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Advice on buying a kayak

Hello,

I'm looking to get into regular kayaking starting in the spring and I'm looking for some advice on what kind of boat would best suit me. I've read reviews on a lot of different boats and although I have a few boats in mind, I'm a little overwhelmed by all the information out there and was hoping someone with experience could help narrow down my choices. Based on what I've read and what I think I'd be doing on the water, I'm currently considering a Pungo 140, or a Loon 120.

I live in SE Michigan. I've been kayaking semi-regularly the last couple of summers (Rivers, Great Lakes), I prefer a kayak that I can go fast in rather than one that's slow and stable.

I'm 25 yrs old, 5'10", 175 lbs.

I'm in pretty good physical shape so I think I can compensate for any lack of stability initially. I plan to do most of my kayaking on a lake for ~2-4 hours at a time.

Obviously I may not know what I'm talking about, so I'm open to any input from people with experience.

Comments

  • What are the people of your local kayak club paddling?

    You still have a boat with a length width ratio of about 6. That's not fast or FAST. The Pungo is a recreational boat. It has a 28" beam and big cockpit opening. It has a big cockpit opening. Easy in and out but more difficult to keep water out. It has a forward hatch and if it is over a separate compartment it has some safety built in.

    The other one is a true recreational boat with no forward floatation and would likely need a bag forward. See NRS air bags. The problem is that if you capsize a boat with no forward and aft compartments, air bags, etc you will have no self rescue capability.

  • 25 years old in pretty good physical shape and you're thinking speed. A piece of advice I will give is that it's less about where you're paddling, and more about the type of paddling you enjoy the most. One person will paddle a whitewater kayak on rivers and the Great Lakes. Another might paddle a surf ski. Others, everything in between. What you listed would be best suited for lily-dippin in calm waters. It's by far the most common kayaking pursuit. If you're the type to put a lot of energy and commitment into a new hobby, as a young energetic person, you should find something more suitable towards becoming a little more advanced with your skillset. I don't know if that would be a used surf ski, fast sea kayak, all around seakayak, fast canoe, etc. What you listed will get you on the water, which is great. But they'll leave you limited as far as skills development, speed, and challenging paddling environments. If your imagination has you in a fast efficient glide across some miles of water, those kayaks aren't the greatest for a young energetic person who will dedicate some time and effort into paddling. Perhaps you can find someone who can let you test paddle a thing or two?

  • Since your are in SE Michigan I recommend that you visit Riverside Kayak (http://www.riversidekayak.com/) They are good people with considerable knowledge. They also have some starter pool classes although they haven't posted their winter schedule. That would be a good place to start to bet a better understanding of what you want and where you want to go. The Power of Water also has some pool sessions and classes in Brighton (http://thepowerofwater.net/play/paddling-school/winter-pool-sessions/)

    Enjoy

  • I haven't really met any local paddling clubs. most of the time, it's just me and a couple friends renting whatever is available. I'll look into that to get a better idea of what people are using.

    I've been looking at surf skis too, but wasn't sure how good they would be for me since i've only done casual paddling so far. if it's something that won't hinder any progress as i get more involved in kayaking, then I'd be all for it. I've looked at the Epic V5 and the V7, seems like they have a lot of good reviews. Any others to consider?

    I'm not far from Brighton so the indoor classes are a fantastic option. Definitely checking those out. I'm gonna try to test paddle a few different kind of kayaks to get an actual feel for it.

    Thanks a lot for your input, guys!

  • You may want to check an article on the basic types of kayaks which was published in California Kayaker Magazine. Can be read online at http://calkayakermag.com/magazine.html. Issue #10.

    The boats you listed are recreational class kayaks. When you say you want speed over stability, then you are more likely looking at some form of touring kayak (perhaps the shorter day touring class, given you are on lakes).

  • Pungo is a big floating barge which doesn't sound at all what you want. Go to that riverside kayak place and test paddle a Valley Etain. Or boats similar to that.

  • Look up "Fluid Fun Canoe & Kayak Sales", in Bristol Indiana, just over Michigan line.
    Nice people with great selection including Epic. They are located right on St. Joseph River and they strongly encourage customers to put boats on water and test out.
    Might be farther then you want to drive. I call it my "Local Shop" even though it is 4 hour round trip drive for me.

  • @Peter-CA said:
    You may want to check an article on the basic types of kayaks which was published in California Kayaker Magazine. Can be read online at http://calkayakermag.com/magazine.html. Issue #10.

    The boats you listed are recreational class kayaks. When you say you want speed over stability, then you are more likely looking at some form of touring kayak (perhaps the shorter day touring class, given you are on lakes).

    Thanks, that was a useful read. I think now I'm looking for either a touring kayak or a surf ski.

  • I know I said I prefer speed over stability, but that's not the ONLY thing on my mind. I'd also like to be able to relax and just hang out on the water from time to time.

    Is a touring kayak the best choice for my situation?

  • @Soosh said:
    I know I said I prefer speed over stability, but that's not the ONLY thing on my mind. I'd also like to be able to relax and just hang out on the water from time to time.

    Is a touring kayak the best choice for my situation?

    Probably. Surf skis are made to go fast, and can be rather unsteady when stopped. I suspect a touring boat is more what you are after.

  • edited December 2016

    OP, I was in your shoes July of this year. just wanted something casual I could piddle around in on a calm lake or sight see etc,
    ended up getting a high end inflatable for 400 bucks and fell in love with the freedom on being on the water and the lifestyle. 4 months later now and I am on my **3rd **boat that was 2600 dollars! and doing proficient rolling now. Kayaking can get very expensive to get into just a heads up! With all the camping gear and paddles, floats, pfds , pumps, car racks etc etc.

    I tend to go excess on everything I do so.... lol

  • How much do you want to spend and what are your specs. (size and weight)? Do not settle for a rec. boat if you're really looking for speed.

  • You can hang out fine in most touring kayaks. There are some that take more care, but at your stage you are pretty unlikely to find them. Most are older models that have fallen out of favor because people wanted more of an all around boat than one that took particular care.
    The diff with a touring boat versus a surf ski is your lower body is inside the boat. Hence a bit warmer. Maybe not a big factor in Alabama, but not an insignificant one in the northern part of the country. The clothing to stay cozy is expensive enough without adding chilly feet.
    Sounds like you have been steered towards a good outfitter to get you started. Just take their advice.

  • edited December 2016

    We usually suggest that beginners buy a used kayak -- you won't really know exactly what you want from performance in a kayak until you have paddled one for a while and if you buy used you can always sell it for a good proportion of what you paid for it and upgrade to something with different characteristics.

    I just checked the greater Detroit Craigslist and there is a used low volume Valley Aquanaut for sale in Wyandotte: https://detroit.craigslist.org/wyn/sgd/5909513902.html

    Though they specify it for a slightly smaller person, here is a review by an owner about your weight but taller (6') who really likes his. I have a kayak with similar proportions (LV with 22" width) and my 5' 9", 180 lb ex boyfriend loved it.:

    http://aldercreek.com/valley-sea-kayaks-aquanaut-lv/

    There is also a used Valley Etain (suggested by a poster above) for sale in Grosse Ile.

    https://detroit.craigslist.org/wyn/boa/5903422019.html

    Either one would give you good speed but be comfortable for just hanging out on the water. Very versatile models and competent for the Great Lakes once you have the skills for that.

    BTW, never hurts to try to negotiate on used kayaks. Especially at this time of year (when people are looking for winter garage space), you might be able to get either of those for under $1000 if you showed up with cash.

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