Choosing a kayak for me HELP!!!

I’m 6’ 2" 260 lbs somewhat built(not all beer gut). Anyway I need help choosing a kayak and have no clue where to start. My one and only experience with one was on the Buffalo River in Arkansas where I rented an Old Town Loon 100. Kept falling over with that one. I’m looking for something around ten foot that will haul my large carcass. Be very stable and take me from the Upper Buffalo all the way to the White river with confidence. Also I’d like something I could occationally fish from. I’m new at this and I’m begging for advice. Also need a good really light weight paddle recommendation. Thanks a bunch guys and gals

Confidence is in you

– Last Updated: May-01-10 10:22 PM EST –

not the boat.

Is there an outfitter that can take you out and give you a chance to get into different boats, and maybe give you some tips in handling a kayak.

I would strongly suggest thinking more like 14 ft than 10 ft for length.

I probably should have also mentioneed
I have tried an Old Town Vapor 10. I liked the stability but thought the cockpit opening was excessively large and the bow sat too high off the water. I’ve been reading up on the Old Town Dirigo, Dagger Axis 10.5 and the perceptions Acadia 10.5 and as I mentioned I’m also considering the Vapor 10. What are thoughts on these four for a person my size?

Needing help…
Like you I am a newbie to yakking. I wanted something stable, manueverable and that tracked well. I live in NC, planned on paddling slow rivers and local lakes. I bought a Native Manta Ray 14 which is a SOT (sit on top). My brother and I took a couple of beginner lessons. I would advise you to do the same. This will teach you the basics and help lead you to the kind of kayak you want. Ask questions, lots of questions. Find someone or a group you can go paddling with. You can research your heart out but testing the kayaks works best even if you just sit in them. If you can’t make your mind up I’d suggest starting out with a used kayak. This way you can build your skills and really figure out what you want. I love my Native, the only draw back is its heavy. Being a SOT it can float in shallower water, meaning I don’t get stuck on the rocks real easy when the river is lower. The Native can also be outfitted to be a great fishing kayak. Good luck, let us know what you decide.

Try as many as possible
It will be hard for anyone to make a specific recommendation for what will feel good to you, but the more time you spend in a kayak, the more stable it will feel to you.

I have known some relatively tall and heavily muscled guys who were experienced paddlers, however, who were so relatively “top-heavy” that they simply needed a wider boat for stability.

Physical comfort also becomes an issue for larger people. In general, wider boats will feel more stable, but will be slower. See if you can find a local demo event where you are able to sit in, and hopefully paddle, a number of different boats.

It wouldn’t be possible for anyone here to choose a pair of pants that fits you well, and the same applies to kayaks.

Have you ruled out a canoe?

I never heard that before.
That a SOT can get into skinnier water than a SINK. Reference?

Dirigo owner here!
We have a 120 and a 140. The sales guy recommended that I get the bigger boat to keep up with my wife. I like both boats just fine but actually prefer my wife’s smaller one. The cockpit is TOO large on the 140: I can not comfortably reach the “features”. I am six feet even and about 220#. The 120 tracks straight and is very stable . It handles very well. Neither boat is particularly effected by the wind. The old ones had problems with the seats: they would pop out of their mounts. The new ones have redesigned seats and this shouldn’t be a problem any more. Even on the older ones this “problem” is on a boat-by boat basis. The rear hatch stays 95% dry and the cup-holder hatch stays 85% dry, sometimes they both work 100% but you can plan on that. What else do you want to know?

perhaps I should ask this differently.
I know that I like the stability of the Vapor 10. Does anyone know how the Dirigo 106, Dagger Axis 10.5 or Perception Acadia compare ONLY in terms of stability?

Perhaps a different question here too

– Last Updated: May-02-10 1:12 PM EST –

I just went back and looked at the web to find out more about the trip that you give as your goal. So - is the following that I found correct?

The Buffalo River starts in the Ozarks and hits the White River 150 miles later. The middle and lower sections are basically flat water. The very upper portion can be as much as class IV WW with enough flow, and usually has some class II and III spots when there is enough water flowing to make it a likely trip. Best time to do this is from April until late June, and there can be some noticeable variation in water levels from rain etc earlier on.

You want to do this in a 10 ft rec boat, and you want the boat to provide a significant amount of protection from your capsizing. In terms of your own background, you have little real seat time and the related lack of practice in things like self-rescue. It sounds like you want to do this solo, or is there an unmentioned paddling partner?

Is this correct? I am hoping not for a bunch of reasons, but before this thread goes further I thought it worth verifying.

FIrst of all I feel I may have
incorrectly implied my experience level with river floating and otherwise so I will give a little background. I’m an avid outdoorsman. I’m a member of the National Speological Society. I’m a Scoutmaster and have been for 11 years. I either hike or float every other weekend and cave in between. I’ve canoed about sixty miles of the Buffalo. This river like most cave-spring-fed rivers varies its level and flow rates based on the rainfall for the prior year on up to current based upon the large draniage basin that also feeds this river. That being said I’m the type of person who enjoys class I and II’s with the occational III(but not my preference. Like any river how the buffalo behaves is largely dependant on the weather.Now with repect to boats, I’m tired of canoes. Just don’t like the feel. I’ve been in them for thirty years(not consecutive of course). Last year on my annual Scout trip to the Buffalo, I was introduced to kayaks. The local outfitter rented Loon100’s thus that is what we got. After about thirty minutes I was quite able to handle this kayak but found it to be very tippy under certain situations. I loved being in a yak but wanted something a little more stable. I notice this kayak was very stable to about 210lbs(as viewed by watching my older scouts) My weight range(especially since I carry a lot of weight in my chest) tended to lose a lot of stability. My annual Buffalo trip is Memorial weekend. I want a kayak of my own. I was able to try out a Vapor 10 and found it perfect in every way except for the excessively large opening and the bow sat very high out of the water. I like a close to the water feel. While shopping around I looked at kayaks with my weight capacity range and with a shorter(less thick) bow area and became interested in the Dirigo106. When I emailed Old town they said it probably would not fit my purpose as this is a flat water only kayak and not recommended for any “class” water. this led me to look at the Perception Acadia and the Dagger Axis. I really like the lower profile of the Dirigo as compared to the Vapor but do not know anything about how it compares with respect to stability and fast water capability. Thus the reason I came here.

Why the 10 ft size?
You seem to have a number of outfitters within reach along the Buffalo that could be sources of used somewhat longer kayaks, like up to 14 foot boats with two bulkheads (hence storage areas) and full perimeter rigging. W/o going into stuff about kayaks you may not know right now, if you are going solo on a long trip full perimeter rigging is a safety factor. And the additional storage for a long trip is obviously useful - at that mileage it seems you have to figure on camping out at least a couple of nights. Or you have places to stay, but you’ll still want some change of clothing.

The longer boats would also give you the smaller cockpit and more options well suited to your size. There is one downside, they might be a little less wide, but they’d make up for that in their apt quality for a long trip. You’d just have to spend some time learning how to be loose in the seat and do some basic braces etc, but frankly this is part of being ready for a long kayak trip. It’s not stuff that you should be trying to skip.

So - are you locked into a certain store and looking new, so staying in the pumpkinseed range to save bucks, or is there some other reason you are not looking beyond 10 ft?

The ten foot is a size
that would better suit the creeks that are local. negotiating the log jams we tend to have on Mississippi creeks is quite cumbersome in a fourteen foot canoe due to the length. I would like to stay in the 10 foot range. I would like to buy a new one and stay in the seven hundred range or less but don’t have a problem with where I make the purchase. I have an REI(I’m a member) store within a four hour drive and Bass Pro Shops within two of course Bass Pro carries Old Town. Thats where I was able to look first hand at a Dirigo 106 and compare it to the Vapor 10. I like the look and style of the Dirigo but as mentioned was turned off by the email response I got from them. Don’t know if they were playing it safe or what. I have purchased my daughter and wife each Old Town Rush’s. I also tried these and found the stability decent but the opening a little small for my size. I’m thinking about just buying a dirigo and being done with it and hope for the best

Have you tried the “cross-overs”?
Liquid Logic XP10 for instance or the likes from Dagger, Pyranha, etc.? These are stable, made to be loaded-up well, and can actually take you safer through rapids than the Loon-like boats. May cost more but worth it IMO if you are looking to get into that more seriously. Sorry, don’t know how the ones you mentioned compare in stability…

My husband is a little shorter
but weighs about the same and the short 12 and under - are just unstable for him. It isn’t even about ability as he is a good paddler - its about the dispersement i think. He chose a tempest 170 for lakes and has no problems. For rivers he paddles a Current Design Breeze 13.5 ft and loves it - easy to maneuver. The 12.5 ft acadia is useable but not optimum for his size and weight.

My own opinion is no less than 12 feet - they are truly easy to maneuver still. Our friend bought a current design kestrel 120 for river paddling. I see REI has a Dagger Axis (forget the name already but i think its an Axis) at 12 feet with a skeg. Your weight in a 10ft bought isnt probably the best choice - there are so many other great kayaks out there! good luck on your decision.

Try kayaks of similar dimensions
If the Vapor 10 felt good to you, look at kayaks of similar dimensions, especially width. Note that the Loon in a little narrower than the Vapor. Three-quarters of an inch doesn’t sound like much but it can make a big difference in a kayak.

You can expect that boats of roughly similar length, width, volume and hull bottom shape (“footprint”) will feel at least roughly similar, although issues such as seat height also come into play. You are still going to have to paddle as many of these as possible to make a decision.

There is a problem paddling a recreational kayak with a large cockpit in anything that resembles real whitewater, and that is keeping water out of the boat. Some sit-in recreational kayaks do have sprayskirts available but I am guessing that skirts for these very large cockpits might be difficult to secure in real white water.

If you want to have the option to paddle rapids, you have two other options. You could look at crossover SINKs, like the Liquid Logic Remix XP10, as was suggested. Another good one is the Pryanha Fusion. These sit-in boats are quite white water capable, but they might not feel as user-friendly to you as a rec kayak.

The other option is a sit-on-top (SOT) as also suggested. In that case there is no open hull to get water in, but you have to accept that you will be at least partially wet most of the time and dress accordingly. These don’t float higher. How much draft a hull has depends on the dimensions and shape of the water footprint and the load applied, and is independent of whether the hull is open or partially closed, but you do tend to sit higher up off the water in some of these boats.

There are also some very nice partially decked canoes that are designed to be paddled sitting with a double-bladed paddle, such as the Bell Rob Roy, but these tend to be a bit longer than 10" and may be out of your price range.

I’m not leaning on the Dirigo, I;m just
asking about a kayak I’m familiar with. Gonna go next week to Terrapin Outdoor Center in Gadsen , AL. I called them earlier and they said they had a large variety in stock of Necky, Old Town, Dagger and so forth. Maybe I can figure something out there. BTW to all, I’m not planning on making a 160 mile trip down the Buffalo. I only gave that as a reference to the type water I like to paddle.

Manta Ray 14
The 10 footers paddle like plowing water with your weight. You really need a longer boat and a 14 footer can be more maneuverable than you might think, especially in moving water.

I’ve had my Manta Ray in everything from lakes, to big rivers, to small micro creeks and Class II whitewater and it can handle all that and still haul some gear or let you fish comfortably.


Canoes, Kayaks, and log jams

– Last Updated: May-03-10 1:27 AM EST –

I don't think anyone will sway your opinion of canoes, but I must say that based on what you say about canoes and log jams, I don't think you've learned to paddle canoes. In my experience, a 14-foot solo canoe will run rings around any kayak when log jams are involved, IF your paddling skills are good. They are easier to spin in-place (except compared to super-short whitewater kayaks) and to make go sideways, especially when there are overhead branches (the canoe has no extra paddle blade sticking up in the air). While holding position in awkward places among the logs, a canoe can be side-slipped against at least twice as fast a current as can be done in a kayak, helping to prevent getting pinned against logs. In a canoe, you can enter/exit from the ends, whereas in a kayak you must be able to pull up alongside the log you step out on, and much of the time that's just not an option. In a canoe you can stand up and step out onto very high branches, or you can stand up and slip the boat under a very low log while stepping over same, and if there's a little more room, you can fit your body under a lower log when in a canoe than when in a kayak, because you can crouch down with your chest against your thighs (while kneeling) or even lay down inside the boat. Ultimately, the paddling precision of a solo canoe when in tight places greatly exceeds the precision that can be accomplished in a fat, short rec kayak, IF you learn how. I know you have your heart set on a kayak, but I really think that the log-jam aspect of your motivation seems misguided.

As to choosing a kayak, I am quite sure that once you get some experience, you will much prefer a 14-foot kayak to a 10-footer. You are just too big for a 10-foot boat unless it's as wide as a house (and nearly as slow), and there really won't be much of any room in the 10-footer to bring stuff with you. Just in the last two weeks I've been on two trips with large numbers of kayakers in short boats, and those boats displace a lot of water when trying to make time (a big wake = wasted energy). On the other hand, a 14-foot kayak will be more cumbersome in tight places than a 14-foot canoe, so maybe you DO want something really short, and if you are okay with slow travel speed and will only do daytrips, a super-wide 10-foot boat may be perfect.

I am your exact size and weight.

– Last Updated: May-03-10 1:15 PM EST –

Forget 10 footers. You're too big. I've been paddling a Wilderness System Tsumami 125 going on 4 years. There are plenty of good boats out there in the 12 foot "transitional touring" class, and I've tried many of them. This one worked best for me. This is a high volume boat, lots of room for fishing, but not a giant open cockpit. Tracks well, turns ok, and will allow you to develop skills with confidence thanks to extremely good initial stability. It also has pre-drilled holes for adding a rudder system if you wanted. Strongly recommend a seal spray skirt to go along with it. Size is 1.7 (I think).
It hauls lots of gear, plenty of rigging on deck, and an excellent seating system for comfort. Boat is maneuverable in small rivers and can handle class I or II ww easily. After reading some of the other posts, I also think a demo of the Liquid Logic Remix10 is a good idea.