Beginner-Help Please

Would like to get a kayak to use in my lake. No whitewater, rocks, etc. Just one to paddle around and enjoy the weather, ducks, and get some upper body exercise. Something easy to get in and out of. What do the experienced suggest? Thank you. Betsy.

Size and future plans?
Knowing your height and weight will help and also your future plans. Any of the recreational boats would probably fit the bill if you never want to do anything other that small lakes and slow rivers and are a good place to start as they are inexpensive and plentiful. Give us more information and plenty of people will weight in with ideas, opinions, and suggestions.


First kayak for calm water?
Just my opinion, but the ideal first boat for that kind of water is a recreational boat in the 12-14 foot length, with a 24 inch beam. Wider is more stable, but it is hard to learn a good stroke on boats any wider than that. 24 inch might feel a little tippy at first, but you’ll quickly get used to it.

How are you going to transport it? If cartopping, how much is weight an issue, and what’s your budget?

Rotomolded plastic boats are cheap, strong, but heavy. Thermoformed are a bit lighter and fairly strong.

If you have lots of money, you could look at at pricier fiberglass or composite boats.

If at all possible, demo boats before buying. If there is a local club, people in the club will be very happy to let you try their boats. Our club has a “try a kayak” day for beginners last week, and there were seven or eight different types of rec boat there. One older woman tired every one of them, discovered she loved some, and hated others. She’s now much better equipped to get her first boat.

Check out craigs list, pnet, and the sites of your local paddling clubs for used boats. You can get more for your money used, if you are lucky enough to find the boat you want used.

okay it is on a lake and you don’t currently own a boat. have you EVER kayaked? have you thought about solo canoes? what is your physical ability? what are your weight and hight? do you have a price range? are you willing to buy used for a better boat?

I will put my vote in, with no other information, for a Pungo 12 footer or a Pamlico. They are great to learn in and you can always sel one, or keep it for a loaner.

Now everyone will talk about lessons and demo days. get as much information as you can to make an informed decission. Try other people’s boats. find a place that rents different boats.


P.S. spend the money on a good PFD and upgrade a level or two on the paddle.

Great Advice
Thanks for the great advice. Not transporting. I thought a 9-10’ looked good. Is shorter less stable than longer? Will look for a local club.

It is a shallow (8’) private lake. We use a patio boat. Never kayaked. No canoe (tipsy?). Good physical shape (bike, walk, hike). 5’3-1/2", 140 lbs. No price range, used and cheap always good! Thanks for your help.

9-10 footers
Stability is related more to width (beam) than length. My first kayaks were 9 foot Otters. I still have them and use them to take out beginners. But within a year of paddling just flatwater, I wanted something narrower and longer. My second boat was 12.5 feet and 24 inches, and while it felt just the slightest bit tippy the first time I paddled it, I got used to it quickly, and I still use that boat for alot of things.

Longer boats tend to “track” better than very short boats, so if transporting is not an issue, you may as well go a bit longer if you can afford it.

Pungo a bit large
The Pungo 12 is one of the nicest entry level rec boats out there, but it is pretty big, deep, and wide, and for someone your height and weight, the Pungo might feel like paddling a bathtub. You want something narrower. You mighr even look at some boats with a 23 inch beam, but I’d demo those first, for as a new paddler, they might seem a bit too tippy.

If you want a nice stable kayak for fun

– Last Updated: Sep-23-06 5:38 PM EST –

and exercise, besides the sit inside rec boats, there are some decent inexpensive sit on tops. The new that just came to market and gets great review from the sit on top crowd is the Malibu Mini-X. Its under 10 ft, is supposed to paddle well, and has good capacity, and is stable. The Ocean Kayak Frenzy is another decent sit on top. Then, there's the Ocean Kayak Big Yak.

I paddle sit insides, but the sit on tops deserve a look at too. Amother short sit on top, but one that is pricey, is one of the Hobie mirage drive sit on tops. You peddle, not paddle. Great aroebic exercise machine on the water if you are used to peddling a bicycle for fitness, thought he longer ones will be faster. Paddling is overrated for upper body exercise unless you paddle distances. But, Hobie also makes some nice sit on tops.

Truthfully, knowing what I now know about kayaks, if buying one shorter than 10 feet for use in warm water lakes and streams. I would not buy a recreational kayak, but a sit on top. From what I read here, this crowd is more oriented to sit inside kayaks, so you may not get many recommendations for sit on tops.

Malibu website, Mini-X on the first page:

My first kayak was…
a Necky Sky. I love that boat and still have it. Mainly use it now when I go fishing. Check out your local paddleshop too.

is weight an issue?
Current Designs makes an enhanced rec boat the Kestrel, that is available in a hybrid layup that is right at 29 pounds, literally can pick it up with one hand and gingerly walk to the water. I use it for excercise though it does have a bulkhead and hatch in the rear and enough room for an ultralighter to overnight in.

CD Kestrel
I also bought a Kestrel a year ago. I’m close to you in height and weight, and had similar needs. The Kestrel in plastic is still light enough that I can get it in and out of the water myself. It’s wide enough to feel stable, but not so wide as to imitate a bathtub. It was a good combination of length (12’) width (25", I think) weight (about 45 lbs) and price. Have fun with your search!

I think a Sonoma 13.5 airalite would work nicely on a lake. Looks good, newbies are comfortable in it, and it’s very light. A SOT would be ok - I like the looks of the Hobie Revolution or Cobra Marauder, but a Malibu 2 XL is versatile.

A good inexpensive sit on top that will
meet your needs for a long time to come is the Ocean Kayak Scrambler XT. Its long enough to give you a bit of speed, and fairly inexpensive. Thow a picnic basket in the back and a soft cooler and have a fun day. Nice thing about it, fall off and re-entry is easy.

As for the Necky Sky, it was my first recreational kayak. Its ok, but I’ve never liked the noise it makes when paddling at any speed and it isn’t a great tracker. Though, tracking and under 10 ft doesn’t always go together.

I’m not saying that any of the recreation kayaks a re necessarily bad or good. But, consider how you will use the kayak and do take a look at some of the sit on tops.

I will only have to move it a few feet to put in the water. Is heavier more stable? Thanks you.

Heavier is not more stable. With a

– Last Updated: Sep-24-06 4:15 AM EST –

kayak, its as much a function of design and width as anything. Lighter weight may contribute to an easier paddle, or it may not, but it does make a big difference in transporting a kayak. If you still want an inexpensive stable sit inside under 10 ft, look at the Old Town Otter. Usually, you can get it for under $300, sometimes under $250. Get the XT model with the foot braces (recommended) and it'll be a bit more. The Otter is pretty common and can often be found for sale on Craigslist. Its also used as a rental by some rental companies. Its reasonable stable and you aren't out a lot of money when you decide to upgrade later, and you will.

The Necky Sky is an ok short kayak. I have one. But, it does tend to not track well and has a lot of hull slap when you try to paddle it fast...annoying, but not anything to worry about. But,not good for getting close to ducks and herons. Is also runs around $500, at least the last time I looked.