Kayaking 101

Filed in On The Lake, Recreation by on March 4, 2014

Photo Courtesy of Perception Kayaks Location: Otter Tail River - Phelps Mill

Photo Courtesy of Perception Kayaks
Location: Otter Tail River – Phelps Mill

Peace. Quiet. Nature. Fishing. Stress relief. Bonding time with his children. These are just some of the reasons Nick Carlson, a 52-year-old television news photographer from Fargo, kayaks.

“To me the feeling of freedom is what I love best about kayaking,” says Carlson. “A friend of mine told me once that when she’s out on the water, she forgets what day it is.”

Carlson turned to the water sport after his wife passed away two years ago. Deep into the grieving process, Carlson says he needed a diversion and found that kayaking offered a ideal mix of spirituality and athleticism.

“I love being out with nature,” he explains, adding that he’s seen beavers, eagles, fish, birds and deer while paddling. “When my wife died, I weighed 208 and now I’m 180. Kayaking definitely shaped me up and toned me up.”

As a novice, Carlson started with two kayaks – one for himself and one for a paddling partner (he often goes out with his son). Now he’s up to eight kayaks and plans on hitting the water at least 100 times this season.

“The Otter Tail River is by far my favorite,” he says. “You can find really great spots where you can see lots of animals, or you can find some ripples and whitewater, or you can hook up with a lake. It’s perfect.”

From recreation to angling, there is a kayak for every lifestyle. But knowing which style to buy can be daunting. Often it depends on your paddling style. So we’ve taken the guesswork out of it for you. Here is Lake and Home Magazine’s Kayak 101.

protigy 10.0Recreational

Perception Sport Prodigy 10.0

Recreational kayaks are ideal for all sorts of water, from lakes to slow-moving rivers. They typically have wide cockpits (where you sit) and flat bottoms that make them more stable while paddling. These kayaks also come at great starter prices, with some beginner boats retailing for less than $300. Carlson says recreational kayaks are great for lake home owners. “You don’t have to do anything special to store them,” he says, adding, “You just go out and paddle around the lake in your swimsuit and bare feet.”


Perception Sport Carolina 12.0

The biggest category of kayaks, touring boats are your best bet once you are comfortable in the cockpit and ready to try a variety of water conditions. They are faster and have more storage than recreational designs, so they’re great for heading out on longer excursions. “The best part about kayaks is that they won’t deteriorate,” explains Steve Reeck, a sales associate at Gander Mountain in Fargo. “There is no expiration date on a kayak. They last forever.”

dagger alchemy


Day Touring

Dagger Alchemy 14.0

Day touring kayaks are designed for performance and endurance. Their long, narrow hulls make these kayaks extremely easy to paddle. “The tracking you’re going to get is straighter because the longer the kayak, usually the straighter and faster it will go,” says Jans Hestdalen, camping manager at Scheels in Fargo. “And day touring kayaks come with dry compartments separated by bulkheads so you can bring plenty of supplies for a day-long or weekend adventure.” Be away that these boats do come with a bigger price tag than recreational or touring boats, though.





Hobie Quest 11

Like lures and bait, a fishing kayak, also called a casting kayak, should be in every angler’s arsenal. “That’s because these boats allow you incredible access to rivers and streams,” says Reeck. “You can’t always find access for your boat, but you can slide a kayak in almost anywhere.” The main difference between this type of kayak and other models is that you can sit on top, allowing you a clear view of the water – and fish – beneath your hull. And some brands, like this Hobie, come with covered bow stowage and molded rod holders.




Dagger Mamba 8.1 

The most adventurous of kayaks also calls for the most adventurous paddlers. If tacking cascading creeks or big water rapids is your thing, then you’ll want to outfit yourself with a whitewater kayak. These boats themselves come in three categories: riverrunners (for novice whitewater paddlers), creekboats (for technical whitewater work),  and playboats (for vertical tricks). If you’re new to white water, you’ll probably want to start with a riverrunner, known for its longer length, high acceleration and increased maneuverability on waves.





Old Town Dirigo Tandem Plus

Finally, when you and your partner want to hit the water together, give a tandem a try. Its long, graceful line allows for a straight glide, which means peaceful paddling for you both. And if you don’t want to go full tandem, consider investing in a companion kayak that has a smaller, separate seat for a child or four-legged friend!


by Patricia Carlson, a writer from Fargo



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