What Size of Kayak Do I Need – Tips For First-Time Kayak Buyers

What Size of Kayak Do I Need

Kayaks, just like canoes, do come in different forms and sizes.

A lot of new kayakers have been quite oblivious about this fact. They seemingly have this idea that these kayaks are just the same. But in truth, they are not.

There are a variety of considerations that you should take before buying a kayak. One of these is the size of the kayak. One should know that if you pick the least ideal size for you, kayaking will become a challenge rather than fun.


You already asked this question to yourself: what size of kayak do I need? However, if you haven't found the answer yet, I do suggest that you pay attention to this guide.

Let's get started.

Before you decide on the kayak size, you have to know what kind of kayaking you are going to venture. You see, different water areas require different kayaks. For instance, a kayak that is meant to conquer the open seas has a minimum size of 14 feet. Furthermore, you can only use such kayak in inlets and bays.

Going in the open ocean will require you to use an 18-foot kayak or longer. Kayaks that have such a length provide the kayaker with better stability and control when dealing with huge waves. It is not a strange sight if most of the kayaks that you see in freshwater are long.

Meanwhile, if you are going to use a kayak for racing, flatwater, steep drops, big water, and other technical paddlings, different sizes and structure are necessary. You need to ensure that the kayak has the ideal beam or width for it to work well on your adventure.

Needless to say, the material that has been used in constructing the kayak is quite essential on the selection process.

What Size Of Kayak Do I Need: Other Factors You Need To Understand

What Size Of Kayak Do I Need: Other Factors You Need To Understand

If you have already decided which application and terrain you are going to use the kayak, you can already decide for its size. Just like what I have said earlier, each kayak is made for different activities. Therefore, each of these activities requires a specific kayak length.

One thing that you need to understand is that the length of the kayak dictates its maneuverability. In the world of kayaking, we have a particular unwritten rule. We use long kayaks because they are better at cruising and provides optimal storage capacity for those who want to do overnight tours. Meanwhile, a short kayak can swerve and veer fast.

Between these two, which of them do you actually prefer? Do you feel that they are all important? Or you deem that one aspect can be sacrificed for the greater good of your adventure. Sadly, you cannot mix these two things as they are not impeccably coherent with one another. That's the very reason why an intended kayaking application requires a specific type of boat. There's no one-size-fits-all concept in kayaking.

A difference in inches doesn't mean a significant change in the performance of the kayak. It is the small details that you can ignore. However, the change can be felt once there is a gap of around two to four feet to the boat.

Furthermore, the kind of paddling technique that you are going to use can also indicate the length of the boat that you need. There are paddling techniques that are made for racing kayaks, touring kayaks, and ocean kayaks. If you can't get this right, your convenience will be compromised.

With all of these things taken into account, allow me to give some few examples.

  • For ocean kayaking, the kayak that you have should have a length of around 18 feet to 20 feet. Many seasoned kayakers will agree to this kind of setup.
  • For play and squirt kayak for white waters, it is ideal that you opt for kayaks that are 8 to 10 feet long.

Now, let me give some few exemptions.

I have seen 18 feet kayaks that have been used in lakes and rivers, especially if the movement of the water is slow and gradual. I have done this a couple of times, and it actually works.

I have tried using a short kayak on the ocean. But a couple of my friends tried using it on near-shore adventures. Apparently, they really enjoyed the trip.

Does the Width of the Kayak Matter?

When choosing a kayak, one should not only focus on the length of the kayak. You also have to pay attention to its width because it plays a part in the overall performance of the boat when it is on the water already.

Wider kayaks have remarkable stability. That's why they are preferred by kayakers who always delve in the rushing waters. A wide kayak even enables a person to stand on the boat for fishing. Well, if this is the thing that you want to do, I recommend that you have a fish finder. This lessens your effort in having a successful catch.

Kayaks that are narrower are best for maneuverability. They don't have any difficulties in swerving even under challenging waters.

The Importance of Legroom

The legroom of the kayak is also an essential factor to look upon. The deck of the kayak should have a sufficient room so that you can move your legs comfortably. There's also a need for a deck that has foot pegs. In this way, you will be able to adjust to your legs so that you can feel more comfortable.

I do recommend that you should consider the structure of the central console. Consoles in the kayak will somehow let you decide if you are going to prioritize storage or legroom. It is true that accessible storage is indeed convenient. However, it is also a great feeling if the boat offers freedom to your legs, regardless if you are standing or sitting.


A successful kayak is not only about the skill of the kayaker. It is also about the kind of equipment that you have that dictates the type of adventure that you have.

You need to get a good kayak. Nobody can argue with that. Aside from the quality of the kayak, you have to be wary about its size. This is one that dictates the overall stability, maneuverability, and comfort that you feel. Furthermore, just like what I have told, some kayaks are meant for different types of kayaking. The quality of the kayak doesn't really matter if it is doesn't have the right dimensions.

That's it for now. If you have questions or suggestions, feel free to drop them in the comment section.

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