Thursday, February 14, 2008

Kayaks for Oklahoma Paddling

Lake Trees
Originally uploaded by FreeWine
The road trips have been few and far between these days. I've been paddling some local waters on brief sunset trips. Hopefully, I will be able to get out more as the weather improves.

Just this weekend Yakker and I launched from our river lot on the North Canadian River. Yakker lives nearby so i decided to give him a call before heading out for a little sunset chasing. He is a trooper and managed to make it up and down our treacherously steep, slick and muddy riverbank mostly without incident.

Yakker paddles an Advanced Elements Kayak. Although it is a Sit-Inside-Kayak that is about the same length as mine, Yakker's boat is a folding kayak. This makes it quite different from a rigid kayak like the boat Dianne and I paddle.

Folding Kayaks

Folding Kayaks are nothing new. In fact, the original kayaks the Inuit people built were a simple skin over frame very similar to today's folding kayaks. Of course, today's folding kayaks use high tech materials and often contain inflatable components to improve their bouyancy.

I get a large number of emails asking me to suggest what kind of kayak folks should buy. Folding kayaks and inflatable kayaks offer great alternatives for folks that have very limited optons for transporting their boat to the water. My buddy Yakker drives a small Honda commuter car and flies back to California for vists regularly. Being able to check your kayak with your luggage at the airport is a huge advantage of buying a boat in a bag!

The downsides of folding kayaks and inflatables usually relate to durability, tracking and prep-time. The cheapest rigid kayak are made from rotomolded plastic. It is tough, longlasting and easily repaired. The rigid kayaks tend to track better (paddle straighter) than comparable skin-on-frame type kayaks. Finally, one should not underestimate the value of being able to just throw the boats in the truck and go. Expect an extra 20 minutes or more on the riverbank prepping your gear for a folding kayak. Currently, my lifestyle demands a rigid kayak, but if i ever have to start traveling a great deal for work, I will be shopping around for a baggable boat.

SOT Kayaks

Dianne has been looking at some Sit-On-Top (SOT) Kayaks, lately. Popular among kayak fisherman, a SOT Kayak is literally unsinkable. You might get wet paddling an SOT Kayak. You might even fall off your Sit-On-Top Kayak...but you will never see this kayak fill up with water and sink. These kayaks are usually made from rotomolded plastic, but they also include scupper holes. Scupper Holes are drain holes in the kayak cockpit that allow any water that enters the cockpit to immediately flow back out. In addition to the self-rescue benefits of an unsinkable boat, SOT Kayaks tend to offer higher max paddler weight, more stability and a much larger range of optional accessories.

Ultimately, I think any kind of kayak that gets you out on the water is a worthy investment. Just make sure you have a plan to get your boat to the water.

You can look at and price a wide selection of kayaks that include all of the types above in the Buy a Kayak section of our Paddlers Supply Store. Check out the Bic Yakka Kayak, an innovative rigid kayak that folds in half!


CalActive said...

Stunning photos. Thanks!

yakker said...

That was a fun little voyage, that part of the North Canadian is a beautiful and challenging stretch of river. Of course the put in/ haul out were a challenge as well. And I do love a good challenge ;) The bonfire was wonderful.

I found your recap of boat types best suited for Oklahoma to be thorough. I have enjoyed my Advanced Elements and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone. The boat is very seaworthy and very stable. If I can add a point to your evaluation, I would pick a boat better suited to my size, being over 6'2" and in excess of 230 pounds I probably should have chosen a boat with, shall we say, more waterline. As the season warms up I will be looking at picking up another boat to meet my needs. Thanks for the report.