Where to kayak in Ottawa

City of Ottawa
Ottawa River, Rideau Canal, Rideau River, Gatineau River.

Ottawa Area
Jock River, Clyde River, Petite Nation, Lievre, Brewery Creek, Constance Creek, Carp, Mississippi, Madawaska, Crotch Lake.

Polyethylene vs. Fiberglass Kayaks

Polyethylene (poly) or plastic kayaks have some definite advantages, particularly for the beginner kayaker. Less expensive and nearly indestructible, these poly kayaks can take the roughest rides and still come out rather unharmed. For rough river runs and shallow creek kayaking, you will have peace of mind knowing that your poly kayak won’t be susceptible to scratches, dents or cracks. Poly kayaks are, however, susceptible to UV damage and can become warped if left in the sun for long amounts of time.

A fiberglass (or composite) kayak is stiffer and shinier than a poly kayak and gives better water performance. Fibreglass can also be lighter than polyethylene, without losing any strength. While not as indestructible as poly kayaks, fiberglass kayaks are more durable than many might think and can be repaired should a scratch or dent occur. With proper care, a fiberglass kayak can last for many years.

Fiberglass kayaks are more expensive than poly kayaks due to the materials and craftsmanship required to make them.

Kayak Paddles

There’s nothing more important than your paddle for a comfortable and fun kayak outing. You want to find a paddle that suits your body type, strength, abilities and the type of water you will be on.

A kayak paddle can either have a straight or bent shaft. A bent shaft is more comfortable for paddling because it cuts through the water more easily and you will exert less energy as a direct result—but these perks come at a price. If you are on a tight budget, a straight paddle might be a better choice.

Another thing to consider when choosing a paddle is width of blade. A wider blade displaces more water per stroke, moving the kayak further through the water with each stroke. This requires greater upper body strength, so if you’re just starting out or don’t do a lot of weight training, you might consider a smaller width paddle to avoid overexertion.

The type of water you will be paddling on also determines which size paddle blade is best. River kayaking is best paddled with a narrower blade, while wider blades are better for ocean kayaking.

Another paddle option is the collapsible paddle. These paddles are convenient for transporting as they take up less space but, for the additional cost, may not be worth it for every kayaker.

Kayak Carts

Kayak carts make transporting your kayak easier, particularly handy for those launch points located at a distance. Strapped to the top of your kayak during your paddle, the kayak cart can be used on portages and is a key factor in keeping your kayak safe when travelling over land.

When shopping for a kayak cart, the most important thing to consider is the type of wheels. The quality of the wheels and the width of the wheelbase determine the cart’s agility and what type of terrain you will be able to cover with your kayak cart. Lesser quality wheels will not allow for rough terrain portages, while too narrow a wheelbase will make the cart less stable. The last thing you want is a flipped kayak when navigating a portage.

Unloading your kayak directly from car to cart is definitely convenient, and with the right cart you can travel any terrain to get to your ideal launching spot.

Kayak racks

A roof rack or specialized trailer is a must not only to get your kayak to the water safely, but also to avoid damaging your car or your kayak. There are many different styles of roof racks—horizontal, j-style, vertical and hitch mount—something for every purpose and budget.

Kayak rack: Horizontal roof rack
Just as the name suggests, your kayak is carried flat on the roof of your car in a horizontal kayak rack. This gives the most surface area contact for your kayak, using the kayak’s aerodynamics to reduce wind resistance and improve fuel consumption.

Kayak rack: J-style roof rack
J-style roof racks fold flat when not in use, which is a convenient feature that makes the j-style rack one of the more popular racks. Kayaks can be loaded from the side and are placed at a 45-degree angle, allowing room for other equipment. This rack also offers a locking system for extra peace of mind.

Kayak rack: Vertical-frame roof rack
Vertical-frame roof racks carry the kayak on its side, allowing for four kayaks to fit on top of your vehicle—this is a very convenient rack solution when you are transporting multiple kayaks. The vertical frame does not need adjusting once it is mounted onto the roof. Its simple on/off mechanism makes installation a breeze.

Kayak rack: Hitch mount rack
Hitch mount racks are designed for vehicles that don’t have a long enough roofline for kayaks, (e.g. pick-up trucks). Any vehicle with a two-inch hitch can be fitted with a hitch mount rack. Look for features such as telescopic height adjustment and an anti-wobble feature to ensure your kayak arrives safely.

Kayak Storage

How should you store your kayak? Where should you store your kayak? These are good questions once you’re off the water. Luckily, there are many different storage solutions to keep your kayak safe and out of the way.

Depending on the room (and budget) you have available, you can invest in wall hangers, freestanding racks, wall racks or ceiling hoist systems.

If you are suspending your kayak, the best way is to rest the kayak on straps. Never hang your kayak from the grab loops or carry thwarts. For wall racks and hangers, kayaks should be stored on their side. Racks should be placed at the kayak bulkhead for maximum support.

For outdoor storage, a freestanding sawhorse frame works well. Just remember to cover your kayak from damaging UV rays and winter weather.

Whether stored indoors or out, it is important to keep the kayak off the ground and to properly support the frame.