What to Look for When Upgrading Your Kayak

Learn what features to seek out once you’re ready to move on from your beginner’s kayak.

You love your kayak. It’s been on countless adventures on the water with you. It’s pretty basic but gets the job done.

But now you’re ready to upgrade to something a little more advanced.

There are a variety of features to consider when upgrading from your beginner’s kayak. From comfort to material to a bulkhead, a new kayak can improve your time on the water. Pro Tips is here to guide you through some of the upgraded features you may need to consider.


One major improvement will be the comfort level the kayak provides. This can impact your experience on the water. These improvements can include:

  • Upgraded seating systems for more comfort. The seat can have additional padding, and the seating system may offer multiple positions. This can include tilt-adjust bottoms to support your thighs.
  • Adjustable foot rests can provide a more precise fit than molded foot pegs. These features can offer comfort in your kayak for hours.
  • Leg paddings along the cockpit edge will also improve the feel of the kayak for your lower body.


Another feature you’ll find in upgraded kayaks is more storage space. This can be useful for kayakers looking to spend extended time on the water or planning to go on a kayak camping trip.


A keel system is an improvement on the design of the boat.

“These upgraded kayaks also offer a keel system that can help you keep the kayak [straighter] during the day or make it a little bit easier to turn,” professional kayak instructor Carson Lindsay says.

A kayak with a keel can be faster and track better than a kayak without a large or defined keel.


These kayaks can come with a bulkhead, which is absent in entry-level kayaks. A bulkhead is a sealed barrier on the interior of the kayak. It can be made of foam, plastic or composite materials.

This upgrade provides two improvements:

  • Bulkheads add buoyancy, which is a safety feature.
  • Bulkheads create watertight separation for dry storage.


Finally, the materials used in the construction of the kayak can lead to an improved experience. ABS plastic can offer several improvements over polyethylene kayaks. Fiberglass and carbon fiber tend to be the materials used in premier kayaks.

“These upgraded kayaks are made of more durable materials that are a little bit more lightweight that make it a little easier to transport and also potentially faster on the water,” Lindsay says.

Once you find your new kayak, you’ll want to treat it with some TLC. Finding the right storage space for your kayak can help keep it in tip-top condition.

A new kayak is an investment. Knowing what to look for once you’re ready to upgrade is key. By going in prepared, you’ll be able to find a kayak that will help improve your experience in the great outdoors.