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Getting into kayaking, it is easy to get overwhelmed with the information you need to gather. You need to learn about their types, width, and whether you should choose short or long kayaks.
Both short and long kayaks have their pros and cons. On the one hand, long kayaks are faster, more efficient, and track straighter when in water. On the other hand, short kayaks can make turns more easily, thanks to their size. Also, they're easier to carry and less expensive.
While the length isn't the only factor to consider, it's a start. The popular opinion is that you should opt for short kayaks as a beginner. But we'll be laying out the detailed information regarding the benefits: short kayak vs. long kayak and let you make your own choice.
There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a kayak, especially if you're just starting. We understand that you may not have the luxury of time to go through the entire article.
That's why we've made this short list regarding which kayak is good for what. But we recommend you go through the entire article if you have the time.
Comparatively slower than their larger counterparts
Comparatively faster than their shorter counterparts
Stability and Maneuverability
Short kayaks are more stable and are easier to maneuver
Long kayaks are comparatively more difficult to turn and handle to their bigger size
Short kayaks have a shorter length. Hence, a smaller storage capacity
Long kayaks have a bigger storage space due to their more extensive length
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When you're just starting kayaking, it's easier to go with a short kayak. That's because kayaks under twelve feet long tend to be easier to control and maneuver.
Thanks to their smaller size, you can also easily carry them to the water. Finally, they tend to be less expensive, which is a tremendous advantage for novices.
Short kayaks tend to track less efficiently when compared to their lengthier counterparts.
But this drawback gives rise to an advantage that beginners can use. With their less efficient tracking tendency, shorter kayaks are easier to tune in the water.
The short kayak has a shorter turning radius. Combined with a lower hull speed, the short kayak offers a higher capability of making easier turns.
So, if you're a beginner who's not yet familiar with this activity, shorter kayaks should be more up your alley. You can change the direction of your kayak with just a few paddles.
Another added benefit is that shorter kayaks have more primary stability. Since short kayaks tend to be wider, they offer more excellent stability.
With greater stability, you'll be less likely to tip when in the water, which is a great plus in any beginner's book.
If you're new to kayaking or have a tight budget, it's better to invest in a shorter kayak.
Shorter kayaks tend to be cheaper. For example, you can get a whitewater kayak (less than eight feet) for around $800, whereas a Sea Kayak (twelve to sixteen feet) will cost you over $1200.
But don't think that just because it's less expensive, the short kayak is less expensive.
The lower price has nothing to do with its materials but the fact that shorter kayaks aren't the most efficient options, especially for traveling long distances.
Due to their shorter build, the short kayaks tend to be comparatively lighter than long kayaks. Not only is the lightweight kayak easier to carry, but it's also easy to handle and steer when in the water.
Moreover, you can easily fit the short kayak in your truck since it's short. So, you can carry your kayak into the water without damaging your truck. And, you can do it without anyone's help!
When you're thinking of going a long distance, it's better to get a lengthy kayak. They're more efficient to paddle, and you can carry more supplies thanks to their greater storage capacity.
Longer kayaks tend to be narrower. So, a more extended build with a narrow hull roughly translates to less energy required to cut through the water.
You won't have to exert as much force or paddle as rigorously to gain or maintain a good hull speed. That's why it's easier to go on long journeys using long kayaks.
Moreover, long kayaks track more efficiently on the water. So, you won't have much difficulty even in rough water. That is, of course, if you have the necessary skills.
As we discussed earlier, short kayaks have more primary stability. It goes well with our shared assumption that a shorter and broader kayak should be more stable. However, there are two types of stability: primary and secondary.
Now, when talking about short kayaks, they excel in primary stability. That is, they're able to remain stable in flat water. To put it simply, they feel less wobbly or tipsy when getting inside of it.
On the other hand, long kayaks have better secondary stability. Secondary ability refers to the kayak's ability to maintain balance when tipped to its edge.
A kayak with enhanced secondary stability will allow the rower to lean over its edge to stroke more vigorously.
Since long kayaks excel in secondary stability, you'll be able to make sharper and angled turns in rough water without getting knocked overboard.
Since the long kayak has a unique build, it's natural to expect long kayaks to have more significant storage space. But that should also mean that the heavier load will slow the kayak down.
However, thanks to its dynamic build, that doesn't happen. Some long kayaks can carry weights of over 200 kg. And they can do so without losing their mobility due to their better tracking ability and aerodynamic build.
There's no one single correct length when it comes to kayaks. It can vary depending on your skill level and where you want to go kayaking.
For example, if you kayak only occasionally for recreational purposes, you'll want a kayak that you won't have difficulty controlling. You'll also want to ensure that the kayak is stable and not prone to capsizing.
Since you'll only be using it for recreational purposes, you don't need to opt for kayaks that can travel long distances. Instead, you'll want a kayak more suited for short distances.
Then, the kayak length that will be most suitable for you should be a short one, less than 12 feet in length. Optimally, it should be somewhere between nine to twelve feet.
Since you have gone through the benefits: of a short kayak vs. a long kayak, you should know by now what you need. But if you were to ask for our recommendation, we'd say that you should stick with short kayaks if you're a novice and then paddle your way to long ones.
The short kayaks offer more primary stability, easier to handle, and are comparatively cheaper. So, you'll be able to hone your skills quickly and upgrade somewhere down the line.