Beginner -- kayak recommendations

-- Last Updated: Mar-08-07 11:58 AM EST --

50+ lady looking for a kayak. Would be paddling on lakes & streams. No fancy stuff! Would like a sit-in kayak fairly stable but not too slow. Not too expensive either. Would like several brand recommendations so I could look for a used one. I would be using it during hot weather (most of the time here in Texas--LOL!) so don't care about water in the cockpit!

Another question: what about Featherlite? I would be loading/unloading it myself on top of my SUV so need something not too heavy....

Options +
Welcome to the water!

You have lots of options and mfgs. to choose from. My bias, based on your price point, might be a P&H Easky 13. Your idea of a Heritage Featherlite is a good way to go as well.

Whichever way you go a couple of good investments in gear at the beginning will hold you in good stead and make the sport more enjoyable and therefore something you do much more often.

1)Carrrying your kayak ontop of an SUV.

Spring for a Thule Hull-a-vator. Takes the hassle out of the car portaging portion of the paddle. Option 2 on this note might be a Thule Slip-Stream. Depends on your SUV. Drop me a line if you have specific questions on this.

2) A women’s specific pfd (personal floatation device). Yes there is a difference and boy does it make a difference in comfort. No fun being a squished by two flat planks of floatation foam.

3) A paddle that you really like at the end of the day. If it starts out as a clumsy heavy paddle you’ll be calling it an unweildy miserable club by the time you’ve covered two miles.

Hope this helps a bit.

See you on the water,


Hyde Park, NY

sit in 'em & pick 'em up!
Hi & welcome: I’m a female kayaker who started last season w. the kind of paddling you want to do. Cartop & handle my own kayaks by myself 95% of the time so understand concerns about weight.

Research on dry land:

You’ll want to start going around to paddle shops with knowledgeable people not typically found in the bigbox stores.

Sit in some kayaks. Check the seat fit for your hips and butt. Check the feel of the seat back on your lower back. Check the feel of the footpegs on the balls of your feet and angle of your feet, and adjust for your leg length. Adjust everything that is adjustable - is it easy? Does it help the fit? Get in and out several times.

Raise your knees. Hold a paddle and fully rotate your torso. Both will give you some idea of whether the cockpit is too high or too tight for you. Then, if all that seems to check out, see if you can pick up the kayak to at least waist height. Hullyvators, etc. and kayak carts are nice, but you need to know what you can handle without them, too.

Budget factors:

Be aware that lighter is better, although it’s also more $$. Check out some of the ABS thermal formed kayaks by Delta, Hurricane Aqua Sports and others for fit and weight. Demos and lightly used kayaks are good deals for anyone, including beginners!

Also be aware that you can easily spend more than the cost of a midpriced rec kayak on the Hullavator/pfd/paddle/safety gear. Do some online research & start developing your budget for a boat and necessary gear. It doesn’t always have to be new, research for deals on eBay, classified, garage sales,craigslists & via local paddle clubs & shops.

Water time:

Get a good fitting pfd and a decent paddle as suggested above. Then use them while you take some lessons and go to some water demos. This will give you a clear idea what you like and don’t like in a rec kayak. If it’s a class,you’ll also learn about proper dress for the waters in your areas and some basic safety.

If you are a good swimmer, great. If not, consider some swimming classes, too. Whatever you paddle you want to be comfortable when you unexpectedly go into the water. It will happen.

When you have a few top choice kayaks, look for a used or demo version of them. Then use the knowledge learned in classes and demos and go paddling!

that was a good post
I know I look at Women’s PFD’s even for myself. They are more comfortable I think (but I am not a large man.

What build are you? That can play into some aspects of boat choices.

Spend more on the PFD and the paddle than you originally thought. It is worth it. and try to talk to sales people at a paddle shop or outfitter.

I came up with a formula once that went something like this:

Take all that you expected to pay for boat plus gear, that is how much your boat should cost.

Next, divide the first number (boat cost) in two and that should be the cost of other gear.

Example 1: Old Town Otter retails for about $300, after a $100 paddle and a Life Vest you are at a total of $450 maybe $500

Example 2: Venture Kayaks Easky 15 is $950 at Rutabaga right now. Bending Branches Spirt Day paddle is currently $350, leaving $125 for a PFD. (I could have gone with an Aqua-bound for $150 and had 200 dollars for outfitting the boat a little more custom)

my formula isn’t perfect, but it can keep the sticker shock away.

Nearly everyone agrees, I think, that it never hurts to spend the money up front. You will buy other items later, but the better you start with, the more you can grow WITH them, instead of OUT OF them.