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    Recreational Kayak Buying Guide: Seats and Outfitting

    Recreational Kayak Buying Guide: Seats and Outfitting

    Once you've determined the hull type you want to look for, it's a good idea to consider what comfort features you'll want on the deck or in the cockpit of your kayak. These are usually called outfitting. Simply put, outfitting is the user interface of the kayak: the seat, foot rests, hip and thigh braces, and anything else used to connect you to your boat.


    For most rec kayakers, the seat is the most important piece of outfitting in a boat. We like to consider seats in three main categories: simple molded or padded seats, adjustable non-frame seats, and frame seats.

    • Molded Seats: The least expensive and most durable seats are simply molded into the deck of the kayak, and sometimes the manufacturer adds foam padding or an adjustable backrest to these. While they are hard to break, they don't provide a lot of support or customization. Since they usually sit right on the deck of the kayak, you may find that they don't drain water well and that you end up sitting in a wet seat more often.

    • Adjustable Non-frame: These seats are generally considered mid-range, and you can find them with a wide array of features depending on the brand and model of kayak. Most seats in this category use a raised seat pan, which drains water below the seat to keep you drier and more comfortable. They also usually feature more advanced foam and mesh padding for ventilation and moisture wicking, and you can often adjust the back height and even leg lifter straps on some models. These seats usually sit lower to the waterline than frame seats, so they are a good balance of comfort, control, and stability.

    • Frame Seats: The most comfortable kayak seats use metal frames much like stadium seats. They are removable and many offer more than one position--high or low, or even forward or backward adjustments. Many come with large amounts of padding and even lumbar support. Frame seats usually raise the price of a boat by at least $100, sometimes much more. They are easier on those who have back and knee issues, and are much easier to stand up out of. Since they are removable, always make sure to secure them before hitting the water--they don't float and they can be hard to replace. Because frame seats naturally lift the paddler higher above the water line, the center of gravity is changed and the boat will feel less stable and harder to control. Most kayaks add stability to the hull to offset this effect.

    Foot Rests: 

    All kayaks need some type of foot rest, but they are all slightly different. The most affordable foot rests are simply a series of molded in footwells, where the paddler chooses the most comfortable one based on leg length. Mid-range and higher end kayaks feature adjustable foot pegs, which are more customizable and tend to keep your ankles at a more natural angle. 

    Hip and Thigh Braces:

    When sitting inside a kayak, your hips are your most powerful control point, so snug hip pads give you more direct control over the boat. Thigh braces lock your legs into the right position for ultimate control, so you usually only find these in performance day touring or whitewater kayaks. While these pieces aren't common, you'll want to consider them if you plan to cover long distances or are simply looking for the most efficient boat. A few sit on top boats meant for mild whitewater use also offer thigh straps as a way to achieve this control. 

    Goshen Race 2021

    Goshen Race 2021

    The Return of the Goshen Race by Gordon Dalton
    The Maury River in Rockbridge County, Virginia flows through a rugged and beautiful sandstone gorge known as Goshen Pass; one of the prettiest parts of the state. The quality of whitewater paddling in Goshen Pass is as good as the scenery and this combination of rapids and beauty has made the Pass one of the best kayaking and canoeing areas in the Old Dominion. A small community of regular Goshen paddlers formed here decades ago; men and women from all walks of life coming together in the shared interest of whitewater paddling on this gorgeous section of river. Back in 2007 some of these local Goshen paddlers decided to get together to see who could paddle through the Pass in the shortest amount of time. The Goshen Race was born that day and it has continued on an almost-annual basis since then. In 2020 the race was cancelled due to the growing covid-19 pandemic, but this year the Race made its triumphal return. Like a well-made boomerang, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, like McArthur wading ashore on Leyte…the Goshen Race has returned!
    Because of the ongoing need for distancing related to the pandemic there was almost no promotion of the Race. Despite this, 30 racers showed up on Saturday, March 6th, 2021 for the 13th running of this mass-start downriver race. The field included racing kayaks, creekboats, playboats, a canoe, a C-1, and two tandem canoes. The day was sunny and mild with a flow of 820 c.f.s. moving through the Pass. The mass-start is always entertaining and this year was no exception as 28 boats fought their way through Undercut Rock rapid in a giant mass of churning paddle blades and bumping polyethylene. Slowly the crowd spaced out as the paddlers moved downstream for over two miles toward the finish line. It was Isaac Isaac Hull who the end first, with a time of 11:40. Isaac won the race for his second time in a row, meaning the coveted gold paddle trophy can return to its place of honor on the mantelpiece of the Hull home in Richmond. Another veteran Virginia boater, Josh Pecaric, was 2nd, with Thomas Blue in 3rd. Veteran Goshen racer and “sub-aquatic king” Harris Haynie was the first creekboat, followed by Austin Moran and Nick D'Addario rouding out the creekboat class. We had a record-tying number of women racers this year (5). In 1st place for the women was Sam Hopkins, then Carrie Hood and Jess Wiegandt for the silver and bronze positions. Travis Overstreet II was the 1st open boat to Indian Pool, then Nathan Frye and Seth Lively in a OC2.
    Thankfully there was no carnage whatsoever, but Phillip “Flip” Merica went home with the infamous carnage thong for being the last man to the finish line. Only Flip went home with new underwear, but every racer and every safety volunteer went home with a prize of some sort. Thanks to the longtime and generous support of Appomattox River Company, Pyranha Kayaks, Immersion Research, and Astral Designs we had some quality prizes for each man and woman at the race. Another fine day for “going fast with friends!”
    Gordon Dalton
    [Full results below]











    13th Annual 3/6/21  820cfs

    Sunny, 40's, light breeze





    Isaac Hull



    1st Overall/Longboat


    Josh Pecaric





    Tom Blue





    Henry Nixon




    Curtis May




    Harris Haynie


    Soul Booty Call (of course)

    1st Creekboat Class


    Austin Moran


    2nd Creekboat


    Robb Faulkner

    Karma UL (11'10")


    Nick D'Adddario



    3rd Creekboat


    Carter Koehn



    Sam Hopkins


    1st Women's


    Josh Tracey




    Andrew McCarty




    Carrie Hood


    2nd Women's


    Jamie Albert



    Spencer Gall

    Pyranha Ripper


    Walt Barnett

    Axiom 8.0


    Brandon Reynolds



    Dallas Curry

    Zet Raptor


    Jess Wiegandt

    Pyranha Ripper

    3rd Women's


    Megan Pullin

    Pyranha Ripper


    Travis Overstreet

    Silver Birch Rebel 

    1st Canoe / OC1


    Dustin Hinkle



    Benjamin Thomas

    LL Alpha 90


    Nathan Frye / Seth Lively

    Black Fly Octane 91

    2nd Canoe / 1st OC2


    Deven Lively / Heather Allen

    Silver Birch 10.5

    3rd Canoe / 2nd OC2


    Sean Comer


    White canoe


    "Flip" Merica


    Pyranha C-1

    Thanks also David Bruce, John Moran, Aaron Mittel, etc. for safety/support


    March-June Operational Update (Hello Curbside, My Old Friend)

    March-June Operational Update (Hello Curbside, My Old Friend)

    We're going to be honest with you. As the only shop with substantial inventory actually in stock, we've got people traveling from multiple states away to pick up orders placed online and showing up en masse. We are fielding online orders to be shipped from folks across the lower 48 states at a pace we've never seen. It's a good problem to have, but one thing has become clear; we don't have the staff to handle this volume of business. We've been trying to find some help, but it's been tough. 
     Most folks have been exceedingly gracious and understanding, extending patience and waiting as we work through the crowds. But not everyone has, and one of those folks blasted us on social media for not helping them fast enough. Regardless of that unfortunate situation, it has become clear that we cannot maintain our normal standard of customer service at this pace with a short staff, and not everyone will be understanding. So we have to control what we can control. 
    Starting this week, March 23rd and going until late June, we will be changing our operational procedures. This is being done for multiple reasons. One, to continue to provide good service. Two, we are running out of inventory again. We are selling faster than we can ship out , or people can pick up, and that puts us in danger of overselling kayaks to folks who stop in for in store shopping. We don't want to sell a kayak out from under someone we've already sold it to. Three, we are behind on Virginia deliveries, and our freight shipments.

    Tuesday-Thursday: Curbside pickup by appointment. For orders placed online or over the phone, we will be offering curbside pickup at our Farmville store from 10:00-4:30 each business day. Our staff are more than happy to talk you through your purchase on the phone if you have questions or need any guidance. Online you can choose 'In Store Pick Up' in the Checkout Cart. In the notes section write in your preferred Appt day and time. We will call if there is a conflict.

    Friday-Saturday: Limited in-store shopping by appointment. While we will still offer curbside pickup on these days, we will also be welcoming customers into the store by appointment and with properly worn face masks. We will only schedule 2 shopping Appts per hour and we will assign you a floor staff during your shopping visit. That means very focused attention.

    Shipping and delivery: We offer boat delivery within the state of Virginia on our own trucks and that is available to choose in the Checkout Cart online. In most cases, we deliver within 1-2 weeks of your order. For out of state orders, we are still shipping on our regular schedule. Fees vary by type of order and destination. Out of state orders typically ship within two weeks from your order date. All orders of regular-sized gear items will ship with either USPS or UPS ground, and are currently experiencing no significant delays.

    Current state of our inventory:  Inventory levels have dipped again. We are selling out of kayaks and canoes by the hour. If you see something as available on our website it is a good idea to buy it instead of waiting to visit us on Friday or a Saturday as it most likely will sell out. Supply issues will remain with us for the rest of 2021. Many manufacturers are not allowing any orders outside of what was pre-season ordered last fall. That means it will be many, many months before some retailers get more inventory. We have big orders in the hopper and should continue to see re-stock orders come in. It also means we cannot do special orders. Regarding notification of inventory updates, please see below.

    We have started a new email newsletter, and that will be our primary method of notifying folks of new shipment arrivals going forward. As soon as new inventory is received, it is made available for purchase on our website, and if our website shows an item as in stock, it is here and ready for shipment. We are working as hard as possible to make sure inventory is accurate and we aren’t overselling, but in the rare instance that that does happen, we notify customers immediately and provide a full refund. You can order with the confidence that we are not pre-selling boats that won’t show up for months.

    With all of that said, we hope to continue supplying all your paddlesports needs through the rest of this whole ordeal, and with the help of you, our community, we’re sure we’ll find a way through. Wash your hands, wear a mask, stay healthy, and we can’t wait to return to normal operations with all you folks on the other side of this wild time.

    We love y'all !

    Recreational Kayak Buying Guide: The Final Touches

    Recreational Kayak Buying Guide: The Final Touches

    You've decided you want a recreational kayak, and you've even chosen what hull shape and outfitting you want your boat to have. You're 90% of the way to a great decision! Before you hand over your money, though, you'll want to consider a few final touches to make sure you're getting your perfect kayak. 

    Storage: Storage in kayaks comes in two main forms: hatches and tankwells. Hatches are openings into the interior of the boat, and tankwells are simply areas on the deck with rigging for gear storage. Hatch openings limit the size of the gear you can store there, and any small items should be tied in so that they don't get lost inside the boat. Remember that hatches are only water resistant--they're not truly waterproof, so anything that absolutely needs to stay dry should be in some sort of dry bag or box. Tankwells are best for large, bulky gear that doesn't need as much protection, like coolers or fishing crates. Many boats have additional tie-down points so you can run extra rope or bungee for customized storage spaces.

    Consider how much storage you will need and what type-- if you're only out for a few hours at a time, all you'll need is a small day hatch for a lunch and some sunscreen. If you're planning overnighters, you'll want to look for more storage spaces, ideally hatches for more protection of vital gear.

    Rod Holders: If you're not in need of a fully rigged fishing kayak, but plan on taking a rod or two along, look for flush-mount rod holders behind the seat. These are very easy, low maintenance solutions for casual kayak fishermen.

    Gear Attachment: If you want ultimate freedom to rig aftermarket accessories, look for a boat with easy gear attachment points. Most modern sit on top kayaks have some type of universal track system, which makes it easy to slide rod holders and other fishing accessories on and tighten them down without drilling into your boat. Sit insides often have mounting points for manufacturer-specific accessories. 

    Steering and Power: Most rec kayaks don't come with rudders, pedal drives, or motors, but some are easier to retrofit than others. If you think you might want to add any of these things later, look for rudder-ready square-stern models that can easily be rigged out with steering or power solutions.