Beginner Kayak

This is Phivos’ mom. I am planning to buy him a kayak for his 17th birthday. He wants a sit-on-top, prefers lake and ocean kayaking, and plans to fish from it. Sam’s Club has a Meriwether, single person, fishing kayak, on sale for $259 with seat and paddle. That seems like a good deal, but many of the reviews say the boat filled up with water on longer outings. I’m not sure whether to believe that. Does anyone have any knowledge of Meriwether as a brand? This is a beginner kayaker, so I figure he’s going to upgrade if he gets into the sport, and I can’t afford a big investment. And some of the - what might be - better brands have cheaper kayaks, but they look like toys. At the same time, I don’t want him to sink! Would appreciate any advice. Thanks!

Better idea
I know nothing about that brand. But in general you’d be better off getting him a solid used boat and perhaps a lesson or two so that he can make a better decision about what boat would work best for him. More boat for the money and, hopefully, something that has already shown it’ll stay afloat.

In addition to the boat he’ll need paddle, PFD, and some basic safety devices like something for emergency signaling. So the boat is only the start.

Is there a club near you?
Do and internet search to see if there is a local kayak club or kayak fishing club. Then buy him a membership for $20 and give him the rest of the money towards a good used kayak that the club members help him find.

I’ve never heard of the brand you mentioned, so I’m more inclined to trust a used model of a name brand.

Thanks, but not a joiner
Thanks for both of those replies. They sound like great advice. My son’s not a joiner though, more of a loaner, and I’m afraid that he isn’t ready to be a part of a club. We know of a store whose owner does monthly 'tryouts" at a nearby lake. Her kayaks are in the $1,000’s though. I ordered him a couple of dvd’s, a wicking shirt, and a survival kit, and think it will be best for him to have a go on his own, and to mature some, before he’s ready to join a group or take advice. (You know …he’s a teenage male. He “knows it all” already!) Then, when he gets hooked, if he gets hooked, he’ll be motivated to seek help, and to find ways to save money and still get what he wants! I could use advice on a good PFD and where to find it. We live in San Antonio, Texas.

Thanks again for the help. You’re both very kind to have responded.

Check out Ocean Kayak Frenzy

– Last Updated: Jun-30-10 1:42 AM EST –

Great starter boat for teenage boy. Great for ocean and rivers - not a fast paddler but a fun boat. Check out the reviews here. I think REI sells them. They can be had for about $350 or less used with gear ... check out craigslist. Stable enough for fishing, pretty decent surfer and river runner. Can store gear in the rear tankwell.
Built to take lots of very hard use.

My son when he was 15 in his Frenzy ...

get a good used sit on top

– Last Updated: Jun-30-10 5:57 PM EST –

skip the cheapies. You'll get more for your $$ w. a proven design. If its from a name mfgr it'll be easy to sell if it's not his thing or he really likes the sport and wants a different boat down the line.

Ocean Kayak, Wilderness Sytems, RTM, Heritage, Native,
and Hurricane Aquasports are all very good brands, among others.

Buying used you might get a paddle, scupper plugs, and an anchor thrown in. Maybe a PFD too.

Sit on tops are easy to customize for fishing so don't feel you have to buy a "fisherman's model". Tips on how to choose a sit on top, how to outfit one for fishing, etc. ---> excellent forum here for Fishing from Canoes and Kayaks.... also go to, great site! There's one in Texas too, try googling.

PFDs - he'll just have to try them on. There are lots of good ones out there but fit is the key. It can't ride up or be too loose or the safety factor is reduced. For fishing he'll want one w. pockets. Here are some top PFD makers: Kokatat, Stohlquist, Astral, Palm, MTI.

I get that he's a loner and just wants to get out there, but he'd be safer and get a whole lot more out of the boat if somebody knowledgeable shows him a few things. Especially about ocean paddling. Can't buy experience & judgement.

Since he's a teen boy and - likely- lacks the judgement he'll develop as a man, this is all the more important. You know this, being his awesome mom :D

I would get the one at Sams
I have looked at the Sam’s Club kayaks, and as far as I am concerned if they get you on the water they are good.

If it is plastic and it leaks, there is a very cheap two part epoxy now made specifically for plastic.

Also if it is made like the Ocean kayak sit on tops, there is a screw type drain plug in them for draining leakage water, and if not you can install one that Harmony makes.

I have high end kayaks and starter kayaks, and as far as I am concerned the best way to start is the way you are doing it.

Jack L

Got Something-Not Sit-on-Top Though…
Thanks for all the advice. I am still considering, but we did buy an Equinox 124 from Costco due to the price and features. It has lots of features including two waterproof hatches/storage compartments, adjustable foot rest, seat pad w/back, and came with a paddle and soft roof carrier set for $319.99. Apparently, this brand only makes two styles, and they are only sold at Costcos. The customer reviews are all excellent though.

My only concern is that it’s not sit-on-top, which my son said he preferred. Can anyone attest to the advantages/disadvantages of sit-on-tops vs. sit-ins? I believe you get better control with sit-ins, but it seems as though you’d also have more difficulty fishing, as your arms would need to be raised. Also, this boat doesn’t have pole holders, but I figure we can install those.

Frenzy Response
This does look like a great kayak for playing in the surf. But for fishing on calm waters, My son needs something that can carry gear and be stable. I think his idea of ocean kayaking is in the bays… And REI has them for $449, Academy for $$379. Thanks though!

Also thinking of Pelican Castaway
Just wanted to add that I saw a Pelican Castaway at Academy for $379. In short, it has everything the Equinox has except that it has only one hatch, with a stern storage recess, and doesn’t have thigh pads. It does have rod holders and is a sit-on-top. (It also comes with paddles, but not the roof pads.)