I have been vacationing on Lake George for the past dozen years. Every year myself and sometimes my son do a large amount of canoeing there. Many people bring their own kayaks. I’ve only tried it once or twice, but I hated the kayaks. I don’t like the double-edged paddle (much better with a single oar) and I don’t feel as comfortable sitting in the kayak (I am excellent in water and have no fear of water, but I have a fear of being trapped in water and the kayak felt like it could go right over with me nesled in it)… My friend told me what you need to do is buy a kayak and take a day where you have a couple of hours and just flounder around until you get used to it. I am relocating to the Cape Fear region of North Carolina. Living on the River, I know I want to be in it. I see the advantages of the Kayak over the Canoe, just asking as a beginner, what are the features you look for in a kayak? Is shorter better for a beginner as they are easier to maneuver (I am only 5’5"). Is the material (plastic, wood, plexiglass) important to the terrain (i don’t have a good picture of what the conditions are where I’m going, but I don’t think it’s very fast although I’m sure there are trees or other obstacles in the water). My son and I tried a 2-person Kayak one year and clanked paddled the whole way (we hated it and fought). I do see there are videos for how to two-person a kayak, but what is the general feeling on a 2-person? I thought maybe we should each get a single, but certainly a double is cheaper. I do know where we are moving a number of people have already told me I can borrow others kayaks to find the one I like, just curious for a newbie, what are the questions I should be asking.

Take some lessons and your questions will be answered. Before that there is a ton of information here and in print.

Shorter is slower, wider and probably won’t track (go in a straight line) as well. Kayaks do come in different styles from recreational to fishing to touring to whitewater, and are configured as SINKs (Sit INside Kayaks) or SOTs (Sit On Top). Tandem (double) kayaks are known as “divorce boats” for obvious reasons! Do a few web searches and you’ll find all sorts of info.

The most common construction materials, in order of price, are fiberglass (hand laid in a mold), thermoformed (molded from a sheet of acrylic), and polyethylene (rotomolded, often referred to as “plastic”). Plastic kayaks are heavier but are very sturdy and are probably what most people would suggest for a first boat. Late summer is a great time to buy a used boat as many people look to offload before the winter, but I would definitely steer you away from $100 Big Box store “pool toys”. A good beginner rec/touring kayak would be something like a Perception Carolina 14. It’s short enough to be nimble on a river but long enough to be reasonably quick and very safe in rougher water…

Your best bet might to find a kayak tour company in NC, take a tour and/or a lesson with them and ask a lot of questions. Oh, and flipping a kayak over is really no big deal, you just slip out like you’re taking off a pair of pants! Again a lesson or two will have your confidence up.

Apart from the safety features of a good boat (sealed compartments and deck lines) consider also the safety gear you’ll need (a good fitting PFD with a whistle, the girl in the photo above should be wearing one!), a paddle (the lighter weight the better) and how you’ll transport your boats.

Kayaking is a great pastime. It gets you out into the fresh air, gives you plenty of exercise, and opens up a whole world of flora and fauna to you.

@string said:
Take some lessons and your questions will be answered. Before that there is a ton of information here and in print.

What he said .

The entire paddle safely site will educate the OP.

I would see where the closest kayak tour outfit is that also has a solid reputation. Before considering specific boats, gear and focused lessons a 3-4 hour guided tour will demonstrate a lot. Ask the guide questions, examine the various boats and if possible try paddle more than one boat. Three hours in a kayak seat might direct you on this path or send you running for the exit…

Or do what many of us did. My first was a 12’ rec boat. I got a horrible paddle with it.
The paddle went first. Took it back and upgraded. That boat is still in the family.
Next was a sea kayak that was good but didn’t fit me. It did teach me that I was paddling incorrectly. After the first paddle, my arms felt like they were out of the sockets. It was too much boat for arm paddling.
Then I learned to paddle. And on my education went.
The advice you get here can save you time, money, and some pain.

Thank you all for the answers. When I move I know there are kayakers where I’m going, so I will ask about the reputable tour outfit. That sounds like a good plan, get a lesson, go on a guided tour. Really looking forward to living on the river and hope to get in some good exploring. Hopefully this site will become a hangout.

Issue 10 of California Kayaker Magazine has an article on different types of kayaks. Can be read online at A recreational class kayak or a sit on top would probably get you over your concern of being trapped inside the kayak, but they do have some limitations(which the article talks about).