kinds of kayaks. We even had fun testing some out. Here's what we learned so far, and why we're thiissss close to getting our new kayaks!
  • Pelicans - the first brand of kayaks we bought - tend to be on the cheaper end, and so far, it's shown. Our first round with the kayaks wasn't horrible, but when you compare the Pelicans with the pricier brands, it's easy to see you get what you pay for. We can even tell the difference in the plastic material that the kayaks are made of. Pelicans are super light, so they seem to be carried and tossed around by the water easier.
  • The frontrunner for me is the Perception Conduit 9.5. With the Perception kayaks, the material is seemingly more durable and less "cheap-feeling." And I immediately felt comfortable when I sat in this one. When I took it out on the water, I knew this would be my next one.
    The seat was comfy, there are knee pads on the sides, and it felt so much more stable. So I'm 99% sure that this will be my next kayak. My next step is finding one in a store locally.
  • The stability is all in the Hull! We learned this, unfortunately too late. This is the secret to whether or not your kayak is going to be stable, or if you'll be worrying you're going to tip over the entire time. Trying and sitting in different kayaks, we learned that the flatter the hull (bottom of the kayak), the less likely it's probably going to tip. But if the hull is at a steep "V" shape, it's built more for speed than stability and is probably going to rock back and forth more in the water. The Emotion kayaks we rented at Loud Thunder were the most stable we've sat in yet. These are on the shorter and wider side, so they are built for easygoing paddling and stability.
  • There are so many different brands and types of kayaks. There are sit-on-top kayaks, sit-in kayaks, and tandem kayaks. They range in size - I would say on average from about 8 feet long to 13 feet. There are kayaks built for beginners, some built for sea and some for calm waters, some for going fast, and some for fishing. Brands include Pelican, Emotion, Perception, Ascend, Sun Dolphin...the list goes on. It can be difficult to choose which one is right for you. That's why we're still looking almost a year later!

I think the best thing you can do is just follow your gut. If you sit in one or get to try it out, and it feels right, then go for it. Once I find that Perception kayak locally, it will be mine! :) Then Trent is going to try it out and see how he likes it. I think Trent is getting a little closer to finding his perfect one, too. 

So if you're like us and are searching for that perfect kayak, good luck! Just remember, don't make the same mistake as us and get the first ones you set your eyes on. It takes time to find the perfect one. Happy hunting!

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