Tempted to buy a canoe or kayak for the first time? “People have fallen in love with paddling again,” says Beth Peterson, owner of Ottawa Valley Canoe and Kayak near Kanata, Ont. Canadians are looking to explore the outdoors for exercise. If you’re looking to buy a kayak or canoe this year, keep these tips in mind.
Canoe or kayak
Kayaks suit solo paddlers, especially on big water where waves can swamp inexperienced canoeists. “But if you usually paddle with your partner, your dog and your kids, you’re probably better suited to a canoe,” says Duan MacDonald, who manages the Swift Canoe & Kayak store in Gravenhurst, Ontario.
Heavy or light
In general, the less it weighs, the steeper the price. A 35 kg polyethylene-hull canoe can cost as little as $1,250, MacDonald says, while an 18 kg Swift canoe with a Kevlar fusion hull is about $3,400. For multi-day trips with frequent portages or a large canoe that holds more gear and paddlers, invest in a lightweight boat. Weight doesn’t affect performance in the water much, so a heavy boat is fine for cottagers who never carry it far and fit paddlers who can shoulder more weight.
New or used
Used canoes and kayaks can be great buys, particularly if you find an owner who is selling a well-love, well-maintained boat to upgrade to a lighter model. Do a visual inspection to check for structural issues, Peterson says. She looks for any hairline fractures and presses the hull to see if there is any give: a soft spot can indicate delamination in the gelcoat surface, which can usually be repaired.
Rack or blocks
A roof rack makes tying a canoe or kayak onto your car a little faster, but inexpensive foam blocks can also provide secure support, Straps – two around the midsection of the boat and one on each end – hold it down. Check the straps about 15 minutes into your drive and periodically after that. “Always position strap buckles on the passenger side,” Peterson says. “When you stop to check them, you won’t be standing in the road.”