TopKayaker.Net: Buyer Research Tools & Articles For Kayakers

How To Use TopKayaker.Net's New & Updated
Interactive Sit-on-top Kayak Research Tool - 2010

by Tom Holtey

Welcome to TopKayaker.net's "Quick Search" database of all sit-on-top kayaks known on the market now boasting over 480 models! It is our goal to have all sit-on-top kayaks on this list, including discontinued models, renamed models, and small company models. For that reason we invite you to let us know of any boats to add or any incorrect information in our database. A convenient e-mail link for this or any of your questions is available at the bottom of this page.

Currently Quick Search is set up to look for kayaks based on their intended use, solo or tandem and by manufacture. You can also search for the specs of a specific model. Not sure of the make or model? Here is a list of all the kayaks in our database.

Tips: To look for all the kayaks made by one company simply select the manufacture and leave all other boxes blank. Check the solo box to see only solo kayaks, check the tandem box to see only tandem kayaks or check both to see both solo and tandem kayaks. For usage boxes, select a single use to see all kayaks that have that use in their "resume," regardless of how many other uses they may have. If you select more than one use, you will see only the kayaks that have each of the uses you have selected in their "resume."

By understanding how the database is formatted and what the columns represent you will find this list easy to use and informative. Blank spaces in the table or "N/A" indicate that the information was not made available at the time of publication. Question marks indicate that we are not sure about the information. The main list is organized alphabetically by model. Each kayak's information is a row. The columns represent information groups that describe each kayak. Definitions of the columns are as follows:

MODEL: This column is for the name of the kayak. The statistics for this kayak will be on the row that follows. In some cases you will find the same kayak listed under two different names. For instance the Zuma II is the same as the Zest II. The Puffin made by Dimension is also distributed by Old Town and bares the same model name but with their logo. Look for the AKA column for more info.

MANUFACTURER: This column indicates the maker of the Kayak on that row. In some cases, one manufacturer will discontinue a model and another will purchase the right to resume production, often under a different name. Look for the AKA column for more info.

DIMENSIONS: These columns list the dimensions of the kayak on that row. They are in this order; length, width & height. There may be at times a boat with only the length and width. This is the case if there will be NA in the width column.

WEIGHT: This column represents the weight of the kayak. This number, in my experience, is only approximate. The manufactures cannot guarantee that exactly the same amount of material be used to make each kayak. Kayaks of the same model may be two to five pounds off, more or less. Think of it like this; if a kayak is heavier than advertised it is "heavy duty" and will take more punishment. If it is lighter, then it is "Light weight" and will be easy to lift. Don't try to pick a heavy duty or a lightweight out from a batch; it is not worth the time and effort to find a two-pound difference. Also of note; kayak makers have been steadily reducing the weights of boats by improving design, process and materials. A kayak made this year may be a few pounds lighter than the same exact model made a few years ago. We have tried to post the most current and accurate information available.

WEIGHT CAPACITY: This column indicates the maximum weight capacity that the manufacturer intends for the kayak to carry, paddler & cargo combined. Some companies do not publish a maximum capacity, some do. It is unwise to paddle any boat that is overloaded. If your boat is overloaded it will not sink but will perform poorly. Also take note that loads placed on the deck will seem heavier than loads placed below deck. Children and pets are "dynamic cargo" because they move around with out warning and make the kayak tip. Leave an extra buffer zone in weight capacity when carrying them. If a weight capacity is not indicated then compare with kayaks of similar dimensions, subtract the difference in the kayaks weight. For example: two boats, 14 feet long, same width. One weighs 50 lbs one 75 lbs. The 50 lb boat has a 300 lb capacity. You might assume that the other 14 foot kayak has a 300 lb capacity, but the boat itself weighs 25 lbs more than the first. Therefore, it only has a 275 lb capacity. This will only allow you to have an approximate capacity. Maximum weight capacity is very subjective and difficult to quantify even for the designers and experts. Please exercise caution when loading your kayak and take special note of the water and weather conditions.

MATERIALS: In this column the materials that the kayak is constructed of are indicated. Most kayaks are Polyethylene. In the table this is indicated as Plastic. Polyethylene is also used for Frisbees and Tupperware and is popular for its durability. Other plastics are also used to make kayaks as well. Fiberglass is the same material that is used in some non-metallic auto body parts. It is usually lighter than plastic in the same size kayak. Kevlar is like fiberglass but lighter and stronger. Composite indicates that the kayak is made out of carbon fiber, fiberglass, kevlar or is a combination of any of those three materials.

RUDDER / SKEG OPTION: This column will indicate if the kayak on this row can have a skeg, rudder or none. Some kayaks always come with a rudder or skeg. Some kayaks can never have a rudder or skeg. Many Kayaks have the rudder/skeg as an option that can be installed later. Some times you DO NOT have the option to add one at a later time, and you must order the skeg or rudder at the time of purchase. A few kayak makers will claim a "built in skeg." We have decided for the chart not to count skegs that are molded into the hull, only skegs that are installed after the hull is molded.

MAXIMUM NUMBER OF HATCHES: This column will indicate the maximum amount of hatches that the kayak can have. It does not show size and placement of the hatch(es). Some kayaks come with all the possible hatches preinstalled; some come with no possibility of a hatch at all. On most kayaks, hatches are an option that can be installed at any time. In some cases hatches can only be available at the time of purchase.

NOTES: This column allows us to put unique information about that particular kayak into the table that would not fit the definition of the basic fields. Most kayaks do not have a "note" but look any way, just in case.

SOLO / TANDEM: This column will indicate that the kayak is made for one person or two. (Look for the "Triple" 3-man kayak) Previously we had indicated possible seating arrangements for small children, this is very subjective. To simplify the table, and to avoid making judgment calls on children riding in cargo wells and such, we have removed it. I would be happy to voice my opinion via e-mail on any model that I have experience with concerning space for children and pets.

AKA: This stands for: "Also Known As" to indicate if that model has been produced under a different name. This happens when a company, or kayak mold, is sold, and some times when a new marketing plan is hatched. Look at the "Notes" column for additional information.

STATUS: This column indicates if the model is currently in production (available retail) or out of production (available used) look at the "Notes" column for additional information.

RETAIL COST: This column indicates the suggested retail price of the kayak on that row. Kayak shops will not necessary have the same price. It may be higher or lower, depending on sales and shipping costs. We have tried to keep this field up to date, but prices change regularly. Bear in mind that kayak have options like rudders and hatches and that can dramatically effect the retail price. You can also use this figure to guess at a fair price of a used kayak. If a used model kayak is in good shape and in demand, it could go for about half the value of the original price. Used kayaks that are in very bad shape will be considerably less, ones that are in mint shape may be more. Popular, well-designed kayaks will be in demand, while unpopular or poorly designed kayaks will have little resale value at all.

CLASSIFICATION: This column will indicate the general "class" or broad definition of the kayak. The difference between touring and recreation is an industry definition to separate serious use boats from play kayaks. Wave skis are for surfing, surf skis are for racing (speed). White water is for rapid rivers, and child kayaks are indicated also.

USAGE: Following the classification column, these 8 columns will indicate the best usage for the kayak on that row. Essentially you can use any kayak for any purpose, with varying results. However I strongly suggest that you weigh the intended use against your planned use and keep with in those bounds. Some kayaks are very good at more than one task, others do only one well. A kayak that "does it all" will likely not "do it all" well. A kayak that does only one thing will likely do it very well. You can fish and have play on almost all kayaks. Scuba diving can be done only from a select few. This feature of the table is somewhat subjective, and not carved in stone.
Touring: For paddling distances at a fast speed.

Play: For fun and play, shorter distance and slower speed.

Surf: For ocean wave riding.

Camping: For loading cargo and expedition paddling.

Diving: For scuba, has space for scuba tanks.

Fishing: Stability, features, & storage suitable for fishing.

Whitewater: For rapid rivers and whitewater kayaking, class III +.

Racing: Fast enough to consider for competitive races.

Note: It is possible to use virtually any kayak for any purpose but performance characteristics will be compromised. Therefore it is not a good idea to use a surf kayak for a camping trip, or a fishing kayak for a whitewater river. But you could use a play kayak to fish and diving kayak for touring. Use your best judgment and get the advice of others if you have concerns about the usage of a particular kayak.

I strongly urge you to try a kayak out on the water in conditions that you plan to paddle in before you make a certain kayak model your own. See "How to Choose a Sit-on-top Kayak"

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