By Tom Barlow, dealnews contributor
What's a fun-loving person to do for recreation and relaxation when the golf course is a desert, bicycling is a death march, and the tennis court is a patch of hell? When the summer heats up, nothing is better than spending some time on the water. Flat-water kayaking (where you don't have to worry about being dumped into swirling water by a nasty rapid) can be invigorating, relaxing, and refreshing. And thanks to some special deals we've located on the necessary gear, you can try your hand at the sport at a discount.
Finding the Perfect Kayak
Of course, a kayaking adventure must begin with a boat. Kayaks come in a number of styles for different purposes: whitewater running, fishing, sea excursions, flat-water paddling, and just plain goofing off. For a new paddler, a sit-in model like the pictured Emotion Edge Kayak ($399.99 with $37.95 s&h, a low by $37) works best. It's lightweight, roomy, and stable. At 10 feet long, it's nimble enough to navigate around deadfalls in the water, yet spacious enough to hold your gear, including food, clothes, and beverages. The cockpit measures 51"x19", so there's also plenty of wiggle room for travelers up to 350 lbs. Itself only weighing 37 lbs., the average adult can haul it out of the water and lift it onto a car rack. Last, but certainly not least, it comes with a padded seat for your paddling comfort.
We also recently found a deal on the pictured 44-lb. Old Town Vapor 10-Foot Kayak ($379.99 with free shipping, a low by $116), which features a 325 lbs. capacity, comfort flex adjustable padded seat, adjustable foot braces, molded in paddle rest, and cockpit tray with cup holder.
Set Your Sights on the Proper Accessories
Personal Flotation Device
There's no denying that kayaking is best enjoyed from the surface of the water, and a personal flotation device is designed to keep your body in such a fashion in the event that you have a close encounter of the wet kind. The vest-style MTI Current Personal Flotation Device ($55.73 with free shipping, $19 off) weighs only 1.5 lbs and is made of water-shedding polyester cut to fit either sex. For the fashion conscious, it's available in both Red (pictured) and Turquoise.
A Dry BagYou'll want to take some things along on your watery expeditions, like extra clothing, sunscreen, provisions, electronics, etc. However many of these items are no use if they get wet, so be sure to invest in a dry bag. These leak-proof bags seal securely to keep the contents high and dry when you aren't, and they can be stuffed into the bow or stern of your kayak.
The SealLine Black Canyon Dry Bag comes in 5-, 10-, 20-, 30-, 40-, and 55-liter capacities and in a variety of colors. A nice intermediate size is the SealLine Black Canyon 20-Liter Dry Bag ($29.66 with $5.95 s&h, a low by $2), pictured in Yellow. The bag is made of coated nylon, with science-fiction sounding "radio-frequency welded seams" and has a roll-down closure to keep out water. To keep your smaller gear safe from a dunk, invest in the Black Universal Waterproof Bag for Cell Phone / PDA ($3.58 with free shipping, a low by $2). It's a perfect fit for your iPhone, Android device, and more. It's clear screen allows for full functionality and it's waterproof up to 20 meters. But most importantly, it floats. Meritline also offers a variety of waterproof cases and bags for important electronics.
The Deck Caddy
One thing you'll find as you begin paddling is that there isn't necessarily a particularly convenient place to keep the stuff you might need at hand; sure, you have the waterproof stuff safely stowed away, but what if you want to quickly grab a snack, the GPS, some sunscreen, a map, or a drink of water? For this, you'll want a deck caddy, which is a fabric harness that attaches to the deck of your kayak.
The Tempress Cockpit Deck Caddy ($52.49 with $19 s&h, a low by $17) has pockets for water or soda, a clip-on electronics pouch with a clear window for a phone or GPS (in case you skipped the aforementioned pouch), a mesh trash bagger, a waterproof chart pouch, a clip-on water bottle sleeve, and an insulated pocket for food and beverages.
These one-time kayak expenses can lead to many, many hours of fun and relaxation, regardless of the heat. Even so, it's easy to love the summer when you're able to spend it on the water.
Note that this feature has been updated since it was originally published last year.