The final step in our “F.I.T.” process is “type of water/conditions”.
It is likely that the majority of your paddling will be close to home and this is where your friends and fellow paddlers can be a wealth of knowledge to help match your kayak choice to the type of waters you will most often be paddling. It is our experience that most aspiring paddlers often have a picture in their mind of where they will be from views they have seen from the shore. Perhaps there is a picture you have in mind that you will share or send to loved ones showing your first outing. This “picture” is a great image to also share with sales associates to help them visualize your needs and assist with the best advice.
If you have arrived at Eddyline Kayaks, you are likely interested in paddling lakes, moving water, bays and maybe even open ocean. You might have a different kayak for raging white water ;)
A shorter kayak might be the initial appeal for simplicity of lifting and storage. However, if you are trying to cover long distances on larger open water, the benefits of tracking, glide and sea worthiness in a longer model should be strongly considered. Safety features like perimeter lines, grab handles, front and rear bulkheads for built-in floatation (all Eddylines have them) are going to allow you to perform assisted and self-rescue maneuvers if needed. Don‘t forget to pursue proper instruction and practice and take incremental steps to this goal. You’ll also want safety accessories like a bilge pump, paddle float, boaters sponge, etc that your local dealer can recommend.
Perhaps smaller meandering rivers are your desire? A shorter model might give your more maneuverability and agility in tight spaces and make portaging easier.
Consider models that give you a nice sprayskirt fit yet are easy enough for you to enter from variable shorelines. Our sit on tops can be paddled in colder conditions but you will be more exposed to the elements and may have to dress to compensate.
Consider visibility when selecting your paddle, PFD and kayak. Reflective stickers and lighting can help in low light. Oftentimes, a bit more speed and tracking can be helpful to avoid larger boats that you might encounter.
All Eddylines are designed to be well balanced in various wind conditions. A few days paddling our local San Juan Islands and you’ll know why! Our longer models feature sliding seats and retractable skegs so that you can adjust the wind’s effect upon your course. These will add to your efficiency and expand your touring horizons. Also matching your body size to these longer models can be essential for allowing you to control your kayak through rough wind and waves.
With 2/3 of our planet covered in water, trying to narrow down where you think you will be most of the time might seem difficult. With acquired skill, we have found that longer models can often do much of what shorter models can do. The reverse is not always true. For many enthusiastic paddlers, years of enjoyment might lead to multiple kayaks in your quiver. If you are lucky enough to be in that situation you will find that approaching your selection by factoring in the different conditions and uses will make for big smiles! We will continue to give the most flexibility possible by including features in even our shorter recreational kayaks that are often only found in longer touring models.
Ethan Ebersold is with Happy Paddlin’, and represents Eddyline and other premium paddlesport brands in the Western US. https://happypaddlin.com/