A guide to kayaking - kayak, canoe or packraft?

Help from the pros when buying a kayak

There is a huge range of equipment available for kayaking and it can be difficult for a first-time kayaker to find the right product for them. This guide starts with hard kayaks and canoes, then inflatable kayaks and finally packraft kayaks to give you the most comprehensive overview of our range.

However, if you are not interested in industry terminology or technical details and you want to paddle with the right gear without learning, or you're buying a product as a gift, contact our expert customer service team, and we will be happy to find the most suitable option for you.

Welcome to Mikkeli to test-drive and explore our kayaks, so you can be sure to find the kayak that's right for you. (please arrange a test product of interest in advance with our customer service)!

Racetrack 10
50600 Mikkeli
Open weekdays 8-16


045 841 7744

Our team has been involved in water sports in its many forms for decades, so we price our products to match its characteristics. You won't find low-quality products or overpriced strains - instead, you'll find professional product descriptions, advice and service on equipment selection, and quality rides in every price range.

We have been serving our customers from Mikkeli for 12 years all over Finland, and you will continue to find us on these pages for any paddling-related matter.

Hard kayaks

High quality kayaks made of rigid, durable and 100% recyclable polyethylene for camping, sea kayaking, camping, fishing, sports and pleasure from the English company P&Hand Saimaa Kayaks. Extensive equipment packages and accessories combined with the models' top features will bring you years of boating pleasure.

We also offer river and rapids kayaks, stable and easy Sit On Top (SOT) open kayaks and Indian canoes.

Check out the collection here

Inflatable kayaks

An inflatable kayak is an excellent option when you don't want to or don't have the possibility to transport a hard kayak on a car roof rack or in a trailer. With today's high-quality inflatable models, you get almost the same paddling experience as a hard kayak, and it fits neatly into the boot of a normal car.

In our range you'll find the pioneer of inflatable kayaks Advanced Elements and Saimaa Kayaks products.

Check out the collection here


Saimaa Kayaks and MRS ultra-lightweight (2-4.5kg) and compact backpacking boards made of extremely high-quality ripstop nylon, which can be easily carried in a backpack, on a motorbike or even on a bicycle. The urethane-coated packraft is truly durable and will provide years of reliable service.

There are several Packraft models available - the rafting model Rapid, the fishing model Fisher, the ultra-light Feather, the all-purpose model Trek and the camping model Adventure. These are available in singles and twos depending on the model, click the button below to find out more!

Check out the collection here

Choose the right model for your application

By choosing the right gear straight away, you'll get more out of your paddling hobby and the best value for money. You'll also get started paddling faster when you don't have to worry about crashing, your equipment will keep up with your progress and you won't have to think about buying a new kayak after the first summer.

Frequently asked questions about kayaking

A kayak is a long, narrow watercraft used for paddling. Over thousands of years of history, both kayaks and kayak definitions have changed. Originally, it was a closed, sit-in kayak. Nowadays, kayaks also come in open and sit-on-top models, so the definition has become a little more liberal.

For beginners, it is recommended to choose a stable, wide and flat-bottomed kayak. These are initially stable, so the kayak is also pleasantly stable when stationary. In addition to the traditional sit-on-top sit-in kayak, sit-on-top models are good options for beginners, making it easy for people with limited mobility to get into the kayak.

The original differences between a kayak and a canoe were that a kayak is a sit-in, enclosed kayak that sits inside, while a canoe is open and sits on top. Canoe is also used as a generic term even when referring to a kayak. For many, canoe also brings to mind the traditional Indian canoe. A kayak paddle has two paddles, while a canoe paddle has a single platform.

Kayaks come in so many different sizes, shapes and models that it is impossible to speak of a kayak as being generally rickety. The faster river, touring and sit on top kayaks are often wide, stable and easy to handle. Some sea kayaks and all racing kayaks are narrow, nimble and fast.

Double kayaks also work when paddling alone if you get the weight distribution right, for example by positioning your camping gear. Because of their longer waterline, twins are often more directionally stable than single kayaks.

Whether you're a good swimmer or an inexperienced swimmer, you should always wear a buoyancy aid. Neoprene wetsuits and waterproof clothing come next in importance. On a hot summer's day you can manage with less gear, but in cold weather or when the rapids are choppy, it's a good idea to dress for all eventualities and keep your spare clothes with you, packed watertight. Remember to protect yourself from the sun too.

A two-legged kayak paddle is taken a little wider than the shoulders, a light grip is taken and the pull is taken from one side at leg distance and pulled all the way to the side, where the paddle is lifted up. Repeat this from side to side and you'll start to get a feel for how the paddle works. Remember that paddling is not about using your hands, it's about the whole body working together. The footrests support the pull, when pulling from the right the right foot presses against the footrest and the torso/shoulder rotation assists the pull. The technique can only be honed with repetition, so it's not something to stress too much about on cottage beach paddling trips. For long distances, good technique is essential so you don't overexert yourself in the first few miles. With good technique and practice, you can paddle all day.

A canoe paddle is often a single-pole, more traditional paddle. The paddle blade is reached to the side of the tip of the paddle and pulled back in line with the canoe. It is a good idea to stop paddling when the paddle is at your body.

A packraft is an inflatable, ultra-lightweight (2-4.5kg), multi-purpose paddle board. Packed into a small space and durable, the packraft is really handy to take with you on hikes and treks. Packraft backpacks are popular with hikers.

Pneumatic or hard kayak?

Hard kayak selection guide

Hard kayaks are by far the most popular kayak models in Finland, although inflatable models have gained popularity in recent years. There are hard kayaks for many different uses and environments, for example: river and rapids kayaks, touring kayaks, sea kayaks, SOT open kayaks (Sit-On-Top) and fishing kayaks. But how do you choose the right model?

Start by thinking about where you will mainly be paddling. Will you be using the sea, a lake or a river? Are you planning longer trips, or is the paddling mainly a day trip, for example to a cottage? Do you want a fitness paddle or do you want to enjoy a peaceful nature experience?

Paddling is good for your shoulders and especially for your upper body muscles and your mobility, which for many people today is already limited by their desk job. However, if you buy a kayak that is too heavy, you can lose the relaxation of paddling and then you don't get the good opening effects and your body is even more stuck because you are tensing your muscles for fear of falling. Of course, practice makes perfect and even a beginner who is not afraid of a challenge can buy a faster and faster model for his first kayak.

When buying a kayak, the shape and size of the hull should be considered. Too big a kayak will float too high, allowing the wind to catch it easily and making it difficult to manoeuvre. If the kayak is too small, it is difficult to find a good position and the body will easily stiffen. It is also much more difficult to get on board if the seating opening is too small. Size is indicated between models by LV (low volume), MV (medium volume) and HV (high volume), with LV being the smallest, MV the medium and HV the largest.

For longer paddling trips, you need a kayak with enough cargo space for camping gear such as a tent, sleeping bag, muck, clothes, etc. When paddling longer distances, good glide is also an important feature. Roughly speaking, a longer kayak glides better than a short one. Longer models also have more storage space for your gear than shorter ones.

The width of a kayak directly affects its stability. In most cases, the wider the model, the more stable and easier it is for first-time users. But you can't judge stability solely by looking at the width - the shape of the frame must also be taken into account.

The shape of the base of the kayak:
The shape of the hull is an important factor influencing the sturdiness or sway of the kayak. Shapes range from flat to round, V-shaped and everything in between. When choosing a model, also bear in mind that waves are different at sea and on the lake. The shape of the kayak will affect how it takes the waves.

A flat bottom gives good initial stability. This is a popular hull shape for the beginner paddler because it allows you to relax and enjoy the paddling and the scenery.

The gently V-shaped profile has grown in popularity in recent years. These models offer good initial stability while maintaining good turning characteristics.

A strong V-bottom or round-bottom design is often too challenging for a beginner paddler due to its trickiness. Experienced paddlers will find that these bottom shapes give the kayak directional stability, speed and good feel and surf in waves.

When buying a flat-bottom kayak for longer distance paddling, it is important to have a rudder or rudder with a directional control fin to keep the kayak on course. The fin/rudder will help it to stay level, even in a crosswind. Without a fin or rudder, it's a pain to paddle only from one side or else try to keep the kayak straight. A fin or rudder is standard equipment on well-equipped touring kayaks.

A good seat is also worth paying special attention to. Sitting in several different kayaks you will notice the difference. A bad seat and the resulting numbness can take all the fun out of paddling.

It's also worth making sure that the luggage compartments are suitable for your own use and are fitted with watertight hatches.

Light and agile

river kayaks

A shorter kayak of around 3-4 metres is sufficient for the river. On small rivers and rapids, a shorter model is more agile for turning. A short river kayak is also lighter if you need to carry it around rapids or other obstacles. For larger and calmer rivers, you can also get a slightly longer version if you need the speed and don't want to paddle in rapids. Good river kayaks include the Saimaa Kayaks Smart or P&H's Virgo MV.

Easy and comfortable


The four and five-metre long trekking kayaks also make for comfortable hiking. These 4-5 metre models are very popular in Finnish waters. Many touring kayaks can be used in more sheltered conditions at sea and even on larger lakes. This length is sufficient for most users, as it can be used for day trips as well as overnight trips of a few days. A good example of a touring kayak is the Saimaa Kayaks Trek and P&H's Virgo models.

Fast and directionally stable

Sea kayaks

Sea kayaks are suitable for camping at sea, ranging in length from just under five metres to just under six metres. Our sea kayak range consists of top quality P&H products, including the popular Virgo, Leo and Scorpio models.

P&H Kayaks

British company P&H Kayaks has been setting the standard for top kayaks for over 50 years. If you're looking for a kayak that combines cutting-edge design for both lake and sea conditions with top-quality materials, P&H is your choice. Come and test P&H kayaks in Mikkeli (please arrange a test product of interest in advance with our customer service).


Open kayaks (sit on top - SOT)

In recent years, open-top kayaks (SOT) have also made their way to Finland. SOT stands for Sit-On-Top. These models are popular in warm countries and for example in beach holiday destinations. The SOT model is easy to hop on board. They do not have the possibility of using an opening cover, which means that in cold and rainy weather you need better clothing. SOT kayaks are a safe and easy alternative if you feel uncomfortable getting into a traditional kayak. SOT models are also ideal for children's kayaking due to their safety and stability.

for the whole family

Indian kayak Yuma

The easy to paddle Yuma Indian canoe brings river and lake adventures to the cottage shore!

This Indian canoe has a small wind area, making it ideal for use at sea and on lakes, as the canoe is not weighed down by crosswinds like higher-winged Indian canoes.

Highly manoeuvrable and durable


Kayaks are available for both camping and freestyle paddling in rapids. Kayaks are shorter and more manoeuvrable than river kayaks, such as the Pyranha Fusion M Stout.

Stable and versatile

Fishing kayaks

When choosing a fishing kayak, consider stability, the amount of storage space and freestanding racks, as well as mooring rails (on which you can easily build your own individual aids). And remember a comfortable seat to make your fishing trip last longer!

Fishing kayaks are available in paddleable versions Fisher and pedalable models Pedal Fisher. The advantage of the pedal models is that they keep your hands free when you are fishing, making them ideal for things like fishing.


Pedal kayak

Pedal Kayak Pedal Propeller is like riding a bike on water! This stable and versatile vehicle glides smoothly, either by paddle or propeller. The full-circle rotating pedal unit also gives a hard workout when needed for those who want it. The pedal unit is easy to pick up in the middle of a paddling trip, grab the paddle from its rack and continue paddling with your hands to give your whole body a workout.

Above fishing kayaks and pedal kayaks link four accessory mounting rails, paddle stand, free standing rails with holes, durable and high quality polyethylene construction, and a hole for the sonar sensor in the front of the kayak. The hole allows you to easily slip the probe over the frame on the bottom, while the sonar display can be attached to the rail with the optional sonar mount.

Saimaa Kayaks Pedal Fisher yksityiskohtakuva 1
Saimaa Kayaks Fisher yksityiskohtakuva

Saimaa Kayaks

The Saimaa Kayaks range includes inflatable and hard canoes and kayaks, as well as packraft. The price-performance ratio familiar from Saimaa SUP is now available in a variety of formats, with comprehensive equipment packages and a satisfaction guarantee. Whether you're looking for a hard kayak for fishing, a packraft for rafting or an inflatable canoe for cottage fishing, Saimaa Kayaks has it all with fast delivery and expert customer service.

Selection guide for inflatable kayaks

The inflatable kayak is a compact choice for the outdoorsman. The air-filled kit fits easily into the boot of your car and is quick and easy to set up.

When choosing an inflatable kayak, the biggest consideration is the manufacturing technique - whether the sides are round pontoon-style or narrow and more upright dropstitch-style. Round pontoon hulls provide stability and the wind doesn't catch the edges as easily, while the narrower, more upright, rectangular kayaks are faster and more counter-wave capable, but a little trickier.

Saimaa Kayaks Adventure is a wide, open kayak with round pontoons and a strong dropstitch floor. Thanks to its width, this model is very stable and easy to handle for first-timers or those with poor balance.. The dropstitch floor, familiar from SUP boards, adds a strong core and keeps the kayak in shape even under a larger paddler.

Inflatable models often come with a full equipment package including pump and paddle. Most packages come with a very basic paddle, which many more paddlers upgrade to their own dimensions and leave the package paddle as a spare.

Saimaa Kayaks Ilmatäytteinen kajakki Expedition 1 ja 2 yksikkö kaksikko

is throughout dropstitch structure, a narrower profile and faster speed inflatable kayak. V-shaped hard plastic bow and stern stays add directional stability to paddling, and the kayak takes on wave action more smoothly. The stiffness of the dropstitch construction makes the Expedition very stiff and comfortable for even the most experienced paddler.. When inflated, the kayak goes nicely in the trunk of several different sedans, or in the back seat. The Expedition combines the best of hard- and inflatable kayaks into one durable package.

Packraft selection guide

One or two users?
You can make the biggest selection right from the start by the number of users. If you're paddling alone, you'll do fine with a single model, but if you have two users, even occasionally, you need a dual model. One of the advantages of the twin model is its versatility - in the deckless twin models, when you're paddling alone, you can arrange the bench so that the extra space in the twin model can be used for storing things, or even taking your dog along. Of course, the canvas cover forces you to sit a bit behind the board when paddling alone, but you can even out the centre of gravity by placing your gear in the bow.

There are significant functional differences between the Packraft models. If the backpacking board is used, for example, on a longer hiking trip to cross waterways, the weight differences between the packraft models and the compactness when packed are very important considerations. If you go ahead with these things, you should look at either the smallest or the lightest material. ultralight models such as Featheria. If, on the other hand, your main use is to rake fishing spots in remote waterways with a friend, twin models made of stronger materials such as Fisher Twin will better serve your needs.

If you're looking for a general-purpose packraft that can hold its own in all normal use, we have a range of golden mean models that will perform well in flat water and mildly flowing water alike. The most popular universal model is the Saimaa Kayaks Packraft Trek. This board has a long and wide body, good carrying capacity and despite these features it weighs only 2.5 kg.

For a step above the standard, the Saimaa Kayaks Adventure or Adventure Twin are sturdy and high quality universal packing boxes, equipped with a lid and an internal storage system for the pontoon. Strong materials and accessories such as the canvas cover add a little weight and size to the packraft, but at 4.1kg the Adventure Twin is still very transportable on the move.

For white water paddling, one of the most essential features is spraydeck cover and/or self bailing bottom. The self-bailing bottom has several holes in the sides, which also allow water that gets into the packraft to drain out. When navigating the rapids, it is easy for a lot of water to spill over the deck and it is therefore important that all the water drains away on its own. Self bailing bottom can be found e.g. in packraft Rapid.

Need for space and load capacity
The size of the paddler also affects the choice - a 165 cm tall paddler may feel very comfortable with a heavier load in the smallest packraft, but a 195 cm tall paddler may struggle in the same model without any gear. Our product pages show the dimensions of the packraft both inside and out, and you should use these dimensions when choosing a backpacker.. The load capacities are also listed on the product pages and it makes sense to calculate how much the paddle itself + the goods would weigh roughly when added together. Especially on longer trips, user comfort is high on the priority list, so make sure you can fit comfortably in the packraft.

Canvas and opening covers also play a big role. A coverlet is a larger cover that covers the whole deck and a gap cover is the one that is a slip-on design and comes to cover the gaps in the cover. like a regular hard kayak. With a deck cover you don't have to worry about water splashes or rain, your lower body and belongings will stay dry. The cover is also removable, depending on the model, or can be conveniently opened and rolled up when the rain clouds move away and the sun starts to shine again.

Zippered, internal storage system within the pontoon is a great addition to the packraft for someone on a long journey, or for someone packing more lightly. The storage system works in such a way that when the packraft is empty, you slip the items into the ponchos in drybags, fill your packraft with air and the items are conveniently carried inside the ponchos. Of course, you didn't have access to this stuff while paddling, so just pack what you need ashore. The rest of your stuff goes in a handy bow bag and on the bottom of the raft.

What accessories do I need for packraft kayaking?
As a minimum, you will need a packraft, a paddle, repair tools and buoyancy aids, life jackets or life vests. There is a separate blog post on the choice of buoyancy aids here.

Compact, suitable for paddling floatation dummies and we will be happy to assist you in purchasing them as well.

With drybags, mobile phone bags, belt pouches andother smaller accessories to keep your important belongings safe and close at hand, and packing and organising your belongings in drybags, for example, makes better use of space.

What are packraft made of?
The most common high quality packrafts are made of cross-woven ripstop nylon with a protective urethane coating (TPU) on top. Cross-linked nylon has an extremely tough tensile and tear strength, which means that even though the material is thin and light, with quality packrafts you don't have to worry about bursting at every turn. TPU coating gives nylon a slick, abrasion and UV resistant finish. With this material and coating, the material will last and last for many seasons to come. However, it is always possible that even the strongest material will be punctured by a big hit against a sharp obstacle. Packraft's are easy to repair, however, so if necessary you can get your packraft back to paddling condition in minutes at best, so your trip won't be interrupted. Major repairs can then be done at home port. For longer trips, always take cleaning equipment, material patches, glue and tape (e.g. Tyvek or Stormsure Tuff Tape) with you when using your packraft.