Overlanding with a Kayak

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Pazuzu1991

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Overlanding with a Kayak


Headed out on a kayak camping trip, My Overlanding Buddy Justin is sporting a custom made wood paddle, its light, sleek, cool looking and made to his specifications. He is wearing a Stohlquist PFD.

Ovelanding is a gateway to adventure. To some its about the exciting combination of vehicle, journey, and destination. But for others, the destination has more than a singular promise of discovery. Trekking, Biking or Kayaking are excellent extensions to Overlanding and can be quite the adventure all by themselves. But when you combine them with the capabilities and range of the Overland vehicle mothership, things get really interesting really fast. By providing transportation and relative comfort, your Overland vehicle is pretty much the ultimate base camp. What would normally be an arduous or even impossible environment to access by yourself, now becomes fun and part of the overall experience.

In this installment I will focus on Kayaks. A misunderstood sometimes misrepresented and often misused boat. Kayaks are fun and offer great exercise, with the right clothing and equipment, they can be used in any weather any time. They provide excellent platforms for fishing, photography and basic exploration. They generally require little water to navigate safely and can be pushed hard or taken leisurely. Some can even carry up to 500lbs, thats a 1/4 of a ton in a boat that might weigh less than 60.lbs and cruise at 4knots. Like everything else, there are general purpose boats and there are specialized boats. It is important to get the right boat for your target activity, but even more important and often overlooked is the associated equipment.

Buying a white water boat for fishing and then going super cheap on way too big a paddle is the automotive equivalent of buying a TRDPro 4Runner, lowering the suspension and fitting 26inch low profile wheels and tires on it. Sure it will still drive, but you wont get the best performance out of it and you sure aren't taking advantage of its intended design specialty. The same can be said about the paddle. Its better to have a less capable boat and a really good paddle than the other way around. Think of it like this, Paddles are like your tires, and the boat is your vehicle. The Kayak paddle is how you gain traction on the water, its a major player in the boat’s maneuverability, speed and will determine how tired you are (no pun intended) at the end of a paddle session.

Just like we have Mud, Snow, Sand tires. There are specific paddles for most boat and water types. But just like there is an all terrain tire, there are paddles designed for multiple uses and water types. Another often overlooked component is the personal flotation device, otherwise known as a PFD. You don't drive without a seatbelt, why would you paddle without a PFD? A properly fitted PFD will be comfortable and wont restrict your movement. Actually, some are really comfortable. Don't be cheap, when you go get that really good paddle, don't forget the really good PFD. As a mater of fact, I recommend buying the paddle and PFD first and then getting the boat. That way, you wont go over your budget, and you wont have any excuses.
Both Paddles and PFD’s come in more than one size and need to be selected appropriately for optimal fit and performance.


Day 3 of a 4 day 110 mile unsupported paddle around the Land Between the Lakes national park Kentucky. The boat is a 17 foot Necky Looksha Touring boat. The Paddle is a Warner Camano carbon fiber 253cm touring paddle. The PFD is a Stohlquist unit. Out back, there's a swift carbon touring paddle as the spare tire uhum, I mean spare paddle.

Chose your boat wisely, there are 4 major categories of boats. Touring, Recreational, white water and hybrids. All boats can be organized under these main categories.

Touring Boats are the Overlanding boats of the kayak world, sleek long fast and capable of carrying large loads. Designed for paddling in open water, some are used to traverse oceans during transcontinental trips. These boats are capable of self supported extended trips. Normally 17 to 20 feet in length, hard to transport and store, but lots of fun. Not easy to paddle, they are expensive and are the play things of advanced paddlers. Less capable, shorter 10 to 14 foot options are also available. Normally touring boats will be fitted with a skeg or a rudder.

Recreational boats are the car equivalent of a regular pick up or a sport utility vehicle. The largest category, most common boats fall into this group. These are your stable slow moving boats, they are best suited to calm bodies of water and rivers. Recreational boats are normally short and wide, with wide deck openings and lots of cockpit space. They are great for putting around. With the exception of fishing boats, they are generally inexpensive when compared to other specialty kayaks.

White water boats are the automotive equivalent of a Baja trophy truck. They are short wide and extremely maneuverable. They have little room for anything other than survival and recovery equipment. They are fitted to the paddler and are a blast to paddle if you know what you are doing. If you don't know what you are doing they are terrifying. They are best suited to fast moving bodies of water. These boats are at home in angry boiling torrents. Hard to paddle in a straight line, they are made for correcting direction rather than selecting a direction. Really good for short burst but terrible and taxing to paddle in calm wide bodies of water.

Hybrids are a new kind of boat, and they are awesome. Designed to handle a little bit of everything they are the jacks of all trades, master of none. With the exception of large open bodies of water, this boat will put a smile on your face. They are basically a longer type of white water boat called a creek boat. These boats got fitted with skegs to enable them to go in a straight line over calm water. They were also fitted with bulkheads and access ports enabling them to store enough gear and supplies for a day or three. Excellent day boats. Hybrids are a cross between a touring boat and a whitewater boat. The cockpit is not exactly spacious but its not as tight as in a white water boat. They are not cheap, but they are worth every penny. If you can only have one boat, this is it.
 
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RescueRangers

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Great article and great mindset. Its nice to see others who feel exploring in a vehicle is only part of overlanding. The wife and I had a great time exploring a part of the Florida National Scenic Trail this past weekend and it reinforced our view that spending time exploring out of the vehicle is just as important as exploring in the vehicle. We would enjoy hearing more about your adventures.
 

vicali

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We love kayaks, the Looksha is one of my favourite boats, the other is the Orbit Fish!

My wife and I both paddled around taking different boats for demos. Eventually we came to the realization that; a) we could survive a 'divorce boat', and b) we carried way too much stuff for kayaks.. add in the Chocolate Lab and now 2 kids and we're very happy that we went with our 16ft Prospector canoe..

Just look how much fun these guys are having;
 

Steve

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After retiring, and after finding I needed a stent, I needed to stay active, so Deb and I bought kayaks for exploring streams, still rivers, and lakes around here. I went with a touring model because I'm very comfortable getting away from shore. Deb has a smaller boat for easy maneuvering, 'cause she can't swim and not comfortable going out in anything but dead calm.





Jackson Journey 14 and Dagger Axis 10.5
 

Iubootgater

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We almost always take the YAK's with us. I do allot of kayak fishing on a few small lakes. We bought Perception "Tribes" which are sit-on and stack-able for day trips on the river and for the fishing. They are definitely recreational boats, also have a old Grumman wide body canoe for the longer paddles across open water. Have not broke down and dropped the cash for carbon fiber paddles but agree with your logic.
Nice piece, looking forward to more.
 

stoney126

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I've only been on a few rental kayaks. Any insight for the newb kayaker? I've been wanting to pick one up for a long time but never got around to it.
Also what about 2nd hand gear? Any brands to stay away from?
Wonder if there are clubs?
 
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Steve

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Any insight for the newb kayaker?
See if your local outfitter, metropark, etc. has some sort of demo days. That way, you can try a variety of styles, lengths, prices, etc. Our local outfitter just finished putting in their own demo pond for kayaks and fly fishing demonstrations.

A hint: If you can, try to use the same paddle in various boats. When I first tried the Jackson Journey that I ended up buying, I used a cheap aluminum paddle, and it seemed sluggish compared to other boats I'd tried with good paddles. I later tried it again with a $600 carbon fiber paddle, and it felt like a completely different boat!

Go to http://www.paddling.net and read all their guides, and read through the message boards. There are a lot of people who have asked exactly those questions, so you'll find a lot of opinions.

Have at least some idea of how you want to use the boat. Whitewater, a few fun hours in a pond, fishing, day trips, extended journeys? They all have boats specific to those purposes. And all-around boat is a compromise as it is in any similar sport or hobby, but one that might work for you.

If it is going to be two of you, get two kayaks. Dealers refer to tandems as divorce boats. :)

You'll see from our two kayaks above, that we got two different styles. Deb's Dagger is short and wide, because she isn't too comfortable in the water, and wanted more stability. She'd rather compromise speed for comfort, and just uses it for a couple hours in a lake or very slow flowing rivers. We did get one with a drop-down skeg to help with directional stability, else she wanders around like a drunk driver.

Mine, is a compromise between a day trip boat and a touring/sea kayak style. It is wider and not as fine an entry as a true touring boat, which makes it glide less, but a little more forgiving in my abilities (or rather lack thereof.)

And lastly, have an idea of how much you want to spend. We have nearly as much in accessories as we spent on the boats. PDFs that are comfortable are expensive, good paddles are expensive, and make a world of difference, vehicle racks, storage racks, safety equipment, required lights, waterproof storage, and on and on. I'd guess we're around $4000 into the sport, and that's with relatively inexpensive boats. Some boats alone are triple that!

Or just go to a box store, buy a $200 boat, and have a blast! Either way, you're going to get wet and have fun!
 

Toyotadirtdevil

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What about the kayaks you see at Costco?
I was looking at those as I just like to explore and I do have a budget. I already own a nicer paddle and a pfd.
 

brianb2

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Great thread. The wife wants to get a kayak. I've gotten pretty fond of SUPs. A buddy and I are going on a 90ish mile stand up paddle board trip next month. Heading down river, will have to portage at two damns plus whatever pops up. Google maps is great for planning but it will only get you so far.
 

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P7140646.jpg We took a trip down the San Juan River in S.E. Utah over 20 years ago, with the two little kids riding in front of our duckys. But my wife got so pissed off at the upriver winds that seem to kick up every afternoon that she swore she would never go on another river trip with me.
So I recently bought a raft and promised her if she would come that she wouldn't have to paddle the ik's or row the raft, so she reluctantly agreed.
My son and 5 year old grandson and friends came along too. The grandson went crazy he loved it so much. But my wife really enjoyed the trip too.
So a few pics, I don't know how you guys put captions under each photo though, so I will give a brief explanation here.
The raft and river, the petrogylph panel, some ancient puebloan ruins, a pic of my new Springbar tent, (I love this tent) a pic of one of our camps. (we were on the river 3 nights)
and a pic of Mexican Hat rock near the takeout.P7150661.jpgP7130589.jpgP7130590.jpgP7130600.jpgP7130606.jpgP7140655.jpgP7140660.jpgP7150668.jpg
 

Kelly

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Two Canoe Deck Boat?

I've been kicking around the idea of rigging two 16' canoes together with a 10'x10' deck made of aluminum planks sitting on top, powered by a 5hp outboard. The whole thing (broken down) would fit on a roof rack. Add an canopy, tent, stove, cooler, and a couple camp chairs,... Good times!!!

There's no shortage if navigable lakes & rivers to be explored.

P.S. You could also use a 10'x10' Solar Blanket as a canopy, throw in a few 6v golf cart batteries, an electric outboard, and a 2k Honda generator (for backup), and you'd have yourself a Prius Houseboat ;-)
 
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SeguineJ

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Overlanding with a Kayak


Headed out on a kayak camping trip, My Overlanding Buddy Justin is sporting a custom made wood paddle, its light, sleek, cool looking and made to his specifications. He is wearing a Stohlquist PFD.

Ovelanding is a gateway to adventure. To some its about the exciting combination of vehicle, journey, and destination. But for others, the destination has more than a singular promise of discovery. Trekking, Biking or Kayaking are excellent extensions to Overlanding and can be quite the adventure all by themselves. But when you combine them with the capabilities and range of the Overland vehicle mothership, things get really interesting really fast. By providing transportation and relative comfort, your Overland vehicle is pretty much the ultimate base camp. What would normally be an arduous or even impossible environment to access by yourself, now becomes fun and part of the overall experience.

In this installment I will focus on Kayaks. A misunderstood sometimes misrepresented and often misused boat. Kayaks are fun and offer great exercise, with the right clothing and equipment, they can be used in any weather any time. They provide excellent platforms for fishing, photography and basic exploration. They generally require little water to navigate safely and can be pushed hard or taken leisurely. Some can even carry up to 500lbs, thats a 1/4 of a ton in a boat that might weigh less than 60.lbs and cruise at 4knots. Like everything else, there are general purpose boats and there are specialized boats. It is important to get the right boat for your target activity, but even more important and often overlooked is the associated equipment.

Buying a white water boat for fishing and then going super cheap on way too big a paddle is the automotive equivalent of buying a TRDPro 4Runner, lowering the suspension and fitting 26inch low profile wheels and tires on it. Sure it will still drive, but you wont get the best performance out of it and you sure aren't taking advantage of its intended design specialty. The same can be said about the paddle. Its better to have a less capable boat and a really good paddle than the other way around. Think of it like this, Paddles are like your tires, and the boat is your vehicle. The Kayak paddle is how you gain traction on the water, its a major player in the boat’s maneuverability, speed and will determine how tired you are (no pun intended) at the end of a paddle session.

Just like we have Mud, Snow, Sand tires. There are specific paddles for most boat and water types. But just like there is an all terrain tire, there are paddles designed for multiple uses and water types. Another often overlooked component is the personal flotation device, otherwise known as a PFD. You don't drive without a seatbelt, why would you paddle without a PFD? A properly fitted PFD will be comfortable and wont restrict your movement. Actually, some are really comfortable. Don't be cheap, when you go get that really good paddle, don't forget the really good PFD. As a mater of fact, I recommend buying the paddle and PFD first and then getting the boat. That way, you wont go over your budget, and you wont have any excuses.
Both Paddles and PFD’s come in more than one size and need to be selected appropriately for optimal fit and performance.


Day 3 of a 4 day 110 mile unsupported paddle around the Land Between the Lakes national park Kentucky. The boat is a 17 foot Necky Looksha Touring boat. The Paddle is a Warner Camano carbon fiber 253cm touring paddle. The PFD is a Stohlquist unit. Out back, there's a swift carbon touring paddle as the spare tire uhum, I mean spare paddle.

Chose your boat wisely, there are 4 major categories of boats. Touring, Recreational, white water and hybrids. All boats can be organized under these main categories.

Touring Boats are the Overlanding boats of the kayak world, sleek long fast and capable of carrying large loads. Designed for paddling in open water, some are used to traverse oceans during transcontinental trips. These boats are capable of self supported extended trips. Normally 17 to 20 feet in length, hard to transport and store, but lots of fun. Not easy to paddle, they are expensive and are the play things of advanced paddlers. Less capable, shorter 10 to 14 foot options are also available. Normally touring boats will be fitted with a skeg or a rudder.

Recreational boats are the car equivalent of a regular pick up or a sport utility vehicle. The largest category, most common boats fall into this group. These are your stable slow moving boats, they are best suited to calm bodies of water and rivers. Recreational boats are normally short and wide, with wide deck openings and lots of cockpit space. They are great for putting around. With the exception of fishing boats, they are generally inexpensive when compared to other specialty kayaks.

White water boats are the automotive equivalent of a Baja trophy truck. They are short wide and extremely maneuverable. They have little room for anything other than survival and recovery equipment. They are fitted to the paddler and are a blast to paddle if you know what you are doing. If you don't know what you are doing they are terrifying. They are best suited to fast moving bodies of water. These boats are at home in angry boiling torrents. Hard to paddle in a straight line, they are made for correcting direction rather than selecting a direction. Really good for short burst but terrible and taxing to paddle in calm wide bodies of water.

Hybrids are a new kind of boat, and they are awesome. Designed to handle a little bit of everything they are the jacks of all trades, master of none. With the exception of large open bodies of water, this boat will put a smile on your face. They are basically a longer type of white water boat called a creek boat. These boats got fitted with skegs to enable them to go in a straight line over calm water. They were also fitted with bulkheads and access ports enabling them to store enough gear and supplies for a day or three. Excellent day boats. Hybrids are a cross between a touring boat and a whitewater boat. The cockpit is not exactly spacious but its not as tight as in a white water boat. They are not cheap, but they are worth every penny. If you can only have one boat, this is it.

I'll be watching this. Posting also to make sure I don't lose it and can come back and read this! Little much to read at work in one sitting!
 
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