how to try out a large number of kayaks


I purchased a used kayak and I am having a great time with it. I am paddling on a calm river with a few places that have some rapids. I live in Southeastern Michigan (state with the largest shoreline in the US and the most registered boats), so I have a large variety of places to paddle. I don’t know where I will be paddling in a year (river/lake/rapids??). I have been pouring over books that explain the different types of kayaks, but you know that just gets you in the door. I would like to experience a large number of kayaks (at least 6 to 10 different types). I would expect that I would buy a kayak in a price range of $800 to $1,500 when I buy one, but I don’t have a timetable. I don’t want to bother or feel like I am waisting the time of a store by having them take me out to test that number of boats.


Where do I go to experience a large number of kayaks (at least 6 to 10) so I have a first hand feeling of what the different types, different materials and different price ranges offer without feeling obligated to buy?

There are quite a few symposiums all over the country with different mfg bringing in boats to try. They go by different names so keep your eyes open. There are some listings on this web site. Keep notes as you will get confused by the numbers.

demo day or symposium
try finding a dealer’s demo day or a symosium in your area.

Mountain Man has one coming up next week in NY for an example.


You said you don’t want to wast the…
stores time, but the large stores that are on the water usually are glad to have you “waste your time” and theirs too.

The larger the store, the more makes and variety they will have.

If there are no demo days near you, get on the hook and call a few stores to see what makes they have.

Explain your situation, and believe me if they are not in the business for a quick buck, they will be very accomodating.

If they are not, then you wouldn’t want to buy from them any way

Good luck and



here’s a couple:

– Last Updated: May-08-09 10:27 AM EST –

This is demo day season. At a manufacturer demo day the manufacturer reps are there with demo boats, and they're used to people paddling without buying.


And since your profile says you want to learn:

Not sure how far you are willing to travel, but Laacke and Joy’s of Milwaukee has Paddlefest going on next weekend:

Also, I believe Geneva kayak in the Chicago suburbs has demo days as well.

Joyn a local paddle club…
Ah’s sure yer kin git ta try out other member’s boats - ‘specially iffin’ yer bring donuts!


Demo Days

– Last Updated: May-08-09 11:20 AM EST –

You just missed Riverside Kayak Connection's demo day last Sunday! Don't worry, they have more coming up throughout the summer. for more info. They are in Wyandotte, so it shouldn't be too far from you. It's the best kayak shop in southeastern Michigan.

Another vote for a club
We have no problem sharing our boats and equipment on a club paddle, as long as the other person isn’t likely to get into trouble or pit a hole thru our stuff. This is fairly normal in most clubs.

Try Fluid Fun in Bristol, IN.
They have several makes and models and seem quite willing to let people test paddle on the St. Joseph River, which flows past their business.


yep, symposiums
for demoing kayaks usually in lake like conditions.

After that see what other people use for the conditions you mentioned…

Take a class
If you google or look on this site there is a Quiet World sports kayak paddle instruction place outside of Jackson MI - that’s mostly all they do is give classes. I took a class 6+ or so years ago and they had several different types and lengths of kayaks for everyone to practice on.

You could give them a call and see what they use.

You are so lucky!
The Riverside Kayak in Wyandotte Michigan is having a demo day on May 30th in Trenton, Michigan again.

Failing that, check out South Bass Island Kayak Rendezvous thread

The more paddlers get together, the more boats you can try.

Ditto on all of the above
For SE Michigan I second the comments about Riverside and the Douth Bass Island Kayak Rendezvous. At Riverside, I’m sure Tiffany would let you demo or rent anything in their fleet, plus they have more demo days coming up. Everything is listed in their online calendar.

There is also another paddling, demo, fun event scheduled for the Port Austin, at the Tip of the Thumb June 12-14. See link below

Michigan is 2nd to Alaska on shoreline, and 3rd to California and Florida on registered boaters.

Michigan is 1st for freshwater shoreline, so you can stake that claim. :wink:

Thanks for all the information everyone
I am set up to do both the Riverside on the 30th and the X Riders factory demo at Clark Lake on the 17th. Thanks to all your suggestions.