Choosing a Kayak

Choosing a Kayak can be one of the more difficult places to start, but since a lot of what we're gonna talk about is based on the type of kayak you chose, it's fitting that we start here.  It's best to decide what you want to paddle 80% of the time, then rent a kayak the remaining 20% of the time, and have a much safer and enjoyable experience on the water.  "Live to tell about it!" - that's my motto.  Over time, if you're like most of us, you'll acquire several different kayaks - one for each purpose...and maybe one or two extras for your friends!

Just like cars and trucks, there are a variety of kayaks, each designed for a specific purpose.  While Ferraris are fast and nimble, they're not so hot for road-tripping with your buddies in the Rocky Mountain back-country.  On the flip side, a good SUV will get you there, along with five of your closest friends, their mountain bikes, climbing gear, kayaks and then some, but leave a Sasquatch-sized footprint on the environment, and your pocketbook.  (...and good luck fitting five of your closest friends, their mountain bikes, etc. in a Smart Car!)  You get the idea.  Consider what you're gonna paddle most often and understand there's no good all-around one-size-fits-all do-everything kayak.  If there was, it would be incredibly expensive, or incredibly unsafe...or both.

Give this serious thought. It will save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in the end.

Kayaks typically come in 4 main designs; Whitewater, Touring, Recreational and Inflatable.  Hybrids have evolved for kayak fishing, SCUBA diving, kayak sailing, Stand-up Paddling (cleverly named 'SUPing') and pedal- or propeller-driven kayaks.  We'll cover those too, later on.  There's so much to discuss, that we'll devote a chapter to each design. 

In the end, I hope to help you find a boat you truly love to paddle.  Lets face it, if you don't love your new boat, you're not gonna love paddling it.  It'll collect dust in the garage, and if it's like my good friend's 1962 Thunderbird, it'll become a place on which you stack other things you love more.  There's pros and cons to every boat, and we'll explore them in great detail.  A fast boat usually is not a stable boat.  A stable boat usually is not a light-weigh boat.  A boat with Lay-Z-Boy comfort will inevitably sacrifice performance.  In addition to speed, weight, stability and comfort, you'll also need to consider it's maneuverability, hull design and structural stiffness, storage capacity, tracking ability and whether will it fit on (or in) your Smart Car, garage, or third-story 1-bedroom efficiency apartment.

My goal is not to tell you what to paddle, when or where, but to (1) give you ideas about what's readily available here in New Mexico and the surrounding areas, (2) help you understand your personality and appetite for adventure, and (3) leave you with a few ideas about the boats most suitable for places you'd like to kayak.  Sure, we'll make recommendations along the way, but ultimately it's your money, so give careful consideration to what you wanna paddle.  Whitewater isn't for everyone.  I get that.  Fishing isn't for everyone either.  You may be somewhere in the middle, or somewhere to the extreme.  That's OK.  I'll help you find a boat you truly love to paddle.