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Kayak Buyers Guide

We know that purchasing a kayak or any other small boat is quite a decision and we want to help take some confusion out of the decision for you with our kayak buyers guide. The urge to purchase quickly because it was available right then, may put you up the creek without a paddle. We have put the guide in a faq format below.

What about customer kayak reviews?

Are kayak Ratings or kayak Reviews worth reading? We don't allow customers to review or rate Kayaks on our web site because it is usually full of "purchased reviews", so probably not. We get offered by many different companies to "purchase" positive reviews for both our company and or products. We absolutely decline this concept and trust that consumers are not so gullible as to put their faith in a five or four star made up rating system, or distrust someone or something because of some complaints. We have also found that most customers that have bad reviews of SUP Boards usually put it in the wrong situation and or did not fully understand what they were purchasing. No one kayak does everything in every situation. The good news is we at directboats.com want you to make an informed decision so you will fully enjoy the kayak you are planning to purchase, please read the rest of the buyers guide below.

What is an editors review?

If we have first hand knowledge of a particular kayak we will write a review from a critics point of view. Yes we at directboats.com have tried a lot of kayaks and sell every type and style, therefore we should be able to get the best all around helpful review for you.

I would like to take long day trips what should I look for in a kayak?

This type of kayak is known as touring kayaks and or tripping kayaks. These typically are larger/longer kayaks vs short kayaks. Maneuverability is not as important as length that is able to take on waves. There are rudders that are optional to help track or steer the touring kayaks. These are optional because each paddler is capable of turning the kayaks but wind conditions can make it easier to use a rudder. Ocean use and or large lakes are ideal for touring canoes. These are typically faster than any other type of kayaks and track the best. But keep in mind, longer is faster but also the least stable. Make sure the hatch compartments are sealed and to bring along a hand pump if not a sit on top type.

I just want a regular kayak for my family to have fun at the lake in, what should I buy?

The most popular type of kayak is a recreational kayak. These kayaks have wider bottoms and or designed to hold a medium duty load with maximum stability for novice paddlers. These kayak hull designs make great rental kayaks. Stability with decent maneuverability is the goal. Hull materials and construction methods vary. A 10 foot kayak the number one size. Anything shorter than eight feet is really a child kayak. Anything longer than 12 feet is generally a touring or ocean kayak. Remember longer narrower is faster and tracks better, shorter wider is more stable and tracks poorer.

I would like a good fishing kayak, what should I look for?

Fishing kayaks well... are for fishing out of. Many manufacturers just add a rod holder and say it's a fishing kayak. What is needed is comfort sitting for long periods of time, stability when reaching over to pick up a fish. Any kayak can be fished out of but when you want to make sure you don't take a dip while doing it a wider bottom kayak is the ticket. Some are even stable enough to stand on for a while. They are kind of difficult to get up and down on especially if there are waves or wakes around. There is a catamaran style kayak that is ideal for fishing off of and still fast on the water. There is even a new hybrid snapaboat kayak/sup kit that makes fishing very comfortable. We would recommend buying a separate small fishing boat if you really want to fish comfortably, but that is totally up to you.

I want a whitewater kayak what is important to know?

Whitewater kayaks have specific hull designs and are made out of material that can take impacts against large rocks best. If you want to use a recreational kayak on rivers with rocks you may want to give a call to see which ones are best to do this with. Don't destroy your boat in a couple of weeks then post something negative online about a kayak, it wasn't its fault, it just wasn't designed for that use.

What is the difference between Sit on Top kayaks vs. Sit in Kayaks?

Sit on top kayaks are generally self bailing meaning the water splashed on top goes through it. This of course is a great advantage but it raises your center of gravity so wider is better but slower. Also sit on tops are warm weather kayaks, if you have on those then your season can be cut shorter due to getting wet. A sit in on the other hand has a lower center of gravity, usually are narrower and if rowed properly drier. This causes them to be faster and warmer generally speaking of course. We would say if you want a safer, wetter, wider, slower kayak purchase a sit on top. If you are at the beach or have waves around combined with inexperience, we highly recommend sit on top kayaks.

What is better a longer kayak or a shorter kayak?

Longer kayaks are great for tracking and going fast, but they are also become more unstable as you add more weight. Shorter kayaks are great for storage and portage, but are generally slower and don't track or paddle strait very well. If you are on a creek and need more maneuverability a shorter kayak is the way to go. If you are on a flat water lake, a longer kayak tracks better and is faster.

Construction methods of kayaks:

Generally Construction has to do with quality and shape rigidity and weight has to do with performance. That being said some construction issues do effect performance, for example a flexible plastic if made without the proper reinforcement may cause the kayak to be very slow, compared to another out of the same material designed not to flex, much like an inflatable kayak that is the slowest of the kayaks, because of the flexing. Another common construction flaw is the material surface may not be smooth, therefore causing a lot of friction on the water which in turn slows down the kayak. Many kayaks these days are some sort of plastic, but not all, check out our excellent fiberglass models.

Why would I care to know how the different kayaks are made?

You will care when your kayak doesn't last as long as you hoped it would. Different construction methods have advantages and disadvantages, for example blow molding is the most inexpensive form of production, but has the poorest performance properties. It makes for great low prices but beware the finish and thickness of material may be thin where you really need it thick, in the corners on the bottom of the boat. Also you will rarely find a long pointy kayak blow molded because of problems getting the plastic into the ends(see example picture below). The location of the spray heads determines where the plastic is thick or not. The other problem with blow molding is that manufacturers will put in recycled plastics causing other problems. An example of this type of production method is a milk jug. If you hold one up to the light, you may see the inconsistencies of the different material thicknesses. This is another reason the surface is a rough finish to help hide that look. Unfortunately the rough surface really slows down the speed on the water and keeps the kayak looking poor when dirty and hard to clean. You can have a rough mold in other construction methods. One solution blow molders have for thin parts of the boat is to just add more plastic, this just causes a heavier slower kayak.



Another plastic construction method is what we called thermoformed. That means the deck and hull and made in two parts then heat stamped or melted together at a seam. The seams can be a tricky thing for a manufacturer to learn, and you only see this kind of construction in kayaks, not boats for this reason. If the factory knows what they are doing the method is fine, leaving a permanent heat sealed bond. Some people will notice a lip or flange on these types of kayaks. They are generally less expensive, because lesser cost material can be used in the creation of the kayak. If recycled plastics are used, a not so smooth surface is usually what you see, but that has a lot to do with the smoothness of the mold and how fast they are being produced. Again if the surface is not smooth, the kayak will be slower and harder to clean. There are some areas of a kayak that do not need to be smooth, for instance where your feet go, or where you may sit. If smooth, you will go crazy trying to sit in one spot, especially wet.

One material that is thermoformed, gives a rigid smooth great look is ABS material. It's negatives are the UV protection is usually on the surface so store them out of the sun and cost of construction. But the advantages are light weight rigidity without breaking, and beautiful gloss finishes, making them fast and easy to clean.

Roto molded kayaks are the most popular plastic construction method used. With the ability to make corners thicker, molds mostly smooth and rough in needed spots(for nonskid), no secondary seams to worry with(one piece), it is the most most sense for most manufacturers. It is usually the middle priced of kayaks, and possibly a bit heavier, but the kayak usually lasts much longer. The boats are usually smooth finished meaning easy to clean and faster performance.

Laminated Rotomolding is a process where additional material is added during the rotomolding process causing it to be much thicker, usually a closed cell foaming agent to original material type.




Why would I want a wood kayak?

Wood kayaks are beautiful but require maintenance and are pricey. They do have good insulation properties and with epoxy can get a smooth finish. They are for the people that want to get noticed on the water.

My boat is out of fiberglass and my SUP board, why not a kayak?

You can... we sell them, they are especially great for rental companies. Fiberglass kayaks are most rigid and you can get a smooth finish which makes them easier to clean and faster in the water. You will usually see racing kayaks made of this material. If made with Kevlar and vacuum bagged they are extremely lightweight, smooth, tough and rigid, allowing for the longest and fastest kayaks in the world. They are usually not the cheapest because they are hand made, but they are thickest in the corners, allowing for long life and durability.

Which kayaks are best to rent?

That is a complicated question, it depends on your water conditions, customer base, how customers are loaded ie beach dock etc... Another factor is staff, if you have kids that will not empty sit on kayaks water out of the inner hull(especially the cheap kayaks)... go with sit in kayaks because it is faster and easier to do so. Customers will complain when they see the water and kids will probably keep them empty because it is not out of site and mind. They may look dirtier and be harder to keep the foot wells looking nice, but at least they are safe and lightweight. We generally recommend kayaks with as little hardware or accessories as possible. The more parts you have, the more leak points, the worse your kayaks look and perform over time. We have a selection of kayaks that we have created to help narrow down your search to our most popular rental kayaks. Keep in mind now kayaks are everywhere and a lot of your customers will own one but not want to carry it with them... the new themed and attraction kayaks are great rentals, and make their higher cost back quickly. Click here for Rental Kayaks for sale!



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