Choosing your first kayak can be daunting as there are many options in style and construction methods and materials. Should you choose a traditional rigid kayak or one of the newer inflatable or folding kayaks. where will you be using your kayak? In calm river water, in rushing whitewater, in the surf or out on the ocean? What storage space do you have and how are you going to transport your kayak to the water?

Kayaks By Construction Type

Rigid - these are made from plastic, wood, Kevlar, carbon fiber or fiberglass
  • Inflatable
  • Folding

Construction Material of Rigid Kayaks

These are the sorts of kayaks familiar to most people. The cheapest option here is to buy a plastic model but this unfortunately is the heaviest. They are reasonably tough and long-lasting but are nearly impossible to repair if they are severely damaged. A little more expensive is a fiberglass construction which will be easier to repair and lighter but also is damaged more easily. Additional production materials include graphite composites, Kevlar and carbon fiber which are very light but also more expensive. Though not nearly as popular, wooden boats are available, especially in kit form to assemble yourself. Although they are easy to mend they require a lot more looking after than most of the other types of boats.

Inflatable Kayaks

Kayaks of this type are excellent for transporting and storing. They are among the cheaper types in the shops, easy-to-use and their performance is as good as a rigid kayak. Inflatable kayaks are also extremely buoyant and stable so don't capsize easily, which makes them suitable for the beginner. They can be used for calm and whitewater as well as in the surf so they are very versatile. You might be worried about their sturdiness but if you don't select the cheapest but buy a decent quality inflatable it should be as tough as a rigid boat. For most of us, unless you are a serious competitor, an inflatable kayak will more than likely be the best option.

Folding Kayaks

Folding kayaks are generally much pricier than rigid kayaks but they are very long-lasting, hardy, stable and flexible. They usually have a frame made from wood or aluminum covered in material. Even though they are more expensive they frequently have a higher used value and are much more long-lasting than the other sorts of kayaks. On the other hand they do suffer a bit from lack of speed and performance can be inferior to a rigid kayak.

Most folding kayaks use a different material for the hull and the deck. Decks are mostly made from cotton or a cotton blend or a synthetic fabric. Material generally used for hulls is a synthetic material such as Hypalon, polyurethane or PVC which covers a synthetic cloth like Dacron. Folding kayaks generally have air filled chambers in the hull to to help prevent capsizing.

In Conclusion

Determining the type of construction for your new kayak is only the first step! Now you need to think about where you will be using your new kayak and choose one that is suitably designed for the calm water of lakes and rivers, for whitewater paddling, for fishing,for the surf or the open ocean.