Buying my 1st kayak - needed advice on a model

Hello all

First, thank you for accepting me in this communicty. Browsed on some topics here and decided to join in and ask for your advice. Looks like a nice place with nice people giving meaningful answers.

I am completely new to kayaking, never done it before, but I have decided, that this is the year.

I would highly appreciate some advice on choosing a good kayak for me, my needs and skills.

In live in Bulgaria, Europe and there is a limited number of choices here, mainly cheaper kayaks. I worry about the warranty if I buy from outside the country.

Here is what I need. I am a tall guy - 193 cm (6,3 ft) and am 95 killos (209 pounds). I need something, that can hold me, be stable and still move. I have no experience with kayaking whatsoever. Non at all. I will be mainly using it on a lake and need it to be durable. Once or twice a year I might use it in the sea close to the shore (this should not influence the choice though). It will be mainly me solo paddling, but i would like to be able to paddle together with a friend so I would prefer a tandem. I need to to be able to hold me, not bend like a taco when I sit in it, and have enough room to fit me in. I don’t care that much about luggage. It will be small things in it besides the paddlers. Easy drying would be highly appreciated. Even though money matters, I prefer to spend on something good and have the best time, rather than go cheap and not enjoy what I do fully. I won’t live for 200 years… Still i need to be able to afford it so something around 1500$ or 1500 Euro is ok.

Here is what I have checked on my own:

  1. ITIWIT X100+ tandem - it has a drop stitch floor which seems is something good, especially for a heavy guy like me, but looks a bit like an inflatable bed and I am worried about how it will track and if the wind will blow it around.

  2. ITIWIT X500 I liked a lot, the tandem one so that I can fit in it. Or at least the looks and the idea of it. What worries me is it’s bottom (i know it is not the proper wording) which can make it unstable for a not experienced kayaker like me, which can lead to me being quite unstable in it (those are my thoughts). I would prefer not to drown.

  3. SEVYLOR POINTER K2 – looks nice. Please don’t bash me about my comments here :blush:.

  4. Aqua Marina Tomahawk K 440 - I like it being fully dropstich with flattish bottom, which should make it stable for me. What worries me is the site - It is not based in the country and I don’t know the seller

  5. YAKKAir BREEZE Full HP 2 - Looks good. Full dropstitch, should be stable for me. I don’t know anything about the company though.

5.ORU kayaks, not sure on good model for me - I like the idea, and I have that one available here, but I fear it might be too light, meaning the slightest wind will influence it badly. Looks also like the ITIWI X500, which I think might be a better option, but they both share the same issues.

  1. AdvancedFrame Convertible Elite 2-person AE1007-E - on this one I have spoken with AF and they are quite nice and are eager to sell me one, but adding the additional things like single and double deck cover, footrest, pump, and good paddles, might make it a quite costly choice. I don’t know if that one is worth it. I also have some worries with the drying and that it might take some time.

  2. Puffin Saranac - this one I noticed rescently and it looks like a good choice. Wondering if that foldable is good, takes not too long to assemble, but also dry and store back.

I know exactly how I might sound to some of you guys, but your advice on a specific kayak are highly appreciated and really needed.
PS: I am considering taking some lessons too.a

I would like to thank you so much in advance!!!

Welcome!! Since you are open to lessons, take the lessons first. It will give you a better basis of knowledge upon which kayak to purchase.


Second the lesson recommendation. Or at least go and rent a few boats and go for paddles if you can.

Many of the boats you are looking at are inflatables. Might be worth reading an article available online on inflatables and other kayak options for small storage places. Issue #9 at California Kayaker Magazine - South West's source for paddlesports information.

While there, you might want to check out the article on basic types of kayaks in issue #10. Good background info (though I wrote the article, so I am biased about how good it is).

If you have room to transport and store a full size kayak, you may want to consider a rotomolded boat. These are kayaks made of polyethylene plastic, and are very rugged. Just about all types of kayaks (sit on top, recreational class, sea kayak, white water kayak, etc.) have a wide variety of rotomolded kayaks, so this shouldn’t limit your options much.

If inflatable is something you are still considering, check out this guy’s video on types of inflatables:

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Thank you both for the advice. Especially Peter. Lessons are on the table, but choice wise it is what i have listed. Some comments or advises on what my options are, would be highly appreciated. Thank you again, peter for the articles and the video. I saw it before, but it was quite helpful to watch it again now that I know a bit more. Things are narrowing down to either the Puffin or a dropstitch kayak. There is one more i found here. The BIC BREEZE FULL HP2.
Storage is a concern. And to be honest inflatables and foldables are my oly options. There is no good room for anything else.

I will weigh in on the one issue I have experience with - drying time on an Advanced Elements inflatable. I had a different model, but I think they one you are looking at has similar fabric. I first used it in the peak of summer, and drying time was really minimal. I would wipe it down with a quick-dry towel, partially deflate it, and leave it in a sunny spot while putting away the rest of my gear, and it completely dried pretty quickly. But come fall, with cooler and cloudier days, the drying time was more of an issue, and I would have to take it back out of its bag and lay it out to finish drying. I was really happy with the kayak overall, but the drying time is a bit of an issue.

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I can only offer feedback on the Pakboat. I have owned 4 of their models including the solo version of the Puffin Saranac. Assembly is very easy with the Puffins especially because you set up the frame into the skin first with the boat open and then install the deck. Of course the deck is optional which gives you the advantage of paddling the boat open in warm weather and calmer waters or having the deck on as a sit-inside boat for cooler conditions and rougher water. It should take you about 30 minutes to set up a Puffin once you have done it a couple of times and know the steps. It is easy to convert the Saranac from solo to tandem but you have to buy the separate solo and tandem decks if you want to use them. You could just buy the solo for when you paddle alone and then use without a deck when you share with a paddling partner.

The Pakboat Quest 150 would be faster and more rigid than the Saranac, but you would not have the option of using it tandem. If you were going to do more coastal or sea kayaking I would recommend that model more.

But for your usage (inland rivers and lakes) the Saranac would be suitable and less affected by wind than the inflatable models you are considering. I have had good and very personalized customer service from Pakboat during the 10 years that I have owned models of their boats. You also can’t beat them for lightness. They are easier to dry off than inflatables when you dismantle them.

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Thank you, Willowleaf. At a point the past days i was considering the Itiwit X500, but went through some comments because ot its hull, meaning i will need to be more than a beginner and it won’t be good for relaxation. It is also a solo one.
So my thinking went back to the Saranac. I am reading more and more positive reviews on it. It is not the best ever made, but i think you are correct. For what i need it, it might be quite perfect. I think i will just go through some lessons. see how things are going with my friends on the lake, once we start going there and than decide.

I was worried about the drying of the Saranac, not that much about the assembly, since I figured that once i get used to it, i can make it in 20-30 mints. And we boys like assembling things, so it might even be fun :slight_smile:

Thank you again, mate for the input !

My advice is to do a lot more thinking about how you might be able to consider a rigid kayak and go for a solo. The least you should do is try out a variety of boats before you jump in. There are some specialty kayaks that are worth considering if you absolutely cannot go with a conventional plastic, or composite build.

The idea of a tandem might seem like the way to go, but you have to know that there is a very good reason why most kayaks are solos. Actually there are a host of reasons why most are solos. If you are anything like so many of us, you will be on your own more often than not, or you won’t be doing a lot of paddling.

If you just want to get out on the water and splash around, maybe a blow-up job will do it for you, but don’t be surprised if you soon find yourself looking at something else.

I started in a canoe and then went to an inflatable and thought I had arrived. That was a long, long time ago. I kind of wish that I had skipped all that preliminary stuff and gotten right into it, but that’s probably jut not the way it usually goes. Good luck and happy paddling with which ever way you go, but I highly recommend you find a way to try out the real deal. And by all means, get educated about what comprises a real paddle and how to use it.