How to choose the best kayak rental company for your summer excursions

Are you ready for summer? Are you ready for kayaking? Have you thought about doing any excursions this summer? Do you know where you want to paddle?

Life is short and life is busy. We don’t have time to waste time, having a bad time. When we plan a weekend outing, we want it to be perfect. And when we plan a kayaking trip with a rental company, we want it to be amazing. One of the worse feelings in the world is when you realize 10 minutes into your 3-hour kayak paddle that you feel like you’re sitting on cedar fence with a boat that smells like your daughter's soccer shoes. It’s at that moment when we start thinking, maybe we should have gone with the other company. Don't make that mistake. Here are a few question I recommend asking before your next kayak excursion.

Venue: Think this through. Is the kayak venue the place where you want to spend the next 2 - 3 hours of your life. If you like being out on larger bodies of water then you might enjoy paddling on Lake Erie or one of Northeast Ohio’s amazing man-made lakes like LaDue Reservoir. If you want to explore and see a change of scenery as you paddle, then I would recommend the twisting turns of the Upper Scenic Cuyahoga River.

The key is to make sure you know what you are getting into. When you make your reservation, take the time to ask the rental company, “what will I see on this trip?” If the rental company loves their little chunk of the world as much as we do, then they will be happy to tell you about the Bald Eagle’s nest, or the beaver damn and the flowers that are in bloom. Northeast Ohio has some amazing places to paddle. So make sure to ask the questions about what to expect on your trip. You need to know whether your going to be spending your entire day paddling through some old industrial rust belt area or whether you are going to be submerged in serenity of a forgotten forest.

Brand of Boats: The second thing I ask is “what brand of boats are

we going to be paddling in today?” Now I don’t want to get into a big discussion about which kayak brands are better than others. That would be like saying the Ford F-150 is better than a Chevy 1500 or that chocolate is better than vanilla (which it is). But I do want to point out is that you want to listen to the answer. If the person answers your question with a one-word answer of if they are not sure what kind of boats they have, then that is a pretty good indicator that you might not want to paddle with them. On the other hand, if the person gets excited and says something like “oh, you will be paddling in the Wilderness System Aspire 105 kayak which has a seat you can customize for comfort, a drop down skeg and it can turn on a dime”, then that’s the company you want to paddle with. If they take pride in their equipment and want to share information with you about their boats, then there is a good chance they have a decent fleet of rentals.