Buying advice

Hello, I am new to kayaking and was wondering if anyone could offer tips or recommendations on buying a kayak. This would be for flat water use and recreational use. Lots of articles online but hearing from real people helps. Thanks,


add some information
If you can provide a little more detail it would aid in giving you useful advice.

What is your height and weight?

What part of the country are you in and what specific waters do you anticipate paddling on?

What, if any, are your budget limitations?

Have you gone kayaking before, with rental equipment or borrowed from friends?

Are you fairly athletic and looking forward to energetic outings or are you more inclined to leisurely paddling?

Do you have any storage or transportation limitations?

Will you be paddling with other people who already have kayaks? Do you know what size and type of kayaks they have?

Are there any independent kayak outfitters in your area (not the big chain stores) where you can look at and try on a variety of kayaks or possibly attend an on-the-water demo or take an intro to kayaking class?

answer these questions
and you will get a perfect answer =)

no “perfect” answers
But having more information certainly can help narrow down the options and generate more practical advice.

buying advice cont.
I am 5.7 approx. 200 lbs. I live in the midwest and will only be using this on lakes, maybe Lake Superior if I get comfortable but mainly smaller and much calmer lakes. Not sure on budget just yet but want to start on the low end and work my way up. I have kayaked only once before, rented at a resort. I am kind of athletic but also a new mom. I am wanting to get into this because I love the water, need more ways to exercise (I realize this is not a full body workout but ever little bit helps) and did I mention I really like the water?!?! I most likely will be doing this on my own at least thats my take right now. If hubby gets on board and has interest we could do it together down the road but for now it would be for me only. An escape, time to chill and enjoy the water. I’m not sure on independent locations, I would think closer to the city or north of me near the lakes for sure. Thanks for your help.

Lake Superior not a rec boat lake
Your getting comfortable is not a factor, having the correct boat and skills is. For Lake Superior, that means sea kayaks…

But if Lake Superior is a possible paddling venue it also means that you may be near a decent outfitter to get you into some boats so you have a better idea of what this is about. For ex, you can get quite decent cardio weight blasting exercise in a sea kayak, pretty much whole body especially core. The idea that is is all shoulders and arms is mostly a great way to injure yourself, and we are all getting too old for that if it can be avoided.

Have you looked around up there? I just did a quick Google check and it seems there are several options.

Lake Superior

Lake Superior wouldn’t be the main lake, I live 2 hours from it. I would go there once I work up to that and it wouldn’t be often I’d get to go. Would it be overkill to buy a ‘sea’ kayak for the other lakes I want to go paddling in? They are less active than Superior. Also, I guess I didn’t realize I could get such a workout in a kayak, huge plus! Thank you!

Lake Superior
is an Ocean

Boat types and use

– Last Updated: May-24-16 10:59 AM EST –

Getting a rec boat would be fine, in rec boat locations. Sea kayaks also work fine in calm ponds.

Here is a link of a photo of a page in a sea kayaking book that summarizes the ACA condition levels and type of boats appropriate for them.

If you plan to always paddle in level 1 conditions (level 2 if you confirm that you can self rescue with your boat in open water) then a rec boat is fine.

Edit: here is a link on Amazon to the book that the image above is from -

Buying up or down
To go to a sea kayak or a transition boat, lower level touting boats, you would want to buy used to keep the price down.

But - once you have done that you have a boat that you can do a lot with. You will find the limits of what you can do easily with a rec boat much sooner than with a touring boat, except for the loading part and there are devices to help with that.

It really comes down to where you might want to go with this. I absolutely recommend that you start out buying used though, to leave you with more options later.

More questions
What is your budget?

$600, $900, $1300 or more.

Does this budget number include a roof rack or do you have something to transport kayak already? Plus paddle and PFD too.

Can you handle lifting alone a 55 pound kayak?

If budget is tight used helps.

Epic V5

– Last Updated: May-24-16 12:15 PM EST –

Since there isnt much actual advice in this thread, I'll suggest you consider the Epic V5

Its a sit on top so it has excellent safety for paddling alone, and its wide enough that almost anyone should be able to learn on it. Also, its still more sleek than many entry level kayaks so it wont be a barge in the water. The only drawback is that its a new model so you probably wont find one used. They're ~$1500 new. You could possibly try to get a demo boat from a dealer for (usually) around 20% off.

In general, a good beginner boat will be more than 12' long and 24" or more wide.

A sit-on-top style boat is the safest as its impossible to swamp, or, a sit-in boat with 2 bulkheads (front and rear sealed hatches) is necessary if you want to be as safe as possible. If you get a rec boat with 1 or zero bulkheads, they are nearly impossible to recover in the water if you capsize and you must swim it to shore. Something to consider if you're going out alone frequently.

Also, once you know what boats you're searching for, search tool is very useful to find boats

Same boat(hah)
I was in a similar situation a few days ago. Looking for kayak for smaller lakes or really calm rivers, maybe Lake Ontario if I can work up to it. I’ve only been out twice and I loved it. This year decided I needed to get one for myself. I had advice from people saying I shouldn’t go smaller than a 12’ boat and people telling me I should go for something cheap. Honestly based on posts people have written, get something decent so that when you do go, you’re enjoying it and not fighting a boat that isn’t as fast, stable or comfortable. Then, worst case, you don’t like it, you’ll have a better chance selling a decent boat over a junker.

These were the kayaks I came across on my search. I basically looked up reviews for every kayak I came across on here. If there weren’t any crazy negatives and a ton of positive reviews I’d add it to the list. I was also looking for used ones on Kijiji and CraigsList with a budget of $400-$700 for just the kayak.

Wilderness Systems Pungo 12

Perception Conduit 12

Elie Sound 120 XE

Riot Edge 13

Old Town Heron 9XT (9’ but I really enjoyed this when I went my first time)

Necky Manitou 13 (Ended up getting this one)

Check out the reviews for each one to get familiar with them. These generally have enough reviews to give you an idea of how they handle and any weaknesses. By the time you check them all out you should have a decent idea what you’re looking for.

Good luck! Let us know what you pick :smiley: