I have done more than my fair share of rafting, both whitewater and recreational on slow moving rivers.

I have gotten the Kayak bug. I live in the flathead valley in Montana, so have access to a lot of rivers, and a lot of lakes.

I have no idea what to buy for a Kayak, even reading a lot online, I still can’t figure out what kind of Kayak to get.

I DON’t want:

to do whitewater

carry 2 people

I DO want:

float rivers that move fairly swiftly

paddle on lakes

do an overnight trip

I don’t care to have the latest and greatest expensive kayak, I am fine with the plastic, don’t have a preference on what it looks like. it seems longer is better to a point for non-whitewater paddling, but that may be simplifying it. I am a big guy, 240lbs, 6’3".

Specific kayaks advice - specific models from specific manufacturers would be the kind of advice i am looking for.


This might help you
Click on this link:

This document should help you through the process of searching for a boat. You can use this for new or used boats, at a paddling shop or not. It was originally developed and distributed by the Paddlin’ Shop in Madison, WI. When you ask someone what canoe you should buy, these are some of the questions they should ask and the answer they will need to help you find the boat that’s right for you. You seem to have a pretty good idea of what your needs are, but this document could still be helpful.

There are about 24 questions/criteria to fill out, a then a ten point system to “test paddling”, followed by a table to log your impression of each boat you test paddle based on a list of criteria. The document is just 5 pages long.

I have found this a very helpful way for newbies to begin their boat shopping experience.

You might also benefit from reading:

I put together these two documents because I was getting so many questions like the one above about which boat a new paddler should buy. There are a lot of issues involved in the boat buying process. These documents help to identify some of those issues and hopefully simplify the process somewhat.



Prijon Yukon

Great for Rivers and Lakes

You won’t win any flat water races in it.

But you could take it on the Ocean Coastline.

As you get more experience you can handle mild whitewater no problem.

You could easily pack gear for overnights.

Liquid Logic XP10 will carry your
weight and your gear. Excellent on swift water, can do whitewater if you have to, and not a slug on lakes.

Tsunami 145
might be one you want to try out, it’s made for big guys and does well loaded down with gear.

if you’re anywhere near Jackson WY contact Rendezvous River Sports,

thanks for the suggestion, although it way more than I want to spend, I am thinking in the 4-800 dollar range.

Go Cheap - Go Used
A lot of the boats people are going to recommend to you here that are good are going to be similarly priced new. Like the Tsunami 145 etc etc.

What you want to do is find yourself a good quality boat used. Prijon Yukons go for about $800 around here. In Montana I have no clue how easy it is to find a decent kayak. I suspect you will find a lot of rec boats with wide flimsy hulls and big cockpits (not what you want). Start watching Craigslist for used boats in your area but also outside of your area within driving distance. Idaho, Washington, Utah … a boat you love is worth a drive to pick up.

suggestion …
…does a NativeWatercraft Marvel 14.5 solo look like anything you might be interested in ?

Tsunami 145 or 165
Or similar. These are for large guys and are actually very nice boats. Used prices are in your range of below $900 depending on condition and if they got the rudder or not. Very stable and comfortable with plenty of room.

Can go down rivers just fine and will carry you with respectable speed on flat water, unlike the likes of the “hybrid” WW boats cropping-up now a days in the 10 foot range, which are really more of a downriver WW boat than a touring boat.

Of course you can go for something cheaper and more recreational like the Pungo or Native boats but these will limit you eventually in terms of where you can paddle them safely. Or enable you, if a large open cockpit and easy paddling is what you’re after for fishing or what not…

Try a Tsunami125…
and read my review on the thread called differences between Wilderness Systems…

I’m 6’2" 260 and this is my primary boat. It is an excellent choice based on what you want to do, and unless you change your mind and plan to do whitewater or carry two people, you might never need another kayak.

Highly recommended.

Old Town
Try the Cayuga 14’6 by old town… Its a great ride and the seat is really comfortable.

Silver Moon
I’ve bought from them and my son has done quite a bit of business with them.

I knew what I needed and wanted and did fine. My son relied on their advice and got screwed. They sold him stuff that was wrong for his size, boat, etc. and then they wouldn’t accept a return.

YMMV, of course.

I second the 125

– Last Updated: Feb-05-09 4:23 PM EST –

I use my 120 on the North Fork and the South Fork of the Flathead, works fine. You might want to look at a 145 if you want to go camping on Hungry Horse, Bowman or Kintla, etc.

Don should have some at RMO in the spring.

A bit hardsell
My impression was that they were more hardsell than I like. Not the most hardsell I’ve experienced, but I would only buy from them if I knew exactly what I wanted and they had it. Of course, some people might like “being pursued” as a buyer (I hate it).

Hard Sell Kayak Shops ???
Wow that is a new one.

The only place I have ever been uncomfortable at was

The San Diego Sailing Center …they tend to ream beginners on accessory prices.

Most of the shops in So Cal are very laid back, treat their customers like friends.

I suggest
The Current Designs Kestrel 140 in plastic

Don’t buy a wilderness of Confluence product. I learned my lesson the hard way and now they moving to CHINA which will make service even harder to get.

I just bought a new Nous NC Expedition yak and I am happy.

No it’s not a white water river yak, but its going to great in the surf. Your best bet is to really take the time to do the research before youy make your choice. Maybe make contact with other paddlers in your area. But, don’t buy the first thing you see.

Buy the one that will last and the one you’d be proud of paddling.

tsk tsk Joel
confluence is not moving to China. their fiberglass shop is being outsourced there. Probably just like the clothing you wear, the car you drive and lots of other things. the poster is looking for a boat between 400 and 800 dollars. confluence has a lot of options that are american made and american supported.

lets not suggest cutting off out nose to spite out face.


confused - suggestion
I’m in South Carolina with warmer weather than you, but have very similar kayaking ideas.

I want to explore a couple long fast moving rivers and enjoy taking it easy on lakes sometimes.

An SOT kayak is much easier to use than a sit-in and an SOT does not require training. I am going to suggest a awilderness Sysytems Tarpon for the kayak. I love mine. The price is not bad either.

Visit my web site if you will-

You are in S Carolina
the Flathead Valley is in NW Montana. The water here is cold much of the year and while I paddle a SOT in Hawaii, I wouldn’t want mine here.