How to choose a kayak?

How to choose a kayak?

How to choose a kayak?Kayaks and canoes: two different boats

According to the Italian law (art. 3, Legislative Decree 18/07/2005 n. 171), the kayak and the canoe can be included in the category of pleasure craft : these are pleasure boats with oars or hulls of equal length or less than ten meters.

Kayaks and canoes differ from other types of boats for three characteristics:

  • – the propulsion means, that is to say the paddle, is released from a fixed support point on the oarlock;
  • – The two ends, bow and stern, are sharp;
  • – The position of the rowing machine is always facing the bow.

There are also some differences between kayaks and canoes themselves. The first is in fact a boat with low sides, entirely covered. In addition, if you canoe on your knees or sit on your heels, paddling in a simple paddle, you sit on the kayak, with your legs extended and pushing yourself with a double paddle.

The legislation governing the practice of kayaking

The aforementioned Legislative Decree also deals with the regulation of navigation limits. Unfortunately, the article does not expressly contemplate canoeing or kayaking, but can easily be compared to the categories of boats listed, such as pedal boats, flies, paddles, sailboards, jet skis and similar vehicles.

According to this law (paragraph 3), vessels without CE marking (not mandatory for kayaking in Italy) can navigate within a mile of the coast. Subsequently, in paragraph 5, it is specified that “the navigation and the method of use referred to in paragraph 3 are governed by the competent maritime authority and inland navigation”.

In Italy, therefore, subject to the various prescriptions given by the competent maritime authority, kayaks can sail within a mile of the coast . The only exception concerns the maritime compartment of Crotone, where it is possible to navigate by kayak only within 300 meters from the shore.

How should you equip yourself during a kayak trip?
In the case of maritime navigation, within 300 meters of the coast, no safety equipment is required. From this distance and up to a mile it is mandatory to keep a rescue belt per person and a lifebuoy with a top on board .

The same equipment must be brought on board vessels, whatever the distance from the shore and in the event that you navigate on rivers, streams and waterways.

The different types of kayaks

The different types of kayaksA kayak is chosen mainly based on the use you wish to make of it. Choosing the environment in which you want to sail (sea, riviera, river, steep …), will allow you to choose more easily the type of boat suitable.

After that, you will have to choose how many people to navigate. There are single-seat , two-seater and even three- seater kayaks .

Long or short kayak?

If you prefer to sail following the coast line, or in any case without exceeding 300 miles from the coast, we recommend a short kayak, between 2.40 and 3.90 meters: it will be easier to maneuver it.

To navigate up to two miles from the coast it is preferable to opt for a longer kayak, which reduces the effort to move forward but makes the maneuver more complex than the previous one.

If you are a lover of excursions you will not be able to appreciate the performance!

We also recommend a kayak with a broken or “banana” line that prevents you from being dragged into the waves.

Inflatable or rigid kayak?

An inflatable kayak is easily transported, takes up less space, is relatively light and the price is affordable. However, it must be washed, mounted and removed after each ride.

Quick and easy to inflate with a foot / hand inflator (less than ten minutes) or electric (a few minutes). However, be careful to choose a powerful inflator that allows you to reach the recommended pressure for kayaking.

The rigid kayak is more stable, safer, more solid and hardly deteriorates. Nevertheless, it is heavier, more cumbersome and the price is definitely higher.

The different shapes of the hull

The elliptical hull allows you to navigate in rough seas while maintaining a good level of balance and stability.

The V-shaped hull allows to maintain a good stability despite the rough sea.

The flat hull in rough seas does not offer an appropriate level of balance and stability.

The hull with a broken or “banana” line perfectly cuts the waves.

Can you fish with a kayak?

It is certainly possible to fish on a kayak, some are designed specifically for this purpose.

A fishing kayak must be particularly stable, designed to support fishing rods and a possible sounder / GPS support.

Depending on the type of fishing exercised, spaces will be needed for a bucket for living or a basket.

Choose the kayak that  suits your needs

To choose the kayak you have to take into account your build (weight and height).

Over a meter and a half it is good to check that the legs have enough space, so as not to have to stay curled up all the time. The lower riders will have to choose a kayak that is neither too heavy nor bulky, for greater comfort and better performance.

Some manufacturers have developed various models to be able to adapt to all body types.

Useful accessories during a kayak trip:


  • – The appropriate length corresponds to your total height with the arm raised; your fingers must be able to close around the handle.
  • – The weight is equally important, the lighter the paddle the easier it will be to navigate.
  • – The paddle must imperatively float.
  • – The blades must be asymmetrical.

Life jacket
The European Standard
All jackets sold in Italy must comply with ISO 12402, which guarantees buoyancy and quality of materials. The jackets subjected to these standards show a label with the buoyancy capacity.

Types of life jackets

There are different forms of lifejacket: the life belts , which are inserted like a shirt (lighter and more economical), and the central opening jackets (easier to wear, comfortable and not very bulky).

The size of the jacket is chosen based on the build; the sizes available generally vary from XS to XXL.

The jackets also differ according to the internal composition: they are always foam, a single layer or closed cell. The former are cheaper but have a shorter lifespan than the latter. The expanded cell blocks are decidedly light and do not absorb water.

Suitable clothing and accessories

Suitable clothing and accessoriesThe clothing chosen must protect you from the sun, cold and wind, as well as protect you in the event of immersion in water.

Depending on the temperatures, different technical garments can be provided: wetsuit and lycra .

The neoprene shoes allow you to face cold and humidity, they are comfortable and allow a good positioning at the level of the foot stretches.

The neoprene gloves protect hands from friction and cold.

The bags and sealed containers allow you to keep dry all your items during nautical exits.


What to consider when choosing a kayak?

Though the thought of owning a kayak can be exciting yet with the several choices in the market, it can also be an overwhelming experience. Before you buy a kayak, you should consider how often you’re going to paddle. Will you go paddling only on weekends or even on weekdays? Where are you going to paddle? Will you go paddling on calm waters or on the rough ocean waves? Are you looking for a more relaxed experience while kayaking or you’re trying to go one with nature and get adventurous? Would you like a sit-on-top kayak or a sit-in kayak?

What kayak is best for beginners?

If you’re just starting out in the world of kayaking, we recommend you to opt for high quality beginner kayaks as they will make you fall in love with this outdoor activity. The Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 Sit-in beginner kayak, the Intex Challenger K1, Intex Explorer K2, the Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Dirigo 106 Beginner and the Ocean Kayak Two Malibu Tandem Beginner Kayak are few of the best ones for beginners.

Which kayaks should beginners avoid?

While there are no such specific kayaks that beginners should avoid as these kayaks are specially designed for them but there are few kayaking mistakes that you can avoid. Paddle hugging, torso lock, improper adjustments of kayak, leaning upstream, panicking and leaning back are few mistakes to avoid.