To buy or not to buy – that is the question. If you are a kayak and water-lover, you have probably asked yourself this. There are pros and cons to both owning and renting.

Here are 4 questions to ask yourself when deciding whether to rent a kayak or buy your own kayak.

Question #1 – How often will you use your kayak?

This question requires some elementary math. Renting a kayak in your area will cost between $15 and $20 an hour, on average. A new kayak will cost anywhere from several hundred at a big box store, to several thousand at a specialty store, depending on quality. That can add up to a lot of rental hours.If you must have a high-quality kayak, then, in most cases, renting will not work for you. Kayak rentals are generally standard quality boats, great for little trips on gentle waters, but not much more.A plus for renting – You can float when you want, for a reasonable price.

Question #2 – How will you transport your kayak?

Here, the size of your kayak comes into play. A short kayak is about 6 feet in length and easy to fit in any truck or SUV. But kayaks range in length up to 19 feet. A longer kayak will most likely need to go on top of your vehicle, saddled in a kayak holder, and secured to your vehicle rails. Kayaks are not heavy, so weight is not an issue for most cars. But if you have a small car, a longer kayak may pose a length problem.A plus for renting – No transporting hassles. Boat rentals will be right at the launch site, ready to go, and you can visit many different launches for a variety of trips.

Question #3 – Do you have the additional equipment you need?

• First and foremost, all kayakers need a quality Personal Floatation Device or PFD. A good PFD does not come cheap and is absolutely required. If you buy a quality PFD, you will spend between $80 and $120.

• Second, kayaking requires a good paddle. A quality paddle is sold separately from a quality boat. Good paddles run from $200 – $400. For the best fit, paddles are measured to your height.

• Third, saltwater kayaking requires a water pump and inflatable float for rescue and recovery. Hopefully, you will never need to use this extra equipment. But knowing how to use it is critical for safe, open-water kayaking.A plus for renting – Boat rentals can provide you with the equipment you need, from a good PDF to a sturdy paddle.

Question #4 – Where will you store your kayak?

If you have room in your nice, clean garage, then no more discussion is necessary. Congratulations! You can hang your boat from the ceiling or set it on a comfy shelf. But if your garage lacks space, outdoor storage is probably your only option.Predesigned strap systems can secure one or two boats to a fence, deck, or the side of your house. You can even build a simple rack system to keep your boat off the ground. Make sure your kayak is out of sight and covered against harsh winters.A plus for renting – No storage problems and no spring clean up!If you are in love with the idea of owning your own kayak, there is no amount of practical advice that will change your mind. And, if you have what you need to be a happy kayak owner, you will no doubt love owning your own boat.If you find it hard to answer the questions above, then kayak rental may be an excellent option for you. Whether you own or rent, just get out there and paddle!