Beginner Kayaking Advice...

I have kayaked probably 5 or 6 times before, and I was just looking around at some stuff today. I saw a magazine about paddle sports and was looking through it and I was already planning on doing alot of camping etc. this summer and decided I could probably go along some river systems in illinois and stop at some camp sites or just make day trips. But I was wondering what a good affordable kayak would be for me to get started on.

Local outfitter
There are nearly infinite options and variables. Talk to local outfitters and paddlers.

Go see Geneva Kayak Center
in Geneva IL or Offshore Chicago on Route 60 in Vernon Hills.

Good luck. They’re both listed under “Dealers” in the “Directories” section of this site.

It depends on what you are going to be…
doing with the boat and how much speed and load capacity you want. I would recommend at least a 13’ double hatched boat for doing any overnight trips. I would look at Current Designs, P&H, Necky, and Wilderness Systems. They make great plastic boats and plastic is by far the most affordable material. Expect to spend from $800 and up for a new boat of this length. You will also need to get a good paddle, PFD, and a few more accessories. There are also really good videos to help you get started and I would really recommend taking an instructional course if you want to really get a head start. If you want to talk more about it, feel free to give me a shout sometime and I can get a better feel for what you might need. Take it easy.



I was thinking about getting the Perception Sundance 9.5 Footer ( I can get a brand new one for about 250). I’m kind of tight on money right now. Is this a good option? A couple of retailers told me it would be fine for what i needed it for you could get a dry bag throw it in there and do overnighters.

It will work, but I think that you…
would do better trying to get a used boat. The thing about the Sparky is that it is a very basic boat. What I mean is that when they came out with that style of boat(the egg boat) the were trying to make a boat that will do everything and what they came up with is a boat that will do everything, but it won’t do any of it very well. I am thinking based on thing that I have that yu can get a good used kayak somewhere for $200-$500 and you will be well served. You will get something that tracks well and has a lot more capacity. Packing camping gear into a boat that small is really going to make it paddle a lot worse and they were not really designed for it. If you were talking about going paddling 5 times a year and no overnight trips, I would say go for it, but from what I can tell people do 1 of three things when they buy a boat like that. They will only paddle 5 times a year and think that the boat is okay, they will trade up and get a better boat, or they will think that paddling this boat is what paddling is all about, hate it and get out of the sport. It is my job to make sure that the public knows that paddling an egg boat(for lack of a better description) is not what paddling is all about and the only reason that these boats exist is because they are cheap. My recomendation is to look around your area and find you a good used boat and go for it. Even if you have to spend a little more $$, it is better to be happy about spending the money. If you find something and you would like for me to tell you what I think about it before you buy it , feel free to call me or email me anytime and I will be happy to let you know about whatever boat you find. I hope that I have help you and let me know if I can help you anymore.



Beginner Kayaking Advice… Yep-
The best advice I can give you is don’t take any advice from here to heart.

Paddle easy,


Coffee is right. There are a lot of different styles and philosophies about kayaking you need to kind of decide which one is where you fit. Each person is passionate about the sport and willing to share their opinion, the same goes for salesmen as well. You may want to try to check out a DVD or a book from your local library to get some stuff on paper.

Try to stick to your budget and cut corners where you feel you can “make do” for a while. As a side note, don’t be afraid to get used gear. It is a great way to get some quality gear with out having to shell out the big $$.

another grain of salt
I am not a professional paddler, but I think you should get a longer boat. I had a 12 footer, with similar plans as you have. I don’t have that boat now…I have a 9.5. I am getting a canoe (that is why I took that smaller boat) I wish I had the extra 3 feet. I am by no means selling this little fella soon, but it is nothandy, except that I keep it in my truck (I have a camper in the back) at all times, so I just throw in when I feel like it. I have an hour to spare, throw in somewhere for a quick paddle. I show up alot of places late with wet sneakers, lol.

But I digress, I sugest a 12 or 14 foot boat.


I agree with liveoutside.

– Last Updated: Feb-04-06 2:06 PM EST –

I too live in Illinois, and you may wish to tak it on Lake MI on a calm day -- which can rapidly turn to less than calm (but not violent unless you do not pay attention at all to te NOAA forecast, an no one would neglect tha forecast altogether, right?). Anyhow, 9.5 would have less than ideal trackoing, and no be as responsive as you;d wish. I agree with the 12-14 foot range, and if it takes getting a used boat to get thelength, worth it in my opinion. Canoecopia (see separate thread for info and link) is only a couple hours north of you in March and will give you a better feel for your needs.

I personally think you;d outgrow a 9.5 footer in -- I was going to say one season, but after some thought I'd say -- one month.

By the way, in general, shorter is slower and less efficient for flatwater. Keep that in mind. You are welcome to paddle with us other IL paddlers (check the Getting Together thread) this spring and summer. Heck, we might even get up to you and test out the Fox!

I have a little punkin seed lookin’ Perception and I love it.

I’ve never tried an overnight in it but I reckon you could pack the back end of it with enough to get by for an evening…but it would be tight and I think it would mess up the balance of the boat.

I just tried to put my tent (9x9) in the yak and it won’t fit in the back. The only place it could go is between my legs. It didn’t seem like it would be too uncomfortable but it would prolly drive me bug nuts after a few hours.

I’d like to have a larger kayak but I live on the 2nd floor and there’s NO way I could get anything bigger up the stairs, through the door, into the bedroom and into my walk-in boat closet and junk repository.

Never in IL
I don’t have a clue what the river in IL is like. But to me, I always thought of canoe when I thought of a river. Lots of room for gear and a more comfortable position.

I always think of a kayak with sea or big lakes. Waves and wakes makes for fun action for the “double dipper”!

go to river get lessons 1st
thats my 2 cents–

take a lesson and rent one of each type of boat:

sit on top, whitewater, ducky- inflatable, canoe

I have been in all and prefer a large high Quality inflatable kayak.

Easy to load, easy to stay upright, safer for beginners.

Very stable, roll not needed to self rescue, except in some diff rapids.

They are slower, and can’t do the tricks.