Advice on First Kayak

Hello Folks…just joined and getting involved in the sport and looking to buy my first kayak. I’m 55 and very comfortable on the water and considering two kayaks. First is a brand new Old Town Loon 126 for $999 or a used Eddyline Skylark 12 for $700. Hard to find anything negative about either of them as a first kayak. Wondering if anyone out there has an informed opinion? Might just buy both :).

Thanks, robc

Like so many beginner’s first post, you should give us a little about your size and what kind of water you will be paddling on.

My inclination is to advise people to go longer and at least try out as many boats as possible. Do not assume you must start with a recreational kayak if you are thinking about eventually moving up.

Whatever you do, do not buy a paddle until you know what fits you and what constitutes a good paddle. The same goes for a paddling life jacket.

I agree with Magooch – you have not provided enough information for anyone to give you useful advice. Your height, weight and what sort of paddling you plan to do (lakes, rivers, coastal?) and performance you expect (stability for fishing or photography? ease of speed for distance paddling? space to carry camping gear? etc.) are all factors.

In general, buying used is always the better option when you start out because you will really not know exactly what you want from a boat until you’ve paddled for a while. The two you note are quite different despite the similar length. The Loon is a heavy rather slow barge (56 pounds and 31 " wide) and the Eddyline is a lighter and more sleekly designed boat (41 pounds and 26" wide). The Loon does not have dual bulkheads (a safety issue unless you add an inflatable flotation bag) and it has an oversized cockpit which means it will not support a sprayskirt making it less suitable for deep or rough water. The Skylark is a better value (is $1400 new), is more versatile and would be faster and much easier to load and haul, but there is no way to know if it would be suitable for your size or purposes.

Read the info on this site first, then come back. As above, the boats you are looking at could be fine or absolutely a bad idea for your purposes.depending on your paddling venues and likely uses.

I own a 14 ft. Pungo and have had limited experience in a 14.5 ft. Carolina. I’m 6.0 ft and weigh 180 lbs. and only paddle on small lakes 200 - 900 acres so have no experience in rough water. Also I only paddle for about 3 hrs/trip and carry just a few essentials that weigh about 5lbs.
Pungo- is a great rec kayak with good cruising speed (avg. about 3.6 mph.GPS) which is only slightly slower than my 15’ Expression and 17’ Tempest. The large cockpit allows me to move around quite a bit to relieve chronic sciatica pain. In my most comfortable paddling position my knees on the thigh pads stick above the cockpit rim which would interfere with a spray skirt. I don[t know if this would be the same with you. Since I paddle the Pungo unloaded the waterline with is only 24 inches vs the max advertised with of 28 inches. I don’t know whether this has any influence on performance.
The14.5’ Carolina which I bought for my grandson was mfg. about 15 yrs. ago and don’t know how it compares with a newer 14’ Carolina. The cruising speed is about the same as the Pungo however when both kayaks are pushed the Pungo was faster. The Carolina pushed a significant bow wave which probably limited speed.

Buy both, use based on conditions

robc— can’t give you any info on the Old Town but can tell you the reasons we bought an Eddyline Skylark and also a Sky

Purchase criteria was
– lighter weight
– dual bulkheads
– fit inside the van for transport
– sprayskirt available (eddyline or also aftermarket)

We are both 64 + and adding additional 15lbs for the Loon, don’t think I could/would want to carry it myself. Dual bulkheads were a safety thing. The sprayskirt, was something we wanted for paddle drips and cooler fall days, not so much for the choppy days and wave/water spray.

The Skylark is very easy to paddle-- admittedly my experiences in other products is limited. We looked at Old Towns will also looking at the Eddylines and it really came down to overall weight and dimensions.

We are not small males but not very large either at 5’8 and 140-145# and 5/10 and 150-155#.

Our paddling areas include couple of rivers, inland lakes and sheltered bays and coves at the extreme eastern end of Lake Superior. Basically “lily dippers” and floaters with little interest to become more adventuresome.