Starting Out Right

Learning to kayak with Kayak School Arlberg in Austria

There are three basic structural types of kayaks–rigid, folding and inflatable. Each have their advantages and disadvantages and are available at just about any price point. Find great deals online, where free shipping and discounts on accompanying accessories can be found. Or, visit a sporting goods store to review the different styles in person.

Hard-shell or rigid boats are the least expensive, yet the heaviest. These boats can take a lot of wear and tear but once damaged are difficult to repair. Fiberglass boats are significantly lighter, but easier to damage. However, repairing these are easy. Composites such as Kevlar are more expensive but lighter still. Wood boats are pleasing to the eye and bring a nostalgic feel, however, these boats require regular routine maintenance. Folding boats are incredibly tough boats known for easy portability, storage and have great resale value. However, they also tend to be more expensive.

Several familiar retailers offer great deals on-line. Backcountry.com, Altrec.com and REI.com are some of the most popular sporting good outfitters offering the best deals, including free shipping on most orders over $50. If you are shopping for your first kayak, it’s best to stop in a store to look over the different models. REI has many nationwide physical locations as well. Or, stop in Dick’s Sporting Goods store, where the knowledgeable staff can assist you in reviewing the various styles and current specials being offered.

Kayaks for Beginners

In the world of recreational kayaks, the Eddyline Skylark is on the higher-end of the spectrum in terms of initial quality and weight. Built in Washington State, the Skylark is a great recreational kayak for those willing to pay a little more for a lightweight, stable companion during day trips. Ideal for exploring lakes, ponds, rivers, and protected coastal environments, the Skylark provides stable and predictable performance all day long. We find the Skyline to be very stable and a great fit for those who are new to the sport.

The Old Town Herron 11XT is one of the newest additions to the Old Town family. Designed for budget conscious consumers, the Herron 11XT provides a great compromise between affordable, initial quality, and performance. Outfitted with a rear bulkhead and hatch sets the Herron XT above its competition within this price range. Great for those just starting out, the Herron 11XT is stable and is perfect for exploring inland ponds and lakes. Although the seating area is spacious and provides extra volume at the cockpit, the cockpit opening is smaller than average in this class. In terms of durability, like all Old Town kayaks, the Herron is constructed of polyethylene which is forgiving to bumps and bruises. With minimal moving parts, the Herron is an easy maintenance kayak which will require minimal upkeep other than routine washing and protecting.

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