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KAYAK LIKE A PRO- BY: FLOATING AUTHORITY

Learn How To Kayak Like A Pro – A Step By Step Beginner’s Guide

https://floatingauthority.com/learn-how-to-kayak/

Whether you’re planning on a simple day paddle, a fishing excursion or an aftenoon with friends and family. Kayaking can be an exciting and engaging activity that you can practice either alone or with a group of people. Since they’re smaller then other types of boats, kayaks can be difficult to get used to use the first few times.

Given the seemingly difficult process of first learning how to kayak, this complete guide can help you learn how to kayak like a pro. More specifically, you’ll find information about what you’ll need to get started, what type of kayak you should use for each type of different activity, and other information about how to move the kayak in general.

Before Getting Started

Since kayaking in general can be a difficult activity to get the hang of, regarding the different equipment that you need in addition to the knowledge of your surroundings and skill involved, you should make sure you understand a few factors before you plan on heading out for your first trip. More specifically, you’ll want to make sure that you have the right kind of kayak, you plan your route beforehand, and you spend the right amount of money depending on how often you want to use the kayak.

Decide What Kind Of Kayak You Want To Use

There are several different types of kayaks that you can choose from on the market, each of them having the ability to offer a wide variety of different benefits with their features. Because of that, you should make sure you’re choosing the right kind of kayak for your specific purposes.

RecreationalKayak Dog

Kayaks meant for recreational purposes areclassified as kayaks that have a closed cockpit and they have a larger opening than other types of kayaks. This allows you to have more room in the kayak for your personal belongings or to simply move around. They even have enough room for you to put another smaller child into the kayak with you.

These kayaks are shorter in length than other types of kayaks, since they’re usually less than 10 feet. By having a closed cockpit, you have the ability to either leave it closed or open it for your convenience. This is especially beneficial if you plan on kayaking all year-round in the different seasons. More specifically, you have the ability to close the cockpit during the winter months to prevent any cold water or wind from getting in, or you can leave it open during the warmer summer months to allow for a cool breeze to come through.

Not only that, but recreational kayaks tend to be cheaper than other types, since they’re shorter in length and they come with only the basic features needed in order for the kayak to function properly. You should keep in mind that recreational kayaks don’t have the ability to track well, since they’re shorter. So they can’t go as fast or as straight as other types of kayaks such as touring yaks..

FishingTandem Fishing Kayakers catching Marlin

Technically any kayak can be used for fishing purposes, but there are ones that offer better features that are specifically for the activity of fishing. For fishing, most fishing individuals would prefer sit-on-top, or SOT kayaks, since they’re safer for the activity of fishing. More specifically, stand up fishing kayaks have the ability to refrain from filling with water if they tip over.

Not only that, but SOT kayaks allow you to have more room to get comfortable on the boat, since they’re essentially flat on top and let you sit in whatever position you’re most comfortable with. You can even throw your legs over each side of the kayak in order to add for more stability while you’re utilizing the kayak. Some fishing individuals prefer to have sit-inside kayaks for fishing in waters that are more mobile, since this gives them a drier experience and they’re lighter in weight.

You should also consider a variety of other features in your specific kayaks when you’re searching for fishing purposes, like the length, width, weight, available storage, seating, and their ability to let you stand up when needed. Some advanced fishing kayaks even come with the ability to be powered by a propeller, so you don’t have to worry about using your hands in order to give the kayak energy.

Touring

best touring kayaksTouring kayaks are typically longer in length than other types of kayaks, since they measure usually around 12 feet long or longer. They have smaller cockpits and they are narrower than most other types, so they’re not recommended if you’re planning on kayaking with a large amount of other people. Because of their narrow shape, touring kayaks have the ability to travel fasterthrough the water than other types of kayaks.

Not only that, but touring kayaks also have thigh braces that can be used in order to help you turn the kayak back over if you ever tip it over. These thigh braces essentially give you more control over the boat while you’re using it, since you can ultimately control the boat with your legs and arms.

You should keep in mind that these kayaks are more difficult to transport on your cars or trucks, since they’re so long compared to other types. Not only that, but they’re also more expensive than other types of kayaks, so you shouldn’t purchase one if you’re only planning on using it once or twice a year and aren’t very experienced. Rather, they’re recommended for longer trips that are planned for crossing larger bodies of water.

Plan Your Route

If you’re planning on taking your kayak out for a ride and enjoying the experience, then you may not think any route-planning is important for your trip. But it’s better safe than sorry before you go out, since it ensures safety and confidence in your trip.

The type of water that you plan on kayaking on is an important consideration for route-planning, since the layout of the water will essentially tell you how important it is that you stick to the plan. With lakes, you should make sure you as well as your partners are aware of the route ahead of time, since there isn’t one universal route available.

On the other hand, if you’re kayaking with a group of people on a stream or other sort of river, then the route plan is clearer than other bodies of water, since the water only goes one way most of the time. But you should still make sure you and your group know where the arrival and ending location is, especially if the waters are moving more rapidly than other types of water. You really shouldn’t kayak on any body of water alone, since that can be dangerous if you encounter trouble of any kind.

Getting The Kayak

Rent

Renting a kayak is recommended for you if you’re planning on going with a smaller group of people, and it involves you paying a monetary fee in order to use the kayak for a certain amount of time. You can usually do so by either renting a certain kayak from a business that’s located close to the body of water that you’re planning to kayak from. You may also rent kayaks from certain stores or from businesses that you prefer the brands of.

You should keep in mind that you have to return all of their equipment, so you may not feel as comfortable in the rented kayak as ones that you would own.

Own

You’re most recommended to purchase and own your kayak and equipment if you are known to go traveling in your kayak for either a long period of time or you go more often than not. This is essentially because renting or borrowing a kayak can be tedious, annoying, and pricey after a while. So if you’re a person that kayaks often and for long periods of time, then you should consider purchasing your kayak to own it for yourself.

This is the most expensive option, since you’ll have to pay the full price of the kayak. But you also have the option of making payments on the kayak in certain businesses if they offer.

Borrow

Borrowing a kayak either from a family member or a friend is ideal if you have friends that go kayaking often. This is the cheapest option, since your friends and family most likely won’t require a monetary fee from you for simply using their kayak. But you also have to deal with the inconvenience of only using their kayak when they allow you to do so. Not only that, but your friends and family members may only have a certain type of kayak, so you don’t have the option of choosing one that will accommodate for certain types of activities that you’ll be engaging with while using the kayak.

Safety Equipment

what to wear when kayaking, Wetsuit vs Drysuit

Essential Recreational Kayak Equipment

If you’re planning on using a recreational kayak for your trip, there are certain types of safety equipment that you’ll want to make sure that you bring on your trip.

PFDs

PFDs, also known as Personal Flotation Devices, are essential for practically every kayaking trip that you go on, since they’ll be able to prevent you from drowning if your kayak rolls over. They’re especially beneficial if you’re kayaking in rapid moving waters, since these waters are those in which you’re most likely to flip over. Not only that, but PFDs are beneficial if you’re going on a recreational kayaking trip in cooler waters, since they help to provide extra insulation while you’re in the colder water.

Flotation bags

It’s also recommended that you have flotation bags with you while you plan to go on every kayaking trip, since these bags are able to limit the amount of water that collects inside of your kayak if it tips over. These flotation bags are also able to keep your kayak high above the water while you’re boating in places that have a large amount of rocks, so they’re able to prevent swamping from occurring.

Spare paddle

It’s important that you consider taking along an extra paddle with you on your trip, since there is always the chance that you may drop your main paddle into the water, resulting in you having no other way to transport yourself across the water. Having a high quality space paddle can help prevent any unwanted circumstances from occurring.

Essential Fishing Kayak Equipment

Drypants

wetsuit vs drysuitRegardless of the temperature of the water, you should consider purchasing drypants to take on your fishing kayak trip. Since many fishing kayaks allow for a higher risk of you rolling your boat over, you have a higher potential of falling into the water. Given that, having drypants can prevent you from getting too cold if you do fall in.

Drypants are more comfortable than wetsuits, since they’re lightweight. And they’re also less expensive than wetsuits, so you won’t break the bank while trying to afford the drypants for safety.

PFDs

Perhaps the most important safety gear for a fishing kayak trip are fishing PFDs, since they help to keep you afloat while you’re fishing. You should always wear your PFD while you’re fishing, since they can provide you with extra safety measures just in case you end up tipping over.

Anchor

If you’re planning on fishing in your kayak, you should likely consider taking along an anchor with you. Anchors can help keep your kayak in place while you’re fishing in certain spots, so you can choose certain locations in a body of water that you may want to fish for longer periods of time.

VHF radio

If you’re fishing in your kayak or simply planning on staying in your kayak for longer periods of time, you may want to consider purchasing a VHF radio. These radios will help keep you in touch with the Coast Guards if any certain circumstances should occur. They also give you some information regarding the bar crossing that take place at ports or harbors that you may have in the particular bodies of water that you’re fishing at.

First-aid

It’s also important that you consider binging a first-aid kit with you on your fishing kayak trip, since you’re likely using fishing hooks and other types of sharp equipment. Not only that, but some fish even have sharper teeth that you may not be expecting, so you should make sure that you have a first aid kit handy just in case you encounter an injury.

Essential Touring Kayak Equipment

 

Spray skirts

Spray skirts are classified as barriers that are composed with a waterproof material that are able to prevent any of the exterior water surrounding the boat from entering the kayak. These skirts are able to cover your waist area as well as the kayak’s cockpit and rim, so they’re beneficial for touring. It should be mentioned that you should only wear a spray skirt if you know how to do a wet exit. A wet exit is when your body is sumberged underneath the kayak. Below is a video on how this looks.

Spray skirts are usually removable from the kayak, so you have the option to remove them from your boat if they make you uncomfortable or if you’re boating in a place that has water conditions that are more calm. They come in a variety of different designs and styles.

Helmets

You should always wear kayaking helmets when you’re planning on touring or white water kayaking, since both have the ability to travel at faster speeds throughout the water surrounded by rocks. They’re especially beneficial if you’re kayaking through bodies of water that have rocks and other debris sticking out from the water’s surface. You may even want to consider the specific type of kayaking helmets that are full faced (similar looking to motocross helmets).

Bilge pump

You should also make sure that you have a bilge pump with you on your touring kayak trip, since they can help to clear any water from the cockpit of your kayak. If enough water accumulates inside of the kayak’s pit, then it can add extra unneeded weight that can make your kayak go slower than others around you.

Whistle

Most kayaks don’t necessarily have a horn that you can honk on them to signal to other boaters, so having a whistle is highly recommended. It can act similarly to your car horn while you’re driving on the road, so they can prevent any accidents from occurring on the water. This is especially important for touring boats, since they’re able to travel at higher speeds and they also sit lower on the water than other boats, so they can be difficult to see in waters that have waves or where there are larger boats present .

Safety Precautions Before Heading Out

Make Sure You Learn Kayaking Techniques Before Going Out

You should try using the paddle in a pool or a smaller, more shallow pond before you go out onto a larger body of water with the kayak. This will help prevent you from encountering any hardships and not having the knowledge of what to do. You should allow yourself to gain some experience and practice before you go out onto larger bodies of water.

it should be noted that for more advanced kayaking like touring/ sea kayaking you should have a certified kayak instructor with you to teach you skills such as wet exits, advanced paddling strokes and of course in-water rescue techniques. There will probably be certified instructors somewhere close to your area to learn these techniques and further your kayak journey.

Always Wear Your Life Jacket

It’s usually the rules of most water locations that you wear your life jacket at all times, since it can prevent any dangerous and deadly circumstances from occurring. You may want to try your life jacket on before heading out onto the water, since you’ll want to make sure that it fits comfortably. You’ll be wearing it for long periods of time, so you should make sure that it’s comfortable enough that you can wear it for the entirety of the kayaking trip without wanting to take it off.

Keep In Mind The Temperatures Of The Water

Since there’s always a chance that you may be submerged into the water, you should make sure that you know what the temperatures of the water are. Make sure that you kayak carefully if you’re boating on a day that has colder temperature-water, since you may risk hypothermia if you fall in and can’t regain balance for longer periods of time.

recreational kayak in bay
Me Kayaking at Deception Pass in Washington State 🙂

 

Water Conditions And Currents

You should always keep in mind what the specific water conditions of a location are before you plan on going there. You’ll only want to kayak in places that have water currents and conditions that match your skill level.

Pack Essentials

You should make sure that you come fully prepared for practically anything to happen, since there are limited escape options when you’re in the middle of a body of water. For instance, you’ll want to make sure that you have the right safety equipment that you’ll need on your trip. Not only that, but you should also keep in mind the weight of the items that you bring onto the boat with you. You don’t want your bags to add too much weigh to your kayak, so you should only pick the essential items needed.

Don’t Kayak Alone

You’re recommended to also make sure to have other people with you while you’re kayaking, since it can be a dangerous experience. Having someone there with you may not stop certain things from happening, but it can make sure that you have help with you if something unplanned does occur. Not only should you have someone come with you on your trip, but you should also make sure that your partner doesn’t steer too far off from your specific location in the water.

How To Kayak

Choosing Where To Dock

One of the first things that you’ll have to consider about your kayaking trip is where you and your group are going to dock. When you dock somewhere, you’ll essentially be pushing off into the water and getting out of the water in this spot. Because of that, you’ll want to choose a place that’s easy to locate, so you should make sure that there are specific landmarks around you that you can utilize to easily tell where you are.

Getting In

Before you get into your kayak, you should make sure that the kayak is in line and stable so that it won’t simply float away before you get into it. To prevent it from floating away, you should keep it steady by holding onto it, and then steady yourself. Put one leg into the cockpit first and then use both arms to keep stability while you add your other leg into the kayak. After your other leg is in, you can then safely sit down and then push yourself away from the shoreline with the paddle.

How To Paddle And Paddling Techniques

In order to paddle correctly, you should make sure that you use the correct kayak paddle for the different types of paddling techniques that you want to enact. To hold the kayak paddle correctly, hold the paddle above your head with your elbows at 90-degree angles. This technique will help to make sure that your hands are in the correct positions.

To paddle correctly, you should understand that there are various different types of strokes, including the forward stroke, sweep stroke, and backward stroke. To perform a forward stroke, place the paddle blade into the water near the front tip of the kayak and then glide it through the water until it reaches your hips, which you should then remove it by then. You can then repeat this process on the other side of the kayak.

To perform a sweep stroke in order to turn your kayak a certain way, you can put your blade into the water at your toes and then sweep it through the water in a “C” pattern. Make sure that you draw a full “C” pattern so that your kayak starts turning instead of going straight. You should keep your arm on the stroke side of the kayak as straight as possible to promote the kayak to turn completely.

Lastly, to perform a backward stroke, you should essentially perform the same but opposite action as the forward stroke. You should put the tip of the paddle blade into the water located at your hips and then glide it through the water towards the front portion of the kayak.

Getting Out Of The Kayak

In order to properly get out of the kayak, you should paddle up to the shoreline or the dock and make sure that your kayak is steady. For a dock, you should put one end of the paddle on the dock and the other end on your kayak. Turn your body towards the dock and place both hands on it, and then lift your weight out of the kayak but you should make sure that your kayak doesn’t float away so keep the paddle in contact with it.

For the shoreline, you should simply paddle your kayak up to the shoreline and then stable your kayak with the paddle by keeping the paddle in the sand. Once you’re steady, you can get out of the kayak by placing both hands on each side of the cockpit and step your legs out one by one.

F.A.Q’s

What’s The Difference Between A Canoe And A Kayak?

A canoe is classified as a boat that only has a single paddle and has various benches for multiple people to sit on. There’s also more storage room in a canoe, since it presents an open cockpit design. Contrastingly, a kayak have a two-paddle handle that give you the ability to move faster through the water, and they have a smaller cockpit.

How Do I Avoid Capsizing?

Experienced kayakers can vouche for the fact that it’s not impossible for the kayak to flip over, and it actually happens quite frequently. They typically flip over because of an uneven distribution of weight, so you should make sure that your weight is spread evenly throughout the kayak to avoid capsizing.

Final Thoughts

Overall, kayaking can offer you a diverse array of benefits, including the ability to interact with nature one-on-one. Not only that, but it’s a fun activity that you can do with your friends and family, and it costs you nothing if you’re simply borrowing a kayak from someone else.

Since it can take some practice to become a pro at kayaking, you should engage in the activity as much as you can. Not only that, but reviewing this guide on how to kayak can help you make sure that you have the right equipment as well as the techniques and knowledge required to kayak properly. Have fun with the activity overall, since it’s great exercise and allows you to engage with nature.

 

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KAYAK BUYING GUIDE- BY: FLOATING AUTHORITY

The Ultimate Kayak Buying Guide – Find The Kayak That You Can Trust

https://floatingauthority.com/informal-reviews/ultimate-kayak-buying-guide/

Kayaking is one of the most enjoyable hobbies that allows you to explore your surroundings and take in the moment. Perhaps you have rented a kayak and thoroughly enjoyed the experience so much that you are thinking of Purchasing one. Maybe you have owned one before but, because of moving restrictions you had to part with it? Or perhaps you have never tried one but want to get into the water as soon as possible! Regardless of your situation kayaking has a wide array of positive effects on both your mind and your body!

Before we start listing off the different types of kayaks that are available it is best that you ask yourself what the purpose of your kayaking trips will be. In order to do that I want you to answer these 5 questions for yourself.

Kayak Buying Guide Questions You Must Ask Yourself.

Complete Kayak Buying Guide

What is your Aim of Getting a Kayak?

What goals are you hoping to accomplish while kayaking? We can usually apply this criteria to all sorts of different aspects to our lives, well this is no different. Typically when you think about purchasing a kayak you have a certain criteria or destination in mind. A thought like that would be along the lines of “I want to live a more active life outdoors” or “ I want to become a better fisherman by paddling to different locations in the lake”.  Perhaps you want to spend more time outdoors on the lake with the kids.

What Purpose will you be using the kayak for?

This criteria is the extension of your aim but with a more detailed view. What are you specifically using your kayak for?  A simple float at the family cabin? A Day trip around that lake that you have always wanted to explore? Perhaps you are looking to upgrade to a more serious kayak that glides through the water with less effort.

Your Area

Most likely if you live near a body of water and you landed on this article. So now you have to ask yourself where will you kayak? I am lucky enough to live in Beautiful British Columbia and am spoiled for choice when it comes to bodies of water to paddle in. I can choose to go inland for a casual paddle at Cultus lake or paddle in the somewhat secluded bay of Deep Cove North Vancouver. So what kind of kayak should I choose? Well that depends. If I am looking to do day to multi day trips I would use a touring Kayak to glide through the water quicker. However if I am just going for a causal paddle in Cultus it seems a bit over redundant to bring such a kayak to a smaller lake, especially if I am wanting to take a break and take a quick dip in the water.

Your Life Style

This criteria is the first three criteria bundled into one. So you have established what your aim, purpose and area looks like, so how are you going to fit that into your life? Will this be a once a month occurrence? Every Weekend ? Or maybe you have a cabin that you go to a few times each summer and you want a way to explore the lake? Another question is who are you paddling with? While going solo is an extremely peaceful way to be one with the water and nature, it is always nice to go with someone else both for enjoyment and safety reasons. Another factor is how much space have you got? Many people think kayak ownership is not for them because they do not have enough available space. There are ways around this as we will explain in the next section.

Your Budget

One of the biggest factors you must consider is of course your budget. Not everyone has the space nor budget to house many different types of kayaks so a lot of the time you have to choose the correct kayak that can best fit your situation. Thankfully there really has not been a better time to be looking for a kayak. The industry has taken big strides over the last 15 years with both innovation and competition which allows you to find a kayak that fits your lifestyle without breaking the bank!

Now that you have imagined in your head what you are looking for or what you want to use the kayak for I will now list your options and criteria to think about.

The Ultimate Kayak Buying Guide: Types Of Kayaks

Kayak TypeHull ShapesStrengthsWeaknessAccessories to HaveFind out More
Recreational 31HwYlGICJL.SL160Rounded, Flat and Tunnel HullsStability, ManoeuvrabilitySpeed, TrackingLife Jacket, Paddle, Repair KitRead Full Reviews
Touring 41JVcVsh3HL.SL160Rounded and V- Shaped HullsSpeed and TrackingPrimary stability, Manoeuvrability (Without Rudder)Life Jacket, Paddle, Repair Kit, Spray Skirt, Kayak Throw BagRead Full Reviews
Fishing 41TPbjdvAvL.SL160Flat and Tunnel HullsStability, Manoeuvrability, CustomziabilitySpeed and TrackingLife Jacket, Paddle, Repair Kit, Fishing RodsRead Full Reviews
Sit on Top 31dRDNXH87L.SL160Flat and Tunnel HullsStability, ManoeuvrabilitySpeed and TrackingLife Jacket, Paddle, Repair KitRead Full Reviews
Inflatable 41O8fBrtRoL.SL160Rounded and FlatStorage Space, Stability, ManoeuvrabilitySpeed, TrackingLife Jacket, Paddle, Repair KitRead Full Reviews
Tandem 41N2BCbbrkRL.SL160Rounded, Flat, Tunnel and V-ShapedDepends on Type of TandemDepends on Type of TandemLife Jacket, Paddle, Repair Kit, Spray Skirt, Kayak Throw BagRead Full Reviews

There are a wide variety of different types of Kayaks available. They are all designed for different purposes in mind and handle differently in the water. From the above criteria you will get a better picture of what your next kayak will look like. If you are looking for a more specific list of what kayaks are great buys check out my Best Kayaks and Best Cheap Kayaks section. They will give you a better idea of what brands and types of kayaks are great buys.

Recreational Kayaks

What size kayak

Purpose: Best for spending the day on the water in calmer water conditions

Best For: Paddlers who are learning the ropes of kayaking to people who want to explore their waters for the day at a friendly cost effective price.

Not the Best For: More difficult conditions such as larger waves. These are also not the best kayaks for long expeditions because of the kayaks poorer tracking ability and a lot of the times the quality of the seat is compromised. If you want a kayak to travel longer distances and can handle rougher water look to Touring Kayaks.

Recommended Bodies of Water: These kayaks are best suited for calm lakes but can handle smaller waves and can be used in coastal waters (Be Wary of the Tide).

Materials: Usually made of Polyethylene but there are also Thermoformed ABS, inflatable, folding and modular kayaks that fit in this category that are made from a wide array of different materials.

Light Recreational Kayaks such as the Sun Dolphin Aruba are the most common kayaks you will see in almost any given area that features calmer waters. They are a great kayak to start with for beginners because they offer great initial stability. These kayaks don’t just appeal to beginners though, many photographers, casual paddlers and anglers like the feel of these kayaks. This stability comes from the kayaks flat to multi chined hull. When it comes to Hull design Recreational Kayaks can be all over the map but the design is usually geared towards initial stability.

Common characteristics of Recreational Kayaks include a wide open cockpit, wider width, and a relatively short length. These characteristics make these kayaks easy to maneuver which is great if you are in tighter waterways such as rivers and creeks. This however does compensate the kayaks tracking ability as the kayaks nose tends to wobble from side to side with each stroke you take making you have to work harder to keep the kayak in a straighter line.

Recreational Kayaks (Or All Around kayaks) usually feature some sort of cushioned seat, storage hatch and bungee storage that goes at the front or back of the kayak. An important thing to note: If you have back problems you may want to either seek out a more comfortable add on seat or look for a kayak that features one already.

Touring Kayaks

me deep cove 4 laugh small
Hey look it’s me!

Purpose: Travel long distances with solid tracking ability all while being able to withstand tougher conditions.

Best for: Paddlers who want to move up in the kayaking ranks. These kayaks are made for day to multi day travelling in more difficult conditions. Budget is not an issue for this paddler.

Not the Best for: Beginner paddlers and those on a budget. Not to say it is impossible but these kayaks take more skill and understanding to manoeuvre and the materials that go into them are higher.

Recommended Bodies of Water: Best for wide open water such as coastal conditions. Can be used for large lakes as well.

Materials: The most common materials that go into these kayaks are the more expensive composite and higher quality polyethylene. More Inflatable and Foldable Kayaks are coming into this market though.

Chances are if you are looking into getting a touring (or ocean ) kayak you are looking to create a lifestyle. Touring Kayaks or multi day camping kayaks are designed to be sleek and narrow in that the kayak behaves like a bullet in the water.  Paddling strokes are smooth which allows you to travel longer distances in a much quicker period of time.  These kayaks tend to be more expensive than your average kayak because of the materials put into them. A lot of them are also a lot less durable than recreational brands because the hull material is more geared towards lightweight materials that heightens the on water performance.

Another reason why I say Touring Kayaks are a lifestyle is because the price can be steep. Depending on the materials Touring Kayaks can range anywhere in the ballpark of $1,200 to $3,000 and up! People who buy these kayaks are looking to designate more of their time outdoors by exploring a wide area of water and land. A popular activity among Touring Kayakers is going on multi day trips and setting up camp in different locations. Before jumping head over heels into this activity I highly recommend you take a multi- day touring guide to get the hang of the kayaks characteristics and learn tips and going for long excursions.

As pointed out previously Touring Kayaks are long in length and feature a shorter width. From that point there are a lot of different designs and features that are prevalent to different brands and types. Some Touring kayaks feature more “rocker” than others which allows the nose to keep from going under water. Touring Kayaks also feature a rudder or Skeg system that allows you to to steer with your feet or keep a straight line. Some brands even feature both!

Other Prominent features that that are featured on touring kayaks are their pointed V Hull, Multiple sealed storage hatches, a tighter cockpit as well as bulkheads and bungee deck rigging. Touring Kayaks can be anywhere in the range of 12 to 18 feet.

Fishing Kayaks

best pedal kayak
photo by @beardedgloryoutdoors

Purpose: Designed with features that make fishing on the water as easy as possible

Best for: I’ll give you a second… Fisherman! These kayaks offer supreme stability, storage space and options to mount a whole range of different accessories.

Not the Best for: Speed although “Pedal Kayaks” defy this logic. While these kayaks do offer ample storage and good stability I do not recommend you use them for multi day trips.

Recommended Bodies of Water: Calmer waters in lakes, rivers and coastlines although some can hold their own further away from shore.

Materials: Most Fishing Kayaks are made of lower to high quality Polyethylene although there are a growing number of inflatable kayaks that are rigged for fishing out there.

One of the fastest growing sectors of the kayaking industry fishing kayaks have taken off and in many cases have converted traditional canoe paddlers into kayakers. Some reasons why Fishing Kayaks are becoming so popular is because of the innovation that is being spread in this sector of kayaks. Many brands such as Hobie and Jackson kayaks are making a name for themselves in the fishing industry because they supply accessories that every fisherman could only dream about having on a kayak. Some innovations include “Pedal Powered” kayaks, additional rail mountings, fish finder mounts, fishing rod holders, as well as lots of storage to put tackle, live bait and even fishing crates that fit on top of the cargo well.

Fishing Kayaks can come in a wide range of prices. As you go up in price you get a higher quality kayak with more potential add ons that you can use. Prices can range anywhere from $350- $3,500 and up. Common characteristics of Fishing Kayaks is that they are very stable. In fact some of them you can even sight fish by standing on the kayaks steady base. Fishing Kayaks usually feature at least two flush mount rod holders, a relatively short length and a wide base. They also have the most room out of most categories of kayaks in terms of on deck and hatch storage. They also by far the most customisable of any of the kayaks we have mentioned so far.

Fishing kayaks don’t have to be expensive though, there are plenty of budget fishing kayaks that can fit most budgets as well.

Sit On Top Kayaks

best kayaks

Purpose: Usually great for day time paddling. Many of them are grouped in Fishing and Recreational categories. These kayaks main theme is stability.

Best For: Recreational paddling and fishing purposes. What a lot of recreational users like about these kayaks is that fact that you can jump off of them and take a dip at any point without worrying about the kayak capsizing.

Not the Best For: Long distance journeys in rougher water conditions. Sitting higher up also created more drag when paddling in windy conditions as well.

Recommended Bodies of Water: Calmer waters such as lakes and coastal bays. Warmer water is preferred.

Materials: Polyethylene plastic usually, sometimes Thermoformed ABS.

Sit On Top Kayaks are kayaks that feature a lot of deck storage room and have an upright seating position. Some preferred uses for them are fishing, diving as well as recreational play. They are the easiest kayaks to load as well as boarding on and off. Many divers have turned to these types of kayaks to go into the coastal oceans to catch or photograph fish. These kayaks are also the preferred kind of kayak for fisherman as it gives them a lot of room and offers a good amount of storage space. You also get to see more as you have a higher vantage point on these kayaks.

These kayaks won’t win you any races but they are designed for holding gear and keeping steady for initial stability. Sit On Tops are best for warmer climates or summer time so that you can simply catch some sun while floating. The on water performance of these kayaks ranges from each kayak but in general they are heavier and slower than sit in kayaks .They do however  have the ability to pack more gear. Stability for fishing, getting in and out and diving is the name of the game for these kayaks.

Some features that are exclusive to many sit on top kayaks are scupper holes, up righted seats and cargo wells. Scupper holes are self draining holes that are located along the kayak floor. There are usually a range of 4 to 8 scupper holes that are in many sit on top kayaks. Cargo Well’s is meant for storage behind the paddler where you can store gear like waterproof backpacks, crates and coolers.

Inflatable Kayaks

best inflatable kayaks

Purpose: A kayak that can be inflated and deflated usually in a span of 10 minutes each. These kayaks are portable enough to fit inside the back of any sized car.

Best For: People who want to get out to the water and not lug around a giant kayak with them.  People who lack space and storage room for a big hardshell kayak.

Not the Best For: People who want the best tracking, quickest kayaks.

Recommended Bodies of Water: There are now so many different types of inflatable kayaks that you can go pretty much anywhere with them as long as you have to right kind of kayak for the right setting.

Materials: Synthetic Rubber as well as Drop Stitch Material. The exact materials differ from each kayak manufacturer.

Inflatable kayaks like the Explorer K2, are getting wildly popular over the last 15 years due to a lot of downsizing that is happening with folks. Many people have had to get rid of their kayaks because of the lack or storage space, but now there is a solution! Inflatable kayaks have come a long way in the past 15 or so years but have actually been around since the 1960’s! Inflatable kayaks used to be glorified blow up dinghies but now many of them possess high quality materials that insure that they track well and are durable. If there is a type of hard shelled kayak you can think of chances are there is an inflatable kayak that does the job almost as well.

The category of inflatable kayak has the most wide ranging makes, shapes and sizes that you can imagine. Some are made for multi day expeditions and have been tried in glacial coastal waters of the arctic! Others are ultra stable and can even have different attachments put on such as pedals, rod holders ect. A good majority of these kayaks however, are made for recreational usage and are lacking in tracking ability and speed. They do however possess great manoeuvrability . It has now become a standard practive to have inflatable kayaks that can withstand whatever the bottom of the shore can bring.

Inflatable Kayaks range in price. The recreational “fun” models can be anywhere from $50- $400 while more serious inflatable expedition kayaks can range from $500 all the way to $2,000. Many of these inflatable kayak models come with a good range of customisation. Some features can range anywhere from being a 2 in 1 single/ doubles kayak, having a sailing kit to including a backbone to strengthen on water tracking performance. Inflatable kayaks are taking over the market and are often times some of the best selling kayaks online and in retail stores.

Tandem Kayaks

best tandem kayak

Purpose: To hold two or more people in one kayak

Best for: A couple who want to stay in the same kayak, families as well as fisherman.

Not the Best for: People who are not in sync with their paddling or are arguing over where to go.

Recommended Bodies of Water: Pretty much anywhere as long as the kayak suits the environment.

Materials: Anything from Polyethylene, Composite, Wood, Synthetic Rubber.

Tandem Kayaks are usually the go to kayaks for families and couples. They have no real signature design as they come in a lot of different shapes and sizes and can be used for many different purposes. As a matter of fact there are tandem kayaks in all of the previous 5 categories I have mentioned.  It is recommended that you get a tandem kayak after a bit of kayak experience for a few reasons.

  1. Tandem kayaks are heavy. A lot of the times they usually range anywhere from 60- 100 lbs unless you have an inflatable kayak. When a tandem kayak is this heavy, depending on your strength it may be to much to lift it onto the hood you your truck so you may end up having to buy a trailer for it.
  2. Tandems are sometime referred to affectionately as “divorce boats” by kayak instructors. Especially if both parties are learning to paddle. Another limiting factor is the fact that if you are more enthusiastic about paddling than your partner, chances are the kayak will just be sitting in the garage all alone collecting dust. If you are looking to purchase a tandem kayak be sure that you have both tried it a few times and are in sync with each other.
  3. Tandems can actually be more expensive than two solo kayaks. So if you do go through the tandem route make sure that you are both on the same page when it comes to paddling.

Solution? If you want a kayak where you can fit more than two people but also want to make trips yourself I would recommend an inflatable two in one kayak for a few reasons. One they are very cost effective and can be in the range of anywhere between $100-$800. Two The seats can be rearranged to paddle a tandem or simply throw one of the seats out and put the single seat in the middle to make a solo kayak!

Having said all this tandem kayaks are great if you have a bit of paddling experience, are understanding of one another and are both enthusiastic about paddling! Remember the main goal is to have fun!

Other Types Of Kayaks

Oru Kayak with dog

Folding Kayaks

These kayaks were a bit of a relatively unknown commodity until Oru came around and revolutionized the way people think about folding kayaks. If you are a fan of Shark Tank you may remember this kayak. We have a full detailed review on the Oru Bay ST .

Modular Kayaks

These are cool kayaks that snap together and have interchangeable parts. You can switch from a single kayak to a tandem in just a few snaps!

White Water Kayaks

The shortest kayaks around white water kayaks are usually reserved for paddlers who have a good amount of experience with white water rivers. This is the most adrenaline filled kayak experience that you can have. The name of the game with these kayaks is manoeuvrability which is why they are very short and bulky compared to most kayaks.  Before trying these kayaks I highly recommend that you take some lessons first!

Wood Kayaks

If you are a traditionalist there are crafters out there that have and produce wooden kayaks. These types of kayaks span back many years ago and were used for transportation and hunting purposes by the Inuit peoples.

Kayak Design

Now that we have narrowed your search from questions you ask yourself to Type of Kayak and Kayak Materials used now we are down to design. Even after you have answered the three above preferences the design aspects of each company in each category differ from one another! To narrow your search even more keep these design aspects in mind so that you can correctly choose a brand that is most important for your criteria.

The Design Aspects Of The Kayak Hull

Probably the most important aspect that dictates the kayaks use and purpose is it’s Hull. The Hull of the kayak helps dictate the following.

  • The Speed of the Kayak
  • The Initial and Secondary Stability of the Kayak
  • How Maneuverable the Kayak is
  • How the Kayak handles a wide variety of different water conditions
kayak buying guide
Photo By: South Wind Kayak Centre

These terms refer to the kayaks stability in different water conditions in that:

Primary Stability: is the initial steadiness on flat water. Beginners and intermediate paddlers would be more concerned about primary stability as it points to water conditions that are in medium-smaller lakes, calm rivers and coastal Bays

Secondary Stability: Is the kayaks capability of keeping steady in rougher water conditions such as windy conditions in larger lakes, open water in coastal oceans. People who are experienced paddlers who go on day to multi day trips are often more concerned about secondary stability.

Primary and Secondary Stability are complete opposites and often times one Hull Design is good for one type of water condition but is often times not so good for the other. In other words keep the water conditions in mind when looking for a kayak. If you plan on paddling on calm sunny days look for Primary stability and vice versa.

 

Hull Shapes

 

kayak buying guide
Courtesy of Austin Kayak

Different shaped Hulls dictate how the kayak will behave and perform in the water with the above criteria in mind. There are many types of kayak Hulls out there but today we will be showing the 4 main ones for simplicity reasons.

Rounded Hulls

These Hulls are shaped like a torpedo and are meant to decrease water drag as the kayak glides in the water. They are built for speed and manoeuvrability in the water and are more geared towards secondary stability. Typically touring, White Water and Recreational- Touring Hybrids have these Hull designs.

V- Shaped Hulls

The best type of Hull for tracking, V- Shaped Hulls are great for going longer distances in rougher water conditions. In terms of maneuverability these Hulls do lack in that category compared to their Rounded cousins. These Hulls offer more Secondary stability than any of the above Hull designs and can be tippy in calmer conditions. These Hulls can be found in many Touring or Sea Kayaks.

Flat Hulls

Creating the most drag in the water Flat Hulls are made for Fishing, many Sit on Top and Recreational Kayaks. You will not be going anywhere quick and will struggle to keep up to with Rounded and V Shaped Hulls but you will have great primary stability! If you are a beginner or new to kayaking this is a good style of Hull to look at. Flat Hulls also offer solid maneuverability which is something a lot of fisherman look for in a kayak.

Tunnel Hulls

Tunnel Hulls provide the best of both worlds in terms of secondary and Primary Stability. They are prominent in Recreational and Sit on Top kayak brands such as Ocean Kayak. They also offer great maneuverability and are fun kayaks to take out in the surf! The only down side is that these kayaks are relatively slow compared to their V Shaped and Rounded Hull cousins.

 

Hull Chine

To put it simply Hull Chine is the point where the bottom of the kayak reaches the sides. There are two types of Hull Chines Rounded and Hard Chines. Rounded Chines take a more soft approach to hull design where the bottom of the kayak looks more rounded while Hard Chines have a more boxy look  that feature angular ridges.

Rounded Chines

Hard Chines

The problem with identifying Chines is that there are so many variations that differ from each manufacturer. Many are hybrids that incorporate both elements into their kayak Hull design. If you are starting to get a bit confused I would choose the type of kayak, Hull Shape and Length, Width as main points to start your criteria in choosing a kayak for yourself.

 

Length And Width

After Hull Shape I would say that Length and Width would be the next most important factor when choosing the right kayak. The Length and the Width determine how fast and how maneuverable your kayak will be. Think of it like this, Longer narrower kayaks allow you to travel at greater speeds and therefore be able to travel longer distances. They also track much better because they move like a torpedo in the water. The shortcomings of Longer narrow kayaks is that they are more cumbersome to maneuver and do not offer as much initial stability.

A shorter more wider kayak lacks in speed and tracking ability but offers much more stability and maneuverability. See the Table above for some examples.

Rocker

kayak buying guide

Simply put Rocker refers to how much the kayak’s bow and stern sticks out of the water. You can see this by looking at the side of the kayak and you will notice that different brands tend to favour more or less rocker in their boats. In case you were wondering the name “Rocker” Refers to how much the bow and stern rock back and forward in the water. A rule of thumb is that the more rocker a kayak features the more manoeuvrability it will have and the better it is for climbing over waves. Hulls that feature less rocker are better at tracking but tend to cut through waves a lot more. Less rocker is generally preferred on flat water while more rocker handles better in choppy conditions.

Kayak Materials Explained

In the Materials section of each of the kayak types I have reviewed you may have noticed a brief mention on the materials that go into each type. Below we will briefly explain the difference between some of the materials which is ultimately a major consideration when it comes to the kayaks price.

Feel free Lure 10

Rotomolded Polyethylene Kayaks

Many kayaks that you see in many of the above categories are made of Rotomolded Polyethylene. It is a relatively inexpensive material that is formed by heating or molding. This is done by heating up plastic pellets to melting point, rotated and then cooled. A note of caution, do not leave your kayak in the sun for too long or else it will deteriorate the material and be more susceptible to punctures. Keep the Polyethylene kayaks indoors or under a cover so insure that they are protected. Not all Polyethylene is created equal as there are a couple of  types of Polyethylene. These two are the most common.

Linear: The most common of the Polyethylene it is made to be inexpensive but  will provide good durability when taken care for properly. Many brands that you find in Department stores use this material.

Super Linear: While this kind of Polyethylene is more expensive it will last longer in the long run of things because it is made of material that is lighter, more durable to the elements and is UV resistant.

Typically beginners start with these kinds of kayaks because of their impact durability. Even if there is damage it is easier to repair Polyethylene than say Composite.

Comopsite kayaks

Composite

These materials are most common in Touring (Sea) Kayaks. Composite material costs significantly more but is much lighter and performance driven in terms of gliding in the water. The material is more expensive for a few reasons.

  1. Each layer of composite material is made by hand from scratch to insure its quality.
  2. The Lighter Material can be formed into shapes that would be impossible for Polyethylene and ABS materials which allows you to have a more “aerodynamic” kayak that glides through the water with less effort per stroke on your part.
  3. Composite Kayaks can take on more weight than other materials which makes it the most flexible material under heavy loads.

I would not recommend that a beginner start off with this kayak because of it’s more expensive price, less impact to strength ratio and it is a more costly material to repair. In a way it is like owning a high performance Porsche.

Thermoformed ABS

Made with the combination of a vacuum and heated plastic sheets over a mold ,Thermoformed ABS is made by a few well known kayak manufacturers such as Sun Dolphin. You can tell the difference between ABS and Polyethylene based on looks. Polyethylene is usually a matt texture while Thermoformed ABS is Glossy. This material is more tough and durable than Polyethylene in terms of gauging and is a lighter material as well.

While Thermoformed ABS is lighter than Polyethylene it is still significantly heavier and less performance driven than Composite Materials.

Kayak Accessories That You Will Need

So you have chosen what kind of kayak you want! Great! However there are still some things you must purchase for your kayak. These are must have equipment that you need to purchase before you go out on the water.

A Paddle

Some budget kayaks come with a paddle while the vast majority of other kayaks don’t. If you are new to kayaking then having a spare kayak paddle is a great thing but if you have a few paddling trips under your belt they can be a bit of a pain as they are usually made cheap and can break relatively easily. The kind of paddle you get depends on what your experience level as and what kind of kayaking you will be doing.

Life Jacket

stohlquisttrekkersmall

For any water sport Life Jackets (or PFD’s) are important. Yes they look kind of silly but they are important for your safety and well being! There are many different makes and brands out there but you just need one that can properly fit you and hold your weight in the water.

Kayak Throw Bag

These should be in an accessible area of your kayak that you should have in case anything goes wrong. These Throw Bags can be your best friend if anything goes wrong and you capsize.

Kayak Repair Kit

You never know what you may bump into in the water or on shore so it is best to be better safe than sorry by providing the applicable repair kit for the kind of kayak that you are using.

Whistle And Or Flare Kit

A whistle and flare are ususally the last calls of action but they are imperitive to have, especially if you are paddling solo.

Kayak Accessories That Are Optional But Recommended

These accessories will only help better your experience both in and out of the water.

Spray Skirt

Usually this is an item that is necessary if you are paddling in rougher waters with a Sit Inside Kayak. Spray Skirts go around your waist and cover the cockpit rim of your kayak. Spray Skirts are most prevalent in Touring (Sea) Kayaks, Whitewater kayaks and some Recreational models of kayaks.

Dry Bags

These are important if you are going on a day trip and want to bring valuables such as a phone, wallet or even food with you. Dry bags come in a wide range of different sizes and most good quality ones are fully waterproof when used correctly

Rudders And Skegs

Rudders are the add on mechanism that you would use to steer the kayak with. You typically use the foot pedals to steer the rudder in the back of the kayak that allows you to turn easier than you would if you were trying to use your paddle.  Many touring kayaks already have rudders mounted on them.

Skegs are tracking mechanisms that usually integrated within the hull of the kayak. They look a little similar to rudders but their use is very different. Skegs are used to help the kayak track better which allows you to paddle in a straighter line.   

Car Racks

kayakroofrackcover

If you have a hard shelled kayak car racks are the best way to transport your kayak from point A to B without having to rent a Uhaul or borrow a friends F1F50 truck.

Kayak Trailers

If you have a few kayaks and loads of accessories, kayak trailers like this are a great options to get, especially on longer journeys.

Bilge Pumps

These help keep your kayak from being flooded with too much water. These are usually best suited for sit inside kayaks as sit on top kayaks usually have self draining scupper holes.

Knives And Survival Kit

If you are going for a quick paddle in the lake next to your cottage you probably will not need these but if you are going on day or multi day trips I would say that these are essential. Knives are more handy than you may think as they can be used to do anything from cutting line, ropes bait to something as simple as cutting a sandwich.  

map

Some Sort Of Navigation

Whether this be your phone, maps of the area or even a compass navigation is a must have for multi day trips and even day trips in the kayak.

Cool Things That You Can Add To Your Kayak

Now that we have all the serious stuff out of the way, we can now talk about some cool doodads that you can add to your kayak to better your paddling experience!

Kayak Motors

These are most common with fishing kayaks,Trolling Kayak motors are becoming more popular as the fishing kayak industry is growing. Get to Point A to B while you worry about the important stuff which is fishing! Most of the big fishing kayak companies allow you to mount trolling motors on them.

Coolers

Essential for floating with a drink or for the local fisherman many sit on top kayaks feature ample amount of room to mount a kayak cooler in the Cargo Well of the boat.

Kayak Carts

Have a long way to go to the water and tired of lifting your kayak? Use a kayak cart to help you along the terrain. Simply place the kayak on with the mounting system and you are ready to go! Some companies even go so far as to offer different types of wheels for the different types of terrain you will pass through.

Kayak Sails

Tired of Paddling? Many brands of inflatable and recreational kayaks allow you to have the capability of attaching a sail to your kayak so that you can let the wind do the work for you.  Sail designs differ from each manufacturer.

Transducer Mount
Picture and Mount done by railblaza.com

Kayak Pedals

Some more expensive models of kayaks such as the Hobie Brand allows you to run on foot power so that you can keep your arms free to fish and steer. Pedal kayaks are roaring in popularity because they allow you to get to your location quicker than if you paddled. It makes sense because your leg muscles are much stronger than the muscles in your arms!

Rod Holders

Flush Mounted can be found on almost all Fishing Kayaks or can be installed on to most sit on top or Recreational kinds. There is also the more convenient swivel mount rod holder that is included on a few kinds of fishing kayaks or can easily be installed.

Fish Finders

With the right kinds of mounting accessories you can install fish finders onto you kayak to best locate where the fish are hiding! I wrote a detailed review on theBest Kayak Fish Finders right here.

Kayak Mounting Solutions

Various different Fishing Kayak companies such as Hobie offer a wide variety of mounting solutions. Some of these include, rod holders, gun mounts, drink holders, fish finder mounts, deck rigging and many more!

Conclusion

Finding the perfect kayak to fit your life takes some perseverance and a good few hours of research. A great way I do my research  on narrowing down what type of kayak I want is by looking at a broad range of Customer reviews and seeing what they say. If you are looking for individual kayak reviews feel free to check out some of my Buyer Guides and Individual Review Guides!

See you out on the water!

Wildflower Season is Here!

By: Matt Hodges

Here at Blazin’ Paddles, we are fervent observers of changes in flora and fauna across the desert landscape and in the Black Canyon. Springtime yields the bloom of various wildflowers and a burst of color that we all look forward to. For this reason, springtime is a great time to book a tour with us, and there are many flowers that can be observed from your kayak as we paddle and hike the banks of the Colorado River. Because of our dry climate and sparse rainfall, desert wildflowers aren’t around for long, so if you want a chance to observe for yourself, book a tour today!

Most of the flowers that you’ll find on our tour bloom within the ecological community referred to as the Creosote-Bush Community. Creosote bushes are the most conspicuous plants found in this region and this time of year rainfall gives them a vibrant, almost neon green appearance, and after rain creosote gives off the signature smell of “desert rain” that people often refer to. This community ranges in elevation from 500-3000 feet. Rainfall is low here, about 3-4 inches per year. Here are a few blooming species you can expect to see from your kayak:

Brittle Bush:

Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) is a medium-sized rounded shrub. It has long, oval, silver-gray leaves that are somewhat fuzzy. The branches are brittle and woody, and contain a fragrant resin. In the late winter and early spring small yellow flowers form on long stalks well above the leafy stems.

 

Caution: In the spring an insect called the Blister Beetle feeds on the pedals of the Brittlebush. They release a toxin that causes painful blisters to humans, so watch where you stick your nose!

 

Purple Sage:

Purple Sage (Salvia dorrii) is a woody subshrub reaching 4–28 inches in height and width. Their grey-green leaves are narrow, are tapered at the base and rounded at the tip. Purple sage has a pleasant, mildly intoxicating minty aroma, with the scent released when the foliage is crushed. It is often mistaken for Desert Lavender. 

Beavertail Cactus:

Beavertail cactus (Opuntia Basilaris) low, spreading cactus with short bristles grows 6 to 12 inches high and up to 6 feet wide. The gray-green, jointed stems are wide and flat resembling the tail of a beaver. The stems grow in clumps with vibrant pink flowers from the top edge of the joints. Flowers are followed by a brownish-gray, oval fruit that desert tortoise, ground squirrels, and other wildlife will eat the fruits for a sugary treat.

Rubber Rabbitbush:

The common rubber rabbitbrush (Ericameria Nauseosa) is typically distinguished by having whitish to green flexible stems, felt-like matted hairs and alternating grey-is leaves. Shrubs are rounded and generally two to five feet tall, and when in bloom their flower heads are made up of 5 small, yellow, tubular flowers.

There are many more wildflowers that can be observed in our neck of the woods. Book a tour today for information from our exceptional guides! You can also stop by our office at the Hoover Dam Lodge to pick up a copy of our plant species pocket guide to take on your own wildflower hunting adventures!

 

 

 

 

 

ASK-A-GUIDE SERIES: BACKPACKING IN THE SIERRA NEVADA MOUNTAINS

 

Written by: MaKenna Magdos (Blazin’ Paddles Guide)

The Sierra Nevada mountain range located in Inyo National Forest is a 4-hour drive from the Las Vegas Valley making the perfect spot for a weekend or week-long getaway.

Here are 5 things to consider:

1. Permit- You can’t get very far without this and, trust me, they will check. Permit costs are our way of contributing to the wear and tear our hiking may do to the land in this area. Most permits to hike in the Sierra Nevadas can purchased by going to recreation.gov and searching for Inyo National Forest. Many of the permits are available 168 days before your intended start date meaning you’d need to buy permits in February 2020 for a July 2020 start date. My advice— start planning your summertime Sierra trips in January if not December, seek out lesser used trailheads and try facebook groups to buy permits for sold out dates. If you’re thinking of hiking the Nüümü Poyo (or John Muir) Trail, try starting from Kearsarge Pass to strengthen your chances of getting a permit.

2. Food Storage- you’re required to carry a bear can as a form of food storage while hiking in the Sierras, but not all food storage strategies are created equal. Bears are smart and at this point most bears surrounding popular trails in the Sierras and Yosemite are accustomed to trying to break into your bear canister and although it will keep them out, it won’t keep them from trying. This involves anything from repeatedly throwing it on the ground to just deciding to take it and run—sometimes up to a mile away. Help yourself to stay fed and the bears to stay alive attempting to hide the bear can with either rocks or downed trees. 

3. Acclimation- When driving to Inyo National Forest avoid, AT ALL COSTS, any route that takes you through Death Valley.

4. Tent Footprint- I’ve seen with my own two eyes High Sierra ants chew through the bottom of someones tent, need I say more? If that isn’t enough to convince you, you can use a polypro ground cloth for pretty much any backpacking sized tent and they’re $9.00 for a 2-pack. You can see a little bit of it underneath my tent here, it’s basically just a big sheet of plastic—

5.Extra Sun Protection- Sometimes smearing your 100th layer of sunscreen onto dirt covered skin just doesn’t cut it. Gossamer Gear’s LiteFlex hiking umbrella weighs 8oz. and, in my opinion, it’s worth the public humiliation to avoid an alpine sunburn. 

 

Ask-a-Guide Series: Vanlife in Southern Nevada

Written By: Matt Hodges (Blazin’ Paddles Guide)

Before having the privilege of becoming a guide at Blazin Paddles, I spent the better part of 2019 traveling the western landscapes North American in my Mercedes Sprinter van. Joining the ever growing number of people seeking a nomadic lifestyle, I converted my van into the adventure mobile of my dreams and hit the road with my dog, Layla. From the Baja Mexico to British Columbia, we covered over 20,000 miles, but still found ourselves back in desert landscapes of Southern Nevada and Northwest Arizona. Why? The Mohave desert offers solitude, ample free Bureau of Land Management camping, proximity to major cities, and endless opportunities for outdoor recreation.

WHERE TO STAY:

While some van lifers call urban areas home for work, most, like me, seek open spaces and the quiet the vast desert has to offer. One area local option is Kingman Wash, a maintained BLM road that offers free camping and a decent bathroom. The road runs for about 3.6 miles over hills and down washes through the wild backcountry to the colorful Paint Pots area at the shore of Lake Mead, and a high clearance vehicle is recommended, but making the trek is worth it. Those who brave the journey will be rewarded with opportunities to paddle (I like to paddle board with my dog) and hikes to ancient volcanoes at Fortification Hill.  There isn’t much shade, but if like me you run your appliances and electronics on solar and carry plenty of water, this is a paradise.

Those passing through can find safe and convenient parking at the Hoover Dam Lodge. Parking here for three nights is free, you must simply provide vehicle information at the front desk in the lobby. HDL offers a quaint casino experience and backs up to the edge of Lake Mead Recreation Area, allowing you to step right out of your rig and take walking/biking trails to the Hoover Dam or down to the lake. If you plan to take a kayak tour with us, you can save time and money by meeting us at our shop in HDL, and we offer plenty of gear to equip you for any water adventure!

When to visit:

The desert is a place of extremes when it comes to weather. Winter offers more sunny, warm days than anywhere else in the US, but I’ve had plenty of nights of running a heater wandering if the winter winds were going to blow my van over. Cold, blustery days are rare, and many days I find myself adventuring in shorts and a t-shirt. Summers are down right brutal, and with temperatures hanging around in the triple digits its advised to seek hook-ups, hotels, or book it to higher altitudes. Mount Charleston, located an hour north of the strip is my preferred locale during the hot times, where temps seldom climb over 75F at high elevations and free camping can be found. All things considered, I would recommend van living in the region from November to April. 

What to do:

Paddling in the Black Canyon is a must do experience. The crystal clear water, towering canyon walls, desert bighorn sheep leaping along the edges of cliffs.. need I say more? There are also several hot springs in the area to choose from. I prefer Goldstrike Hot Springs, where you scramble boulders using fixed ropes to access several pools varying from warm to nearly scalding. 

If I’m not on the the river, you will likely find me rock climbing. Red Rock Canyon has long been a Mecca for climbers looking to test their test their skills on desert sandstone, and that’s exactly what drew me here to begin with. The area offers world class routes in the disciplines of traditional climbing, sport climbing, and bouldering. The amount of options is almost overwhelming, and any local will tell you that it would be impossible to climb everything in Red Rock in a lifetime. Located just outside of the suburban neighborhoods of Summerlin in North Las Vegas, free overnight parking can be tricky, but there is a pay BLM campground that requires advanced booking in the busy months. 

There’s also mountain biking, but my two wheeled experiences haven’t ended well, so you can talk our guide Seth about that.

Lastly, just because I live in a van doesn’t mean I don’t like to enjoy the finer things in life every once in a while. When I get a wild hair or don’t feel like cooking in my van, its nice to head into Las Vegas for a night out. I prefer downtown for its trendy restaurants and easy parking. Tacotarian, a vegan Mexican eatery, and Able Baker Brewing (try the Atomic Duck IPA) are my usual haunts. There’s something for everyone in Las Vegas, and its fun to be mesmerized by the city lights now and then. 

 

I’ll leave you with a few pro tips I’ve learned while living out here:

-Having a good solar set-up is a great investment. On average, Southern Nevada sees 294 days of sun.

-Speaking of the sun, never underestimate its power. I once took a nap after climbing with my side door open and the noonday sun caused my vinyl floor warp and it still doesn’t sit exactly right. Now consider what its doing to your skin. Think zinc! 

-Invest in sunshades for all of the windows in your rig, they do wonders insulating against the hot and cold.

-Get a good water set up. Locals don’t even drink from the tap so I use a a refillable 5 gallon jug and refilling stations can be found at most any grocery store. 

Last, be sure join me and the Blazin’ Paddles crew for a memorable kayaking adventure!

Ask-A-Guide Series: Best Part of a Blazin’ Paddles Tour

Written By: Burton Miller (Blazin’ Paddles Tour Guide)

What makes a Blazin’ Paddles tour so fun is that your tour guides are having fun right along with you. We love our jobs, our guests, and we love kayaking on the Colorado River! Here’s what your tour guides had to say about their favorite part of a Blazin’ Paddles tour. Be sure to follow us on Instagram for more kayaking inspiration! 

Lauren

I really enjoy meeting people from all over the world, and the almost daily encounters with desert wildlife. I feel so lucky to have the Colorado River as my office, and I enjoy every tour!

Dani

I love being on the river and in Black Canyon, so it’s hard to choose a favorite part! I love every part!

Edgar

Enjoying the crystal clear water and jaw dropping views while paddling with people who enjoy the outdoors as much as I do makes every day unforgettable.

Burton

My favorite part of the tour is on the half-day, after leaving the overlook and you approach the narrowing canyon. All of a sudden you can’t see the bottom of the river anymore and the canyon walls get higher and higher. That view never gets old!

Liz

If you are lucky enough to see the Desert Bighorn Sheep in their natural habitat, and all the other desert wildlife!

Seth

Arizona hot springs on the full day tour. It’s always great to soak!

Ryan

Swimming in the refreshing 52 degree Colorado River and sharing that experience with our guest! Best way to beat the heat in the desert.

Hoover Dam Lodge: Our New Home Base!

Written By: Burton Miller (Blazin’ Paddles Tour Guide)

We are so excited to be all moved into our new home base, the Hoover Dam Lodge in historic Boulder City! Complete with a brand new retail shop, streamlined check-in process AND hotel room discounts (info below), you’ll want to book your next kayak tour and room ASAP to experience all the exciting improvements!

Adventure

First you’ll want to visit our brand new retail shop. Here you can book your next tour, relax in the lounge, snap a perfect selfie under our neon sign, pick up last minute gear like a phone case or dry bag, and of course, grab some new Blazin’ Paddles swag! 

Refuel

After the tour, the Hoover Dam Lodge has multiple restaurants such as La Villita, the Red Dragon and Bourbon Street where you can fill up. A few of our guides stopped into the Bighorn Cafe recently and had a delicious lunch. You can’t go wrong with the Bacon Jalapeño Cheeseburger (complete with bighorn shaped fries) or the VIP Platter to share.

Recharge

One of our favorite things about Hoover Dam Lodge is that it’s not just the perfect home base for Blazin’ Paddles, but also for your outdoor adventure. Guests of Blazin’ Paddles can take advantage of our special booking rates by calling the hotel directly at (800) 245-6380 or (702) 293-5000. The weekday rate is $62 and weekend is $79, an affordable alternative to the Strip with no resort fees!

The comfortably large rooms are decorated in calming desert tones and many feature views of Lake Mead and surrounding mountains. In-room amenities include a coffee maker, microwave and mini fridge. The lodge also has a swimming pool and hot tub which are perfect after a long day on the river.

We look forward to seeing you soon at the Hoover Dam Lodge in Boulder City!      

Leave No Trace: 7 Principles

Your Blazin’ Paddles kayaking tour takes place on the amazing Black Canyon Water Trail on the Colorado River, within the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Annually, over 7 million people visit the Lake Mead National Recreation Area which also includes Lake Mohave! 

In order for everyone to enjoy the outdoors while minimizing environmental impact and preserving resources for the future, Blazin’ Paddles follows the Leave No Trace: 7 Principles for Outdoor Ethics. These should be followed anytime you are in the great outdoors. Here’s how Blazin’ Paddles ensures that each principle is closely followed. 

Plan Ahead and Prepare

Even though your guides know the river like the back of their hands, the staff is constantly checking conditions to ensure safety on the water via weather radar apps and updates from the Park Service. Guides are well-stocked with water, snacks, and emergency safety equipment like first aid kits and tow ropes. The central office is aware of who is on every tour, the bus locations via GPS monitoring, and current weather conditions. Every pickup and drop off location is confirmed in advance so guests can have fun on tour, knowing it is safe and well-planned! 

Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces

You will notice that when we make stops on tour, they are not random. Stops may include swim beaches, hot springs, or historical sites, but we always stay on existing trails and beaches instead of creating new ones. This helps with many things including native plant protection, erosion control, and preserving the visual beauty of the Black Canyon! 

Dispose of Waste Properly

Everyone loves a snack break while on tour. We bring lots of delicious treats like fig bars and cheez-its. However, you’ll notice that your guides don’t just hand out snacks, they also collect your trash and stash it until it can be discarded properly so it doesn’t end up on the trail or in the water by accident. Litter is certainly unsightly, but more importantly it does not belong in our wild ecosystems. This includes food waste such as bread, nuts and fruit peels. They don’t biodegrade quickly and may cause harm to wildlife.

Leave What You Find

Collecting of any kind is illegal in the National Parks. However, even when you’re not in a designated park, the principle is still important: what if each visitor took something? That would take a huge toll! That’s why your guides always point out cool things like plants, lizards, and even minerals, and encourage you to take photos so the resources remain for others to enjoy!  

Minimize Campfire Impact

Fire safety is extremely important in the dry, hot desert. On      the Twilight Tour, our guests enjoy roasting hot dogs and s’mores over a beach campfire when the National Park Service does not have a red flag warning about fire safety. We always stay 100 feet away from shrubbery, and when we are done with the fire we dispose of the fire ring and make sure the coals are completely extinguished and either buried at an appropriate depth or packed out. 

Respect Wildlife

Wildlife spotting is one of the most exciting parts of the tour. There’s so much to see in the Black Canyon like bald eagles, bighorn sheep, chuckwalla lizards, and even rattlesnakes. However, a safe distance must always kept, which is important for both the animals and guests. Instead of approaching wildlife, take your time to observe their behaviors and learn something new!  

Be Considerate of Other Visitors

In addition to sharing the Black Canyon with wildlife, it is shared with other visitors who come to fish, camp, paddle or hike. When launching or making a stop at a beach, our kayaks are kept close together to leave space for other groups. Even in places like Emerald Cave, we take in the view but recognize others may be waiting to come inside and have a look, so we stay for a reasonable amount of time and then move to the next beautiful stop. We all need the outdoors to relax, recharge and be inspired. Consideration of others goes a long way to preserve the peace and serenity of the Black Canyon! 

For more information about the Leave No Trace principles, visit www.lnt.org!

Ask-A-Guide Series: Best Vegas Attractions

Written By: Burton Miller (Blazin’ Paddles Tour Guide)

Vegas has so much to offer besides the casinos. There are many attractions for all ages and interests on the Strip and beyond. We asked the guides for their favorites, so enjoy! 

Seth – Tour Guide

The Mob Museum and The Distillery in the basement. There’s great local history and a speakeasy!

Ryan – Owner

Going to a Vegas Golden Knights game. The amount of energy in the T-Mobile Arena is mind blowing!

Liz – Office Manager

Downtown Las Vegas because it’s the best place to bar hop and Fremont Street is the best place to people watch!

    

Burton – Tour Guide

Riding the Big Shot on the Stratosphere. Unforgettable!

Edgar – Tour Guide

Drive-in movies at the West Wind because you can hang outside with family while enjoying the movie.

 

Ask-A-Guide Series: Best Day Trips

Written By: Burton Miller (Blazin’ Paddles Tour Guide)

Las Vegas used to be known only as a gambling destination. Over the years people have learned the secret about the other side of Vegas: it is an amazing hub for adventures in Nevada, Arizona, California and Utah! There are many places that you can reach within one day, and even return to Vegas on the same day. It should come as no surprise that when you ask outdoor guides for a day trip, they will all choose outdoor places and adventures! 

Seth – Guide

Brianhead, Utah for snowboarding and mountain biking. There are outdoor activities to do all year long! 

Ryan – Owner

I like to wake up early at 5am. Drive to St. George, Utah for breakfast then continue on to Zion National Park. Spend the day hiking for 6 or 7 hours and make it back in time for dinner in Vegas.

Liz – Office Manager

Hiking all around Vegas. My favorite hike is Gold Strike, it’s not the easiest hike but I love being able to see the natural hot springs and going down to the Colorado River. Red Rock Canyon also has a ton of hikes for all levels of fitness!

Burton – Tour Guide

An amazing day trip is to go to Death Valley. You can make a driving loop out of it and enter through the southern end via Shoshone or Death Valley Junction. Badwater Basin is a MUST. The salt flat looks other-worldly and you’ve never felt that kind of heat. Then venture north to either the Oasis or the Ranch at Furnace Creek for lunch and a pit stop. Next you’ll head out the east entrance on Route 374 (make a bonus trip to the sand dunes if time allows). Stop at the ghost town of Rhyolite before dinner in Beatty and driving back to Vegas!

Edgar – Tour Guide

Going to Zion National Park and enjoying a great hike and a little lunch with a gorgeous view

Lauren – Tour Guide

     It’s a toss up between hiking and rock climbing in Zion National Park, and hiking in Valley of Fire State Park. At Zion I love the challenging Angel’s Landing trail, and looking for the petroglyphs in Valley of Fire!

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