Advice on Buying a Kayak on a Budget

I want to buy a kayak but my budet is limited to about $350 - $400.

My biggest concern is that I weigh around 270 and I need a boat that will handle my weight.

I live on the Severn River in MD near the headwaters where it is shallow so most of my kayaking will be on relatively flat water.

I have tried a West Marine Inflatable but it doesn’t track at all and my attempt to jury rig a foot rest was not very successful.

I would appreciate any advice that you can give.

Keep an eye on classified ads…
…and perhaps consider a used hard shell boat. If you’re really going to just paddle on calm, protected waters, there may be some used rec boats that could fit your needs - at least for now - and fall within your budget.

I just looked at the Pnet classified ads for Maryland…

…and there was one small rec boat (only 12 feet) for $350 (Pamlico 120). I’ve never paddled one of these, but it looks like it may track better than an inflatable of similar dimensions. The cockpit looks quite roomy, and the boat claims to hold up to 400 lbs. I wouldn’t take this on big open waters, or in too lively conditions, but if you want to start out on quiet waters, it may work for you.

There are a couple other boats on that page that are just a bit over your stated budget, but they might be worth considering as well.

Since you live near water, there may also be several used boats listed in local classified ads or on bulletin boards in the area. You might also keep an eye on the local listings for your area.

Have you paddled many different boats? Are there any rental shops or retailers nearby where you can try different boats? Once you have some idea of the kind of boat that would meet your needs, you can look for a good deal on a used boat.

Good luck, and I hope you can get on the water soon!


Call every livery you can find
within reasonable driving distance. They often have used rec kayaks they are willing to sell. That’s how I got my first boats (three for my family). Those boats got so much use they probably cost me about 25 cents for every hour of paddling. And I still have them, and use them to take friends for their first paddle at local lakes. I’ve added more boats, but they were a great start at a time when I had a very tight budget.

you can find one keep looking
Advice on the Wes Boyd site for which boats carry how much weight. Make a list and then watch all of the classified listings.

The weight load is very important and don’t go by some of the manufactures on line specs either, as some of them are wrong.

I have a Pungo Classic which I used all last summer. I bought it new at Gaylans for under four hundred dollars in 2003. At Christmas, thanks to some great folks on Pnet, I adopted a Pungo 140 and I’m anxious to get back in the water.

However it is too cold for this asthmatic and my second career is a seasonal one that doesn’t end until April 17th this year. Ouch I bit my lip just then. Some of you will know why.

Good luck in your search.

Used or Demo Boats
Some of the skin on frame folders have enormous weight capacity. My Pouch E68 single is rated for about 440 pounds. Klepper and Longhaul single boats likewise should be rated for as much or more. Finding a commercial folder at the price you want will be difficult, even in a used or demo boat. Also have a look at some of the DIY boats at - cost you time and maybe $400.00 to make your own, either rigid or folding SOF.


Won’t happen
You will also need a paddle and PFD. Best to wait until you can add another couple of hundred dollars.

just under budget
I agree that you need to add a few hundred more to your budget, especially if you want to paddle on the Chesapeake Bay, as you suggest in your profile. Another place to look for used gear in MD is, but it will be difficult on your desired budget. I have the Dagger Charleston listed for MD in the Classified ads, which would fit your needs, but may be a little over your budget; but give me an email (from the ads page) if you want to talk about it.


Already have a PFD and a paddle budget
I already have a PFD and a usable paddle but I will probably budget another $70 for a better one.

I have not paddled that many boats but I have paddled a Pongo 100 and although it is functional for me I would like to get something a little longer.

My goal is to be able to paddle the length of the Severn River which I believe is approximately 8 miles.

I am looking at the Pamlico 120 mentioned but I would like to try before I buy.

P.Net ads are a best bet but
Also check Ebay. I saw a Dagger Blackwater 11.5 go recently for around $400.00 and it was new. I have an Old Town Loon 138. Not a fast boat by any means but it has a large cockpit and can handle larger paddlers. I only paid $449.00 for it new in February.

Check this one out:

Try my Carolina
I don’t live on the Severn, but if you spit in my yard it’ll end up there.

You are welcome to try out my Perception Carolina, 14.5 ft, kayak.

BTW, it’ll be another month before you can safely paddle the Severn without cold water gear. If you are just starting out, you need to be aware of the danger of cold water. We get nice days this time of year, but last I checked, the bay water temp was 43 degrees, which will incapacitate you pretty quick if you swim, and you should always plan your outings as if you know you are going to swim. I wait for 60 degrees before I go without a wetsuit.

Drop me an email if you want to try out the Carolina. There are enough of these around that I think you could find one in your price range.


Buy Used
I bought a Loon 138 for $350 from a rental place. I would try to find a boat closer to 14ft. The Loon 138, Pungo 140, Pamlico 140. It will be more comfortable and track better. Try to squeak out a little more money for your paddle. It will be worth it. If you can get up to $100, you can get a better one. Check out the Aquabound paddles. Also, find a cheap drybag. $10-$20 on sale somewhere.

Here’s another one you might watch: