Beginner Questions

I want to get into kayaking but I don’t know what kind to get. I’ll probably be doing most of it on lakes. I’d like something that could go on small rapids too. I can only spend around $300, maybe a little more. I looked at Old Town Otters and they seemed nice, but I wanted to see what my best choice would be. I’m 6’ and 160 pounds if that helps any. -thanks

For a beginner
on a budget an Otter is a decent choice. It will be slower than longer recreational type kayaks. But they are very stable. You are in my opinion near the top of the weight for this boat. The down side of the Otter is no foot pegs or room for gear should ya decide to camp or long daytrip. All in all its a good starter boat for the money. And as everyone will tell ya, try as many as possible before buying. Good luck in your search.

Thanks for the advice. Do you or anyone else know of any others I should try out, because I don’t know the names or anything else of other ones.

Uhm. Tricky…
…the otter for you isn’t a bad idea. You’ve

heard about that so let’s explore something else.

The Prijon Calabria is a really nice boat. It

has many features available in top of the line

touring boats, but is priced at under $1,000. It

used to be about 850, but it’s gone up.

A real nice boat for the price. 14.5 feet long.

In additon Dagger and many other companies have

boats that fall in between light white water and


Companies include but not limited to: dagger,

perception, Prijon, Riot,…

See if you can get a current copy of “Canoe and

Kayak” magazine. They have a buyer’s guide this

month of just about all boats and equipment.

Look for sales on last years models
Some stores liquidate last years models and you can save some money getting whatever model you choose that way. You might be able to get a slightly more expensive kayak marked down into your price range. Check out e-bay as well. That’s how I got my kayak.

The Otter by Old Town is a good one. Dagger has one called the Blackwater that is good. I believe it has a dry hatch on it. Old Town also has a new kayak in its rec line that looks nice. I don’t know anything about it though.

Used Loon? or a process.
If you have $300 to spend, it is probably dear to you, so you are right to do a lot of research. I have a friend your size who started with a Loon 138, and he loves it for small lakes, flat water. Might be able to find one of these used (they sell enough of them new!) for around 300.

If you have time, do a bunch of research right here…Use the Buyers Guide to the left, put in a max price of $500 (might be able to land it used for $300)and the minimum of less than 300. A whole slew of boats will come with lengths and hull material.

Then use the Product Reviews to review those boats that seem interesting, sometimes you can e-mail the reviewer and ask specific questions.

Search Old Posts for mention of specific boats that seem interesting. Rather than posting a new question, you might find that someone else has already posed the questions you have and the collective wisdom of P-net has already given advice.

Use the net and find dealers of the boats that you like and wet test them. Maybe someone here has a boat and will let you wet test it. Never hurts to ask!

Good Luck.

go for a Walden
You can find a decent price on a Walden kayak. Like this one

It seems like slightly more kayak than the otter.

Here is my suggestion - maybe not for you but …

I would recommend that you put the $300 towards renting kayaks and some lessons. Many kayak shops rent kayaks and teach lessons. You may be able to find lessons this winter in a pool nearby. Do a search for PA kayak lessons pool, etc. and see if you can find a local club holding lessons this winter. Then find a dealer where you can rent different type of kayaks and this summer rent several boats for a half day or longer. This will give you a good feel for what is out there. You may not find the perfect boat for you, but you will probably find some that you dislike. Once you find a boat or boats you are interested in look around for used and/or demo models. This can save you $.

Good Luck!


Save some money
for decent paddles; you’ll be glad you did.

Maybe too little
In my opinion the Otter by Old Town is the kind of boat that you will too quickly outgrow. I feel a little hesitant about offering advice, because I don’t know anything about you except for what you wrote in your question, but I’m in a big-mouth mood today, so here goes.

“Stability” will quickly become less a concern of yours after a few hours in a kayak. Soon you will want more “Speed”, or “Glide”. For this reason, I think you should try a different 'yak.

Of course, with only $300 dollars to spend, you are somewhat limited, especially since you can easily spend that much on things like a PFD and a paddle. I think you should consider how serious you are about getting into this sport. I think it is worth $300 to see if you’ll like it (I’d bet you will) but then why not use that $300 as seed money for the amount you’ll need to get something you’ll be happy with and the associated accessories?

The Loon series is nice and still has good stability. OT used to make a bare-bones model called the Castaway which you might find at a nice price. Also nice is the Acadia which is about 12.5 feet long as well. I think a beginner would do well to start in this 12 foot range.

As everyone here will tell you, try to get out and paddle some demo’s. Also, as mentioned, check the classified ads here. If you can get to New Jersey, Jersey Paddler has a program where you can demo boats, and apply the modest fee towards a purchase. Check out their website at They also have some used boats for sale in your price range.

Meanwhile, maybe I’m wrong, and the Otter is the boat for you. In any event, Welcome to the Wonderful World of Paddling!


I second the Loon 138
That was the second kayak I ever rented (Loon 110 was the first).

The 138 is very stable, and fast enough for me. It has footpegs, which does make a big difference in paddling. It also has a large enough weight capacity that you could do overnight camping, which is a blast.

If you get a used kayak, maybe it will come with a paddle and pfd!

Whatever you get, I wish you the best and many happy years of paddling!