What to look for when shopping for paddling equipment
When outdoor temperatures begin to heat up, many outdoor enthusiasts can't wait to get out on the water and paddle. Fortunately, an array of canoes, kayaks, and stand up paddle boards offer plenty of options for fun on the river, lake or ocean. When you're shopping for paddling equipment and accessories, it's important to know what to look for. To find the best products for your needs, use these shopping tips.
Canoes come in a variety of sizes and styles to suit every sort of paddler. When shopping for a canoe, consider how you'll be using it. If you're a hunter or fishing enthusiast, shop for a sporting canoe with storage capacity for dogs, decoys, coolers, dry bags, or fishing poles. Many of these models feature a camouflage design and a square stern to accommodate a small motor.
If you're looking for a secure and stable craft, choose a recreational canoe featuring a longer, wider design and a flat hull. These canoes make the perfect option for birding, photography, and getting out on the water with the family. A center bench seat and center lock sockets for oars allow you to paddle solo or with others.
If you enjoy tackling rivers by canoe, choose a craft with high sides and sturdy, abrasion-resistant construction. For better maneuverability when paddling, choose a river canoe that's narrower and shorter and features a rocker (curvature from end-to-end) in the hull.
For some paddlers, only a kayak will do. This small, light watercraft is propelled by a double-bladed paddle, and you can choose sit-in or sit-on models for solo or tandem paddling.
Where you plan to use your kayak is an important consideration when purchasing one. For lakes, slow-moving rivers, and warm coastal waters, a sit-on kayak makes a wise choice. The design of sit-on kayaks prevents the feeling of claustrophobia and allows for easy exiting in case you capsize. When shopping for a sit-on kayak, fishing enthusiasts should look for products with built-in rod holders.
If you enjoy longer destination paddling, consider a sit-in kayak. These products track straight, move faster, and often have covered compartments for cargo. Your body position in a sit-in kayak allows for better control in rough water, but paddlers of these crafts need to know how to perform a wet exit when the kayak capsizes. For paddling long distances in large lakes or oceans, purchase a touring (sit-in) kayak. These lengthier kayaks travel fast and feature a rudder or skeg (a drop-down fin) to handle wind and currents.
Are you interested in close-to-shore paddling or kids' kayaks? You'll likely do well with inflatables. These blow-up kayaks save on storage space, and they're surprisingly durable. Because they bounce off large rocks and other obstacles easily, inflatable kayaks also make a fun option for river paddling.
Stand up paddle boards
When taking to the water, some people prefer paddling from an upright position. The solution? A stand up paddle board. If you're on the hunt for one of these enjoyable outdoor toys, consider the shape of the paddle board's hull.
Featuring a flat, wide shape and a rounded nose, a paddle board with a planing hull makes a good option for recreational paddling and SUP yoga. With a thinner shape and a pointed nose, a product featuring a displacement hull is perfect for touring, fitness paddling, and racing.
Inflatable paddle boards provide a host of advantages. They take up less storage space when you're not using them. They're easier to transport by car, they offer a more forgiving surface for SUP yoga, and they bounce off obstacles when you're paddling rivers.
Paddles and oars
Getting the right paddles and oars ensures a great day on the water. When buying paddles and oars, consider their length and what they're made of. When you're purchasing a kayak paddle, choose one that corresponds to your body height and the width of your boat.
To get the proper length for a canoe paddle, hold the paddle upright, blade down. If you plan to paddle from the bow (or front of the canoe), the paddle should reach to your chin. If you plan to paddle from the stern (or rear of the canoe), the paddle should reach to your eyes.
When it comes to paddle and oar construction, choose wood if you want a product with a good feel and a hint of flexibility and shock absorbance. Wood also offers a more pleasing natural aesthetic than metal or carbon fiber paddles and oars. If you're looking for the lightest options, choose metal paddles and oars, and pick products made from carbon fiber composite for a blend of strength and lightness.