Buying a Kayak

Purchasing a kayak is exciting, but the process can be complex. This buying guide breaks down all the features to consider.  You’ll want to consider how you’ll be using the kayak, such as where you’ll be paddling and how often. Will you be out on a lake in calm waters or in rougher ocean waves? Are you looking for a more relaxed experience with nature or an adventurous day touring?

Let’s break down some tips to help you find the ideal kayak for you and the type of experience you’re looking for.


There are generally two categories of kayaks: sit-on-top or sit-in. Deciding which of these will work best for you is the first step in narrowing your choices.

Sit-on-top kayaks are user-friendly and viewed as well suited for a recreational day on the water or for fishing. A sit-on-top kayak has a molded-in depression on top that gives you a place to sit.  They are a great option for anyone, including a beginner who is learning the ins and outs of kayaking. They may also be a good choice for someone who is tall, has long legs or is large framed (always check weight capacity specifications when buying). You will get splashed and get wet, so they tend to be best for warm days and warm water. They are reasonably easy to get in and out of, which is great if you plan to swim or are boating with kids or dogs.


Benefits -

  • These are better suited for warm environments because you will get splashed.
  • Sit-on-top kayaks can be easy to get on and off of while providing a good level of stability.
  • These kayaks are self-bailing. They have scupper holes that allow water to drain right through.

Canoes Plus have a huge range of sit on kayaks, from the basic starter through to the fishing, and training and racing skis. Fishing sit on top kayaks are especially popular, and Canoes Plus stock a range of pedal and paddle fishing kayaks.

Sit-in kayaks are more “traditional” and designed with a cockpit. You have more options with a sit-in. You can use them in warm weather, but you can also attach a spray skirt and use them in colder, rougher water. You’ll stay drier with a sit-in and they often have more storage and offer more options to store belongings and keep them from getting wet as well. They frequently are constructed with foot braces inside so that you can brace your legs for a more efficient stroke and to get more power from your stroke. Contrary to what some may think, sit-in kayaks are actually quite roomy, rather than confined.

  • They give you some shelter from the wind and water. You can add extra coverage with a spray skirt. A spray skirt is a flexible waterproof cover with a hole for your waist. They can help prevent water from entering the kayak as you paddle.
  • These models tend to offer more storage space.
  • Sit-in kayaks are usually constructed with foot braces.
  • Contrary to what some may think at first glance, sit-in kayaks are actually pretty roomy. So, don’t worry about feeling confined in a small space.
  • The sit-in kayak can be more efficient to paddle than the sit-on-top variety due to its lower center of gravity.

The most popular type of sit inside kayaks range from recreation craft to touring craft. Others are more specialized, such as whitewater creekers, and playboats. Canoes plus stock a range of all of these types, and also competition craft.


Have a look below for more information regarding the type of craft suited to each past-time. Usually it is the sit inside kayaks that provide more kayak types suited to each specific area of kayaking, although there are some sit on kayaks that can be used for the same purpose. For instance, sea kayaks are generally seen as a sit inside kayak, but there are a few versions available that are a sit on top style. Canoes plus stock both types.


If you see yourself using your kayak for leisurely trips, are a new paddler or plan to take photos on a calm lake or river, a recreational kayak is a good choice. These kayaks are stable and designed to be maneuverable and easy to use. Usually these kayaks have large open cockpits, which are easy to get in and out of, and can come with or without foot pegs. They are wide and stable, but not really suitable for distance paddling. Canoes plus stock a variety of popular models including the Safari H20 Drifter and the Pelican Argo and Fazer.


Are you looking for something more adventurous, like trips on rougher waters or out in the ocean? Consider looking for a touring kayak. They are built to go in a straight line and because they are usually longer, they are often able to weather rougher water. They are meant for long trips and often offer more comfort options, such as upgraded seats, foot pegs and more storage. Touring kayaks can be segregated into two groups - touring on flatwater and sea kayaks. Touring kayaks are generally slightly shorter around 12 or 14 ft, and are built for more speed on flatwater. These boat can be with or without rudder, and generally have a smaller cockpit than their recreational counterparts.

Sea kayaks are longer kayaks, around 15 ft or more. They have larger and more hatches, come with a rudder and have a small cockpit with thigh braces. These boats are designed more to take on bays or the open ocean, and have a little more upthrust in the bow to ride over those breakers. Sea kayaks are generally designed with expeditions in mind, and have heaps of storage space. Canoes Plus have a great range of budget sea kayaks as well as Italian designed CS canoe sea kayaks.


If you don’t have a large storage space at home, you can opt for an inflatable kayak, which folds up completely and can be easily transported. Some fold up small enough to fit into your pack. They are fairly durable, usually made of multiple layers of plastic and fabric. They also can usually be patched and repaired.  Once your day on the water is over, you will just deflate the kayak so it fits in the trunk of your car. Inflatable kayaks can be a good choice for beginners looking for their first kayak.


There are specific kayaks made just for fishing that come with special storage compartments. Some models are designed with built-in rod holders, tackle boxes and other extra storage features that an angler would need. One big benefit of fishing kayaks is that they are made to be more stable so that you can stand up on them to cast, or get a better look at the water and beneath the surface. Many recreational kayaks can work for fishing too, just check out the features to confirm they will suit your fishing needs.  Canoes Plus stock a range of fishing kayaks for the budget conscious, as well as those with more in mind. Pedal kayaks are now all the rage, but remember that you need to take a paddle with you as well for those emergencies. The Jackson Range at Canoes plus is top-of-the-line in both pedal and paddle fishing kayaks.


Why kayak alone? Bring a friend and don’t worry about keeping up with another person’s paddling. A tandem kayak has seats for more than one person. It will also give you more space if you want to bring along a child or a furry friend. (NOTE: Put a life vest on fido is you do.) Canoes Plus have both sit on top and sit inside tandem kayaks. There is even a tandem sea kayak.


There is a lot more information regarding boat design to consider before choosing your craft. the design can ultimately influence how well the kayak will work for its intended purpose, and you would be wise to consider these aspects before purchase. Read on.......