Camillus Kayak Shop
Store Winter Hours
10:00 – 5:00 pm
Any Day by Appointment
We sell touring and recreational kayaks that meet our high standards for performance and reliability.
After designing, building and racing kayaks, and over a decade in the retail business, Kitt and
his wife, Kathy, have honed their abilities in finding the best value for the paddling dollar.
Over the years, the shop has carried almost every available brand, constantly re-evaluating
them based on price and performance.
In 2011 the shop added Stand Up Paddleboards (SUPs)
to the mix, with both displacement and planing hulls. In our 3500+ square foot showroom
you can see over 60 models of kayaks, including 30+ models in composite, as well
as SUP’s from Lakeshore Paddleboard Company, Imagine, Liquid Shredder, and Zegul;
Kayak and Paddleboard Rentals, Lessons, Gift Certificates, and Delivery Service are also available.
T.J. Kitt will never forget his first kayak.
Years ago, a salesperson showed Kitt two boats that were within his limited budget. He ended up choosing the wrong one.
“I was furious,” Kitt says. “I had that boat for three months before I had to get rid of it and get one more appropriate for me. I was so mad at the guy that sold it to me that I opened a store.”
Kitt now shares his knowledge and imparts wisdom about kayaking and other paddle sports out of his Camillus Kayak Shop at 24 Genesee St. in Camillus. Kitt, a former touring class kayak champion, owns the shop with his wife, Kathy.
“I don’t let my customers make the same mistakes I made,” Kitt says.
Kayaking is a water sport that is easy to learn and enjoy with the proper instruction and equipment. A typical novice paddler becomes an experienced paddler after the first year Kitt says.
“Kayaking is great for anybody,” he says. “We have customers well into their 80s.”
Kayaks are available at Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods and L.L. Bean where prices range from $300 into the thousands of dollars. But Kitt recommends working with a reputable kayak shop when selecting a boat which can save you money down the road.
“A big mistake beginners do is they will under buy based on price,” Kitt says. “They pick boats they out-grow too fast. A professional will put them in a much more appropriate boat. It ends up being more expensive because they end up getting a better one.”
Kitt outlined a few basics if those new to kayaking.
Pick the right boat
“The most important things are length, width and weight,” Kitt says. “You have to get the right boat for the right job. The main difference is distance. You have to determine how far you want to paddle. A longer boat goes farther with less effort”
Kitt suggests 12- to 14-foot boats for beginners. For the average woman: a 15- to 17-foot kayak that is about 22-23 inches wide is suggested. An average man would use a 17- to 18-foot boat 22-24 inches wide. But Kitt says an individual’s height and weight should also factor in choosing the correct boat.
“Make sure you sit in the boat before you buy one,” Kitt says. “That’s pretty important. You have to make sure you physically fit in it.”
Besides having the appropriate boat, a person will need a paddle, life vest and a whistle
(which is required by law). Of course, you’ll also need a means of transporting your boat to water.
Where to go
For placid waters, Kitt recommended Onondaga Lake, the Seneca River and Redfield Reservoir a good spots locally. If you’re into paddling big waves, go to Lake Ontario or Oneida Lake.
Syracuse New Times article by M.F. Piraino