There are a lot of different types of kayaks out there – we don’t have 400 sitting around here just because we like to look at them! Well okay, that may be part of it . . . but seriously, the first question you should ask yourself when looking for a kayak is, “Why do I want one?” The categories below pretty much sum up the answers to that question. Read through them, find out where you are, then give us a call or stop by to see what we have for you.
EXERCISE AND FITNESS
Kayaking is a great form of exercise, both for cardiovascular and strength training. Paddling gives you an opportunity to escape the busy roads and gyms, and head out on your own. And with the right clothing and gear, you can get out in your boat well into the “off” seasons – you’ll find dedicated paddlers out there as long as there’s no ice. There’s nothing quite like the sense of power and speed you get from paddling a well-designed boat – and let’s face it – it’s a lot of fun too!
Think about what type of workout you’re looking for. It should be somewhere along this scale:
If you’re looking for a light workout (similar to walking), just about any shorter boat will work for you. At the other end of the scale, a high-intensity cardio workout will require a boat fine-tuned to fit you like a glove. The last thing you want is for the hull speed to limit your workout, and you’ll find that a shorter hull will do so very quickly. When you reach the maximum hull speed and the bow starts raising up on each stroke, that’s it – you aren’t going any faster no matter how hard you paddle. From that point, the rest of your workout is like being on a treadmill, and you’ll never enjoy the fruits of your efforts.
There are a lot of other factors to consider (portability, hull material, and of course price), but the above should give you a pretty good idea of the type of boat you need. Visit our store to see what we have and take some boats for a test paddle.
Fishing from a kayak affords opportunities to explore water untouched by powerboats. You can chase that trophy well into the shallows, and nothing can beat a kayak for quick, easy portability – throw it in the back of your truck and you’re on your way.
For fishing, look for a boat with a bigger opening, offering more room to work with a tackle box, landing nets, etc. You’ll want good stability for casting and landing fish. Keep in mind all the money you have invested in tackle – if you lose it all in a capsize, your boat just got a lot more expensive!
Consider what type of fishing you do – will you always fish while sitting in the boat, or will you paddle to your favorite spot and then get out to fish? For the latter scenario, you might want to consider a sit-on-top for ease of entry and exit. Boat length, hull material, and how you will transport your kayak are all important considerations as well. Stop in to see what we have to offer, and you might even want to bring a rod for a few “test casts” from the boat.
Our name wouldn’t be “Fluid Fun” if paddling wasn’t meant to be fun! If you’re just looking to get out on the river and let the current do all the work, and the most exercise you’re looking for is lifting a soda or beer can, we’ve got several boats that are just right for you. This category is all about comfort and stability – wide, shorter hulls with a large comfy seat, and let’s not forget the all-important drink holder! A sit-on-top is a great option if you’re looking to catch some rays while floating, or you might even want to look at boats designed for two paddlers – so you can let whoever is in front do all the work! You’ll most likely be looking at 9′-12′ rotomolded hulls in this category, but don’t rule out lighter composite hulls if portability will be an issue. Remember, if your boat is too heavy for you to load onto your vehicle easily, you’re less likely to use it as often and you won’t get your money’s worth. So, if you’re looking for fun on the water, stop in – we’ve got the boat for you!
Whether it’s Minnesota’s Boundary Waters, Ontario’s Quetico Park, or Florida’s Everglades, there’s nothing quite like exploring wilderness waters by kayak. While a canoe still performs better when frequent portages are encountered, consider a kayak for big water trips and you’ll be glad you did – you’ll cover much more water with much less effort, and you might even find yourself hoping for wind and waves to play in!
An expedition, of course, means lots of gear, so storage capacity will be as important a consideration to the wilderness kayaker as hull length and speed. You’ll be looking at longer boats with multiple hatches, and we have a wide selection that will suit your body weight as well as the length of trips you typically take. It’s a good idea to bring your gear with you when trying out your tripping kayak, as it will perform and feel much differently with a full load. As an added benefit, you’ll get to see if everything fits!
So, you like to turn it up a little… You like to find rivers where the gradient and/or flow create rapids or whitewater turbulence. Kayaking on moving water, typically a whitewater river can range from active, moving water, to demanding, extreme whitewater. Even within whitewater there is variety between boat categories including river running, creeking, slalom and playboating. Indiana doesn’t have much natural whitewater, but just a few miles down the road in South Bend resides an awesome whitewater course, The East Race. Whitewater was how kayaking emerged initially back in the 1800’s, so it is truly the root of the sport!
Has your young paddler been using your kayak? Do you think it’s time to get them one of their own? Great! Getting kids out on the water when they’re young provides many benefits. It helps them learn good paddling techniques early, it teaches them about safety, it gets them out of the house and lets them experience nature. The list goes on and on.
But before you head out and purchase a kayak, let’s talk about the difference between youth kayaks, and adult kayaks. While your son, daughter, grandson, or granddaughter may have been able to paddle your kayak, it may not be the safest or the best fit for them.
Depending on the size of the child, if you put them in a kayak that is too big for them, they’ll find themselves having to reach to get their paddle in the water. Reaching leads to leaning, which can make the boat feel unstable. If the boat doesn’t feel stable to them, they’ll be scared and won’t enjoy being out on the water. In a situation like this, we’d want to get them into a youth kayak. Those tend to have smaller beams and deeper cockpits, which lower their center of gravity, making the kayak more stable. They also weigh a lot less, making it easy for them to pick up and move around on their own.
We get asked a lot why you should invest in a youth kayak when the child may only be able to paddle it for a year or two before they outgrow it. Great question. There are a couple things to consider when making this decision. First, do you have other kids who will be paddling in a couple years? If you do, then getting a kayak designed for smaller kids is a great choice. Once they’re old enough to paddle, you can pass this one down to them while the older child moves into an adult boat.
On the other hand, let’s say you’re a grandparent looking to buy a kayak for your youngest grandchild. If they have some paddling experience, and they are comfortable being on the water, then buying a youth kayak may not be the best option. Spending the money on a kayak they will outgrow within a year or two just doesn’t make sense. In this case, we’d look at adult boats.
So, as you can see, each situation is different. That’s why we encourage you to visit the shop and let us help you choose the right boat for your young paddler. They’ll be able to try out the kayaks on the river, ensuring that they end up with a boat that is the perfect fit for them!
ALL OF THE ABOVE!
Last, but not least, you may be looking for a boat that can do it all. You might want to take it out for a workout in the mornings, use it for lazy floats on the river on the weekends while maybe taking a few casts, or even on a two- or three-day camping trip. Well, believe it or not there are boats out there for people like you! While these hulls might not be the best in every category, they perform admirably well with a good balance of length, hull speed, stability, weight, gear storage and comfort. Just keep in mind that sacrifices have to be made: you might reach the maximum hull speed during your workout, or you might not have enough space to take that two-week wilderness trip. But if you keep these limitations in mind, you’ll end up with an all-around kayak that you can spend a lot of time in – no matter what you want to do on the water!