buying a new kayak!

Hello! Im new to this site and kayaking in general. Very athletic, but mostly spend my $ on bikes. I’m looking into getting a tandem kayak for myself and my two boys (8 and 3 yr olds)for use on rivers and lakes. I’m 5’6 and 135lbs. My local shop has several on sale that are discontinued and or have been used for a season and i’m wondering about their differences. The two i am looking at are the Prodigy 2 tandem and the Salish tandem, both approx $720-$800. They both have the 3rd seat option, but the prodigy has the large cockpit and the Salish as the individual openings. The Prodigy seems to have great reviews but can’t find much about the Salish online. Also, not sure if these are way more boat than we need. I understand that the 3 yr old wont fit in the 3rd seat option for very long, but hoping the 8 yr old will be ready for his own boat in a couple years. Any advice is appreciated! Thanks :slight_smile:

Tandem Rec Boat
The Prodigy has a very large cockpit area. If you capsize with kids, this boat will be very very difficult to deal with when flooded. You probably will not be able to empty the boat yourself once you get it back to shore.

Tandem sit on tops are probably a better choice for a beginner with kids. The hobie oddysey is a good boat to look at. It will be heavy, but is easy to turn upright and climb back on and help the kids back in. It’s a good starter boat for a family.

You don’t mention what kind of water you will be paddling on … lakes, rivers, protected bays, open ocean coast?

tandem rec
Seadart- We live in Iowa and very likely won’t have much white water to deal with. Rivers and lakes, maybe some mild rapids. I was thinking with a sit on top we wouldn’t have anywhere to carry anything. And concern for instability if we do hit any kind of turbulence.

tandem rec kayak
There is a perception prodigy xs that is 10’ long at Scheels on sale b/c it is discontinued that i’m thinking about getting for my 8yr old son. (been holding on to a gift card there). That way soon it would just be me and the younger one in the longer kayak.

Hatches in Sit-On Tops
Sit on tops like the Hobie come with high quality Viking style hatches. You can store quite a bit of camping equipment, food, water etc in a SOT.

It does not matter much that you don’t intend on encountering rough water. You will meet power boaters and jet skis and in shallow water their wakes can flip a kayaker who is not used to dealing with waves. Storms also can come up quickly, so counting on never capasizing with kids is not a good plan.

I have a similar rec tandem in my fleet
Mine, like the Shalish, can slide the fwd seat backwards so it can be paddled solo. I don’t believe you can paddle the prodigy solo. Other than that the two boats are pretty much the same.

Something to consider, we got ours so my wife and I could carry a grandkid. The short tandems require the paddlers to be in sync. The person in front sets the cadence. Paddling tandem with a child could lead to frustration, your experience may vary.

Your situation sounds like you’re a prime candidate for a canoe!

SOT’s not unstable
At least decent ones. And as said above, if you capsize in one of the basic sit insides you are looking at, everyone needs to be able to swim to shore. There is no good on-water recovery option in the best of circumstances, and one parent with two smaller boys is not the best of circumstances.

Before you go off buying any tandem though, have you thought about how you are going to carry the boat and get them on top of your car or otherwise loaded? Tandems are heavy. They have left even younger people with some back weaknesses after years spent moving them around. And I don’t see either of your sons being able to help much there, at least at this age.

SOT and recs simialr stability
As said above, SOTs and rec boats generally have similar stability. And when it comes to safety, SOTs are generally considered to be safer. If a rec boat flips, you pretty much have to swim it to shore. A SOT can be flipped back over and then the passengers climb back up on it (similar to climbing up on the edge of a poo, without a ladder).

On storage, yes SOTs may have hatches and if so, they would be smaller than most rec boats. But SOTs generally have wells and bungees on deck, where you could carry dry bags full of gear.


– Last Updated: Oct-01-14 7:58 PM EST –

Agreeing with Celia and others. My wife and I have paddled sea kayaks for two and a half decades, and have decent boats. But when our children started showing an interest, at ages 4 and 6, we got them SOT's. And we got a big, ugly, heavy tandem SOT to play with, as well. Four or five years of that went by, and they were good years and the SOT's served us well. Now, the kids paddle SINK's (as they seem to be called), and are quite skilled for their ages (10 and 12). I strongly recommend SOT's when starting in kayaking with young children. Not only are they safer and easier to manage, they are actually a blast to play with. Lately, although I have a nice SINK, I have been toying with getting an "adult" SOT myself (well, ok, a surfski, but hey, it's a SOT). It's all about fun, but with some practical considerations...

Edit: I might also add, we have rented and paddled open cockpit tandems with the children many times. Mostly, we have found them to be big, clunky, awful tubs. Slow and painful to paddle. Very soon in our childrens' lives, we were good with regular tandem sea kayaks, with the kids up front. Presently, I'm considering two serious fiberglass (or kevlar) tandems, for purposes of family traveling. Point being, avoid those awful tandem compromises, they are heavy and ugly and paddle badly.