Choosing Your Next Kayak or Surfski: Eight Steps

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Searching for your next kayak or surfski but not sure where to start? Read on to follow eight easy steps that will help in choosing your next kayak or surfski.


Step 1 – Consider where you will paddle.

Each kayak or surfskis is designed for specific uses and water types. Lake, river, white-waters, bay and ocean each offer unique challenges for paddlers. Kayaks and surfskis are designed to meet the needs of each water type. If you will be primarily paddling on the still waters of lakes and rivers, you will be able to choose from a greater range of kayaks. The rougher currents of the ocean may require looking into surfskis that are designed to cut through the waves. If your water needs are diverse, you may wish to own multiple boats. 


Step 2 – What type of paddling will you do?

People paddle for a variety of reasons: for relaxing, fishing, exploring, working out, and racing. It is important to consider your goals when choosing your next kakak or surfski. A recreational kayak may suit your needs if you are looking to paddle for relaxation. But, if you wish to work out or race, a different type of ‘yak or a surfski might be a better fit. Your paddling goals will influence the type of boat you should choose. Some examples of considerations you may make include boat speed, stability, and steering. If you are not sure of the type of paddling that you want to do, we suggest that you get in touch with Performance Kayak Inc. for more advice.


Step 3 – Consider proper storage and transport.

Access to water types for different kinds of paddling is a big factor that should be considered when choosing your next kayak or surfski. How will you store and transport your boat? Kayaks and surfskis can be difficult to store, due to their sizes. Many paddlers store their boats in their own garages.

If you are lucky enough to have space to store your kayak or surfski at home, you will need an appropriate vehicle and roof rack system to transport it to the water. You will want to keep in mind the weight of your boat and consider how easy it will be to load and unload. If you are unsure about where to begin with transporting your kayaks and surfskis, Performance Kayak would be happy to help. 


Step 4 – Have balance: Try before you buy.

Knowing the type of water and storage you have access to as well as the paddling type that you want to do will considerably narrow your options when choosing your next kayak or surfski. However, access is still a big influence in your choice. Each paddler’s skills and balance abilities are different. As such, there is a real need to try before you buy. 


Step 5 – Evaluate stability, comfort, and size.

These three factors influence how a kayak or surfski fits you and performs:

Size (Up!) – Finding the correct craft size can make a huge difference to your stability and comfort while paddling. Paddler technique, leg length, torso height, weight, experience, and mobility can make a craft feel ideal or less-than ideal. To find your correct fit, you must consider the range of seat to footplate length along with the volume of the kayak or surfski. Those who surfski can only adjust the footplate for their comfort. This means that it is critical that they are able to find a position where they can apply power to the footplate without disrupting their technique.

The size of kayaks and surfskis is determined through the volume, with most manufacturers providing paddler weight guides to fit Small/Medium/Large hulls. There are often only two or more size options for paddlers to fit. An incorrectly-sized surfski or kayak can make for a tippy or bouncy feel. If you are too small for a craft, it may feel slow or less responsive in the water.


Stability – In general, the wider the kayak, the more stable it is.The longer the kayak or surfski, the faster it will be. The faster kayak or surfski is the one you can stay in.


Comfort – Comfort is critical. Butt cuts or numb legs from your seat are horrible. Adding padding to a seat can only improve the situation so much, and added padding will also lessen stability. Also, footplate fittings are also important to ensure you can fit your feet and use the steering easily. In addition, the setup angle and accessories such as pull bars and foot straps will be essential for compatibility with your paddling technique. Trying different options and setups is well worth your time.


Step 6 – Performance test the kayak and surfski.

Placing the manufacturers marketing aside, testing your potential kayaks and surfskis objectively is the only way to objectively compare their performance. This means paddling your short list of craft on the same test course. Make notes on performance factors that matter to you such as comfort, turning ability, acceleration and speed etc. At Performance Kayak, we have the largest selection of Stellar Kayaks & Surfskis in the area. We also have many demo boats available for you to try before you buy. Call us today to set up an appointment for a test run.


Step 7 – What is your budget?

It’s important to work out how much you want to spend on your kayak or surfski, along with any accessories that you may need. If you are on a limited budget, check out our selection of used and demo boats. All boats are in top condition, at prices that make them affordable. 


Step 8 – Remember equipment and accessories.

Once you’ve determined the right kayak or surfski for you, it’s time to consider the equipment and/or accessories to upgrade it with. Often a kayak is sold only with the basic fittings. It will be up to you to decide on what you want to add to the craft to make it more comfortable or specific to your paddling style. At Performance Kayak, we have a wide selection of paddles and accessories available, and we are happy to help you with your needs. 

We hope you learned a little bit more about how to choose your next kayak or surfski. There are many different types of paddling options to consider while choosing your next kayak or surfski. As the weather warms, we hope you visit Performance Kayak to explore and learn more. We are ready and able to help you as you progress in your paddling!