Short Kayak Vs. Long Kayak: What Are The Benefits And Which Is Better?

Fact Checked By James A Rockey | Post Updated On: December 4, 2022
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Short kayaks whose length is between 6 and 12 feet are great for beginners and those looking for a stable kayak that is easy to maneuver. On the other hand, longer kayaks between 12 to 24 feet are ideal for touring on choppy water and carrying a larger load.

Key Takeaways

  • The best kayak between a long and short kayak will be determined by your needs and what you intend to do with the kayak
  • If you are looking for more storage space on the vessel, then a long kayak will be best
  • If you are looking for stability and ease of transporting, a short kayak will be the best option for you
  • Short kayaks are lighter and easier to transport in a car while long kayaks are less exhausting to paddle on long adventures

Advantages Of Short Kayaks

Advantages Of Short Kayaks

Shorter kayaks are the most recommended for beginners because they are easy to control and maneuver, and they are also easy to load on a vehicle and transport. Most short kayaks are also relatively inexpensive, and anyone can afford them. Let’s look at some of the benefits of shorter kayaks in detail to determine who should buy them. 

1. Short Kayaks Are More Stable And Easier To Maneuver

Short kayaks are designed with wide bases, making them stable and ideal for beginners. As a beginner, you need a kayak that keeps you stable as you focus on getting the strokes right. Short kayaks feel more balanced and have lesser chances of tipping. With a short kayak, maneuvering and changing direction are relatively easy and more accurate. This is because the kayak has a shorter turning radius and a slower speed; you won’t need much paddling when steering away from an obstacle or even changing direction. A short kayak will be ideal for you if you are kayaking on a slow and narrow river that requires numerous twists and turns.

2. Short Kayaks Are Lighter And Easier To Transport In A Car.

Short kayaks tend to be lighter than taller ones; most weigh between 40 to 100 pounds. This lightweight design makes shorter kayaks easy to transport and haul to the water. It is no wonder that most kids’ kayaks are short, with a length of 6 to 7 feet.

With short and light kayaks, you can set out on a kayaking adventure alone without needing help to carry your kayak. Short kayaks are also easy to load on your vehicle without making adjustments to the car. You can secure your kayak in the car and drive to the kayaking destination of your choice.

3. They Are Inexpensive 

If you’ve been looking for a kayak long enough, you must have noticed the price difference between different kayak lengths. Shorter kayaks tend to be more affordable than their longer counterparts. The difference could be in the features and what the kayak is meant for but generally, the shorter a kayak is, the cheaper it costs. Some manufacturers even make different lengths of the same kayak, and the shorter version is always more affordable. A good example is the  Aqua glide Navarro series of kayaks; the longer kayaks cost more than the short ones by about $100.

Advantages Of Longer Kayaks

Advantages Of Longer Kayaks

Longer kayaks glide smoothly on the water, both in whitewater and calm water. They are better suited for experienced kayakers with advanced paddling skills. Let’s have a look at some of the advantages of longer kayaks in detail.

1. They Offer A Higher Weight Capacity Without Compromising On Movement

If you’re a heavier paddler or need to carry lots of gear and equipment on your adventure, a longer kayak is best for you. These vessels offer large weight capacities of between 450 and 600 lbs. and can fit a paddler and all their gear for multi-day adventures. Longer kayaks are also common for tandem use since the paddlers’ weight and gear are distributed evenly along the vessel. The best part about having a long kayak is that the more weight you carry will not compromise the kayak’s mobility.

2. Longer Kayaks Are Less Exhausting To Paddle On Long Adventures

The energy efficiency of longer kayaks is probably the most significant advantage of these kayaks. Longer kayaks are also designed with a narrow hull, and this combination makes paddling a breeze. You will have an easier time paddling and achieving faster speeds with a longer kayak since you only need gentle strokes to cut through the waves.

Most kayaks designed for speed, even on rough water, are relatively long, between 12 to 14 feet.

3. Longer Kayaks Have Better Stability On Rough And Choppy Waters

Longer kayaks have better longitudinal stability, which makes your kayak able to stay upright. A longer kayak can resist directional changes in choppy waters, making it track excellently. If your long kayak is partially submerged in the water, you can be sure its secondary stability will come through to get you back on track. You will also be able to make sharp turns in rough water without tipping or capsizing with a longer kayak than you would with a shorter one.

How To Choose A Kayak

Choosing a kayak involves more than just deciding on a short or long kayak. You will need to consider a few factors to get a kayak that fits your needs and the type of water conditions you will be paddling in. there are as many kayak types as there are activities for these kayaks. How do you know the one that works for you? Here are some factors to consider when choosing a kayak:

1. The type of water you are paddling in

2. Size and shape of the vessel 

3. Sit-on-top or sit-in kayak

4. Features and build you prefer

1. Type Of Water You Are Paddling In

The type of water you are paddling in should guide you in the right direction for the boat to choose. The water environment plays a significant role in your kayak’s performance and stability. If you are paddling on lakes where the water is calm, a stable recreational boat and ideal for short trips will work well. If you are looking to explore the ocean, where you will meet waves and currents, a sit-in kayak designed for touring is the best. These kayaks are longer and more efficient for long-distance paddling, most of them have a rudder for directional stability on choppy water, and they offer more storage space. If you are kayaking on the river, you need a short and stable kayak that turns with ease. Make sure you decide where you plan to explore more often before buying a kayak.

2. Size And Shape Of The Vessel

Another crucial factor to consider before buying a kayak is its shape and size. If you want comfort and more capacity on your vessel, a larger or longer kayak will be best for you. If you are looking for speed and excellent tracking, go for a long but sleek or compact kayak. Most wide and short kayaks compromise on speed. It is also essential to consider the shape of a kayak’s hull before buying. Some have a flat bottom while others are chined. A flat-bottomed hull is excellent for speed, while chined hulls are ideal for stability on the water. Choose what works for you.

3. Sit-On-Top Or Sit-In Kayak

Sit-on-top kayaks are mainly used for recreation on lakes and slow-moving rivers. They are great for beginners because they are easy to paddle and more comfortable. These kayaks are great if you are looking to try out kayak fishing because you can install rod holders on them and have ample space for your catch. Sit-in kayaks are primarily used for touring because they track straight and move fast. They are easier to control and maneuver, especially in choppy waters. For paddlers with advanced level paddling skills, sit-in kayaks are more efficient to paddle.

4. Features And Build You Prefer

Different kayaks have different features and types of construction. The material or features that work for you may be what another person loathes about the kayak. Go for the material you feel is durable for your type of use and a stylish and comfortable design. Also, consider other factors like the weight capacity and type of accessories that come with the kayak.

The Verdict 

Choosing the best kayak involves a lot of considerations. The best kayak to buy between a short and long kayak will be determined by your preference, paddling skills, and what you will use the kayak for. A short kayak will work best as you learn your way into the kayaking world if you are a beginner. For an experienced paddler looking for a swift kayak, we recommend getting a longer kayak.



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