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How do I choose between different kayaks?
12:00PM 10th Nov 13

How do I choose between different kayaks?

With so many to choose from, and with all the different sizes and shapes, it can be a little daunting trying to decide which kayak to buy. Here are some guide lines that will help point you in the right direction. 

The 80:20 Rule

Have a clear idea who will be using the kayak 80% of the time and pick a model to suit their needs. It’s often
too hard trying to accommodate everyone, so concentrate on the person who will be spending the most
time in the seat. This will make it much easier to decide on size, on-board storage options, and the handling
characteristics they will need for their most common paddling destinations. Knowing who will be using the
kayak also makes it simple to decide if fisher or diver friendly features are important.
Remember there are few hard and fast rules with modern sit-on-top kayaks, and many models can cover a
wide variety of situations. The pointers below will help narrow your choice now that you know who will be
doing the most paddling.

Fun at the water’s edge

If you’re looking for a kayak to enjoy as a family or for larking around with a group of mates, and are only
serious about having fun, then pick something that’s short and light. Transporting these kayaks is easy and
there’s no need to lug heavy craft to the water’s edge. Look at the below 4 choices as good options

If you have larger groups then the Viking 2+1 double is compact and will allow more people on the water at
one time.

Kayaks for creeks and streams

Typically the best kayaks for this environment are short and light. This makes them very nimble so it’s easy
to manoeuvre in “skinny water”, and being light weight it’s also very easy to launch and lift them around
obstructions. Good choices are the Pacer and Ozzie.

Larger rivers and smaller Lakes

Here you are more likely to encounter winds that can make paddling harder, especially if trying to paddle
upstream. In these situations a kayak that’s a little longer will offer a bit more performance to make the
paddling less of an effort. Good choices are the Nemo and Espri.

Larger lakes and estuaries

Bigger expanses of water means you will probably paddle a bit further (it’s easier than you think) and are
also likely to encounter a bit of wind and tide. You may also see a little choppy water so having a kayak that’s
easy to paddle with good glide characteristics (slips through the water with less effort) is highly desirable.
Good choices are the Espri and the Profish 400 Lite

Coastal exploring

This is much like paddling lakes and estuaries, but nearly everyone ends up having fun paddling more than
they expected. This makes the extra cruising capability of the Profish 400 Lite an excellent choice, but the
Espri still does very well.

Playing in the surf

Having fun in the waves can be approached two ways. The first is simply larking around and “boofing” ahead
of the wave, washing back to the beach before spinning around to have another go. The best kayak for this is
the Ozzie, with the Nemo suiting larger paddlers over 110kg. If you want more of a ride from the wave and
the possibility of getting a bit run along the beach then the Espri is definitely the better choice.

Fishing fresh water

If you are looking for a lightweight kayak to make accessing the water easy, and one that’s nimble enough to
stalk through the willows before making your cast, then the Espri Angler is hard to beat. If you’re exploring
bigger water and have a bit of distance to cover then the Profish 400 Lite makes a great choice. For kayak
anglers looking to explore some of the larger rivers like the Wanganui, the Viking 2+1 makes an excellent
pack mule paddled as a single seat; camping and fishing gear can be stowed inside the hatches, and in dry
bags or barrels in the cockpit.

Fishing salt water

When fishing salt water the Espri Angler is a great introductory kayak, suiting junior anglers especially well.
The Profish 400 and Profish 440 kayaks are the pick of the bunch when it comes to fishing everywhere from
estuaries to the coast, and even further offshore. Designed specifically for the fisherman these kayaks offer
multiple rod holders, storage options, and the stable performance required to target fish in a variety of
conditions. The Profish 400 suits those looking for a lighter kayak and those who may have surf to contend
with. The Profish 440 suits those needing lots of storage space and who may like to explore further afield.

Diving from a kayak

Whether you’re free-diving or looking to SCUBA from your kayak there’s a need for good storage, stability
for kitting up before the dive, and an easy re-entry at the end of the dive. For this reason the two Profish
kayaks and the Viking 2+1 are ideally suited as dive tenders.
Here’s a quick guide to popular kayak choices, and remember, if you have questions contact us directly and
one of our team can help you through the process.


  Family  Creeks,  Rivers,  Large  Coastal Beach Fishing  Fishing  Diving
  fun streams small  lakes,    waves fresh  salt   
      lakes estuaries     water water  
Pacer  X X              
Ozzie  X X       X      
Nemo  X   X     X      
Espri     X X X X      
Viking 2+1  X   X X X   X X X
Espri Angler             X X  
Profish 400       X X   X X X
Profish 440       X X     X X