If you’re new to the kayaking world, the choices are overwhelming. Sit on top, cockpit, recreational, touring, paddle selection, PFD’s, roof racks, dry bags…. The list literally goes on and on!
So you may feel a lot of pressure to “get it right” when you throw down your hard-earned cash on a kayak setup. The truth is, most first-time kayak buyers later realize that their first purchase may not have fit their needs. That discount boat at the big box store looked good in the show room (and was 75% cheaper than the boats at the kayak shop). But when you hit the water, it might not have the performance you were hoping for. Or, being a novice kayaker, the kayaking experience is difficult, and they don’t know that a better boat exists.
So how do you differentiate the difference between the kayak equivalent of an AMC
Gremlin vs a Maserati when you literally know nothing? Try ALL the kayaks before you buy. You can rent different models (I know a guy) and see what you like. In the pre-COVID era many paddling shops periodically had demo days where you could sign a waiver, grab a paddle, and try out all of their boats for free or a very nominal fee. Hopefully those events will come back in the near future.
If you go on a kayak tour with any of the fine guiding outfits in the Cape Fear region, they often have a number of different boat models and will be more than happy to let you try as many as possible before you buy.
In a nutshell, do your research, but don’t do it all online. Get your feet wet (literally) and try a few boats to see what boat works the best for you! You may decide somewhere down the line that you will need more than one boat, just like a golfer uses more than one club. But kayak addiction is a whole ‘nuther story!