Buying my first kayak, help needed please!

Hi All, not sure if this is the right place to post this, but if there are any better threads, please let me know!

I’m planning on buying my first kayak, I’m an absolute beginner, 6’0 and about 270pds. Ideally, I would like to stay around the $600 between kayak, paddle & life jacket.

Looking for something to mainly use in a bay near where I live, its open water technically, but very sheltered but never gets very rough at all. Will be using for leisure, no fishing, would prefer sit inside but always SOT would be OK.

I have seen a few that I like and are in my budget but wanted to get a few opinions first!

The kayaks I was looking at so far are:

  • Field & Stream Blade 120

  • Pelican Mustang Evo 120X EXO

  • 3 Waters GT 105

  • Old Town Vapor 10

  • Seastream Backwater 12

I found a nice paddle someone at a kayak shop recommended, let me know if this would be a good starter -

If it helps, I live in NJ near the shore. Appreciate everyone’s help & advice.


I would suggest finding a demo day or rent a couple kayaks before buying one. Finding a sit inside at your size may be a bit challenging. Sit on tops can be a lot of fun and they’re safer to use. There’s a lot of factors to consider: but trying some boats will help the most and making sure you can get to the water by yourself is important. Some of the lesser priced kayaks can be very heavy so getting them on and off a vehicle can be near impossible. I have a 13 foot kayak I can barely get on the car with help yet my 22 foot surfski can be easily carry alone.

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Go paddle a rental before you buy.

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I live a 10min walk from where I would use it, so transporting it on a car isnt a big factor for me as of now. I have rented kayaks before but they have all been SOT and had no issues.

I have rented kayaks before but all have been SOT, plus now a days its almost impossible to rent one until everything reopens unfortunately.

Yeah I guess closers are an issue. A ten minute walk is close but you’ll still need to put it on a car, carry it or get some transport wheels.

I’m planning on getting transport wheels and have an electric bike to it if need be. I’m really looking for something i’ll be comfortable in, can hold my weight and use in calm open waters.

Looks like you’re heading in the right direction. As you look for a boat I wouldn’t leave any style out. Even the hybrid kayak like the
with an open area so it lowers your center of gravity can work well. I’m not suggesting this kayak per say but something like it. You may need something longer if you want to cover some distance.

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At your weight a 12’ boat is too small unless it’s a barge. ’

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I have seen many people online that weigh even 280-310pds use 12’ kayaks (two mentioned above) and some of the ones I mentioned hold up to 450-500pds. Also one I did not mention, but the Field & Stream Eagle run 12 can hold up to 500pds, and there are video reviews of people and specifically someone who weights 310 & put another 50pds worth of gear on it without any issues apparently.

I’d definitely plan on buying used. You can get a better boat and often a decent paddle is thrown in. I just sold something on Craigslist and we socially distanced, so it can be done.

I’d keep an eye out for a used Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145. Of course it’s way better to be able to try it out before you buy, but planning to buy used, spend some time in the boat, and re-sell if necessary might work better during the pandemic. This is a great all-purpose boat that you can grow into.

For reference I am 5’6” and 135. My first boat was the self-same Tsunami 145. Way too big for me, but it got me on the water and I later re-sold it, bought a smaller boat much better suited to me, and lost no money on the deal.


The issue is that the boat will sink so far in the water that it becomes very inefficient…
I weight 230 and when I paddle a 12’ boat hard, it starts pushing water instead of gliding on it.


I wouldn’t be paddling hard, just cruising around the bay, but I get what you’re saying.

Why do you prefer a 12-footer? A longer boat will paddle better and be more fun. If you purchase used it shouldn’t be prohibitively expensive. And again, a better quality used boat won’t be as heavy either.

That looks like a decent paddle. I used one for awhile that had a fg shaft and plastic blades. Depends on how rigid the blades are. They need be to be very rigid.

It doesn’t have to be 12’, I looked at 10’ and those are too small for my weight and use in open water (even though calm) I would consider a 14’ if need be, the ones in my list were the ones I found hat I could get near me and within my budget. Can’t find anything (as of now) second hand around me that would suit where I want to use it and my size.

Buying used does require more time. Either way if you get into it you’ll likely be selling your first boat after not too long; and if you buy it used you’re much less likely to lose money on the deal. I sold my Tsunami 145 with a pretty good paddle for $500 a couple of years ago. It was an older boat but well taken care of. Stuff like that does come up. But I get wanting it sooner.

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By the way read up on the dangers of cold water. Don’t go out in an open boat if the water is not warm, even if it’s warm outside.

So this one’s 17-footer. :grin:

Guess it’s not what you’re looking for but you can find stuff if you’re patient.

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Agreed, I know, I would be using it in the summer for the open/water bay, and looking for rivers near me now to use in other seasons.