Beginner: what type of kayak would you recommend?

Hi! Brand new kayaker here. I am considering buying a kayak after doing some very recreational paddles. Wondering what you would recommend for me based on the following:

  • absolute beginner
  • Canadian paddler
  • would paddle in optimal conditions
  • mostly calm lake or river paddling
  • strictly recreational
  • day paddles
  • would love to find a kayak that works for me + 1 child, AND just me. Although I’ll be doing a lot of solo I need the option of being tandem.
  • I’m worried about weight and length for transport as I’ll be handling it myself

Any great options? Bonus for “found in Canada” brands.

ETA I’m 5’ 7” and 150lbs and sit in kind of freaks me out :confused:

This depends on the size of the child. You could do it with a tandem but that won’t be the greatest to solo. A solo sit on with a large cockpit would probably work but the kid will be getting constantly soaked from water dripping off your paddle. A medium to bigger sit in top would also work, and the kid may be able to sit further up, thus potentially staying dryer. When I was a kid I would sit in the back hatch of my dads sea/touring kayak on Lake Superior, and it worked fine when I was small. This being said, having a child sitting in a hatch or even a tandem cockpit poses an entrapment hazard. If you flip the kid might not be able to get out on their own, or get pushed inside of the hull.

If you are planning on bringing a kid with you I think you should just consider a canoe or a crossover. Crossover boats like an Old Town Next (disclamer, I have never paddled one) have a canoe style hull but are meant to be paddled with a double bladed paddle. You are able to paddle most solos with a double bladed paddle, but one designed for it will be easier. If you use one of those or a solo canoe it will be much easier and safer to bring a child, plus you will be able to bring them with once they start getting a little bigger. They can also “help” paddle in a canoe which might be fun for them and get them interested in paddling. As a kid I would just sit in a small seat placed in the hull of my parents canoe. I think this is a much better option. The kid will be more comfortable, stay dryer, be able to move around some, and it will be way safer. Otherwise you could just buy the solo kayak that you want, and then get a cheap tandem sit on top as well.

Another option would be to get a “fishing” style sit on top. Those are very wide and stable. They also have a large flat deck that the kid could get comfortable on. Some of them have balast weight making them much more stable than an unweighted sit on top. One of these would probably be the best bet if you are dead set on a kayak. That style of kayak has some downsides though. They are generally fairly expensive, and can weigh a lot, like well over 100lbs for one with balast. I’m not sure which brands to look at for those, but there are a lot of YouTube reviews out there.

I have paddled some of my friends Pelican kayaks, and I think they are a great value for the price. I also have a Perception and the same can be said. Those would also work fine for the conditions that you’re talking about. If you spend 2-3 times the money you can get a much nicer boat though. I have an Ocean Kayak sit on top and love it, but those are a little more expensive. There are a ton of great brands out there but the ones I have experience with and would recommend are Pelican and Perception for affordable boats, Old Town canoes and kayaks, Ocean Kayak, and Wenonah canoes. Other reputable brands that I haven’t paddled are Nova Craft canoes (Canadian), Esquif canoes, North Star canoes, and Mad River canoes. I can’t think of many Kayak brands off the top of my head, so I would just do a lot of research. Like I said there are a ton of great boats out there, and internet/YouTube will be you best friend for more information.

Thanks for the extremely detailed and informative response! I hadn’t considered a canoe but will now.

Welcome to the community. Re kayaks, this link thoroughly explains the types of kayaks. It also contains loads of information which you should find helpful.

Take a long look at Swift Canoes Pack Canoe line. They are not inexpensive but quality materials and build with light weight. Also, a Canadian company.

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Pakboat (sold through their US representative in New Hampshire but a Scandinavian based company that may have dealers in Canada) makes folding canoes and kayaks which are very light and can be stored or transported in a duffel bag. Their Puffin series has both a solo and a tandem that can be set up as a solo by leaving out one seat and moving the other more to center. A drawback to rigid tandems is that you can’t move the seat so paddling solo can create difficulties with tracking, also they tend to be quite heavy and bear to load on a car rack.

The Pakboats are are quite stable, with inflatable sponsons (tubes) along the sides. I can set up my 12’ solo Puffin in about 20 minutes but can also haul it on my car roof rack. Being only 20 pounds it’s very easy to handle. These can be used open like a canoe or have the optional deck put on (handy for cooler weather or windy conditions.) A advantage to these is they can be shipped by mail so you can get one without worrying about being local.