Thursday, May 15, 2014

Adirondack Paddlefest and Kayak Demos

With springtime finally here in the Adirondacks, it is time to think about water sports. My family is in the market for a few kayaks, but our pocketbook doesn’t always match our expectations. I do what research I can, test friends’ kayaks and ask question upon question.

This past weekend I was fortunate to be able to go to Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters Kayak and Canoe Free Demo Days at the Lake Flower boat launch in Saranac Lake. Though most of the kayaks were out of our budget, it was with welcome relief when a representative started by asking very specific questions regarding my family’s supposed usage and what my expectations are. This mini survey helped narrow down my options and helped me focus on my quest.

Another option for anyone searching for on-water demo days is the 16th annual Adirondack PaddleFest on May 16-18 behind the Visitors’ Center at the Old Forge Public Beach.  Mountainman Outdoor Supply is once again hosting this weekend dedicated to all levels of  paddlers with over 1,000 kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards (SUP) on display.

This weekend of events and activities does have a daily admission of $5 for adults while children (12-under) are free or pay the $20 test paddle fee, which is good for the whole weekend and redeemable for a boat purchase during the festival. The three-day schedule of events includes clinics, demos, lectures, classes, with plenty of food vendors and music.

You don’t have to rely on special events to demo boats or find the best deal. Many canoe and kayak outfitters have a “try before you buy” policy, like St. Regis Canoe Outfitters. So make sure to ask if a free demo is possible and bring all your other questions with you.

Buying any type of watercraft can be overwhelming, especially when trying to find the best fit for a range of ages and experience. After seeing each of my children demo a kayak, I want to make sure my choice is safe, manageable and something they won’t outgrow right away.

Photo of Adirondack Lakes and Outfitters Kayak Demo Day used with the permission of Diane Chase,

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Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities guidebook series, Adirondack Family Time. She writes about ways to foster imaginative play through fun-filled events and activities in the Adirondack region.

From her home in Saranac Lake, Diane also writes a weekly family-oriented newspaper column for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and keeps her own blog Adirondack Family Time. Her writing and photography has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, marketing companies and advertising agencies.

She even finds time to assist her husband with Adirondack Expeditions guiding families and young adults in the High Peaks.

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