6 Questions To Ask Before Your Next Kayak Rental

Kayaks may all look pretty similar to the newbie, but there are actually multiple different kayak designs intended for specific conditions and paddling styles.

For example, recreational kayaks are wide and their stability makes them a good place to start for the new paddler. If you are renting a kayak for a few hours on a calm lake, this will be a good choice.

If you are renting a kayak for a longer trip, especially one in rougher or more open water, touring kayaks will be best. Touring kayaks have more space to store food and gear, and they are significantly longer and narrower than recreational kayaks. You will notice that many also come with a rudder or a skeg attached to the stern, a feature we will cover below.

Touring kayaks come in different sizes. Some are for multi-week expeditions and therefore much longer with extensive storage, while day touring kayaks will be shorter.

Sit-on top-kayaks feature a low, wide seat and you don’t have the option of using a spray skirt. They are extremely stable due to a wide design, and if you are a nervous kayaker, kayaking with a child, are a beginner or want something to fish from they can be a great choice. With a sit-on-top kayak, you will be more exposed to the sun and water.

If you’re still not sure which kayak to rent, tell the outfitter about your trip. They’ll be able to recommend the best boat for you.

2. Do I want to kayak solo or tandem?

One of the more basic questions you should ask yourself before you rent a kayak is whether you want to paddle solo or tandem. The names are self-explanatory— solo kayaks are for one paddler and tandem kayaks are equipped for two.

Renting a tandem kayak can be a good choice if you or your paddling partner is nervous and the experience would be more confidence boosting with a buddy. Tandem kayaks can also be great if you are paddling with a child who isn’t ready to kayak alone.

If one kayaker’s ability or strength means they won’t do well paddling a solo kayak, having a stronger or more capable tandem partner is key. Some experienced kayakers also simply enjoy the companionship and teamwork that a tandem provides. See tandem kayaks here.

A solo recreational kayak offers more independence and freedom, and the paddler is solely responsible for the direction and performance of their boat.

Don’t worry about making the wrong decision. The beauty of renting kayaks is that you can try both. If paddling with your friend or partner doesn’t work out, the next time you go kayaking you can both try a solo boat.

people paddling a solo and a tandem kayak on a lake.

Bring a friend or do it yourself, kayaking is fun every which way. | Photo: Ontario Tourism

3. Do I want a kayak with a skeg or a rudder?

When you go to rent a kayak, you may have the option of choosing between a kayak that has a skeg and one that has a rudder. What are skegs and rudders, and what is the difference between them?

A skeg is a blade that comes down from a compartment near the kayak’s stern. A cable that the paddler can adjust from inside the cockpit, usually positioned by their leg, controls the depth that the skeg drops into the water.

The purpose of the skeg is to aid tracking and control the influence of waves, wind, and current on the kayak by allowing the stern to better stay in place on the water.

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A skeg can aid tracking and trimming for wind, but doesn’t aid turning. Since you can use the cable to control how much of the skeg is actually in the water, you can adjust how much control you need based on conditions. View kayaks with skegs here.

Some people prefer skegs to rudders because of their simplicity. Skegs have less moving parts than rudders, and if your kayak rental day will be one of your first paddling, it may be good to keep it simple and avoid spending time dealing with learning how to use a rudder.

A rudder differs from a skeg because the paddler can move it side to side in the water. A rudder is usually outfitted to the stern of a kayak, with cables that connect to foot pedals the paddler controls with their feet from inside the cockpit.

Rudders are good for controlling the direction and if used properly can decrease the amount of time you need to spend using correcting strokes. A rudder can usually be flipped out of the water if the paddler doesn’t need or want to use it.

If you are renting a kayak to work on your beginner strokes and develop basic skills, you may want a kayak without a rudder to avoid relying on it instead of learning the correct techniques for turning. View kayaks with rudders in our Paddling Buyer’s Guide.

Once at your kayak outfitters, ask about the specific mechanisms of the skeg and rudder systems on their kayaks, as they can vary depending on the age and make of boats.

4. Once I rent a kayak, will I take a lesson, be guided or paddle by myself?

Renting a kayak is simply a means to get you on the water. You will need to decide what you want to get out of the experience. Many places that rent kayaks will also offer lessons, ranging from beginner lessons to advanced and skill-specific clinics.

Even if you are an experienced paddler, combining a kayak rental with a lesson can help you greatly enhance your capabilities. You also may be able to have a lesson for half of the duration of your rental period and free paddle for the remainder.

If you want to explore but you aren’t quite ready to do so yourself, your kayak outfitter may also offer guided trips. Renting a kayak and then going on a guided tour, whether it is for a few hours or a week, can allow you to get instruction, learn about the area’s environment and history and enjoy the beauty of a new place.

If you are experienced in kayak touring, you may rent a boat and then go paddling on your own. You can use your kayak rental shop as a resource. Some may offer trip plans, pack your food for you, rent additional safety and equipment and shuttle you back from your take-out.

5. How prepared am I to go kayaking?

While renting a kayak, paddle and spray skirt may seem like the essentials for hitting the water, there are many other considerations to make sure you and your paddling partners are safe. If you decide to forgo the aforementioned guide or lesson, it is essential you are well prepared. Here are steps to make sure you stay safe on the water.

Float plan

A float plan outlines all the details about your trip you want someone to know in case something goes wrong. It should include the full names of those on the trip, the make and colors of each member’s kayak, emergency contacts, launch time and location, your route, intended campsites, and map coordinates and the intended take out place and time.

This plan should be printed out and left with a reliable friend or an outfitter. Even if you are only going for a day, it’s good to leave an abbreviated version of this especially if you are in a new area.

Boat safety kit

Like in all outdoor activities, there is always the chance something can go wrong. In addition to your kayaking PFD, a safety kit onboard should include a whistle, a floating rope, a bailer or pump, a flashlight, flares, an extra collapsible paddle, and a compass. For longer trips, a VHF radio and GPS are a good idea too.

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Maps and an understanding of the area’s water

Even if you are only taking your kayak rental out for an afternoon, ask the outfitter for a map in a waterproof case to take along. It is surprisingly easy to get lost in certain areas, especially when you are unfamiliar. If you are renting a kayak to go sea kayaking, speak with the rental company about the tides and currents and look at a tide chart if you can.

6. Have I made sure everything on the kayak is in working order?

Most rental shops and outfitters are honest and qualified, but before you take your rental kayak out use this checklist to ensure you don’t get dinged for damage you weren’t responsible for or find problems once your journey is underway.

Check for dents, scratches or gouges on the hull and sides of the kayak. Scratches and minor dents are normal on a kayak, but a gouge or a major dent will affect the seaworthiness and function of the kayak.

Check the deck rigging is in place, especially if you are going on a long trip and will want to have your map attached and in front of you as you paddle.

Lastly, make sure at all times you have a PFD, either your own or rented along with your kayak and paddle.

Welcome to Chunky River Recreation Trading Post and Campground!


Chunky River Recreation is situated on 20 acres just East of the Town of Chunky along the State designated Scenic Stream.

Where we are located.

Chunky River Recreation Campground and Trading Post is located 1 mile South of I-20 at 24055 Hwy. 80 in Chunky MS.

The perfect place to spend time with family or friends Camping, Fishing Floating or just maybe a laid back weekend on the Chunky River.


About us

Enjoy Camping along the banks of the Chunky River.


There are 27 total sites available.

On 25 sites we offer 30 amp hookups and water. We have a limited number of 50 amp sites as well.

(There is NO sewer on the sites along or near the river).

We offer 2 sites with full hookups: water, 50 amp power and sewer.

Enjoy Kayaking the Chunky River with Stuckey Bridge Kayak Rentals. The “Original” outfitters of the Chunky and Upper Chickasawhay River, serving floaters since 2006.

Contact, Wayne Smith 601-481-4210 or Peter Russell 601-480-3553. They are located here at Chunky River Recreation Trading Post or call us at 601-480-3045 and we will get you in touch with them. We offer both double and single kayak’s.

The Trading Post


Stop by and visit the Trading Post for Ice, Drinks, Chips, Snacks and basic camping needs.

Also enjoy a little time in one of our rocking chairs on the front porch while eating your ice cream!


Signs of Faith Wood Shop

We make custom clocks, signs and plaques. Call us at the Trading Post (601-480-3045) about your custom sign or plaque needs.


Once again, we offer the following,

The Trading Post offers basic Camping and Fishing needs.

Kayak Rentals on site with Stuckey Bridge Kayak Rentals.

And finally there are 25 campground sites available, 2 sites with full hookups (50 amp) for overnight camping for travelers to get off the road and take a break in Chunky MS. 1 mile South of I-20 located at 24055 Hwy. 80. Chunky, MS is 13 miles West of Meridian on US Hwy. 80.

Chunky River in Mississippi

The Chunky River is a relatively short river, formed by the merging of Chunky Creek and Okahatta Creek just west of the town of Chunky, Mississippi. It meanders through parts of Newton County, Lauderdale County and Clarke County before combining with several other smaller creeks to form the beginnings of the Chickasawhay River near Enterprise, Mississippi.

The portion of the river on which I recently paddled was, by the accounts of several more experienced local paddlers, one of the better sections of the river on which to travel.

The put-in was just below the Point Wanita Lake Road Bridge a few miles east of the town of Chunky and the take-out was 6.7 miles downstream just above Stuckey Bridge Road. The Stuckey Bridge is an old river crossing that dates back to before the Civil War. The current bridge has an iron framework with the roadbed made of wooden timbers. One of the local outfitters, Stuckey Bridge Canoe Rentals, has their offices nearby. Most of the area is undeveloped with the exception of a few private residences seen at the very beginning and end of the trip.

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While Mississippi has few true mountains, this part of central Mississippi is relatively hilly and the Chunky weaves around the hills as it moves east. Most of the river banks are thickly wooded and steep making for some tricky exits. There are, however, roughly half a dozen sand or gravel bars along some of the wider sections of the river that make for easier exits and good places to stop.

The banks of the river are predominately covered with oaks but there are also birches, beeches, maples and pines as well as the occasional magnolia and cypress. On this trip, the maples were just beginning to bloom and the pink-red blooms stood out against the pale gray tree trunks of the late winter woods.

It is generally recommended to float the Chunky when the water levels are between 3.25 and 4.5 ft on the local USGS gauges. 2.75 ft is considered the bare minimum to float and 5.0+ is considered high. The day of this trip the gauges were reading at 3.5 ft. Our group (6 kayakers and 6 canoers) was happy with this level as it was just high enough to skip over some of the larger rocks and shoals to kick up a little whitewater while still keeping a smooth, steady current in the deeper straights.

While traveling this 6.7 miles stretch, we made a couple of rest stops and 1 stop for lunch and still completed the trip in just under 3 and hours. The local outfitter generally allows around 4 hours to cover this section of the river depending on recent rainfall and river levels.

This was a great day trip and I would highly recommend it to anyone who may be in, or traveling through the area. Although there was nothing challenging from a paddling viewpoint, it was just a nice, easy float with some great scenery not normally viewed from the local highways or interstates.


Stuckey Bridge Canoe Rental

(601) 481-4211 or (601) 527-3595

If you shuttle yourself there are no fees for this particular stretch of river. If you utilize the local outfitter’s shuttle service there is a small fee.


Point Wanita Lake Road Bridge Directions (put-in)

Take Exit #121 off of Interstate 20 (between Jackson and Meridian) and go 1 mile south towards the town of Chunky. At US Highway 80, make a left and go 2.2 miles to Point Wanita Lake Road (along the way you will actually criss-cross the Chunky River at two points on Highway 80). Make a right onto Point Wanita Lake Road and proceed 1.3 miles. The access to the put-in is between the railroad tracks and the bridge to the left. Be careful turning in as the trail drops off steeply from the paved road.

Stuckey Bridge Road Directions (take-out)
From the bridge at Point Wanita Lake Road, proceed another 5.6 miles south and take a left onto Stuckey Bridge Road (it may or not be marked). Go 1.7 miles down this road, stopping at the Stuckey Bridge. The access point is just to the left of the bridge. This road starts out paved but the pavement ends just past the Concord Methodist Church and the last mile or so is red clay and gravel.


This is a relatively rural area. There are numerous motels and hotels roughly 20 miles away in nearby Meridian, MS.
There are some state parks with camping facilities within a roughly 30 minute drive. Dunn’s Falls Water Park is the nearest camping facility to the Chunky River.

Source https://paddlingmag.com/boats/kayaks/questions-to-ask-before-kayak-rental/

Source https://chunkyriverrecreation.com/

Source https://paddling.com/paddle/trips/chunky-river-mississippi

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