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Choosing the perfect kayak: How to Choose the Right Recreational Kayak for Every Skill Level

If your idea of a perfect day includes a long, meandering paddle on the water then you need to look no further than a rigid body kayak. Built for comfort, speed and stability, a rigid kayak offers the intrepid explorer a unique way to view the world, making previously inaccessible places easy to reach.

Our product range is below but if you are new to this area of outdoor pursuit then you can hope down the page via these handy links :

Understanding Recreational Kayaks and How They Compare

Skill Levels and Kayak Selection

Key Features of Recreational Kayaks

Material Considerations

Making the Right Choice


Watersport Acessories

1. Introduction to Rigid Body Kayaks

No matter where you are in your kayaking experience, at Planet Camping we firmly believe that you will find this water based past time enjoyable and rewarding. Whether you're a complete beginner, just dipping your paddle into the water or an experienced pro, a recreational kayak is a fantastic choice. But why is choosing the perfect kayak so crucial? Well, getting the right kayak for you ensures that you are comfortable, safe, and you have an enjoyable time on the water.

2. Understanding Recreational Kayaks and How They Compare

There are different Kayaks for different environments and purposes and all have unique designs catering to different paddling environments and uses. Understanding these differences can help you appreciate why a might be the best fit for you and they are broken down into three main types :

  1. Recreational kayaks
  2. Touring kayaks
  3. Whitewater kayaks

Recreational kayaks are generally wider and shorter than other types, usually measuring between 9 and 12 feet in length. This compact design makes them highly manoeuvrable, easy to control, and perfect for calm waters such as lakes, ponds, or slow-moving rivers. Their wider hulls provide excellent stability, which is ideal for beginners and those who prefer a relaxed paddle. The cockpit is typically large and open, allowing for easy entry and exit, and the boat itself is usually built with comfort and ease-of-use in mind.

Touring kayaks, on the other hand, are designed for distance and speed on open waters. They are typically longer (between 12 and 17 feet), narrower, and have a sleek design that allows them to move smoothly and quickly through the water. They often come with rudders or skegs to aid with steering in windy conditions or strong currents. Touring kayaks also have bulkheads and hatches for storage of gear, making them suitable for multi-day trips. However, their design makes them less stable than recreational kayaks, requiring a higher skill level to handle effectively.

Whitewater kayaks are a different beast altogether. They are short, usually between 4 and 10 feet, with a rounded hull and high rocker (the curve from bow to stern) to navigate rapid river currents, waves, and obstacles. THere's a really good website here from the Kayak Guru that teaches the ins and outs of kayak hull structure really well.These kayaks are built for agility and quick manoeuvres, making them ideal for the high-intensity environment of whitewater rafting. However, their design also makes them less stable and slower on flat water compared to recreational or touring kayaks.

Recreational kayaks, in contrast to the more specialised touring and whitewater designs, strike a balance that makes them versatile and accessible for the majority of paddlers. They offer a blend of stability, comfort, and control that is perfect for leisurely paddling experiences, making them an excellent choice for those new to kayaking or anyone who enjoys calm water adventures. My first kayaking trip was in a recreational kayak and I found the ease-of-use gave me the confidence I needed as a beginner, and I was instantly hooked!

3. Skill Levels and Kayak Selection

No matter your level of kayaking experience, a recreational kayak can serve as a reliable and rewarding choice. It's the wide-ranging applications that truly sets them apart. For some useful basic starting points for the beginner, we have a blog post form a while ago called The Beginners Guide To Kayaking that gives some tips on what to look out for when you are looking to start out in the sport of kayaking.

For beginners, the journey of kayaking starts with the hunt for stability and comfort, which recreational kayaks excel at providing. They come with wide hulls that offer outstanding initial stability. This means they're less likely to capsize - a fantastic feature that helps newcomers gain confidence. I remember my first time paddling; the steadfast stability of my recreational kayak kept my anxieties at bay, allowing me to fully immerse myself in the experience and develop my skills.

Intermediate paddlers often start exploring more varied conditions and have longer paddling sessions. At this stage, the comfort and generous storage space of recreational kayaks come to the forefront. The adjustable seats and footrests allow for a tailored fit, ensuring comfort during extended outings. The ample storage facilities offer room for essentials and extras, whether it's a packed lunch, photography gear, or camping equipment for an overnight trip. When transitioning from a beginner to an intermediate paddler, these comforts make for longer trips being much more enjoyable and help explore kayaking more deeply.

Even for expert paddlers, a recreational kayak offers unique advantages. Experts often have specialized kayaks for specific activities such as touring or whitewater. Still, the simplicity and versatility of a recreational kayak make it a valuable addition to any fleet. Their user-friendly design and reliable performance offer a refreshing break from more complex, task-specific kayaks.

A seasoned kayaker would attest that some of the most enjoyable and peaceful paddling experiences had were aboard a trusty recreational kayak, away from the rigorous demands of performance-specific models.

In short, recreational kayaks are designed with a 'one-size-fits-all' mentality. They offer an excellent balance of stability, comfort, storage, and simplicity, suitable for paddlers at every stage of their kayaking journey. From the first-time paddler to the seasoned pro, everyone can find value in a well-chosen recreational kayak.

4. Key Features of Recreational Kayaks

When choosing a recreational kayak, pay attention to features like

  • Stability
  • Comfort
  • Storage
  • Ease of use.

Stability in a kayak is a godsend for beginners. Wide hulls on recreational kayaks provide excellent primary stability, making them less likely to capsize. It's a comforting feature when you're still finding your sea legs, trust me!

Comfort comes in the form of adjustable seats and footrests, allowing you to paddle for longer without discomfort.
Storage might seem like an afterthought, but once you've been out on the water, you'll appreciate having a place for your snacks, water, and other gear. Don’t forget to make sure you have your waterproof bags to stow your gear!

Ease of use is one of the hallmarks of recreational kayaks. I remember when I first started paddling; the straightforward design of my recreational kayak made it a breeze to get into the water. And it has continued to serve me well over the years.

5. Material Considerations

Materials play a vital role in the construction of recreational kayaks, influencing their performance, durability, and price. Two of the most used materials in their construction are polyethylene plastic and composite materials like fiberglass and carbon fibre.

For beginners, polyethylene plastic is often the go-to material. It's tough, forgiving, and most importantly, affordable. As a beginner, it's more likely that you'll be rough on your equipment as you learn to navigate and dock, and polyethylene can withstand these bumps and knocks without significant damage. I remember when I started kayaking, the robust nature of my plastic kayak was a relief. It survived the numerous bumps, scrapes and bankings as I learned the ropes, and its affordability meant I could start kayaking without breaking the bank.

Intermediate paddlers, who may be ready to invest a bit more in their equipment and are possibly venturing into more varied waters, might start to consider composite kayaks. These are lighter than their plastic counterparts, making them easier to paddle and manoeuvre. This improved handling can make a noticeable difference during longer trips. During my intermediate days, upgrading to a lighter composite kayak made me feel more agile on the water, which added to the enjoyment of the sport.  In addition, the lighter weight made it easier to transport to new starting points, opening up new kayaking adventures.
Experienced kayakers often lean towards composite kayaks made from materials like carbon fibre, prized for its lightweight and high-performance qualities. The experienced paddlers at Planet Camping have found that a carbon fibre kayak can significantly enhance efficiency and speed on the water, which can be vital during long-distance trips or when facing challenging conditions.

In conclusion, the choice of material in a recreational kayak has implications for its weight, durability, performance, and cost. However, whether you're a beginner, an intermediate, or an expert paddler, there's a recreational kayak material that suits your needs and budget.

6. Making the Right Choice

The joy of kayaking is about finding a balance between your skill level, your intended use, and the features of the kayak. With the right combination, you'll have a boat that you'll love to paddle for years to come.

Remember, the perfect kayak isn't necessarily the most expensive or the most feature packed.

It's the one that meets your needs and fits you well.

So, take your time, do your research, and you'll soon be gliding across the water in your perfect recreational kayak.


Choosing the perfect recreational kayak might seem daunting, but with the right information and a little guidance, it can be a rewarding process. After all, the adventure begins long before you hit the water.

Here's to a future filled with tranquil paddles, sunlit waters, and the quiet pleasure of the perfect kayak beneath you. Enjoy your journey!