1st kayak

Trying to decide on a 1st kayak. Lots of choices and styles but trying to decide on sit-on vs sit-in. Right now I think my top choice would be the sit in 12 foot old town angler kayak. Vapor I think it is called or by comparison saw a 12 foot sit on top ascend at bass pro. I hear all sorts of conflicting opinions…of course I also saw one at Dick’s sporting goods on sale for only $250. It was a low end but option for getting started.

Im 6’3" 250+ so I need something that can support me and feel safe in. Mostly something that can be fun to paddle around the lake and fishing would be a fun option too.

The 2nd dilemma is the fact that not sure how to manage kayaking and kids. I.e…would want to camp out and kayak as part of the experience but I know my older kids would get worn out too fast or scared and youngest one is way too young to take out on the water. So then my dilemma becomes how or what to do with kids when I want to kayak? Yes I know I can’t have it all. I suppose a tandem would be an option but might seem like a bit of a hassle too.

Help for a new wannabe kayaker

canoe would be better
For your size and for both fishing and kids, you would be better served by a canoe than a kayak. You are really too big for those short cheap kayaks – being near the rated capacity makes a boat unstable and slow. And most people who are serious about fishing prefer a canoe, which has more room for gear and is easier to cast from. For young kids it is absolutely the best option. With a 14 to 16 foot canoe you can solo it or take a kid or two on board. Alternatively, if you insist on sticking with a kayak, you will probably be better off with at least a 14 foot sit on top. These are also preferable for fishing and a larger one would enable you to take one or more kids, too.

Other people on here would be better informed than me to recommend canoes, though you seem to have a fairly low budget in mind so a used boat would probably be best . IN fact it is always better to start with a used kayak or canoe – well cared for ones are not rare and you can get a better bang for your buck.

Canoe purists might scoff at my suggestion, but my ex and I picked up a used Mad River Adventure 16 (they also make a 14) which is a plastic molded tandem canoe with an additional center seat – it is a little like a cross between a sit on top kayak and a regular style canoe. You can often pick them up used for around $350 to $400. We paddled ours using double ended kayak paddles and enjoyed using it on lakes and fast streams, even some mild class 1 and 2 rapids. It was a little heavy but a cheap wheeled kayak cart helped with hauling it to the river. You could easily fit all three kids in it as they get a little older.

Another good standard canoe model that is often for sale used is the Old Town Guide 146 and the longer 160. We had a 146 and used to use it on the rivers as well. The shorter one is a little easier for a solo paddler.

Not a $250 kayak
Pushing the limit for your size as already said, and simply not a well-featured enough boat if you plan to also help out kids that could be intimidated or tire easily. Better a tandem canoe paddled close enough to shore that basic swimming skills would be enough to get everyone to hard land in the case of a capsize. Learn to kayak and do rescues in a boat equipped for that yourself before taking kids out in that situation.

good poits
Yes, you should never take kids out in any boat unless you are sure, by having practiced it, that you can get yourself back into the boat after a capsize. As with any new sport, some instruction in technique and safety is necessary for optimal enjoyment. Look for an independent kayak outfitter or one of the real outdoor sports chains like REI or Eastern Mountain Sports that offer intro lessons and on the water demos, or find an outdoor or paddling club that offers them. The discount and big box stores don’t really support the sport of paddling.