Beginner Choosing a Kayak

Hello everyone,

I need some help buying a kayak. I’ve been kayaking and have decided take it on as a hobby this summer. I’m not sure on how to go about finding a kayak that suits me. So hopefully some of this info helps. I’m 6ft tall and weight about 180lbs. I will mostly be using the kayak on flat waters and potentially light flowing, nothing too crazy (for now) rivers. I will also occasionally/possibly use it for fishing.

So what size/length/model kayak do you guys recommend? Also, price range of about $500, will try to buy used if available.


you need to figure out what general type

– Last Updated: Mar-30-11 4:53 PM EST –

For example, would you prefer a sit-on-top (SOT) kayak or one you sit in (SINK)? If the latter, would you want a kayak that you wear a spray skirt in, or one more geared towards paddling without a skirt?

Recreational kayaks have become popular among folks paddling protected inland flat water and easy streams because they have large cockpits that don't feel as confining and are easier to get in and out of. They also don't give a sense of confinement and entrapment in the event of a capsize. These are typically 10-14' in length.

Some folks have difficulty entering and exiting any sit in kayak and find that even rec kayaks are too confining and prefer sit on tops. Some of these have wells built into the hull specially designed for fishermen.

Longer "sea kayaks" descended from open ocean boats and are longer (typically more than 14' in length), sleeker, and faster but require a little more effort to maneuver, especially in tight places. They might appeal to you if you want to cover greater distances, but it is harder to access gear within the hull than in a rec boat because they are designed to be paddled wearing a spray skirt. They are also more expensive and a little harder to store because of their greater length.

My guess is that you will be looking for a recreational kayak and there are many different models available that might suit you.

Rec boat

– Last Updated: Mar-30-11 4:30 PM EST –

Tons of recreational kayaks out there. Agree with prior poster that you need to decide sit inside or sit on top style. Many kayaks are setup specifically for fishing but you can fish from a general purpose rec boat if you only do once and a while.

Google to see if there are any paddle shops near you. Some allow you to demo boats, even if not they will share tons of information to share. What state or city are you in?

Some will tell you you will outgrow a rec boat and want to move up to a more advanced sea kayaks later but that's not true for all people, some people just like keeping it simple. If you stay on flat waters and don't exceed the capabilities of your boat and your skills then all is good.

Here is yak listing from just one company:
General recreation:

Weeks away from demo days
Most places anyway - demo days kick in as soon as late April, and everywhere in May. Best place to go to.

When my wife and I decided to get into kayaking we purchased Perception Sundances which are 12 foot recreational kayaks with very large cockpits. They are extremly stable and track well, although not real fast. We mainly use them on local rivers and lakes. The large cockpit is ideal for fishing and also for entry/exit. I am about your size and feel very comfortable in mine. You might also investigate the Wilderness System Pongo and other similar boats. I strongly urge you to try any kayak before you purchase. If you have friends with kayaks ask if you can use thier boats and see what you like and dislike and listen to what they have to say. This is what we did and then settled on the Sundance. Good Luck!

Your best bet would be to track down the local kayak club and try a number of brief demos of some of their boats.

See the link “Find clubs in my area” on this page…