Test Paddle a Boat

Test paddle is now open for the season.
We will be offering test paddle by appointment only. Monday - Saturday 10am-5pm. Call 608-223-9300 to make your test paddle appointment. Please note that boat availability is still limited. To ensure that the boat you are interested in is here to test paddle we encourage you to put a refundable deposit down on the boat.

You wouldn't buy a car without driving it, so why would you buy a canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard without paddling it first? Rutabaga is located right on the water and every day is a demo day (at least when our pond isn't an ice rink). Test paddling ensures you have the right boat so call and make an appointment!

Test Paddle has been adapted to accommodate best practices in response to COVID-19. Please read through this entire page before making an appointment.

-For the safety of all involved, both customers and staff are required to wear a mask during the test paddle appointment - no exceptions.
-If you have your own paddle and/or life jacket please bring it with you. If you do not have your own paddle or life jacket, we will provide them.
-Equipment will be sanitized after each use.

Test Paddle Policy
-To make an appointment, please call the store at 608-223-9300 to let us know what boats you would like to test paddle. If you need advice, we can make suggestions based on your needs.
-There is a two boat maximum test paddle policy per appointment.
-Each test paddle appointment requires a $25 reservation deposit, which can be applied towards a future boat purchase.
-All test paddlers must wear a properly fitted PFD (life jacket) both on the dock and on the water.
-Footwear is required at all times in and out of boats.
-We love it when kids test out new gear! Paddlers under 18 need a parent with them to do so.
-We suggest bringing a spare change of clothes in case you test the stability of a boat to it's tipping point. It happens!
-Cell phones, wallets, prescription glasses, and anything of value is best left in your vehicle. Smartphones get real stupid when they get wet.
-We reserve the right to cancel test paddle appointments due to bad weather, and will call you to reschedule.

Test Paddle Tips
Picking the right boat isn't necessarily easy, and you could drive yourself a little wacky test paddling every boat we carry. So know that you can count on our super knowledgeable, friendly and patient staff to help you narrow down your choices before you hit the pond. Then once you're on the water, here are a few things we'd encourage you to think about:
1. How comfy is the seat? The comfort of the seat is the single most important factor for a lot of paddlers.
2. Is the rest of your body cozy but content? Sometimes we talk about "wearing" your kayak - and that's a good thing - but you don't want to be wedged in there uncomfortably. And cozy but content applies to canoes too - particularly as it relates to whether you're likely to be a sitter or a kneeler. If you're test paddling a canoe, be sure to try both positions.
3. How stable does it feel? Some boats might feel a little squirrely to start but are more fun and versatile once you learn how to handle them. Sort of like driving a sports car. So squirrely isn't necessarily bad; you may be in a boat that will grow with you and you'll grow to love.
4. How well does it do what you want it to? Does it take a lot of effort to get it up to speed? How about stopping or taking a turn? A terrific amount of expertise goes in to the design and manufacturing of every boat and they all do feel different on the water! Some are made to turn easily, others are not. Some are made to be sleek and go fast, others are made to be more stable and will therefor move slower through the water.
5. Did it feel heavy when you helped carry it down to the dock or did it feel manageable? Heavy or awkward boats spend way too much time in the garage.
6. What's your vision? Could you see yourself in it for a few hours at a stretch? Would it hold all of your favorite gear? If you're going tandem, how would it work with your favorite partner, child or grandchild?

Most folks test paddle two or three boats and can pick a favorite almost immediately. And as fortunate as we feel to be able to offer you such a wide variety of boats and gear, our true pride comes in matching you to the right stuff. The test paddle makes all the difference. If you have any questions, please give us a call. We look forward to getting you on the water!