Explosive growth in kayak sales has meant that the number of kayak manufacturers has soared in recent decades. With a predominant move to whitewater kayaking as the sport du jour, manufacturers are putting more effort and resources into whitewater design to further increase sales and try to keep an edge in this highly competitive market.
Competition between kayak manufacturers is fierce and with the sport maturing to reveal lucrative niche markets, kayak manufacturers have to act fast to keep up. Play boating or rodeo kayaking has largely been responsible for this growth in the market. Rather than getting down the river kayakers are heading straight to the rapids to play and with new advances in technology and technique evolving all the time, kayaks are changing fast.
As one manufacturer develops and produces a new hull shape or design, the next goes on to modify and perfect it under their own brand name. Consequently it’s difficult to recommend one manufacturer over another as the market is simply too changeable to predict.
However, manufacturers do have speciality areas and a company well known for their sea kayaks may not be so well regarded for their white water kayaks. Other kayak manufacturers focus purely on recreational markets and only produce sit on top kayaks.
For example, in the white water market the current leaders are Perception, Dagger, Pyranha, Prijon, Wavesport, Necky and LiquidLogic, but they jostle each other as new releases and trends change their popularity levels. In areas such as wood strip kayaks, a traditional choice of kayak, the market is a lot less volatile.
Choosing the ideal kayak
But really the best kayak on the market is the one that suits you and your paddling plans the best. Always try and buy the best kayak you can afford but don’t base your judgements on price alone. Get advice from experienced kayakers, join a club to try out different models, read reviews and narrow down your search that way. Go to a retailer with a short list and make sure you get to test out the kayaks before you buy. Not all kayak manufacturers sell directly to public but all link to a list of dealers from their own websites.