How to choose a Kayak
Before you even look at the range of kayaks you need to ask yourself a few questions.
Where will you mainly use your kayak - the sea, rivers, dams, lakes, estuaries or always close to shore? Are you going to be using the kayak in rocky or rugged areas? Will you have access close to the water or will you have to carry it far? Are you a competitive type of person who will want to push yourself and the boat? Will you be using mainly with the family in calm situations? Do you take care of your things or do you prefer something that can take a bit of rough handling? Your size, fitness and previous experience may also be a factor. If you are thinking about a double, will you always have a partner available to paddle with you?
Having set some parameters you can now phone or email Paddlers with a guideline and ask for sensible suggestions or you can peruse all the kayaks on this website and look at the various options available. When talking with or emailing us always mention previous experience, location or any other issues which you feel are important to you.
Take away or home delivery
Consider how you transport or take delivery of the kayak. If you are going to be using the kayak in different locations then you need to ask for roof racks which are usually specific for the model of car so provide that information early on and we can organise correct stock with fitting if required. We can also arrange delivery to the courier's depot in major towns in South Africa at a very reasonable cost - door to door service is available but it can be expensive - so ask for a quote.
How do we help?
Despite the huge range of kayaks on the market the key factors that differentiate the kayaks are: weight, stability, speed and, of course, price. Other choices, like the materials - plastic v fibreglass and the style - sit-inside v sit-on-top, are also taken into consideration.
Once you have given us an outline, considering all the points made above, we can usefully employ our knowledge of the kayaks available to guide you towards some options to best suit you and your needs.
The fine tuning comes from the client's own preferences and experience, and we debate these points to establish whether the criteria for those choices are made using current information. This is quite important as technological improvements in materials and design happen all the time.
Try before you buy
Finally when we have narrowed the field of choice, you can if you wish take a test drive. Our large range of demo kayaks means the characteristics we have so far only talked about can be experienced - so if you are coming to select a kayak bring your paddling gear and a towel!
What else do I need?
A paddle, a paddle leash, a PFD (Personal Flotation Device), a waterproof cell phone pouch and a set of pencil flares. We normally recommend you have a book or video to get you started and take a training course as soon as you can. You can do the training before choosing a kayak but most people prefer to use their own craft. You need to find a paddle buddy or paddle club to build up your experience safely.
How easy is it to do?
Kayaks, unlike Surf Ski's and Canoes tend to be very stable. Once you have your kayak, and access to water, you are going to find that learning to paddle is actually quite easy. If you are falling in the water or going around in circles then you are not doing it right!
Like most activities there are courses, books, videos and DVD's available to get you started, but most of all practice and experience make for happy and safe paddling.
What's the first step once I have my kayak?
Get a book, a dvd, do a training course, find a paddle buddy and above all else do everything safely!
There is one thing that I encourage every new kayak owner to do - FALL OUT! No, I'm not joking but I am trying to make a very important point. Safety First has to be the motto for every paddler. Before you go out with a group you should have practised getting into your kayak without help. This means getting a friend to stand with you in shallow water, now tip yourself off your kayak and then climb back in - repeat again and again each time in slightly deeper water until you have mastered the re-entry quickly and safely. This step should not be missed out and applies equally to sit-on-top and sit-inside owners.
All the above is my own personal point of view and is not in anyway meant to be the last word on paddling, or kayaks. There is so much more to say about safety. I own a kayak shop, my husband runs kayak trips and training courses. I am a recreational kayaker. I enjoy kayaking and really think it is an activity most people can do and enjoy. All errors are mine, so is the copyright.