buying my first kayak


I’ve decided to go for it and splash out on a kayak. However, the abundance of models and configurations is overwhelming. I would be grateful for any pointers or advice regarding the best kayak for me.

Thinking about it for a few days, this is what I am looking for:

  • sea worthy, for coastal areas and a couple of miles off the shore
  • lightweight, around 44 lbs
  • comfortable cockpit (I am 6’3 at 180 lbs)
  • stable
  • I am a beginner, but I don’t want to buy a cheap kayak and then sell it to buy a better one. I would like to invest in a good one, that I would be able to enjoy even when I become an advanced kayaker
  • preferably a European brand (since I am located in Eastern Europe and most stores seem to carry only EU brands)


I don’t know where you live
If you are coastal you should find rental places near by ( around here it costs $40 a day for the works, paddle, PFD, kayak car carriers or pads). They usually have more than one model to try out. If you do coastal paddling then something 15-16 ft depending if you do the inner estuaries as well should be good. Try a Wilderness systems Tempest 160, maybe Focus 150 or what ever they rent that is similar to these boats. You could start off with a Pungo 140 and graduate quickly to one of the others as well ( super stable). This will get your feet wet and give you an idea about hull shape and cockpit sizing. Then from there go looking for a boat. Many of these places will roll your rental fee into the purchase of a boat too, at least around here ( Cape Cod).

Two miles offshore?
Then forget what you currently think of, at least as a beginner, as stable. The best boat for those conditions won’t feel stable to you as a beginner. Go get some training/lessons to find out how these things work, then spend the money on a kayak.


– Last Updated: Aug-03-14 9:01 AM EST –

Since you are in Eastern Europe and they are made in Estonia are Tahe around? You didn't say in your post if you want room to carry gear or will just be day paddling? Have a look at the Tahe Reval Mini LC PE and Reval Midi PE. If the UK models are available check out the North Shore Atlantic or Valley Etain. Also the P&H Scorpio and Delphin. All of those are available in triple layer plastic models, tough stuff. I've not paddled the Delphin but I've paddled the larger versions of all the others and found them to be stable but I didn't have them out in very big waves. They all have decent reputations as rougher water boats from what I've read. The Tempest listed above is also a great boat if you can find one. At 6'3 you're going to have a tough time with your shins without moving the seat back. I see the Boreal designs Baffin listed on lots of European websites too, rent a P2 if you can find one. Good luck shopping.

Sorry just noticed the 44lbs, none of the PE models are going to weigh that little. The TCI Lite layups in the Revals should hit those weights.

NDK Explorer. I believe they do have a lighter weight version but not sure. Made in England. It wont be cheap if they have a lighter version as that’s usually a premium for lighter weight.

Not likely
You are not likely going to find the right boat to fit your criteria that is only 44 lbs., nor should you be that concerned about a few more pounds. There are lots of very good boats that are closer to 50 lbs.

Indeed, you should look at some of the Tahe boats, but I would highly recommend checking out Valley and P&H. Specifically the full sized Valley Nordkapp and Etain. The P&H Cetus is also a boat that can do it all and for someone your size, I’d go with the big one.

first kayak
I bought for my first kayak a polyvalent type (Dagger charleston, it is out of production now). This means that it has a some rocker instead of a straight keel. It has a retractable skeg and with the skegg out it has a very good directional stability while with the skeg in, it can be used for fast maneuvering. It has also two watertight compartments (bow and stern) with very good hatches. I still love to use it as well on open sea as small rivers and shallow waters. Lateral stablity is another question and somewhat complex but in general the smaller the boat the less stable (lateral).

folding kayaks

– Last Updated: Aug-03-14 12:48 PM EST –

Take a look at folding kayaks. They are actually more common in Europe than in the US and are your best choice for kayaks that perform well offshore yet are very light. A touring kayak competent for open ocean for your size in plastic or composite will be 25 to 35 kg. A similar folding model will be under 20 kg. Folding kayaks are also exceptionally safe and perform well in rough water as they absorb wave force rather than fighting it. There are several brands made in Europe (Klepper of Germany, Wayland of Poland). And since they fold down into a duffel bag they can be shipped anywhere for a reasonable cost. They are also great for travel and can be checked as luggage on airlines.

Some to look at first would be the Folbot Cooper:

The Wayland Proximo:

and the Feathercraft K-1 Expedition, Heron and Khatsalano.

I've paddled folding kayaks for 12 years (have owned 3 different Feathercraft models and two from Pakboat) and love them for their lightness and portability, but mostly I love the way that they handle in open water and the connection that you feel to the water. They are costly, but they hold their value well and are very durable.

There is also a forum strictly for folding kayaks with international participation (though it isn't as active as the forums on here).


– Last Updated: Aug-03-14 4:29 PM EST –

Wow, thanks so much for the input.

I started looking up your suggestions and I have really fallen in love, at least on paper, with the specs of the Tahe Marine Reveal. The TCI-lite build weighs in between 42-46 lbs, which is great.

Fortunately, there is a dealer in my country, so I can test it this week.

Thanks again!

Plastic vs Composite
I initially suggested all those boats in part because they came in less expensive PE models. As a new paddler it is a nice option to be not so gentle on your boat. Run it up on shore rather than getting out in the water to prevent scratching etc. Something to think about if you have to land on rocky shores or are just learning to balance. Triple layer PE is very stiff and durable. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be great to have an ultralight weight boat, I’m saying that it’s nice to not sweat the scratches.

Here are some video reviews on the Revals.