We all enjoy the outdoors in our own way. Some of us need nothing more than a rowboat and a fishing pole, while for others the excitement starts with tying on a pair of old hiking boots. One more fun way to enjoy nature is kayaking. Peaceful, enjoyable, and a great form of exercise, kayaking has been a popular activity for several years. They’re also quiet, maneuverable in the water, and can be easily transported in a number of ways. Which kayak is the right one for you, though? If you’ve never picked up a kayak before, or are in the market for one, keep reading for a basic buyer’s guide to help you purchase the kayak that’s best suited for you.

One of the first things to consider when choosing a kayak is where you’ll be using it. For example, a kayak designed for small rivers and lakes just won’t be able to stand up to the power of the winds and waves of the ocean. If you plan to use your kayak primarily on trips to the beach and not around your home, then take that into consideration, as well. If you don’t know much about kayaking, then be sure to inform the sales associate of the type of water in which you’ll be kayaking most often.

Another important factor is how long and how far you’ll be kayaking per trip to the water. Some are in it for the long haul and can be out all day, while others go for a few laps around the pond. For longer trips on more open water, a longer kayak might be better, as it’s designed for ease and speed. River and small ponds are where shorter, more maneuverable kayaks will come in handy. Also, the average duration of your trips will dictate storage options. If you’re prone to long treks in a kayak, then I’d find one with multiple storage options for the necessary gear.

If you plan on kayaking with a friend, or even a dog, then a two-person kayak might be the way to go. I’m a firm believer that having too much of something is better than not having enough, and if you have friends who enjoy kayaking, or a significant other, than discuss the possibility of routine kayaking with them before making a decision.

We all get very excited when it comes to new activities, such as kayaking, but we have to employ a little humility and forego our perceived skill level in order to realize our actual skill level. That being said, an intricately designed kayak with an abundance of bells and whistles might not be the best idea for a beginner. If you’ve never kayaked before, period, then I highly suggest taking a class on the basics, or practicing on a friend’s before picking up one of your own. Keep that in mind, as well, when looking at the price tag. You’ll also want to be sure to have a way to transport your kayak, which means investing in a rack for your car, and also consider whether or not you have storage room at home. Car racks come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and there are a few different options for at-home storage when it comes to kayaks.

Kayaks are a great way to enjoy the outdoors and provide their owners with a peaceful, yet rigorous, way to escape the everyday lull for a bit. Like anything else, though, purchasing one requires a lot of time and thought, and there are many factors to consider before making the decision. Keep the aforementioned tips in mind if you’re in the market for a kayak, though, and you’ll walk out with the one that’s right for you!