about to buy my 1st touring kayak--help

I’ve got a fever…and the prescription is more kayaking. I’ve gotta buy one. Thing is, I’m just a beginner. I’ve only got about 40 hrs worth of time on the water. I’ve been renting different models just to try ‘em on for size. I’ve tried the Prijon Seayak, Current designs Storm GT, and the Necky Looksha 17. So far my favorite is the Storm GT(though the seat could use some improvements. All the kayaks I’ve rented have been rotomoulded poly . I’d love to try a fiberglass model in touring, but nobody around here rents them. I’m worried about spending a large sum of money (for me) on a composite kayak. Can they take the scrapes, bumps and bruises like a poly? Do most manufacturers have a reinforced keel to minimize the srapes? Plus, how can a person confidently buy a kayak by only a sitting test in the showroom, without trying it out on the water 1st? All I’ve heard is that once I try a nice fiberglass kayak, I’ll never look back. I’m 6’ tall, and a slim 175 lbs. I want a rudder—until my paddling skills improve, I like the fact that I can drop the rudder when I need it for extra control and tracking .Any advice from those with ample kayaking experience would be greatly appreciated. I hope to hear from you.

slow down & enjoy the search
Yup - you’ve got the fever alright. At this point, you have to understand that your first boat will not be your last. Your first boat will help you to understand what you’d like & not like in your second. So unless that steal of a deal for a FG boat falls in your lap, you’re talking plastic - especially if you can heft the weight.

Don’t put all your faith into what others think is best for you. My son is 1" shorter than you and 15 pounds lighter and he also likes the Storm - which I think is too big for him. See what I mean? Of course, he does hand-stands and dives off the Storm without a ripple…

I’ve paddled plastic boats for 12 years and have my first FG kayak on order.

You’re on the right track with rentals - that’s how you’ll find what you like. Search out free demo days as well (more common in Spring). Don’t buy a boat after just sitting in it in the shop or strictly from reviews here. Use the reviews here as a first line of research only & don’t believe everything you read. There’s some great reads in Reviews but - many people are steered into boats that are too large for them (IMO!) and you could easily avoid a fine boat because the reviewers are all 130 lbs.

other common plastic rentals
try to rent a WS Tempest 170, Necky Chatham 17, CD Sirocco etc.

yeah, slow down
You’re right about slowing down through the process of my 1st purchase. It’s tough 'cause I’ve got the cash in hand-but being impulsive does not always pan out. I may just continue renting for the rest of the summer, and go into next spring with a far better idea of what kayak suits me best. I just find myself getting caught up in the “pride of ownership thing”. It’s a bit ridiculous, but I’m sure we’ve all been there. Thanks for the input

For fiberglass demo
you might want to look at QCC kayaks at


They allow a 30 day demo. A friend of mine tried it and returned it without any problems. He was very picky about hatches and the QCC had some things he did not like. That was a while ago and I understand they have improved the hatches. Lots of people are fanatical about QCC kayaks. They also will try to hook you up with a QCC owner in your area so you can try a kayak that way.

You might also try to find some paddling clubs in your area where you might be able to try out some fiberglass kayaks to see if you really see a difference. You might want to post another message giving your location and asking for paddling groups in your area.

Good luck finding a kayak. The first one is hardly ever the last one so do not lose too much water time trying to pick the perfect kayak.


fill out your profile
…maybe someone here is closer to your location and offer a demo in a kayak they own. Good luck to you.

Go ahead and buy one
You can do all the demos in the world, and you are still probably going to find yourself jonesing for another boat a year or two down the line.

As for the plastic or fiberglass/composite question, the answer is yes, they will scratch. If you do your paddling in mostly big deep water–oceans, large lakes, deep wide rivers–then scratching isn’t a big issue if you learn how to get in and out of the boats in a few inches of water. If you do a lot of kayaking in shallow, rocky rivers, you definitely want a plastic boat.

17 foot plastic boats are heavy. Fiberglass, slightly less so. The more you are willing to pay, the lighter the boat. Of course, the best option for a light strong boat is a wood/glass stitch and glue you make yourself. My 17 foot Pygmy Arctic Tern weighs 40 pounds, and is super sturdy. Costs much less than a glass or composite boat, too. And darn fun to build.

FG demo advice
I live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I’m going to explore the paddling groups thing. Tons o’ canoe activity around here, hopefully I’ll find some Kayakers. I’ll look into the QCC thing too. Thanks man.

By all means, continue to paddle
Make your intention known to your local paddleshop & you may find that he will rent more models than what you see on the “rental rack”. My experience has been that its not unusual for a shop owner to offer his personal boat to try out.

There are thousands of models out there. There’s bound to be one close enough that when you paddle it, you’ll have that “Eureka, this is the one” moment. Of course, over time, you’ll have that same thing happen again & again…

go ahead…
thanks puddlefish.I’m inundated with legitimate advice all around today. I may have to walk away from the keypad and decompress for a bit. Do I want to buy today? YES! But, I don’t want to be the guy who comes home with pretty boat that’s a lame ride. But then again I could buy a “tried and true” and go home home happy, but all the while asking myself…“why didn’t you try more out.” Either way life’s too short to get bent over money, and wether I buy this weekend or continue to rent, I WILL be on the water. I just want to float.


– Last Updated: Aug-02-08 3:43 PM EST –

I was in the same boat as you at the beginning of the summer. I'd paddled only a small rec. boat around a little and decided I needed a sea kayak. So I looked on craigslist and found a 17' foot necky in seattle with a bunch of accessories for $1200. So I sat in it, never paddled it and bought it.

Am I glad I did? Of course. Why buy your first boat new? If you're worried it will get beat up, buy one that already has some wear. And I don't know about everyone else but I would rather have a nice $3000 dollar package for $1200 that some new plastic boat for more than that. As long as they have been taken care of kayaks last forever. It's not like buying an old bike that has rusted parts and out of date materials.

And think how much money you save by not renting. Just this alone makes it worthwhile. Buy used, if you don't like it, sell it for the same amount you paid and you're out nothing. Man it's like getting use of a kayak for free.

Lastly, I'm sure once you're experienced you can be more picky, but since I bought mine, I went to a demo day, where the local shop had a bunch of boats to try, and some I liked better than mine, some less. But not that much, all the 17 footers were pretty similar. The one I liked better, how much did it cost? $3000, without the paddle and gear I got.

I made the right choice.

Buy a used boat with scratches
You get a lot more for your money and you don’t have to worry about it the first time you scratch it up.

Don’t fixate so much on finding the perfect boat out of the starting gate.

They are not like wives, you can sell them when they begin to bore you or don’t seem to fit any more. Many of us here have several boats and have sold several more. If you don’t put down a huge initial investment in a new boat, it’s much easier to sell and move on if you start out used.

in addition
to the boats you’ve already tried, try the W/S Tempest 170, Necky Chatam 17, NDK Explorer, Impex Cat 4—and don’t be in too much of a hurry—also if money is an issue, and for most of us it is, try looking at used models

Demo days are the way to go though you might have to wait until next year (at least in my neck of the woods, demo days occur more frequently towards the earlier end of the summer). Demo days feature a variety of companies with knowledgeable reps. If you can not wait for a demo day, find outfitters that sell specific brands and ask for an on water demo of some boats you are interested in. If you are unsure, mention what you have tried before and the outfitter will steer you in the right direction. Good form would suggest not asking for a demo from a particular outfitter unless you would be inclined to purchase that specific boat from that specific outfitter if they offered their time and resources to help you find the right boat.

I began my search for a new boat this year after renting crappy plastic rental boats for a few years. I have demoed well over a dozen boats based on my needs and fit preferences and quickly narrowed things down to a short list of two boats that I really love with a clear stand out favorite that is night and day better for me than any other boat. Take your time and try a ton of boats before making a purchase. You don’t want to leave the “perfect” boat for you on the table by not trying enough out.

Don’t get stuck on the rudder
It’ll limit your choices too much. As you have probably found out by now, a number of good ideas mentioned above, that can be found used to keep your entry ticket a little cheaper, are boats with skegs. And you’ll have plenty of gear to spend money on - best to wait on paying the full ride for the boat until you have some seat time.

At this point in the season, you are 4-6 weeks away from kayak shops putting their demo and rental boats up for sale at reduced prices. Best to demo like heck for August and be ready to take advantage of those sales.

I agree with skeg
like most of us I stated out with rudders since I did not know better (nobody did advise me then).

I slowly understood that to progress from paddling to kayaking I needed a boat that was maneuverable.

Generally, a kayak with a rudder is not.

You might become a good paddler but not a good kayaker in a ruddered boat.

Hard to explain: maybe it’s like driving automatic versus manual cars…


the composite version of the storm GT
is known as the Solctice GT

What I did not see yet …

– Last Updated: Aug-04-08 11:11 AM EST –

... posted here, is that you have to decide what type of boat you want and if you can live with one boat or you want more. Not something most people can decide until after at least a full season of paddling IMO.

A boat *like* the WS Tempest 170 (and I emphasize - "like" as in "for example") is versatile, but does not really do anything exciting perfectly:
- it is not a slug but it is certainly on the slow side compared to faster cruisers
- it is maneuverable but not really a play-boat (like a WS Zephyr or a Romany are)
- it is easy to roll, yet it is relatively high volume compared to more greenland-style boats (so it gets affected by winds more and has more volume than needed in some cases), etc.

You get the point of what a boat *like* the WS Tempest is - a middle of the road, do it all and not specialized sea kayak. This may be exactly what you want, if one boat will be used in various conditions.

But it may be the wrong boat if you intend to do paddling in say two extreme opposites - waves and play vs. fast cruising. For this situation you probably want specialized boats. And two old beat-up boats that excel in each would be my choice over one "new" middle of the road boat.

... and, don't forget the paddle choice -;)

my $.02 is to focus on the paddle and pfd. You really won’t come home with a “lame” kayak given your desire to float on the water. If I was to provide a general bit of advice between two boats, pick the smaller one.

About the rudder
Do not rely on the rudder. Your paddling skills will suffer. I do however recommend having a rudder if you are intending to paddle big water. Rudders are a welcome relief when entering a lake from a river and the natural headwind and swells greet you. Also should the weather catch you off guard it is nice to have. You will learn when to use it and when not to again a good reason to have it is you now have a choice.