When getting ready for a kayaking trip, most beginners thing about fancy gear and electronics, yet the most important things that you want to think about before choosing a kayak are seats, cockpits and paddles.
Just like kayak seats, cockpits come in different sizes and you should first choose a size and then look at other parameters. Choosing the right cockpit and the right seat size is crucially important because you need to be comfortable when paddling. If you are uncomfortable and the seat and the cockpit size just don’t feel right, it doesn’t really matter how long your kayak is, what materials it is made out of or what electronic gadgets you have with you.
Most expedition-type kayaks have small cockpits. Cockpits are typically round, triangle-shaped or keyhole-shaped.
One of the most important criteria when finding the right cockpit is how comfortable your knees and legs are when you are sitting in a kayak. If you want for your kayak to be moving quickly in the water, you need to be able to sit in a powerful paddling position, which is when your knees are pressed against the decks using protective pads and your feet are comfortably positioned on the footrests.
You should always try sitting in a cockpit first because some paddlers feel claustrophobic in small cockpits. While your brain does know that you are not trapped, your emotional response to sitting in a very tight surrounding may be different. Your emotional comfort during paddling is as important as your physical comfort, which is why the best thing you can do when getting started with kayaking is compare how you feel in cockpits of different sizes.
Small cockpits do have two disadvantages compared to large cockpits. First, it can be hard to get into a small cockpit opening. Second, it is harder to move all your gear through a smaller opening.