Do you know what you need to know before selecting the size of your kayak? Whether you’re a total beginner or a more experienced kayaker selecting the right size of kayak is not always as straightforward as you might imagine if you haven’t checked out a recent buying guide. If you’re having a hard time deciding exactly what is perfect for you, never be afraid to reach out and ask more experienced kayakers for help and advice! Here is a user friendly guide to help you make the right choice.
The size of kayak that you will need depends on how tall you are as well as what you plan to use the kayak for. Generally speaking, manufacturers determine the size of the kayak in 3 different grades which are based on the volume of the vessel and in terms of the length of the kayak. Both of these factors should be considered if you’re looking to get a new kayak.
How Do You Determine What Size Kayak You Need?
The volume of a kayak is measured in cubic feet, or sometimes gallons, but to make calculations easier for customers manufacturers began to refer to the kayaks in terms of low, medium or large volume.
Low Volume Kayak
This is a smaller kayak build and is designed for people who are less than 5 foot 6 inches tall and weigh in the region of 140 pounds or less. These kayaks do not have a large amount of storage space within their body which makes them better for day trips where you will not need a huge amount of equipment.
Medium Volume Kayak
The medium volume kayak is built to fit a kayaker between 5 foot 7 inches and about 5 foot 10 inches tall. The kayak also has considerable storage space which means that you can store everything you’d need for an overnight trip that included camping.
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Large Volume Kayak
This is made for larger kayakers who weigh 180 pounds or more and are taller than 5 foot 10 inches. A large volume kayak has excellent storage space that allows you to bring enough kit for several days on the water, including camping gear. The large volume model is the best kayak for a big guy.
What About Weight Limits?
The larger the volume of your kayak the higher the potential weight limits for paddlers and equipment will be. This is due to the increased buoyancy that larger volumes will afford you.
Do You Need An 8, 10, 12 or 14 Foot Kayak?
As well as taking into account your actual height and size so you can fit comfortably into the kayak, you also need to think about what you’ll be using the kayak for and what environment you’ll be paddling in.
Kayaks are designed to take on the challenges of any environment you can imagine and these main four lengths should suffice for the needs of all kayakers!
8 Foot Kayak –
Versatile and Offers Great Stability
An 8 foot kayak is a versatile and extremely stable choice. Due to its better length to width ratio it is more stable than a longer kayak and for this reason they are often used in white water rapids because they are so stable and maneuverable.
8 foot kayaks are ideal for new paddlers, and even children, and can be used effectively on still waters, rivers and lakes. The downside of these shorter kayaks is that the speed is slightly slower than longer designs but they more than make up for this with their stability and ease of control.
Before you buy an 8 foot kayak you should also be checking the width of the craft because there are very thin ones available which do not offer the same levels of stability.
The 8 foot kayak is the perfect choice for most recreational uses as well as rapids and are also suitable for children and smaller adult kayakers.
10 Foot Kayak –
Stability, Storage and Increased Speed
This is one of the most common choices for recreational use. The 10 foot kayak maintains excellent stability but is less maneuverable than its 8 foot counterpart.
The 10 foot kayak delivers much better storage than the smaller models and is perfect for day trips as well as longer camping excursions. Many models come with great storage that includes water tight compartments where you can store a bag of dry clothes or camping kit.
These kayaks come in many different designs and are often used on rivers, lakes and out at sea. Despite the fact that the 10 foot kayak is less maneuverable than the 8 foot it can still be controlled in tight spaces and is often used by anglers who need to balance precision control with the extra storage space.
These kayaks are suitable for all levels of paddlers and can be purchased for extremely reasonable prices. If you’re a beginner kayaker then the 10 foot is a great choice and due to the extra space you can even fit a dog on board!
12 Foot Kayak
Higher Speeds and Ideal for Multi-day Expeditions
The 12 foot kayak can travel much faster than the shorter models which makes it a great option for more advanced kayakers, from intermediate to advanced paddlers. The better speed also gives you the potential to cover larger distances and extend your trips further afield.
The extra speed is afforded to you due the length to width ratio, which makes them more streamlined in the water. This does make them a little less stable but if you’re a fairly experienced kayaker then this will present no issues for you.
12 foot kayaks are well suited to rivers and even narrow inlets, but they can also be used on open water and lakes. Perfect for recreational use and even racing, the 12 foot kayak also offers great storage facilities and can also fit a dog on board!
As long as you have the basic skills then you’ll find that the 12 foot kayak is a great choice for most of your needs.
14 Foot Kayak
Superb Speeds, Great Tracking and Suited to Ocean Trips
The 14 foot kayak delivers the best speeds of the various lengths and is ideal for longer trips and ocean kayaking. One of the things you need to consider is that the stability is not as good as the shorter kayaks and consequently they can be susceptible to high winds and waves at sea.
Of course due to the extra length these kayaks are among the best for a big guy who is taller than 6 foot 1 inches however due to the loss of stability they will need to be a proficient paddler!
Due to the 14 foot length of the kayak it tracks extremely straight and requires less adjustments which helps you to travel faster and cover greater distances without any hassles. These kayaks are perfect for longer expeditions and have a good deal of storage space for your kit, including watertight compartments to keep items safe and dry.
What is the Widest Kayak?
You can get extremely wide kayaks, up to at least 36 inches, which provide superb stability and fantastic maneuverability. They are a great choice for beginners and more advanced paddlers alike and with the extra width you also get more storage space in relation to the length of the kayak.
Seat kayaks are usually wider than other models to make room for the kayaker on the seat. You will lose out on the speed front though if you go for a wider kayak and so they are best for recreational use where speed is not a great concern.
The width of the kayak is usually determined by measuring the distance from one side to the other which is also referred to as from the ‘gunwale to gunwale’. The increased width makes the wider models of kayak better for larger kayakers because there will be more space in the cockpit.
Selecting the Right Size of Kayak is Crucial
Getting the size, in terms of length and width, is vital for you to enjoy your kayaking trips. Choosing the right size will depend on your height, weight, the environment you will be using your kayak in and the type of kayaking you intend to do. For longer, multi day trips you’ll need extra storage space but for racing you’ll want a long, thin model to get the best speeds.
Whatever you are looking for you can find the perfect kayak for your expeditions and all your personalized requirements and needs.