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Are High-End Kayaks a Good Idea for Newer Paddlers - A Discussion

As a new paddler, is it a good idea to dive into the first high-end kayak we find? In this discussion I wanted to cover all the positives a well-designed kayak can bring to your paddling, and at the same time mention that sometimes buying one before we know the type of paddling we want to do might not be the best idea.

The Type of Kayaking You Enjoy May Evolve Over Time

Many of us start paddling because of a trip, or having rented a kayak, or maybe even having a friend invite us out for an adventure. But we can’t predict exactly the type of kayaking we might be doing in a year or two.

Take my path for example. My wife and I started with recreational kayaks enjoying our time on the water each weekend. We then progressed to coastal touring. Next, I moved into longer trips, kayak camping and coastal exploration. Later on I downsized to a small volume kayak for Greenland rolling, and eventually I switched my kayak again for a super-maneuverable model for surfing. While many kayaks can do several things well, no one kayak can do everything. In my story, I swapped kayaks every couple of years as I discovered and delved into different types of paddling.

Similarly, one of my good friends Jean started out with coastal sea kayaks, and eventually moved through several models until she ended up focusing mostly on surf skis as her focus shifted to speed and racing on the water.

These examples show how sometimes what we really enjoy doing presently can change in the future - so it is a good idea to keep that in mind as we look into high-end gear. Especially some specialty kayaks that can prove quite costly.

High-End Kayaks Can Allow Us to Grow Into Them

On the other hand, let’s discuss some of the positives of a high-end kayak. As with any sport, high-level gear is designed and built with great materials, lots of options, and can allow us to grow into them.

Sometimes our skills at the moment of purchase might not be at the level to understand why a particular kayak might be the best option. This is when having someone that can guide you in the decision making will be extremely useful. Whether a seasoned friend, instructor, or knowledgeable kayak shop employee, they can advise you on your quest for a kayak that will improve your technique and allow you to push your paddling forward.

A well-built kayak can provide comfort on the water, open up new skills, and grow confidence. Also, it does not have to be a brand-new, top of the line model. There are plenty of used kayaks out there to be found as well.

I hope some of these ideas can prove useful if you’re new to the sport and looking to purchase a high-end kayak. My parting thought - when you’re stating out, having a knowledgeable, trusted adviser that can take into consideration your needs and attributes can make all the difference as you look for your next kayak.

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