Best Places To Shop For A Kayak


If you’re keen to try out paddling, “Where to buy a kayak?” is likely your first question. Your options for places to buy kayaks is dependent on your location; and the best place for you to purchase will depend on your aspirations in paddling and how much you are willing to invest in the sport. From big box stores to specialty retailers and the used market, there are plenty of places to buy kayaks.

Here are some tips on where to buy a kayak.

Where to buy kayaks near me

If you’re wondering where to buy a kayak locally you’re on the right track to finding the right boat for you. Not only does buying local support the regional economy, it also saves on your travel expenses (put that money towards a cool paddling trip!) and, most importantly, allows you to get first hand experience with kayak options before you buy.

There are three general places to buy kayaks locally. Big box department stores, including Walmart, TSC, Canadian Tire and Costco, sell entry-level recreational kayaks from brands like Pelican and Sun Dolphin at discount prices. They offer a great selection of basic kayaks, however these models are often low on performance and comfort and best for casual use. What’s more, sales associates at these outlets often have no experience in kayaking.

Big box outdoors stores like Bass Pro, Cabela’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods are a bit of a step up, selling recreational kayaks (and often fishing kayaks) from brands like Old Town, Perception and Ascend that offer more refined comfort and paddling performance at a higher price. Still, these are kayaks designed for use on sheltered water; those wishing to progress their skills in kayaking will “grow out” of these boats quickly.

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Finally, paddlesports specialty stores and outdoor chains like REI and MEC offer higher-end day touring and sea kayaks from brands like Wilderness Systems, Current Designs and Boreal Design. The prices at these stores are much higher but the kayaks they sell are a better investment for those looking to make a stronger commitment to paddling. Specialty stores provide a more comprehensive shopping experience with trained and knowledgeable staff and the option to “try before you buy,” all critical advantages if you want to take paddling seriously.

Our online Paddling Buyer’s Guide is a great place to start your research. This comprehensive digital resource will guide you to the right style of kayak for your needs and relevant brands. From there, you can pinpoint the best places to buy a kayak for your application. Searching the relevant brands online also helps you find local places to buy a kayak.

Where can I buy a kayak online?

Buying a kayak online is a more risky procedure since it eliminates the option of inspecting a new kayak, sitting in it and trying it out before you make a purchase. This scraps the critical benefits of “trying a kayak on for size” to make sure a boat feels comfortable for your body and—in the case of higher end kayaks—assessing its performance on the water with a test paddle.

However, if you live in a more remote location buying online might be your best option in terms of gaining access to a larger selection of options. Most big box department stores, including Walmart and Costco, sell a wide array of entry-level recreational and fishing kayaks online. The choices are often vast and the prices are quite affordable if you’re looking for a kayak for casual use on calm water, and plan to paddle close to shore.

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Big box outdoors stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Cabela’s and Bass Pro also offer online sales, and sell more refined recreational kayaks with better performance and comfort features. Finally, some paddlesports specialty retailers will also offer online or phone-order sales and assist with arranging delivery of your new day touring or sea kayak.

Buying online also gives you the option of tracking down a particular kayak brand and model that you are interested in, a definite asset for more experienced paddlers who know what they’re looking for. Regardless of your level of expertise, our online Paddling Buyer’s Guide will help you narrow down the choices of kayaks that are best for you and find the online retailers to complete your purchase.