Advice purchasing a Kayak

I am relatively new to kayaking but have a background in other adventure sports. I am looking to purchase a kayak but need some advice on brand and model. I am looking for something preferably plastic, over 17 feet long, but narrower than about 23.5 inches, with a rudder. I am looking for something stable enough for open ocean but quick enough to paddle in long distance paddle races and adventure races. Any advice that anyone could give me would be noted and greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Get one with the big hole in the top.

why plastic?
Kevlar is lighter and faster. If you are racing to win, you will probably end up wanting a composite.

There is a lot more choices in composite too.

Most importantly…whats your price range?

take lessons and rent
As with anyone new to kayaking who is looking to buy, my strong suggestion is to take the basic kayak lessons (and maybe more) and rent boats a few times before buying. All too often, people buy kayaks before they really know what they want, and end up selling them shortly (or leaving them unused).

Instead, spend a few hundred bucks on lessons and rentals (many shops also allow you to apply rental fees towards the purchase of a boat, so it basically becomes a deposit). Also take advantage of any demo days that may be in your area. Get butt time in different boats and see what works for you.

You’re not gonna find
many fast plastic kayaks. Tough ones that can be bounced off rocks and enjoyed in rough water, yes, but not win races as a general rule. Weight is an issue, as are design compromises to make a plastic mold work, and also drag from scratches in the plastic.

If you’re looking to get into racing, carbon/kevlar or the newer carbon infusion layups are the way to go. Even then, you have to pay attention to design, as you can find an ultralight barge or two out there. My own Anas Acuta is a prime example – Love the boat, but even in carbon, she’s not gonna win many races. Hell of a lot of fun in rough water and rock gardens, though. It’s all about weight and hull design.

Valley and Prijon …

– Last Updated: Nov-02-09 8:37 PM EST –

make some boats in plastic that are fast and solid performers. Check out the Prijon Barracuda for example. I think the Valley website is down, but they have excellent boats in plastic too- check out the RM versions of the aquanaut and nordkapp.

When you say adventure races do you mean down stream whitewater with rocks etc. If so you might want to look at shorter wider boats and stick to plastic.

I’m not a complete novice, I have had lessons and initially I was considering fiberglass but don’t know anyone with a fiberglass boat and from what I have read about them I feel like I may be too hard on it. I’m not looking to break the bank either, I need something that will be stable in open and choppy water but want to find a happy medium with speed. Probably not looking to win any races right now, just compete in them.

Look around for a used Perception
Eclipse out of plastic.

I have won many races in mine, and you should be able to get a older one fairly inexpensive.

I still have mine but it is not for sale. I now race it in several downriver races.


It’s even safe around sharks !



Kitcat’s question
is what I’ve been pondering. What about a Hurricane Tracer 165? From the little I know, it might fit the bill.

Look at Cobra boats
They have a ski that’s pretty fast I guess and also the Viper that’s a fast plastic kayak. Like everyone said a fiberglass or better boat is your best bet though. You could get a used Epic V10 Sport for cheap in a Value (38lbs) or performace (33lbs) for good deals if you keep an eye open. I do tri’s with a V10 Sport and some of the rivers are shallow to were we hit bottom. The boats are pretty strong and alot faster than any plastic boat you could get. Good luck. Chaz

Perception Eclipse
For a plastic all purpose touring yak it was pretty fast. I had the older version called the Shadow and even though it was a tad shorter and wider than my current touring boat it felt a tad faster. It did however have less stability and weathercock badly.

In addition to some of the others mentioned P&H makes a stiff and fast boat.

lessons and test paddles
I’d suggest taking more lessons first and trying lots of different boats at dealers paddle days.

For open water initial stability isn’t a great thing, big fat wide flat bottom kayaks have great stablity in flat water, are also awful in rough water offshore.

Bill H.

I think
Wilderness Systems and Necky have boats that fit that mold.

Tempest 170/180

Looksha 17

Chatham 17



– Last Updated: Nov-06-09 10:00 AM EST –

Always makes it hard to say much when I see stability mentioned as a big priority - for newer paddlers that usually means a comforting sense that the boat won't capsize. But if you are going to be in open ocean, especially if you want something that can not be totally frustrating in a race, you really are going to have to learn to deal with some less comforting primary stability. That is, a boat that will get kicked around in dimensional water and, until you get bracing etc under your belt, will feel like it wants to capsize.

I saw the above post that you aren't a novice, but I think you need to add some time in learning self-rescues and bracing before you can make a really happy choice here. I would second the choice of Pijon for boats that are open water capable but still relatively fast within their grouping, but the ones that we've seen people use as day boats plus take into races do not have initial stability that would be comforting to a newer paddler in chop and/or higher winds.

What’s your height & weight?
Hard to recommend a specific kayak without those essential stats.

P&H Scorpio is the plastic version of the Cetus and comes in regular and low-volume. It’s their proprietary Corelite material, which is stronger & lighter than regular polyethylene boats. Both the Cetus and the Scorpio are fast boats, which is one of the reasons I’m considering the Cetus LV.

I’ve been paddling a carbon-kevlar P&H Sirius for three years, and its outstanding design and construction has saved my butt (and my face) numerous times. The only reason I’m moving up to a Cetus LV is because the Sirius is too straight-tracking for someone my size. But if you’re looking for a fast boat, that’s exactly why I got the Sirius. I’m putting it up for sale, by the way, for less than a new plastic boat. Email me for details.

The Cuda does mach 1 on the floor.