Best kayak for flatwater - without rodder and skeg

Hi! I know that kayaks with rodder or skeg are really good, but I’m looking for a decent kayak with no rodder, and no skeg (for flatwater, and not much wind). The Riot Quest 10 is good, but any suggestions for a kayak that is a bit longer? Thanks!

Lots of boats for your criteria.
Look at recreational kayaks like Wilderness Systems Pungos.
I have a 12 and a 14 foot. The 12’ is great for people under 200lbs and the 14’ for heavier.
My short, scrawny grandson handles the 12’ just fine.

Hard to go wrong with a Pungo for recreational paddling! But yes, lots of good choices to be had. Are you looking to buy new, or used? Old Town (still in production) and Necky (out of production) make nice rec kayaks, as do Perception and Wilderness Systems (which makes the Pungo, among others). Most important is that the kayak is comfortable - while you don’t necessarily need to test paddle, you should definitely test “sit” - preferably for as long as you can. Something that seems initially comfortable might not be after 5-10 minutes, but usually the truly uncomfortable ones will be immediately apparent.

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There is flat water, and there is flat water. Can you describe the types of float water you would be paddling? Size of body of water, any currents, any wind, any waves, etc.

Also, do you want to go straight like a freight train? Or would you rather be able to easily turn the boat?

My wife and I started kayaking here in Wyoming and we go on Boysen Lake most of the time. We bought 2 Old Town loon 106s to start out and we just love them, but there are a few points to consider.
The 10 foot 6 inch kayaks are just a joy for turning and ease of maneuvering, but they are wide and short which makes them a bit slow. Tracking is not as easy as with longer hulls. In the lake and in the rivers that slowness is not important because we seldom want to go more then 8 miles from the launch point anyway when in those 2 kayaks… However Boysen is fed by the Wind River and it’s made by damning that river up at the Wind River Canyon which is a very steep and narrow passage through the Wind River Mountains (Owl Creek branch)

Did you see any pattern there?

Wind is something we get here a lot. In fact we get about 30-40 days a year when it’s calm or has breezes below 7 MPH. All the rest of the days the wind blows, Not hard most times, but pretty constant. It can (and it does) come in “sears” from the canyon and the mountains and you can be in 3" ripples and 10 minutes later the waves are about as high as half your paddle. So my wife and I have become wave and wind junkies and we now love to go out in the waves.
BUT our Old Town Loons get swamped if you have no spray skirt installed and many if not most people who buy recreational kayaks never get skirts for them (Us too at first, until we learned that not having one is a bad idea on out high mountains lakes and wind swept waters at the base of the mountains)

So as was just said above, there is "flat water and there is flat water.

I truly love going out on the little Loon kayak, but if I go out myself or if I am going on any trip longer then about 10 miles now (5 out, 5 back) I take one of my touring kayaks The smaller cockpit is easier to use with a spray skirt and I can roll all my kayaks except my Loons. Actually, I have learned to roll the loon, but it’s of no use doing it because the large spray skirt implodes from so much area of water contact, and I have to bucket bail it out. You can’t sit in them and bail either because the front ends sink, unless you have 2 and sometimes 3 float bags in the bow. So with the front of the combing under water, it can’t be bailed out unless you float along side and bail out about 80% of the water and then reenter and finish the bailing and pumping. It takes a lot of time and is not something you’d need to do in a kayak with a shorter cockpit with a skirt that can be rolled. Having a hull with both front and rear compartments is something you’ll wish you had once you use a kayak without them.

As of now, we own 7 kayaks. (had 9 just before Christmas but sold 2 of them) The only 2 that I can’t roll in a practical since, and that you can’t empty when you are still inside it if you do swamp is our first 2. The Loons.

So if I were to be asked, I’d say to consider if you might like to get a dual purpose kayak. One that can handle waves and even rolls is still fun and easy to use on flat water, but may be a big asset if you get caught in the middle of a larger body of water and have to get back a few miles in heavy chop. Having a kayak that can roll and then never rolling it seems better to me then having one that can’t roll and someday needing to learn.

But if you are ONLY going to paddle within swimming distance of the shore 100% of the time, or have a way to KNOW there will be no waves that take you by surprise, a rec kayak is just cool!
VERY easy to use and a LOT of fun. Since I have been paddling I have made converts of quite a few friends who are now getting into kayaks too, The real reason we have 7 ourselves is to have several to loan out. In central Wyoming we could find no “kayaking club” so we are making one. As of now I and my wife have recruited 17 others who now love to go out with us, and of these 17, 6 have bought their own kayaks.

The recommendation above for the W.S. Pungos are very good. 2 friend of ours have them and I have used them myself. They are REAL easy to use, very stable and easy to love. Paddling the Pungos and the Old Town Loons side by said I can see a lot of good point to them both. The Loon is heavier and a bit more sturdy, but I dare say the pungo may out-turn my loon given the same amount of effort. I would bet my Loon is going to be more resilient and last longer if you hit rocks often, but the pungo is easier to carry to the water and may out turn my Loon by a small margin. That may be wrong however because I didn’t use both paddles with both boats, so some of the advantage with the pingo may have been the paddle I used with it. Both are very good little boats.

If you will go in waters that are large enough to worry about waves and wind however, I’d look hard at a few of theses. They’ll do all the Rec Kayaks can do, but the Rec Kayaks can’t do all they can do.

Dagger Axis 12

Eddyline Sky10 and Skylark12

Perceptions Conduit 13 and Expression 115

And so on…

The kayaks that have the ease of maneuvering of a true rec-kayak, but have more of a touring cockpit and a front compartment are probably the best overall. Add a skeg and you open up possibilities you may never have in a true rec-kayak.
Maybe such advantages are of no use to you (Lets hope so)
Maybe a seat belt is useless too. But when you need it, you NEED it!

Something to think over anyway.

Happy Paddling!

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I have the Pelican 10 ft rec kayak(Costco) and it’s super stable and tough. I wanted something a bit faster and better tracking but still shorter and I found the Dagger Axis 10.5. I love it Still a very stable boat with good secondary stability and it has a skeg…not a rudder. When the skeg is up it turns on a dime. Skeg down, tracks straight. They do have a model without a skeg or fancy seat. It’s worth looking at.

You know, just because a kayak has a rudder or a skeg, doesn’t mean you have to use it… just saying…

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That’s my notion too Raosborne I have 3 kayaks with rudders and I don’t prefer such kayaks as much as I do those with the skegs. I seldom need them but they clutter up the rear of the kayak when they are not deployed.
I don’t use my Skeg much either. I just keep the skeg retracted unless I have enough wind to make me want to drop it, but for the most part it’s as if the kayak doesn’t even have one.
But when the wind comes up and gets over about 15 MPH it’s nice to have, and faster winds make the skeg a god-send. 25 to 35 MPH is not uncommon on the high lakes. I like to get off the water at about 25 MPH when I am in my Loon, and I’ll stay on the lake up to about 30 mph with the CD and Perceptions kayaks. The Necky Chatham17 is fine even past 30 MPH winds, but I get off the water after a shot time just because winds over about 35 MPH are fun until you get tired and then the paddling is not much fun. I believe in an emergency I could do fine at 35+, but why would I want to? If it gets to gale speeds I can put the stern to the wind and just let it blow me to shore on any lake here, but I may end up a very long way from my truck. But I believe any land is good land if the water wants to eat you.
I am ALWAYS carrying survival shelter and food as well as water and clothing, but if I can avoid being in an emergency it’s wiser to do so. So I have learned (the hard way) to not play in winds over 30 MPH unless I have previously positioned myself in the lake in away to let it blow me TO my truck. If it’s blowing away from my truck I get out of the water ASAP

But the kayaks I have with skegs are Really nice when the winds come up. So are rudders, but I prefer the skeg. For my own use I doubt I’ll buy any other kayaks in my future without skegs. I hope to build a few in the coming years, and I intend to build skegs into them too.

Hi and thanks!

Peter-CA: No waves, rarely wind. No currents.
Ben: Fairly easy to turn would be nice.

It will be swimming distance to shore all the time. Thanks for all the great suggestions! Appreciate it!

I know. But I’m not always here, when friends and family want to paddle. Skeg and rodder is more maintenance :slight_smile:

Google Best Recreational kayaks. It’s a huge list with a lot of weird boats . Look at the ones that look like kayaks.
Sit on Tops are great for your stated wants. Look at Wilderness Systems Tarpons.

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I have a few friends that swear by everything that Perception Carolina 14s are the best boat ever. Some use rodders, some use rudders, some have skegs, but most like the boat naked.

That is as close as I can get, my idea of a recreational boat isn’t something you would want. Mine are long and skinny, and I love that, but it took a peculiar driving wheel to get me there.

Fairly easy to turn boats: either a Dagger Stratos 12.5 or 14 would not be too heavy or long and fit (depending on your inclination) somewhere between rec boat and touring boat. Some people really like the Wilderness Tsunami 140. My 14 ft boat is a (discontinued) Jackson Journey but it is a bit heavy and has a keel (but no rudder or skeg installed). If you want to pay the money, there is the P&H Virgo. I think 14 ft might be the sweet spot for you. Too bad Airalite is gone. I had a greatly loved Dagger Specter 15.5 that I beat the heck out of for years (including off the Georgia coast). Very maneuverable, about 50 pounds, never put on (or needed) the rudder.