How to Choose a Kayak or SUP Board that’s Right for You

happy kayaker(photo courtesy of @trailheadktown)

Beat “analysis paralysis” when it comes to choosing a kayak or stand-up board!

The folks from Happy Paddlin’ have a wonderfully helpful formula for folks to choose a kayak, canoe or SUP board with less confusion and more confidence: FIT.

“Everybody has personal preferences, limitations, perimeters, specifications and needs. They’re trying to find the perfect product or build the ideal package that’s custom fit to their specific lives and personalities.”

Watch their video below for the details:

A Kayak or SUP Board that’s FIT for You

F = For the paddler.

There are lots of things to think about as you consider the type of paddle craft you’ll choose:

  • Your body size—it’s not unlike fitting a climbing harness or bicycle.
  • Carrying weight and carrying convenience—how will you get your boat on and off the water? On and off your vehicle?
  • Do you want to learn with your boat? Or would you rather buy something “entry level” now and upgrade later?
  • How do you feel about the water? Are you a good swimmer?
  • Have you taken skills classes? How much experience do you have? Will you go alone or with others most of the time?
  • What vehicle do you have? Will you carry your boat on a roof rack, on a trailer or in the bed of a truck?
  • Do you have knee, back or shoulder issues to keep in mind?
  • What about storing your watercraft? Do you have limitations?
  • What’s your budget?

kayak surfing(photo courtesy of @williammccluskey)

A Kayak or SUP Board that FITs Your Intended Use

I = Intended use.

Here are some things to ask yourself about how you’ll use your kayak or SUP board:

  • Are you going to fish from your watercraft? Or take it out in ocean surf?
  • Maybe you’re just looking for a recreational boat to get out on the lake easily for some hot weather fun.
  • How often will you paddle: a couple times a year…a couple times a month…or a couple times a week?
  • How close are you to the water where you’ll paddle? Just down the street, across town or across the state?
  • Will you haul a bunch of gear along, or keep it simple?
  • Do you see yourself taking it camping? Fishing? On water photography trips?
  • Will you be the sole user or will other family members be regular users, too? Do you want to bring young children or a dog along?
  • Are you a fair-weather paddler or willing to head out no matter what’s going on with the weather?

SUPer(photo courtesy of @heathpanganiban)

A Kayak or SUP Board that FITs the Type of Water You’ll Paddle

T = Type of water

Finally, what type of water will you paddle most of the time?

  • Will the water be cold or warm?
  • Salt or fresh water?
  • Flatwater, slow rivers, swift rivers or whitewater?
  • Will you launch from a dock or a beach? Maybe a rocky shoreline, or with limited public access or little parking? How far will you have to carry your boat from your vehicle to the water?
  • Will you mainly stick to local waters or do you see yourself traveling to paddle?
  • Will you often face currents, tides, high winds or waves?
  • Is there motorized boat traffic where you’ll paddle?

Answer these questions and you can narrow down your options pretty quickly.

Once you have a list of specs based on these FIT questions, take it along to your favorite local paddlesports retailer to finalize your options.

Our Wisconsin-based Customer Service team can help you FIT a paddle! Contact them today: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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