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Kayaking 101


How to Choose a Rec or Touring Kayak

When choosing your right kayak, there are many factors to take into consideration. We recommend talking to your local Dagger dealer to help with this decision. Information provided here will help you understand our product line and steer you in the right direction.

Step One – Paddling Style

Where do you want to kayak and what will you be doing?. Each category has the right combination of size options, outfitting, storage, and performance features for the intended uses outlined below.

Attributes Recreational Touring
Ideal Types of Water Ponds, small lakes, bays, slow moving rivers Lakes, bays, moving rivers, currents, limited ocean use
Trip Duration Day trips (less than 10 miles) Day or weekend trips (less than 20 miles)
Skill Levels Beginner to intermediate Intermediate to Advanced
Storage capacity Low to Moderate Moderate to High

Step Two – Performance Characteristics

Once you’ve gotten a general idea of your paddling style, you are able to narrow it down more precisely by understanding the performance characteristics that are typical for each category. Below is a chart of how each performs relative to the other categories in each characteristic.

Characteristic Recreational Touring
Ideal Types of Water Best Very Good
Manageability Best Good
Speed/Glide Good Best
Tracking Very Good Very Good
Maneuverability Very Good Best
  • Stability – general capability of boat’s resistance to tipping over under normal conditions
  • Manageability – refers to ease of carrying, car topping, and storing the kayak when outside of the water
  • Speed and Glide – boat’s efficiency moving through the water and potential for higher velocity.
  • Tracking – boat’s ability to stay in a straight line.
  • Maneuverability – boat’s ability to turn precisely.

Step Three – Features and Outfitting

Once you’ve decided on a kayak model or two that fits your needs, looking at the features and outfitting can help in making your decision.

  • Cockpit – Cockpit outfitting is key to finding the best fit for comfort, safety, and control. Look for inclusion of a thigh brace or backrest, and adjustability if you will be doing longer trips or kayaking rough conditions. Pay attention to cockpit size to ensure it fits your body type.
  • Hatches and Bulkhead – Located at either end of the boat, the hatch is the opening to store gear and the bulkhead is the vertical wall that seals the compartment. Also a great safety feature providing buoyancy to the boat.
  • Deck Rigging – Deck lines, bungies, and toggles add safety in convince for certain types of paddling. A spare paddle, compass, navigational charts, and other items can be readily available on deck.
  • Rudder – A mechanical device at the stern of the boat that is foot controlled and can aid in both steering and tracking.
  • Drop-Skeg – Mechanical device at the stern of the boat that can be deployed or retracted by hand. Aids in tracking, but not steering.

Finally, we offer a variety of sizes in all of our kayak categories to comfortably accommodate paddlers of all proportions. The best way to ensure the right fit is to schedule a demo with your local dealer.

Additional Help

Check out Team Dagger Member Anna Levesque's choosing a kayak article over on her blog!