Although kayaking is an increasingly popular activity, not everyone has the money, storage space or transport capabilities required for one of the boats. That’s where the Kayakomat comes in, as it’s basically an onsite, internet-bookable kayak-rental vending machine.
Created by kayak manufacturer Point 65 Sweden, the system has actually been around in its home country since 2006. That said, it’s just recently been introduced in several other European countries, and in Canada.
The Kayakomat itself takes the form of an open-ended kiosk, located adjacent to the water at a lake, river or oceanfront location. Stacked on shelves within it are a number of individually locked Point 65 kayaks, each one of which is accompanied by accessories such as a PFD (aka life vest), spray skirt and paddle. For people who would rather stand than sit, some Point 65 RumRunner stand-up paddle boards are also available.
Users start by going to the Kayakomat website, and reserving a kayak (or SUP) at the kiosk of their choice. At this point they also pay a rental fee, review usage/safety instructions, and receive a one-time-use unlock code. When they get to the kiosk, they utilize that code to open the battery-powered electronic padlock on the kayak they selected. From there, they just take the boat out and paddle it.
Rental fees start at €29 (about US$31) for the first two hours, then decrease for every additional hour after that. It is possible to rent kayaks for several weeks at a time, and to rent multiple kayaks for multiple users in one booking.
Each kiosk has a designated human owner/operator. That person is expected to be available to users by phone, but they only have to go check on the unit just once a week. Because the kiosks are unstaffed, that means users can access them early in the morning, into the evening and on holidays.
Point 65 Sweden is currently inviting inquiries from people who may be interested in running a kiosk of their own. The company can be reached via the Kayakomat website.