kayakranking@southernadventures.com.au Ph (02) 4324 2867 - Kayak Ranking

Kayak Ranking :: How our Kayaks have been Rated

kayak Please Note: All of our kayaks have been ranked by a panel of qualified instructors. The result is that you get a totally transparent overview of each kayaks' good and bad points (warts and all) to help you make a completely objective decision.

Naturally each kayak has been ranked within the context of it's category. For example, a stable sea kayak is still less stable than a recreational sit-on kayak of mediocre stability and a slow sea kayak is still faster than a fast recreational kayak (it's all relative).

Kayaks have been rated according to the following characteristics:
Stability, Tracking, Speed & Efficiency, Manoeuvrability, ability to handle choppy conditions and Weight Factor.

Each kayak has been classificed within each of these of these categories as either:
Because we stock only the best brands our ratings tend to be skewed left of 'average' ie there are not too many scoring 'poor' or 'average' in any category.


Stability is the ease with which a paddler can remain in the kayak while at rest and in motion without feeling like you're going to tip over. Generally speaking the stability of the kayak is determined by it's width, however, other elements also play a part in determining the stability, such as hull shape, seating position in relation to water level etc.

Stability has a reverse relationship to speed ie the faster kayaks tend to be less stable. A beginner would normally seek more stability while a more experienced paddler would sacrifice stability for speed.


Tracking is the ease with which the kayak travels in a straight path. Generally speaking good tracking is consistent with longer kayaks with less rocker (curviture bow to stern), sharp 'V' hull (as opposed to round hull) and distinct keel. Poor tracking is usually associated with shorter kayaks with a flat or round hull and little or no keel.

Generally speaking tracking has a reverse relationship to manoeuvrability. Good tracking is sought when wanting an efficient ride for medium to longer distance paddling while manoeuvrability is preferred when wanting to surf waves or white water or general fun. Sea kayaks tend to have more rocker (curviture bow to stern) than flatwater touring kayaks as they need to sacrifice waterline for an upswept bow for dealing effectively with sea and swell.

Speed & Efficiency

Speed is a combination of length, width, weight and obviously the strength and agility of the paddler. Generally speaking a longer, narrower kayak will out perform a shorter, wider kayak. The size of the kayak in relation to the paddler will also play a determing factor in reaching the optimum performance for the kayak ie a large paddler in a very small kayak will sit too deep in the water and thus be more sluggish while a featherweight paddler in a huge kayak will tend to sit too high above the water and thus not get the necessary traction (and be subject to being blown about by wind).

Efficiency is the ease with which the kayak passes through the water and is in most cases synonomous with speed.

Beginners will often sacrifice speed for a wider, more stable kayak while advanced paddlers will prefer something lean, fast and efficient.


Manoeuvrability is the ease with which the paddler can change the direction of the kayak. Generally speaking a kayak with shorter water line, less significant keel and more rocker (curviture bow to stern) will be more manoeuvrable than a long, straight kayak with defined keel.

Manoeuvrability is sought when wanting to surf waves or white water or general fun. Sea kayaks tend to have more rocker (bow to stern curviture) and hence more manoeuvrability than flatwater touring kayaks as they need to sacrifice waterline for an upswept bow for dealing effectively with sea and swell.

Ability to handle Chop

Chop handling is the ability of the kayak to maintain it's stability in rough conditions while the paddler still enjoys a relatively dry ride. Kayaks with poor chop handling will become less stable when the water becomes choppy and the paddler may get wet.

Sea kayaks tend to have excellent chop handling while recreational flatwater kayaks have poor chop handling and flatwater touring kayaks have mediocre to good chop handling.

Weight Factor

Weight is becoming more and more relevant as more people become aware of how important it is to look after your back. Straining one's back can cause serious medical problems in later years.

Historically the only way to achieve lightweight in a kayak was through carbon or kevlar construction, and to a lesser extent fibreglass, but these composites proved to be fragile and prone to frequent breakage.

With the advent of thermoformed technology (Hurricane, Whelo, Prijon Prilite, Barracuda, Riot Lite Series) kayaks are now available in a lightweight yet durable construction and it seems that back problems assiciated with lifting kayaks might become a thing of the past.

Of course, the heavier polyethylene and HTP plastic constructions are cheaper so there will still be a market for these products and using trolleys, loading devices and correct technique you can avoid injury.

In this category we have listed weight factor in relation to the size of the kayak. For example, a 17kg / 4.9m Barracuda Beachcomber is rated "excellent" as it very light for its size whereas a 17kg / 2.9m Riot Quest 9.5 is rated "good" as it is light but not exceptionally light for it's size.

As a guideline weight is determined largely by the materials used in the construction of the kayak. The table below indicates roughly the relative weight, strength and price of various constructions

HTP (Prijon) Polyethylene Fibreglass Carbon / Kevlar Thermoformed
Lightweight 3 3 5 8 7
Strength 9 8 2 4 6
Cheap 8 10 6 3 4

Remember also that weight may vary quite a lot within each of the above categories, for example, cheap no-name brand fibreglass kayaks are often a lot heavier than the quality brands, and same with the cheap polyethylene no-name brands.


We try to highlight any notable charactersitics (good or bad) that we have become aware of with that particular model of kayak that might impact your decision making process.

Our intention is to be totally transparent so that you know exactly what you're paying for and hence set your expectations accordingly. We trust that you will respect our honesty.

We aim to assist you in finding the ideal kayak for YOU. By asking you a few important questions we can usually narrow down the 130 or so models that we have in stock to one or two that meet your requirements, the rest is up to you........

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