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 demo-day (at least when our pond isn't an ice rink).
We offer test paddling by appointment only: Monday - Saturday 10 am - 5 pm. Please call 608-223-9300 to make your 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 that you put a refundable deposit down on the boat.
- To make an appointment, please call the store 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 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 its tipping point. It happens!
- Cell phones, wallets, prescription glasses, and anything of value are best left in your vehicle.
- We reserve the right to cancel test paddle appointments due to bad weather and will call you to reschedule.
Picking the right boat isn't necessarily easy, and you could drive yourself a little wacky test paddling every boat we carry. 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. 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 test paddle 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 into 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 therefore 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!