Beginner Needs Help

I am a beginner with a very limited budget looking to buy a used kayak. I would like to use this kayak on lakes and rivers mostly. I like adventure so calm whitewater would be fun once I’m more confident. I’m small framed, but I’d like my husband to be able to use this one eventually so I can get a new one around Christmas and he is 6’5" and 225 pounds.

I have found an Old Town Otter that has never been used for a great price. What do you know about these? I have also found a Dimension kayak that is around 9 and 1/2 feet long and is a great price. I know I’m looking for a sit-in. I had read earlier that Pelican isn’t a great brand. Any other suggestions or advice?

Thanks for any help or advice.

Buy Used
And look for something in the 13 foot range or longer.

Not many short boats handle 225lbs very well.


If both of you

– Last Updated: Jul-14-09 12:31 PM EST –

Can use the same boat, ideally you should be of similar proportions or the boat should be outfittable to match both of you. You will not find that in most 10 footers and it probably does not matter there. Still, a "small framed" female person would rarely trully enjoy the same boat a larger male would and vise versa. Get different "yours" and "his" kayak would probably be better in the long term...

As the other poster said, check the 13-15 foot range for a "serious" kayak on the cheap. Though the 10 footers work just fine for casual use if you understand the risks/drawbacks/benefits of using one: e.g. slow, flotation usually does *not* come standard, large cockpits flood easy, poor tracking, inefficient paddling position, but easy entry/exit, easy turning, light, easy to store, etc.

Nothing wrong with a 10 footer for light use but the longer boats let you do more...

The Otter is fine for what it is. You just need to understand the limitations it shares with other, similar recreational kayaks.

It has only enough flotation to keep it from sinking when flooded. If you capsize or swamp, it is almost impossible to empty it or get back in without going to shore.

The large cockpit can make it difficult to keep waves out, even with a skirt.

It does not have the internal reinforcements that a whitewater kayak has. If you get pinned in moving water it could collapse.

If you are a small person, a wide boat can be uncomfortable to paddle.

With all that said, there are lots of people having a great time in boats like the Otter. Safety is more a function of the paddler’s decisions than of the boat.

Not sure what you mean by “calm whitewater”. Here’s the standard rating scale:

kayaks like the Otter are fine on Class I, and can often run through Class II with a good paddler. If you want to stay and play in Class II or above, a whitewater boat is a better idea. Used whitewater baots are fairly inexpensive.

Two boats
It seems to me that if you try to get a boat that both of you can use, you’ll end up with a boat that fits both of you poorly.

If you know you’ll be getting another one around Christmas time, I’d suggest finding a boat that fits him well nw.