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Differences Between Sit-on-top and Sit-inside Kayaks

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Choose the Right Kayak For You!

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Choosing a kayak is no easy feat. It’s a big purchase, and picking the wrong kayak for your needs can put a damper on what should be a great experience.  So, how do you know which kayak is right for you?  That will depend on a variety of factors and personal choices.  Luckily we are here to help!  Below we’ll explain a few things to think about when browsing the saturated kayak market that will help you find the perfect kayak and help you fall in love with the sport!

First, you will need to decide what style of kayak you want. Do you want a sit-inside or a sit-on-top?  To make this decision, you’ll want to take a few things into consideration.

1.      What type of weather or climate will you be paddling in?

2.      Are you comfortable having your legs enclosed or not?

3.      How wet do you want to get?

Generally, those who will be paddling in chilly water or a climate that is relatively cold will choose a sit-inside kayak.  Why?  This style of kayak is designed for you to actually sit inside of it.  This means your center of gravity is inside the side walls of the kayak and your legs are under the deck.  This keeps splashing to a minimum and, with the addition of a kayak skirt, can keep your legs fairly warm and dry.  The flip side to this is if you do tip yourself over, you will be very wet and will need to swim your kayak to shore and drain it out.  This isn’t a common problem, but it does exist.  You can also get kayaks that are extremely stable to lower your chances of tipping over (we’ll get to that in a little bit).  Warm weather paddlers often like the sit-on-tops because it is easier to get in and out.  You can hop out for a swim and then pull yourself back up.  If you flip over, you can crawl back in without swimming to shore.  However, in cold water, you will get wet, so keep that in mind as well.

Our second consideration will address how comfortable you are having your legs under the deck.  This will come down to personal comfort.  The sit-inside kayak is just as safe as the sit-on-top, but some people do not like to have their legs enclosed.  A common fear is being stuck upside down in the kayak. Fear not, you will not be stuck upside down!  When the kayak flips over, the paddler will just float out. It will not hold you or keep you underwater.  Visit your local rental establishment and try one out, see how you like it, and go from there.

Last but not least, do you like being soaking wet?  If you are on a sit-on-top kayak, you have a higher chance of being wet during your paddle.  If you hit waves, the splash will come up and land right on you!  This is great if you are a warm-blooded, splash-loving paddler. But if you tend to get chilly and don’t want to be wet, you might want to consider a sit-inside kayak.

Kayak designs include a few different attributes.  Length and width will be important as well as the actual hull design of the kayak.  What’s a Hull? The Hull is the main body of the kayak.  Take off all those features; hatches, ropes, bungees, screws, hooks, and all you’re left with is your polyethylene (plastic) hull.  Hull design aside, a long skinny kayak will be great for speed and tracking but will be a little less stable and maneuverable.  A short and wide kayak will be very stable and maneuverable but will not track as well and be a bit slower. Now to add in the hull design.  Flat bottom kayaks will be very stable but slower.  Kayaks with a V-shaped hull will be faster than a flat bottom but are generally not as stable.  These V-shaped hulls are considered a bit more advanced.  There is also a combination or partial V-hull.  These kayaks are a good blend of the two and are considered to be average at both speed and stability.

While this does get a bit technical, just keep the basics in mind.  If you want a little bit of both, look for a mid-sized kayak with a semi-V hull/combination hull and you’ll get the best of both worlds!

The final element in choosing a kayak is desired use.  Where are you going to use your kayak?  Will you be traversing through lakes or will you be using it in a variety of water settings?  Where you will be using your kayak should be considered when deciding on what to purchase.  If you plan on using your kayak in larger lakes and open waterways, you should consider a longer, narrower kayak.  Similarly, if you will be traveling a longer distance or are interested in fitness, you will also want a longer, narrower kayak with a more advanced hull design.  If you plan on using your kayak in slow moving, narrow water ways like rivers and small ponds, or you just want to leisurely paddle around, you would want to consider a shorter, wider kayak.  Narrow rivers and smaller bodies of water often have currents or require more maneuvering.  Having a shorter, wider kayak will make handling currents and moving around obstacles much easier than a long narrow boat that turns slowly. 

Ocean paddling is in a league of its own.  While a variety of kayaks can be paddled in the ocean, recreational kayaks are not specifically designed for long ocean paddles or intense surf.   If you do plan to do some ocean paddling, longer kayaks are better at slicing through the choppy waters and getting up and over ripples.  Shorter kayaks will be a bit slow going but can be fun if you just want to play around casually.

If you are unsure what you will be doing with your new kayak, that is okay!  Kayaks that are around 10 feet and have a semi-V hull will be perfect for a variety of water conditions and settings.  These style kayaks are usually a sure bet if you aren’t 100% sure what you will be doing.

Keep in mind that even though longer, narrow kayaks are generally a little less stable than shorter, wider kayaks, they are by no means unstable.  All Emotion Kayaks are recreational kayaks, which means they are designed for stability and safety, even if they have a longer and narrower profile.

Finally, always remember to keep transport in mind.  You might really want that 14 foot kayak but think about how you will be getting it to and from the water and how you will be storing it.  Will you be paddling alone or will you have someone to help you carry it?  Do you have a roof rack or are you planning to put the kayak in your van?  This step is easily forgotten but is very important, so always consider transport before making your decision.

No matter which style of kayak you choose , you're sure to have a great time!

Are these kayaks recommended for whitewater use?

Posted In - FAQs

No, Emotion Kayaks are not intended for use in whitewater. Slow moving rivers and riffles are all right, but our kayaks are not rated on the whitewater I-V class rating scale. Whitewater kayaks are made with a different design to handle waves, holes, and other features. Emotion Kayaks are recreational in nature and are not intended to be Eskimo rolled like a whitewater kayak. Recreational Kayaks are intended for flat water such as lakes, ponds, bays, and calm oceans. Slow moving rivers and creeks are also approved as long as they do not have swift currents or rapid features. Recreational kayaks are designed to be extremely stable and will most likely have keel or tracking channels to help with speed.

Six Basic Kayak Paddling Strokes

Posted In - Care Tips

You may think all you have to do to get around in your kayak is jump in and go, but there's actually a little more to aquatic navigation than that. Unlike driving a car, steering a kayak also involves the element of water, which has a personality all its own. Learning the following paddle strokes will enable you to get where you want to go quickly and efficiently. There is a different stroke for every maneuver in the water—going forward, going backward, turning aside, turning around, and coming in sideways.

The first thing to do is make sure you're seated correctly in the kayak: upright but leaning forward slightly. Make sure your feet are comfortably positioned against the built-in foot wells so you can brace yourself while pulling the paddle through the water.

The FORWARD STROKE is the first one you will need to know because, as the name implies, it's what makes the kayak move forward. While you may instinctively position the paddle at more of a horizontal angle away from your body, the proper way is to keep the paddle upright at more of a vertical angle. Insert the blade in the water toward the front of the kayak, rotate your torso counter-clockwise as you pull the blade through the water alongside the kayak, keeping your elbow close to your body. The length of the stroke depends on the type of kayaking you are doing. If you're white water kayaking, pull the paddle through the water from the front of the kayak back toward your hip. For flat water kayaking, pull the paddle through the water from the front of the kayak all the way to the rear of the kayak. As soon as the stroke is completed, snap the blade out of the water and switch the paddle to the other side of the kayak to repeat the process.

The REVERSE STROKE is a good one to know, especially in case of an "emergency.” For example, if you've overshot your target, find yourself in a tight spot, or need to back up and rescue a companion who's tipped over. To take a backstroke on the right side of your kayak, rotate your torso clockwise so that you are facing to the right and your shoulders are parallel with the kayak. Insert the paddle into the water toward the back tip of the kayak and push it through the water toward the front, keeping the paddle upright and close alongside the kayak. When you've completed the stroke, snap the blade out of the water and rotate your torso to the left side of the kayak to repeat the process on the other side.

The DRAW STROKE will move the kayak sideways when you want to pull up alongside another kayak or closer to a dock or bank. Rotate your body completely sideways in the direction you wish to move the kayak. If you want to “draw” the kayak to the right, insert the right paddle blade into the water on the right as far away from the kayak as you can. The paddle blade should be facing the side of the kayak. Then pull the paddle through the water toward the kayak. This motion draws the kayak toward the paddle. Bring the blade to within a couple of inches of the side of the kayak then rotate the blade quickly slicing it out toward the stern (the back) of the kayak and repeat.

The FORWARD SWEEP STROKE turns the kayak aside, or around, while the kayak is moving forward. Stretching the paddle out horizontally, dip the blade into the water on the opposite side of the kayak from the direction you want to turn. Pull the paddle through the water in a sweeping "c" motion from tip to stern (front to back). Snap blade out of the water and repeat on the same side of the kayak until it has turned in the desired direction.

The REVERSE SWEEP STROKE turns the kayak aside, or around, while moving backward. Stretching the paddle out horizontally over the side of the kayak, dip the blade into the water on the same side of the kayak as the direction you want to turn and push the blade from stern to tip (back to front). Snap blade out of the water and repeat on the same side of the kayak until you have turned it in the desired direction.

The KAYAK SPIN is used to spin your kayak around in a tight circle while it is stationary in the water. To achieve this, you will be alternating between the forward sweep stroke on one side of your kayak and the reverse sweep stroke on the other side. Begin with the forward sweep and once it is completed, rotate your body all the way around to do the reverse sweep stroke on the opposite side of the kayak. Continue to alternate between the two different strokes until the kayak has spun into the desired position.

Of course, reading about it isn't nearly as effective as a hands-on experience, so get yourself out on the water and test these moves out. You'll soon get a feel for it and be in total control. Happy kayaking!

What is Paddleboarding?

Posted In - Care Tips

Paddleboarding is the latest sport to hit the water. No loud motor, expensive fuel, or cumbersome equipment required. In paddleboarding, the rider remains standing while paddling to maneuver the board. A paddleboard is wider than a surfboard so it provides more stability, which makes it easy to learn.

For beginners, it's recommended that you get used to balancing yourself on the paddleboard in flat water before you head for the ocean waves. To mount your paddleboard, take a position next to the board in the water and pull yourself onto the board by holding onto the edge. Assume a kneeling position just behind the center point of the board, keeping your hands on either side of the board to stabilize it. Once the paddleboard feels steady beneath you, carefully stand up one foot at a time. Place your feet where your knees were. It's helpful to have a friend steady the board while you're getting the hang of this. Keep feet pointed forward and hip-width apart, centered between the edges of the board. Knees should be slightly bent. As a helpful hint, it's easier to keep your balance if you avoid the temptation to stare at your feet!

Now that you're up and ready, let's focus on the paddle. Your right hand should be lower on the paddle shaft and your left hand should be on the top of the grip. Insert the paddle into the water toward the front of the paddleboard, pushing it below the surface, and then pull it back toward your ankle and out of the water. You will need to switch the paddle from one side of the paddleboard to the other to keep moving in a reasonably straight line. Remember to reverse your hand position each time you switch sides. As you increase your momentum in the water, your stability will increase as well—just like riding a bike. To turn your paddleboard, simply paddle on the opposite side from the direction you want to go. So if you want to turn right, paddle on the left. If you want to turn left, paddle on the right.

Tip: If you fall off, get your board first, and then paddle it with your hands to retrieve the paddle.