1. Outfitter boats tend to be Old Town Otters, and many paddlers
prefer other brands of
Certainly, this is true on Oklahoma's scenic rivers that offer kayak
the Illinois River ,
The Kiamichi River &
The Lower Mt. Fork River. The Otter is a fun kayak, but it
usually offers no features like foot pegs, deck rigging or hatches
unless you rig them yourself.
2. Some river outfitter boats may be worn out or nearly worn out,
even in the off season. They spend so much more time in
the sun that they unlikely have the lifespan of a properly stored, privately owned
kayak. I have been paddling my Perception Swifty 9.5 recreational
kayak heavily since the Summer of 2005, and it is still a great boat
with no leaks. Not bad for a kayak that cost less than $400!
3. Most outfitter supplied kayaks lack features like fishing rod
holders, storage and tie downs. My wife Dianne and my
buddy Yakker both enjoy kayak fishing, so much that they purchased
angler kayaks. Angler Kayaks
or Fishing Kayaks
are most often SOT kayaks, but many are
Sit-Inside kayaks like Yakker's Wilderness Systems Pungo or Dianne's
Old Town Vapor. They are pre-fitted with fishing rod holders
and additional storage space. Few outfitters in the area rent
4. You don't have to rent very many kayaks to cover the price of
owning one. We bought our first kayaks in the $400 range, brand
new and they have been well worth the cost over the last 5 years. On
the other hand, you can easily spend over $2000 to build your own
kayak from a kit. Hauling your boat is also likely to generate some
additional costs, if you own your own kayak. I bought foam blocks,
cam straps, a small trailer and even an RV at one time. I
spent a great deal of loot to haul my kayaks, because they have
become close family friends.
Many times the outfitters only have canoes to rent and no
kayaks. Worse, they often open too late in the day or they
close too early to suit me. if you enjoy kayak photography, getting
on the water at twilight is important to me. Most folks paddle
between Noon and 4pm, these are the worst hours of the day to be
outside in the Oklahoma Summer.
6. Most Oklahoma rivers have no canoe & kayak outfitters
(Broken Bow and
Tahlequah are the key exceptions).
If you want to chase sunsets and sunrises across a body of water
close to your home, you probably need to
buy your own kayak. I
heartily recommend the activity listed above! See
my Flickr photostream for examples
of having fun in our area with a couple kayaks.
7. Many kayaks are designed for a weight limit of 225 lbs and
some of us Okies are bigger than that! A general rule is that
longer and wider kayaks carry more weight. Longer kayaks are
also faster, however they can be tougher to haul. It is best to
choose a paddle that suits your height as well. By owning your kayak
rather than renting, you can choose the perfect boat for your build,
your goals and transportation options.
8. Tulsa Stores like Bass Pro Shop, Sun & Ski and Academy Sports offer a
small variety of kayaks to choose from and many outfitters don't
offer any kayak choices at all (OKC Kayak is the exception to the
rule). You can
view a much larger variety of kayaks and their prices in our
online paddling store. Check the prices and if possible
attend a kayak demo. A kayak is a longterm purchase, so take your
time and choose the perfect craft. If you live on a lakeshore, your
probably don't want to start off with a whitewater boat. If
plan on hitting the Tulsa Wave for some kayak surfing, don't buy a
long touring kayak.
9. Canoe and kayak rental businesses tend to be closed for at
least half the year (OKC
Kayaks in Oklahoma City is open all year). In Oklahoma, we often see a number of
75 degree days in the midst of winter. These days are not
wasted by wise kayak owners, as they realize that the waterways will
be devoid of distractions like ski boats.
10. Doesn't your Geo Metro look cool with a 16 foot long kayak strapped to the
roof? Ok, that may be a bit extreme, but I will bet that
adding paddling to your lifestyle will change your outlook on your
own life. It certainly has improved my worldview and that is
the best reason I can think of to buy your own kayak!
My friend Scott in his 17' Pygmy Coho plywood kit
Of course, there are also many good reasons NOT to buy your
Top Ten Reasons to NOT Buy Your Own Kayak
1. Shuttling (getting your boat to the water and yourself back
to your car after a float trip) is not included in the purchase price of your boat,
this can mean a lot of paddling upstream or paying someone to
shuttle you, your car or your kayak. Your only other (and
alternative is to recruit fellow paddlers for self-shuttling.
Try joining the Oklahoma Flatwater Paddlers group, OKC
Outdoor Network, The Red Dirt Paddlers or some other local group
of like-minded paddling enthusiasts. Even if you link up with
some paddling buddies, 'shuttle math' will be a continuing
2. Dianne and I often travel to Arkansas, Missouri, or Kansas to
go on float trips. Your night's sleep can be stressful if you
have to leave your treasured craft strapped to your car roof at
some strange motel. I have never had one stolen, but I have
worried plenty. Folks renting their kayaks from outfitters don't have such
3. Some outfitters charge nearly as much for shuttling your boat
as for renting AND shuttling theirs! Still, location is
everything. If the outfitter has carved out a bit of
heaven from the undergrowth, I'm willing to pay the premium to
paddle by and see it! There is
one outfitter on the remote Kiamichi River, why throw
yourself at the mercy of Mother Nature when you can a partner
with local knowledge on your side?
You need a way to haul your 10 foot to 16 foot yaks to the
water: car top,
trailer, roof racks, truck bed, etc. the options are somewhat
limited. Don't put this decision off. You have to get your boat
home on the day your buy it, if you are not renting! This photo is our 2003
Eclipse hatchback carrying two 9.5 foot recreational kayaks.
Obviously, this is NOT an ideal shuttle vehicle. I much prefer a
Chevy pickup for hauling kayaks of this size. For sea
kayaks you are likely to need to go with a trailer or roof rack.
5. Sunshine can kill your kayak and this is NO PROBLEM if you
rent your kayak. If you own your kayak you will need a place to store
your plastic boat OUT of the sun. If you don't have the space
to shade a 9.5 foot boat...you may want to try renting kayaks instead
6. Maybe you cannot decide what kind of kayak to buy:
folding kayak or
kayak. Renting kayaks gives you a
chance to try
of kayaks and options.
7. Buying a trailer, trailer hitch, chain, lock and about 50
bungees to haul our two yaks was costly. In time, we
decided to trade Mamma's sports car for Chevy Silverado Truck.
It solved our kayak transportation problem, but created a 'Mamma
Problem' and those are the worst kind!
8. Outfitters offer more services than mere boat rental... such as
river reports, advice, timing estimates, lodging, food and safety tips. A
simple command like 'Keep Left" can save a novice paddler
significant swim-time. God
Bless the Canoe Livery operators for that! Check our
Oklahoma Outfitters Directory for links to some of the best.
9. After a long, hot and somewhat exhausting paddle trip,
leaving your boats at the shore rocks! Cleaning the kayaks up and
strapping them in for the journey home can be a rather inelegant
ending to a great paddling trip.
10. Maybe you get free rentals from an outfitter in barter for managing
their website or some other helpful task. Why buy if
you can borrow?
When we did the math, it was worth it to buy our own kayaks to
serve our new addiction.
Had we not chosen to be the last
American family to NOT buy an SUV, the hauling might have been
cheaper. We recently gave in and traded our little foreign car
for a big ol' American pickup and the shuttling has improved a great
deal! I just toss them in the back of the Chevy and secure one
bungie. A few months later the price of gasoline starting
climbing higher than humidity!
If you choose to get yourself some kayaks, make sure to rent a
few from time to time. A little reminder of how it feels to have
a wet butt for 10 miles, really helps you accept the cost of
buying yourself that cool new fishing kayak, canoe or
canoe-kayak hybrid boat.
Also, it is important for paddlers to support the outfitters that
help keep our scenic rivers clean and open to discovery by
generation after generation of Oklahoma youth. Check out
our list of
Oklahoma Canoe & Kayak Outfitters.
You can't beat a kayak for nature and wildlife
Sit-Inside Kayaks vs.
Choosing a Recreational Kayak to purchase requires
deciding between Sit-Inside Kayaks (SINK's) vs. Sit-On-Top Kayaks
(SOT 's). When Dianne and I bought our first kayaks, we chose
Sit-Inside Kayaks because they felt more like 'real' boats to us.
Also, we rented both SOT's and SINK's and found that Sit-On-Top
Kayaks often left us sitting in a puddle of water. Sitting in
a puddle of water may be refreshing for 15 minutes or so, but I
don't recommend it for an All Day Paddling session.
We ended up with two 9.5 foot Sit-Inside Kayaks.
I paddle the Perception Swifty and Dianne paddles a Heritage Angler
Kayak. Both have been great boats. We treat them to a
great deal of rock scraping and mud sliding, including portages
across blacktop, gravel and mud. We have had to home repair
Dianne's Heritage, but it is about a year older (and 5 lbs lighter)
than my Swifty.
Repairing these kayaks is dead easy. You use
little plastic welding rods and a glorified hairdryer to repair
holes in minutes.
Although we treat them rough, we are careful to KEEP THEM OUT OF THE
SUN when not in use. These are plastic boats so sunshine is
the enemy...paddle in the shade whenever possible. Five years of
fairly regular use before the first major repair is not uncommon for
these durable little boats.
Shopping online for a new kayak is a great idea,
whether you choose to buy online or not.
Our Kayak Store lists a much larger selection of kayak brands, kayak
styles and kayak prices than you are likely to find at any local
retail outlet. Naturally, getting a kayak delivered is a
little more complex than ordering a pizza, so you may choose to buy
on site somewhere, once you have done your homework.