Canoes, Kayaks & SUPs

Canoes | Kayaks | Paddleboards | Accessories

Boating in coastal Connecticut is an ages old tradition that remains popular for very obvious reasons. Take in one sunset from afloat on the sound and you'll be hooked. Whatever your experience level we can get you there, and trust us, it is totally worth the effort. We sell human powered vessels: canoes, kayaks, and stand up paddleboards. We can outfit you appropriately with the gear and know-how to enjoy a lifetime of adventures on local waters. Just walk through the door to our boat shop, and you will be fast on your way to enjoying the best that coastal Connecticut has to offer.

How to Choose a Stand Up Paddle Board

05/28/2014

The best part about stand up paddleboarding is how accessible it is. We have many miles of great coastline, rivers, and lakes in Connecticut and all you need to get started is a board, a paddle and a PFD. Anywhere you can canoe or kayak, you can SUP too. Its a great way to exercise and enjoy the warm weather without needing too much gear. As stand up paddleboarding has gotten more and more popular, the different types of paddleboards have grown with it. This guide will go over the different types of boards and what the differences are between them.  To help in the process of finding the right board, we have a demo pond where you can paddle before you buy.

Types of Stand Up Paddle Boards

Allround: If being able to paddle down a river and then also catch some waves at the river mouth sounds like your sort of thing, then an all round paddleboard is for you. A great board for using in all disciplines and for the whole family to enjoy. These offer a traditional surfboard-style "planing" hull and are 10' to 12' long, 29" to 36" wide. These boards have been designed to have plenty of glide on the flat, but still easily maneuverable in the waves due to the length and narrow tail. The extra width makes them generally easier to paddle than the cruising / touring boards. These are great for beginners.

Allround

Inflatable

Racing: This is currently the fastest growing SUP discipline, and there are new SUP races and events being organized all over the country. So if you've got a competitive streak this is the probably the discipline of the sport you want to get into! Races range from sprint races, to long distance. Specialized race paddleboards have been designed which are longer and narrower. This enables the board to have more glide due to its increased water-line length. It also makes it easier to catch swells on those long downwinders.

Race

There are two SUP racing categories -  12'6" and under for sprint races, and 14′  for long distance races. The average width of a race paddleboard is 25" - 29" These boards have a pointed nose or bow (front end) and a rounded, kayak-like "displacement" hull. The pointed nose or bow is more efficient and requires less effort to paddle longer distances. These boards are fast and light due to the extremely lightweight construction (usually of carbon fiber and kevlar). This construction generally makes them the most expensive paddleboards on the market, and can make all the difference between 1st and 2nd place!

Race2

Touring or Flat Water Cruising: This is the easiest and most widely adopted type of paddleboarding across the globe, as it can be done anywhere there is flat water by all skil levels. For example lakes, estuaries, canals, coastal bays etc… Flat water cruising is the best way to get into paddleboarding and learn the basics. However it doesn't have to stop there… get exploring with friends, try fishing from your board, get up close with nature, try SUP yoga, put your dog or picnic on the front, or have fun at the beach with the family. Kids can have just as much fun jumping on and off a sup and paddling along sitting down as standing up!

Allround

They are typically longer than all-around boards for more speed, and often have a nose area that is pointed and shaped like a V on the bottom to help the board slice through the water smoothly, increase glide and help the board go straight. Their average length is 11′ - 14′ and the average width is width 28" - 32" . These boards are designed to be easy to paddle in all weather conditions and with enough glide for a long distance journey. Being slightly wider and having more volume allows them to take the weight of  dry bags and equipment. These paddleboards are generally made of a glass fibre composite as durability is more important than weight, unlike a race board. 

Touring2

Surfing: Sup surfing can be enjoyed by everyone regardless of their surfing ability. Whatever you might hear or be led to believe, SUP surfing is not just for beginners and surfing small waves! You can catch any sized wave on a paddleboard and experienced SUP surfers can look just as impressive on a wave as an experienced surfer. No waves are too big or too small to surf on a sup. However it's a great way to get into surfing if either it's your first time, or you have tried it before but experienced difficulty getting to your feet. When SUP surfing you are already standing up so you don't need to worry about the difficult popping up bit, you can just concentrate on catching the wave! The bigger board makes surfing more stable and therefore easier for beginner surfers. Many experienced surfers have also been converted to SUP surfing because of the ability to catch more waves, especially when the swell is small and you would otherwise be struggling to catch a wave on a surfboard. By standing up on your board you also have a much better view of the incoming swell and therefore the pick of the best waves. And having a paddle increases your speed and therefore ability to maneuver yourself quickly and easily into the best position, and catch more waves.

Surf

Surf paddleboards are made in all shapes and sizes to match the ability and weight of the rider. The average length is 7′ - 10'5" and average width is 28" - 32". The smaller the board the more maneuverable it will be on the wave, but also the more unstable! So it is important to choose the correct board size depending on your paddling and surfing ability.  These boards can be constructed from fiberglass, carbon fiber and kevlar.  Inflatable SUPs can also be good for surfing and a great option if you have only just learned how to stand up paddle board as compared to a hard board they can feel a bit safer in in the surf. 

SUP hybrids: Also called hybrid paddleboards, these can be used as a sit-on-top kayak or you can stand on them. This versatility allows you to take it easy, go fishing or do some light surfing. Some models add a deck hatch for gear storage on longer day trips.

How to Choose a Kayak

05/27/2014

Kayaks are a great way to get out and enjoy Connecticut's beautiful rivers, lakes, and coastlines and take in all the natural beauty and spectacular views that only being out on the water can offer. Whether you want to glide across pristine lakes, explore majestic seaways or navigate heart-pounding rapids, you'll need a kayak and gear that is well-suited to your paddling preference.

When choosing your kayak, there are many factors to take into consideration. At Outdoor Sports Center, our boat department has the years of experience necessary to guide you into the perfect kayak for your next adventure. While there is no substitute for knowledge and experience, this guide will help you figure out where to start.

Type of Kayaking

First, ask yourself some questions:

  • What types of kayaking activities will you participate in most of the time?
  • Will you paddle mostly on calm lakes and ponds, or in waves and whitewater?
  • How far do you plan on going in a day?
  • What is your skill level?
  • Will you paddle alone or with family and friends?

After you determine where you are going to kayak and what kind of kayaking you are going to be doing, you can then choose a kayak that will suit all of your needs perfectly. Kayaks are classified by use. If you are mostly paddling in the ocean, take a look at the big sea touring kayaks.If you will mostly be in ponds and slow moving rivers, recreational kayaks are what you should look for. People who like to paddle both big and small water will appreciate the versatility of a light touring kayak. Finally, whitewater kayaks are for river rapids and ocean surf.

Types of Kayaks 

Most kayaks fall into 3 categories for their intended use. Each category has the right combination of size options, outfitting, storage, and performance features for the intended uses outlined below. One of these types will fit your kayaking style and where you want to kayak better than the others.

 

Attributes Recreational Touring Sea Kayaking
Ideal Types of Water Ponds, small lakes, bays, slow moving rivers. Lakes, bays, moving rivers, currents, limited ocean use. Lakes, bays, moving rivers, rougher currents, ocean.
Trip Duration Day trips (less than 10 miles) Day or weekend trips (less than 20 miles) Day or weekend trips, expeditions
Skill Levels Low to intermediate Intermediate to Advanced  Intermediate to Advanced
Storage capacity Low Moderate Moderate to High

 

How Different Kayaks Perform

Once you've gotten a general idea of your paddling style, you are able to narrow it down more precisely by understanding the performance characteristics that are typical for each category. Below is a chart of how each performs relative to the other categories in each characteristic.

 

Characteristic Recreational Touring Sea Kayaking
Stability Best Better Good
Manageability Best Better Good
Speed/Glide Good Better Best
Tracking Better  Better Best
Maneuverability Good  Better Best 

 

What Does it Mean

  • Stability - general capability of boat's resistance to tipping over under normal conditions. 
  • Manageability - refers to ease of carrying, car topping, and storing the kayak when outside of the water. 
  • Speed and Glide - boat's efficiency moving through the water and potential for higher velocity. 
  • Tracking - boat's ability to stay in a straight line. 
  • Maneuverability - boat's ability to turn precisely.

Kayak Features

Once you've decided on a kayak model or two that fit your needs, looking at the features and outfitting can help in making your decision.

  • Cockpit: Cockpit outfitting is key to finding the best fit for comfort, safety, and control. Look for inclusion of a thigh brace or backrest, and adjustability if you will be doing longer trips or kayaking rough conditions. Pay attention to cockpit size to ensure it fits your body type.
  • Hatches and Bulkheads: Located at either end of the boat, the hatch is the opening to store gear and the bulkhead is the vertical wall that seals the compartment. Also a great safety feature providing buoyancy to the boat.
  • Deck Rigging: Deck lines, bungies, and toggles add safety in convenience for certain types of paddling. A spare paddle, compass, navigational charts, and other items can be readily available on deck.
  • Rudder: A mechanical device at the stern of the boat that is foot controlled and can aid in both steering and tracking.
  • Drop-Skeg: A mechanical device at the stern of the boat that can be deployed or retracted by hand. A skeg aids in tracking, but not steering.
  • Sprayskirts: For many sit-inside kayaks, a sprayskirt can help keep your kayak dry inside, especially for sea kayaking use. 

KayaksKayak Materials and Construction

These affect the durability, weight and price of a boat.

Polyethylene (PE): This is the most popular kayak material used today. It supports a variety of molding processes. Most common is rotomolding (short for rotational molding), a process in which plastic pellets are heated in a mold to melt. As it cools, it is rotated to get an even thickness. Polyethylene is inexpensive and wonderfully impact and abrasion resistant. It does have a lifespan, and years of sun eventually cause it to become brittle. Two popular types of polyethylene:

  • Linear: Also known as single-layer polyethylene, it offers good performance at an affordable price.
  • Superlinear: Also known as high-density polyethylene, it is considerably lighter, tougher, stiffer and more UV resistant than linear PE, and it costs more as a result.

PolyLink3/Triple Tough: This material is also referred to 3-layer polyethylene or cross-linked polyethylene. All of these constructions consist of a foam core sandwiched between linear polyethylene layers. The foam core adds insulation, flotation and stiffness. A newer variation of these is called variable-layer polyethylene. This strategically places varying layers of foam-core thickness throughout the hull for improved paddling efficiency.

Thermoformed ABS: The fabrication of acrylic over ABS plastic creates a glossy kayak similar to composites in appearance and performance. Though a bit heavier than composites, thermoformed ABS costs much less. It is lighter than polyethylene and is more resistant to gouges. If it does get a ding, it's repairable.

Composites: This high-end category includes fiberglass, synthetic and carbon blends that are extremely durable and lightweight. Composite boats are more expensive than polyethylene or thermoformed ABS boats.

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride): This flexible, cloth-like thermoplastic material is used to make inflatable kayaks and rafts. It comes in a variety of thicknesses. It is generally tough and resistant to punctures and abrasion.

Nitrylon: Nitrylon is a trademarked material used in a few inflatables. It features a tough combination of nylon and a Nitrile/natural rubber coating.

It can seem daunting at first thinking about all the different aspects there are to choosing a kayak that is right for you, but remember we're here to help. Outdoor Sports Center has the largest selection of boats and the most experience in the area. We even have our very own demo pond, so stop by and we can paddle some boats with you while you consider the options.