In the shop we have a range of Sit on Tops (SOTs) and Sit in kayaks. Some people know exactly what they're looking for but others just know they're drawn to the water and want to enjoy it.
The question then is Sit on Top or Sit in Kayak?
There are pros and cons for each depending on the person and then each type of boat has a multitude of model options. So let's take it a step at a time.
Sit on tops are a great way to get on the water. They're cheaper than a kayak and can be easier to get on and off. A few customers have had bad experiences in sit in kayaks and just don't trust them but they're keen to get on the water. Using a sit on top can be the answer to get their confidence back. They tend to be wider and that also means that they will be more stable- no wobbles to make you tense and nervous and therefore more likely to fall in!
Sit on Tops are on the whole, user friendly- no bits to go wrong or break. You take your boat to the water, jump on and off you go.
So what are the draw backs?
From a kayaking background, I was very conscious that when I use a sit on top- it's open to the elements- you are going to get wet!! So, unless you're properly dressed for the weather, it could limit your usage or fun with these boats. Winter can provide some fantastic paddling conditions but if you're cold and wet it will not be a fun trip so dry suit, wet suit and layers will all be needed. Make sure that the kit you use is quality and will keep you warm when wet.
Sit in kayaks again come in all shapes and sizes. The right boat for you will depend on what you what you want to do- day trips, camping trips, speed, rock hopping, photography etc. Sometimes, it's a compromise. I remember a discussion with a customer. My usual question would be " Do you want to go on long trips" The answer was usually yes, as most people plan to kayak in their holiday time. My customer told me that he normally paddled the Firth of Forth where all his friends had long, expedition boats. The wind seems a constant on the Forth and he said all his friend's had difficulty manoeuvring their long boats in the wind- a shorter boat (day/weekend) type was his choice. He reasoned that most of his paddling was day trips and, he said, if he wanted to go for a longer trip- he would a hire a kayak from me!
Once we've chatted about what you want to do with the kayak, we can then look at what will fit your size and your budget. Plastic or composite- both have good and bad points and they have very different price points.
The next step is vital- always try the kayak on the water before you buy. This is the where your expertise comes into play- you'll get a feeling of what will work for you. After spending perhaps half an hour on the water, you'll settle into the boat (hopefully!)) and will find out if the leg room is adequate for you- how does it handle, turn etc.
We have contacts with several guides/coaches who, if you want, can take you out on your try out. They can give you confidence to push yourself and the boat and they can offer advice on the kayak and its suitability for you.
Choosing a kayak can be a long process- and that's before you even think of colours!! It's a process that's worth taking time over, not only is it a financial commitment but also, choosing the wrong boat can put you off kayaking completely. So if you're contemplating getting on the water, get in touch and we can have a chat about what might suit you.