brand new to kayaking

Hi all,

My friend and I are both new to this fantastic sport and have only taken one half-day class and rented a boat several times for a couple of hours each. So, novice is a generous description to say the least.

We’re interested in getting our own gear but have no idea where to start. We would be using our boats mostly on flatwater rivers in WI but occassionally on Lake Michigan once our skills improve :stuck_out_tongue:

My question is, what are the prime factors for starting to narrow down the kayaks I look at? Do I look at the length? Weight? Manufacturer? Why are some very rounded looking and some are super-thin and very long? I have a hundred questions, but thought this might be a good place to start.

Thanks so much in advance for all of your help!!

I recommend you start
with a local dealer. If you are near Madison, Rutabaga is one of the best kayak shops in the Midwest and the personnel are very knowledgeable.

If you are near Milwaukee, try Laacke and Joys.

Good luck in you research.

Some really good info.


you can move your mouse to the left and click “Guidelines”.

While you’re in the process…
…of acquiring all the odds and ends you’ll need, a good book to read would be “Sea Kayaker Deep Trouble” by Matt Broze and Goerge Gronseth. It chronicles several true kayak stories where some sometimes very experienced paddlers got into trouble, and how you can prevent the same thing from happening to you.

Also a book

– Last Updated: Sep-12-05 9:21 PM EST –

Sea Kayaking: A Woman's Guide

The advice about finding Rutabaga is very good, going to one of their demo days and asking a lot questions about the kind of paddling you want to do. There are also kayak clubs that would be good to join. Let people on the list know what city you are in and they can help you get started.

Decide why you’ll do most
Short answer: The best kayak is the one you actually get out and paddle, rather than having it sit in your garage or in your dreams.

Longer answer: Decide how you will use your kayak the most. A 10-foot recreational kayak will work fine for quiet water on relatively small inland lakes or rivers, but it’s not a good idea for Lake Michigan.

What kind of kayak(s) did you use in your class and when you rented? Try to paddle a lot of different kayaks before you buy, especially if you’re unsure what you want. You’ll also find that, as your experience grows, your opinion of the “perfect” kayak will change (i.e., as a novice, stability will seem most important, but later speed and maneuverability will play a bigger role).

Good advice
Those are some very helpful places to start. We’re up in Appleton, WI. However, we’ve heard so much good stuff about Rutabaga that her & I are planning a trip down to Madison just for that. Thanks, everyone!!

Yay, more Appleton kayakers!

I’m also located in Appleton and am an excessively avid kayaker. We have a great group of kayakers in the area and a wide assortment of paddling opportunities. I belong to the Green Bay Paddlers United which is the local kayaking club (don’t be deceived by the name, we’re mostly in Appleton) as well as the Northeast Wisconsin Sea Kayakers (members mostly in the Appleton and Two Rivers area). I also help out with kayaking classes in the winter which we hold at the Appleton YMCA. This winter we will probably have a couple introductory courses as well as a couple of rolls and rescue courses if you’re interested. Aside from Rutabaga, Carl and Johns’, and Lacke and Joys, don’t forget our local shop! Zeller’s Ski and Sport located in Green Bay is the best paddling shop around here although they seem to be already transitioning to the winter sports. Talk to Dave Zeller and I’m sure he can pull some kayaks out of storage for you to try if you’re interested. Feel free to shoot me an email as I’d be glad to help answer any questions you may have.


helpful articles
Check out these articles that cover everything you need to know about buying a kayak and getting into the sport.

Email me if you still have questions after reading the articles. Id love to help.