There are many reasons to make kayaking a part of an active lifestyle – the mental and physical benefits being some of them.
That doesn’t mean that you should buy a kayak straight away. You can reap the same benefits if you decide to rent one out for the time being:
Give it a shot, see how you like it – and then, when you’re certain that kayaking is something you genuinely enjoy, you can proceed to buy one.
I wish someone had told me that when I first got into kayaking. But instead, I ended up spending way too much on my first kayak without necessarily having the knowledge of what it is I need as a paddler.
I’m here to prevent you from making that mistake by introducing you to kayak rental companies – and sharing everything you need to know about renting kayaks.
Kayak Rentals – Key Takeaways
- Renting vs. buying a kayak: Renting a kayak can be cheaper and more convenient (in the sense that you can avoid the hassles associated with kayak ownership, such as storage or transport), and it gives you a chance to try something new without any commitments or obligations.
- Choose the right kayak rental company: Read the online reviews, check the safety record, ask about their insurance policy, check what equipment is included by default, and if they have a cancellation policy, among other things.
- How much does it cost? The price of renting a kayak may vary, depending on the type of kayak, and the length of time you wish to rent it for. However, rental fees are generally between $10 and $20 per hour or $50 and $95 per day.
- What you’ll need: A photo ID and a security deposit are mandatory for renting a kayak – but you’re also advised to bring a padlock for the rental locker, some spare clothes and a towel, and other essentials (sunscreen, sunglasses, a dry bag for valuables, snacks, and water).
- Safety tips: Dress appropriately and wear a PFD, refrain from drinking alcohol, don’t go kayaking alone (if possible), be sure to stay hydrated, and keep a safe distance from the surrounding wildlife.
Kayak Renting Benefits: Reasons To Rent A Kayak
When it comes to the whole “rent vs. buy” debate, there are quite a few things that make renting a kayak a much more practical choice.
Here are a few perks and reasons why you should consider renting a kayak:
- Reduced Costs – Kayaks are expensive; I am sure you’re aware of that. While I get why someone would prefer to just bite the bullet and buy their own ‘yak, perhaps it’s better to take the time to explore kayaking from the comfort of a rented kayak before you commit.
- Flexibility & Convenience – Owning a ‘yak has many benefits – but it also carries some limitations. One of the downsides of owning a kayak is figuring out where to keep it and how to transport it. Is that something you’re prepared for? If the answer is anything but a definite “Yes,” you should stick to renting for the time being.
- Trying Something New – Are you completely new to paddling – or are you just looking to explore a new side of it? If that’s the case, renting a kayak could allow you to explore this new interest without the costs, obligations, or commitments that come with buying a ‘yak.
- Specialized Equipment – Maybe you already own a ‘yak – but it is simply not suitable for certain specialized uses. For instance, your recreational kayak would not be of much use if you’re looking to get into whitewater kayaking. But instead of buying all the “specialized” gear, you can simply rent it out.
- Kayaking With Others – Again, what if you have a kayak – but it’s not designed to fit two people? Should you let that stop you from sharing the wonders of kayaking with family or friends who might not necessarily own a kayak? Of course, not – especially when renting a tandem kayak is an option.
That’s not to say that buying a ‘yak isn’t something you should ever consider; far from it. I would strongly encourage you to get your own kayak at some point, especially if it’s something you are passionate about.
Sooner or later, you’ll have to do the math and figure out whether it makes sense – at least from a financial standpoint – to continue spending on kayak rentals or buy one for yourself.
At the same time, there’s no denying that there are cases where renting a kayak is a reasonable choice – especially for those new to kayaking and those who can’t quite figure out the logistics of storing and transporting their kayaks.
What To Consider Before Renting A Kayak
Let’s start with the obvious:
Your choice here depends on how you plan to use the kayak and what kind of paddling locations you have available near you.
On that note, take the time to consider if you’re primarily interested in exploring:
- Lakes and ponds (or small bodies of water, in general), which are suitable for beginners and casual, family-friendly outings
- Rivers, which can offer a bit of a challenge, depending on whether you choose wide and slow-moving rivers or turbulent whitewater rapids
- Oceans and coastal waters, which are characterized by waves, stronger currents, and, at times, unpredictable weather conditions
The second consideration is how long you need the kayak – and whether or not the kayak rental company can actually meet your needs in that regard. Most, if not all, rental companies will offer hourly, half-day, and full-day rentals. So, be sure to plan your outing accordingly.
And finally, you should take some time to think about what type of kayaking you are interested in – and how that might affect your choice of a kayak rental. In other words, consider what you may need the kayak for and whether you’re primarily looking to:
That will determine the type of kayak you rent and the additional equipment you will need on the water.
So, yeah, I’d say it’s a pretty important decision – and one that should not be taken lightly:
Choosing the right type of ‘yak is imperative for enjoying your time on the water – whether you’re renting a kayak or buying one.
How To Choose The Right Kayak Rental Company
The basics of choosing the right kayak rental company are pretty straightforward. You should generally stick to the same set of criteria and considerations as you would with any other type of rental company.
In other words:
You want a company that is trustworthy, has a good reputation, and – let’s be real here – one that can offer you a good deal.
That sounds simple enough in theory, huh? And it generally is. However, in practice, the process of choosing a kayak rental company can involve quite a bit of research and comparisons – which can, at times, get confusing.
So, before you choose a kayak rental company, be sure to:
- Read the online reviews and pay attention to the recurrent complaints; those will tell you what previous customers found unsatisfactory or inadequate service-wise
- Review the company’s safety record
- Check if the company has insurance coverage and, more importantly, what is covered by the policy
- Ask if they provide basic instructions for beginners (and if that’s something that could be arranged)
- Ask if they provide basic safety equipment, and if so, what’s included in the “package” by default and what may be charged separately as “Extras”
- Check if they have a cancellation policy and, if so, how flexible it is
- Check if the rental company has a parking lot, changing facilities and lockers, toilets, and other amenities such as restaurants or picnic area, you will need before and after your outing
The Different Types Of Kayaks Available To Rent
I get that kayaks may all look virtually the same to the untrained eye of a beginner paddler – and that’s perfectly normal. We’ve all been there.
But I’d like to remind you that there are different types of kayaks designed for specific paddling styles, intended uses, and environments. That’s why I called your attention to the importance of considering where and how you plan on using a kayak before renting one out for the day.
I won’t go into the details here – you can check out this guide for a full overview of different types of kayaks – but I would like to introduce you to your options. So, with that said, here’s a list of the most common kayak types available for rent:
- Sit-on-top (SOT) kayaks, the go-to choice for recreational and less experienced paddlers
- Sit-inside (SIK) kayaks that feature a closed cockpit and are suitable for more advanced paddlers
- Inflatable kayaks, as the more lightweight alternative to the typical hard-shell kayaks
- Tandem kayaks, aka double kayaks, designed to accommodate two paddlers, two adults and a child, or even a pet
- Fishing kayaks, equipped with fishing-specific features
- Pedal kayaks that feature a pedal drive system and are more suitable for relaxation and taking photos of your surroundings
- It may also be possible to hire other types of watercraft such as canoes, SUPs, and rowboats from some rental companies. So, if you’re interested in those options, be sure to ask about them as well.
How Much Does It Cost To Rent A Kayak?
Kayak rentals are generally cost-effective – especially compared to actually purchasing a kayak – so, in that sense, you have nothing to worry about. Then again, as with most rental services, the rates can vary from one company to another.
And not only that:
The things covered by the kayak rental “package” – like the essential safety equipment and extra gear – can differ and add to the total cost.
So, with that in mind, I can’t talk about definite numbers here.
What I can do, though, is provide you with some rough pricing estimates based on the different types of kayaks and the duration of the rental period:
Most rental companies will include the cost of renting a PFD in their kayak rental prices. One, because it is required by law to wear one on the water, and two, because it is possible that their insurance policy requires them to do so.
Either way, you can expect to get a life jacket.
Other things might be considered “extras,” though – meaning you’ll have to pay an additional fee for them. These include items such as:
- Helmet: $10-15 per day
- Wet suit: $30 per day
- Dry suit: $30 per day
- Dry bags: $5-10 per day
Things To Bring With You When You Rent A Kayak
Don’t make the mistake of heading straight to a nearby kayak rental company – as in, don’t just show up unprepared for renting a kayak. Taking the time to prepare and pack a few essentials you’ll need for the day will make the whole process smoother – and, at the same time, ensure that your outing will be as pleasant as possible.
With that said, when renting a kayak, you typically need to bring:
- Photo ID (driver’s license, passport, or any other government-issued identification) and a security deposit, which you will need to rent a kayak
- Padlock for the rental lockers (if you don’t bring one, the rental company may be able to provide one for you – but it’s better to play it safe)
- Comfortable clothes that you don’t mind getting wet – because, to be honest, you’ll most definitely get wet at some point during your outing
- Towels and spare clothes for when you’re done paddling for the day and want to change into something dry for the ride home
- Essential kayaking equipment that will make your time on the water a lot safer, more fun, and comfortable – such as sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, a waterproof camera, a dry bag for your valuables, snacks, and plenty of drinking water
Things To Keep In Mind When Renting A Kayak
You’ve picked out a kayak rental company and have an idea of what you need in terms of kayak type and duration of your outing.
Perhaps you even took things a step further and gathered everything you’d need for your outing so that you can be all set and ready to hit the water as soon as you rent out a kayak.
That’s great; you’re halfway there – but:
While these things all contribute to a smoother process of renting a kayak, there are a few more things renters should take care of before heading out.
Here are a few additional considerations:
- Be sure to call the kayak rental company ahead of time and make reservations. It’s possible that some companies may not accept walk-ins, especially for daily rentals.
- Check their working hours; many kayak rental places operate on a seasonal basis and might not be open year-round.
- Not all kayak outfitters and rental companies allow pre-booking during the season. You should factor that in when planning an outing.
- Note that rental companies typically stop renting kayaks for the day within an hour of closing time. If you’re planning an afternoon outing, be sure to arrive at the location on time, allow an extra 30 mins to follow the check in process and safety instruction – or you might have to postpone until tomorrow.
- Always check the weather forecast beforehand. If the weather changes or there’s a chance of a storm, most kayak outfitters will be forced to close for the day.
- Remember to inspect the kayak and any accompanying gear you receive beforehand. It’s not only a matter of personal on-the-water safety; you will be held responsible for any unreported damage.
- Note that you’ll be required to sign a waiver. That’s a prerequisite for getting on the water – especially if you will be kayaking with a minor onboard. Adults will also be asked to sign a waiver on behalf of minors renting a kayak.
Basic Kayak Safety Tips For Kayak Renters
Whether you’ve launched your own kayak or rented one out for the day, the rules of staying safe on the water remain more or less the same. A bit of common sense goes a long way safety-wise – that should go without saying.
Anyway, here are a few basic kayak safety tips to keep in mind:
- Always wear a PFD. Even if you’ve rented a kayak on a small lake or you’re out with experienced kayakers, life jackets are a must. Most – if not all – rental companies will provide a PFD along with the kayak as its a legal requirement, but it is your duty to wear it.
- Be mindful of the local wildlife. If you’re kayaking in an area where there’s a chance of encountering bears, sharks or alligators, remember that you’re on their territory and keep a safe distance.
- Never kayak alone. Sure, it would be nice to enjoy the silence and tranquility – but keep in mind that, should things go south, you’ll be out there on your own. And you don’t want to risk that – especially not if you’re an inexperienced paddler.
- Never drink and paddle. Here, the same rules apply to kayaking as they do to drinking and driving, meaning operating a vessel while intoxicated is treated as a federal offense.
- Dress appropriately. And by “appropriately,” I mean that you should dress for the water, not the weather.
- Remember to stay hydrated. Overlooking the importance of hydration is a recipe for disaster. It is imperative that you drink enough water and fuel your body throughout your paddling session.
Yes, kayaking has its hazards – all water sports and activities do.
However, as long as you’re prepared, mindful, and responsible, it is entirely possible to minimize those risks – or avoid dangerous situations altogether.
Frequently Asked Questions on Kayak Rental
Can children rent kayaks?
In general, most kayak rental businesses ban minors from renting kayaks on their own, and those that do, have a minimum age requirement of 12-14 years. Adults must accompany renters under the age of 18 and sign a waiver on their behalf.
Do kayak rental places allow dogs?
That depends on the kayak rental company and its policy. While there are plenty of dog-friendly kayak rental companies out there that will allow well-behaved pets to join you on the rental ‘yak, others will not allow dogs on board. Sometimes, it’s not even up to them – certain national parks do not allow pets in general. So, if you’re hoping to go kayaking with your pet, it’s best to call the kayak rental company ahead of time and ask about their policy.
We’re always renting kayaks… Should I just buy one?
After renting a kayak for a while, it makes sense that you are considering getting one – but know that owning a kayak comes with certain challenges. Things like storage and transportation need to be considered in advance. Besides, there’s also the issue of cost; a brand new kayak may be too expensive for some, which is why I recommend exploring the second-hand market on top of the usual kayak stores.
Do I need a fishing license if using a rental kayak?
The laws are clear – anyone fishing in public waters must have a valid fishing license on hand. There are no exceptions to this law, regardless of whether you are fishing from a rented kayak or your own vessel.
Kayak Renting: A Quick Summary
If you are not ready to commit and become an actual kayak owner, but would still like to explore the many wonders and joys of kayaking, or maybe you fancy a day on the water during your next family trip, the answer could be as simple as renting a kayak.
The benefits are many – from reduced costs to increased convenience and practicality. The best part? There are no commitments. You can pretty much get a taste of kayaking without any of the hassles of kayak ownership.
So, if you haven’t already, now is the time to visit a nearby kayak rental company and see what they have to offer.