How to pick the right Calm water Kayak for YOU?

There are so many options out there when it comes to kayaks. Even within one catagory “Calm Water” you still have almost every length, width, type of stability to pick from,  not to mention cockpit sizes, hatches and accessories … It can be a bit boggling to figure out what you actually need.

Here are some helpful tips to figuring out what boat is going to be the best for your activities.


  • Generally lighter weight
  • Generally they are under 12′ long because they are designed to turn easily and go shorter distances.
  • Generally More stable then touring kayaks
  • Generally have bigger cockpits which allow for easy entry in to the boat, for moving around within the boat, storage for coolers and fishing boxes.
  • Generally do not have more then one storage hatch and bulkhead
  • Some Rec boats have drop down skegs that help the boats track


  • Generally are heavier then Rec boats but lighter then Sit-on-tops
  • Generally they are 14′ or longer a few are 12′ or 13.5′.  Their length helps them carry there speed and they are designed to go longer distances.
  • Generally narrower then rec boats so not quite as stable as a rec boat BUT there is a huge varience with in this and you can find very stable Touring kayaks
  • Generally have cockpits that are smaller so that they can accomodate a sprayskirt to keep water out of the boat when there is chop, waves, and for folks that want to learn to roll their boat.
  • Generally have 2 or more storage hatches and 2 bulkheads (bulkheads are foam blocks seal most to all of the water out of sections of the boat.  One is located behind the seat, creating a sealed area in the back of the boat, the other is up in front of the footpegs creating a small sealed area in the nose of the boat.
  • Many touring boats can come with or without a rudder system  & some are equipt with a drop down skeg.
    *Skeg’s: are a fin that drops down from the underside of the boat adding control on tracking in your kayak.  They can be swung up into a groove on the underside of the boat in shallow water to prevent damage.    * Rudders are a large fin that is attached to the back of the boat and pivot side to side by using foot peddles.  They help track and stear the boat. They also can be lifted out of the water when you enter shallows to prevent damage to them.


  • Generally heavier then Touring kayaks, made sturdy. (you can get a cart for these to move them around easily)
  • Can be anywhere from 10′ to 17′ long designed for all types of use, Near shore recreational paddling  Light touring along coastlines,  a platform for snorkling and diving from, a platform to fish from. The short boats will be designed to turn well but be slow, the long ones will be able to travel at a faster pace and will track well.
  • These boats are super stable designed to be able to handle
  • These boats are dog friendly and can be rigged with a second seat in many cases for a child.
  • Generally there is storage on deck of these boats and some storage in hatches under the deck
  • Generally the shorter lengths of these boats 12′ and less do not have rudders or skegs the longer versions can be bought with or without them.

Now you have a idea of what the basic designs there are you may want to start thinking about the paddling you think you want to do.

  1.   Where do you want to go? Long trips, short trips, Big lakes, small lakes, near shore or away, with wind and currents or calm.
  2. Where do you think you might want to take your paddling… do you aspire to use the boat for fishing… or long camping trips.
  3. Who you paddle with? For example, if folks you paddle with have 14′ boats you probably want to avoid buying a 10′ boat because it won’t keep up.
  4. Lastly height and weight does play a part in what boats you will fit comfortably in so once you have all these other questions figured out then you will have narrowed down the search enough to look at specs on the boat.   A note on boat specs, manufacturers are generous with their specs rec boats & sit on tops,  can usually handle more weight then touring boats, if you fall at either end of the manufacturers weight specs you should definetly sit in the boat prior to purchase and preferably paddle it to make sure that the boat handles the way you want it to. 

Recommendation:  IF you arn’t sure what type of paddling you might want to do consider taking a class or going on a outting with Current Adventures. Our instructors are just that INSTRUCTORS not just guides, they love to give feed back and help with your learning process.  They can help you figure out what boat might work best, what paddling options there might be and teach you technique so you feel confident on the water.

Got questions… about what boat will work for you… No worries give us a shout via phone or e-mail we would be happy to talk boats, paddling and help you find your next water toy. or 530 626 3435

And happy boat hunting – gigi

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