A good kayak for beginners

I would like a 10-13 foot, lightweight kayak, good handling/steering,good for beginners for use in fairly calm rivers and lakes in New Jersey. I would like to keep the price around $500. I am about 5’8". Any suggestions?


kayak for beginners
you can go to the paddler event in march in somerset nj.good place to go and check out all types of kayak before invest one.

check out Jersey Paddler
very nice folks there. Carry a lot of lines, lot of variety. Sit in them & demo on the water when the season starts.

Try try try before you buy. Take some lessons w. a club, a class, or with experienced friends and use the kayaks offered. With a few basic skills you can better get the feel of each kayak & make good comparisions.

But first, as weird as it may sound, invest in your own PFD & a serviceable midgrade paddle (Get advice here or IRL as it depends on your height, arm span, & upper body strenth. Avoid really cheap, heavy ones). Nothing wrong w. a good used paddle… it can become your spare later when you really know what you want & what best fits your kayak & paddling style.

That way as you try different boats you will have some constants.

This is what I did last summer and it helped me make good choices & have fun doing it! A special welcome to another female paddler from my home state!

hurricane aqua sports tampico

I second the NJ Paddlesport show - good way to see many boats. I think used (p-net classified) is the way to go for a first boat - not too hard to find a good quality light boat which will improve your initial paddling experiences.

Checkout Necky Kayaks…
Be sure to try before you buy…

Checkout Necky’s recreational line. Necky makes really good kayaks. The prices are higher than the $500 you specified but I’m sure a dealer will make you a good package deal (boat, paddle, pfd) if you find a boat you like.


demo new, buy used
Season is coming for paddling demos. Get into as many as you can, ID the ones you like, and look for used ones here (classifieds) and elsewhere. You can save money/get more boat for your money that way.

Never have bought a new kayak.

take a tour/class NM

I just picked up a couple of Necky…
Manitou 13’s for the kids. I paid a little more than $1200 for two and they may be a little more than you would like to spend but for an entry level rec boat they will be hard to beat unless you go used. Definitely worth a look considering your intended uses.

A good first step might be to try lifting a couple and see what weight you can comfortably handle. Once you know that it’ll thin out the possibilities. Light and inexpensive is not easy to find. Don’t be afraid to buy used.

The next step is finding boats that fit you. Females tend to have shorter arms and torsos than men, and some kayaks may be too wide or too deep for you to paddle comfortably. You should feel secure in the cockpit and not like you’re sliding around in a bathtub. Women also tend to have a lower center of gravity than men and will be more stable in a narrower boat than a typical male would.

It’s hard to suggest a specific boat – some beginners want the stability and large cockpit of a wide rec boat, and others immediately feel comfortable in sea kayaks. Build, balance, goals, comfort in the water, previous athletic experience, and other factors all affect people’s decisions.

And as other folks have said:


Thanks for all replies
Thanks for all the advice and recommendations from all who posted replies to my inquiry.

Going to check out the Necky line, found a couple of dealers in area and this kayak was recommended several times from here and a local outdoor club.

Thanks again and welcome any other info.

Carolina Perception 13.5

– Last Updated: Mar-01-07 9:47 AM EST –

This is a great beginner/intermediate kayak as it's extremely stable from the time you first sit down in it. I have 2 14.5 Carolinas and have had them for about 6 years now. Although I have considered going Kevlar several times, I just can't part with them.

I have taken them out in 2-3 foot swales in the sounds and never flipped them. if you could find a good used one (they dont make them anymore), it would be well worth the money.