buying a new kayak, advice please

I am currently searching and researching for a sea kayak. I have no experience at all. I am wondering what I should be looking for as far as the length, make and model. Is there a review or information website you could direct me to? Thank you.


1. Reviews are in the left column of this site.

2. Paddle as many kayaks as possible before buying. Don’t buy one by the way it feels in a showroom - get it on the water.

3. Go to a Kayak Festival, such as the one in Charleston in April, where just about all the manufacturers will have their 'yaks their for you to try out.

4. While shoppig for a sea kayak - don’t forget about the accessories: paddle, PFD, spray skirt, paddle float, bilge pump, dry bags, NON-COTTON clothes.

Stay safe on the water

Here is good beginner info.

The type of boat you will eventually buy will depend on the type of water you will want to paddle…which may change over time. If you are not sure that you are OBSESSED with paddling (like many of us here) and you are not prepared to buy a fleet of kayaks, you may want to invest in an “all arounder” RECREATIONAL KAYAK that can do most things adequately, but is not a specialty craft. Recreational kayaks are “entry level” boats that are not expensive and are easy for beginners to paddle.

Learn before you buy
Get some training before you test boats and you will be better able to evaluate performance charactaristics. Have fun.


I like grey boats,some yellow ones, between 12’-18’,ok, ok,go pick up a Canoe and Kayak magazine. Ask more specific questions.

A book I found
I was at the libary and found a book on sea kayaking called: Essential sea kayaking. I borrowed it cause I knew it had some of the same kayaking techniques for lakes.

the top kayakers sit on top…
I almost quit kayaking because of the whole skirt /flipping safety thing.

My advice: visit the wisdom found here:, and also rent first.

try the regular sit in , and a good quality sit on top ( not a cheap rec boat, but a real seayak)

take a lesson in each, yes I know its hard to find a sit on top, go to the site above for connections.

You, and your wallet will thank me in a few years.


Good advice
I also read that book when starting out.

More information

Join your local kayak club…
and you’ll meet a lot of cool people that love to paddle. Every coastal state has one or more kayaking clubs. The members will all have varying kayaks and many may have a fleet of which you might even borrow one if someone likes you. Another reason to join a club is to take advantage of (typically) cheap kayak clinics. You can learn a lot by working with instructors and get a feel for the kind of paddling and training they do and what equipment they use. Don’t be in a hurry to buy as what is right today will not be when you turn the page of the calendar. If you have to buy something, buy a really nice paddle and all the other accessories.

Augustus Dogmaticus


good advice…buy the paddle first. Then test all the kayaks you test with the same paddle. Buy the best you can afford, it will travel with you from boat to boat and eventually become your spare paddle and finally become the paddle that you lend to others.

when you begin paddling, even using a different paddle to test boats can color your experiance in any given boat. by using the exact same paddle as you test boats, you’ve cut out a variable as to feel.

Best Wishes


Your local paddle shop will have brochures and handouts from teir suppliers. Get them all take them home and sit down to read them. Tey are loaded with boat info, the layups specs etc and can be a good source of info for comparison…Many shop owners are happy to give demo’s or rent to you , hopefully there will be a beginning class nearby you can get into. Have fun and take your time s…kim

And why…?
Good advice above. Question - why are you looking for rec’s on a boat without dealing with a shop or outfitter for lessons etc to get you more familiar with things? Are you far away from such a resource, or are you thinking that you want to go out and buy the gear and figure it out from there?

If you are at distance from a paddling shop, you may want to look around in the Getting Together board to see where there are paddling clubs nearest you. If you were thinking of buying all new stuff right off, you may want to reconsider and start out with used until you have a better sense of what you need out of a boat. There are a lot of personalities out there in sea kayaks, and the measurements don’t always tell the story on how the boat will behave.

Take classes-read everything you can!
This site should be helpful. We took classes from QWS and it was the best thing we could have done before buying our upgrade kayaks and paddles

good luck
I think getting a sea kayak to begin with is not a bad choice IF you actually want to get into open water kayaking. All in one season, i started out with a rec. kayak thinking i wanna do lakes/slow rivers, then realized ocean is where the fun is at, got intimidated by real ocean kayak stuff-re-entry,rolling,etc so i tried the sit-on-top thing. Realized sit on tops are, for the most part, inferior by design and for the most part slow and don’t handle near as good as real ocean kayaks,so i went back and got a real sea kayak and this spring i am planning to learn to roll.