My husband and I are thinking of buying kayaks at Costco (skirted type, not sit-on-top type). We just want to go on the lake and cruise around, and maybe once in a great while go on some class 2 water. We’re going the Costco route because our budget is around $350-$400 per boat, and there aren’t a lot of options in that price range where we live. Are we making a huge mistake?
I think they buy recreation boats from some other manufacturer (? Mainstream) and slap on their sticker. These are fine to paddle around a lake/pond. A rec boat may get down a class II but it won't be ideal. The short length of rec boats make turning *relatively* easier but won't turn as well as more rockered white water boat. Being able to turn quickly is a very good thing in white water.
Most rec ("wreck") boats lack floation and is hard to right and get back in on with capsize in the middle of the lake. In a class II, the lack of floatation means a runaway boat that will be difficult to retrieve until it hits a boulder and possibly wraps around (thus "wreck") it. Make sure you put in float bags to fill open space and displace water. The skirts would help to keep from getting splashed or sunburned but will do little to allow you to learn to roll up like a touring or white water boat. Rec boats tend to be too wide for most folks to roll.
The used market is another good way to get boats in the price range you are talking about. If you buy the rec boats, look into getting used ww boats to do a class II (especially if you have such a river near you). A white water boat will more fun and allow you to develop white water skills that would be hard to do with a rec boat.
With both types of boats, read up on kayaking safety, stroke and rescue skills, and take lessons if these are available to you, and practice. Practice is great cool fun in the middle of summer.
I am into longer touring boats, but I am a Costo member and have seen the boiats you are talking about. They would be fine for ponds, small lakes, or smooth streams/rivers. They look like great boats to go out on the water in and just paddle around and relax. Especially somewhere where there are no motorboats to make large wakes.
“I” personally wouldn’t want to be out on a large river or lake if the wind kicked up (as it does), or in a storm. I also wouldn’t want to be in any fast moving water in them. I somewhat understand the class ratings for WW, and I would say class 1 is all I would want to be in.
I agree that if you want faster WW water, try used WW kayks. If you want to get started in Kayaking, relax on smooth water, and learn where you want to go with kayking, go the Costco Rec boats, or try looking for used ones at the local shop. I started with a rec boat, found I love the flat water, and ended up with a 17’ fiberglass touring kayak. Start somewhere, and findout what you like! Demo Days at the Local Shop, IS THE BEST WAY to find out how different boats handle. I’ll never buy a Kayak without test paddling it.
EMS & REI
both ems, and rei have boats in that price range, and they have a dramatically more capable sales staff to help you with your choice - - whatever you buy, try it first (can’t at costco) - my daughter bought a walden sunapee (quickly discontinued) about 1 1/2 years ago without trying it out - after about 10min in that boat, i considered taking up knitting - to cover a 1mi plotted line, the boat will cover about 2mi as it refuses to track in any sembelance of a straight line - i’m not intending to knock walden, as they make some fine boats - the point is to buy where you can try
Rec boat not a "wreck"
As a rec boat paddler I must say I am sick of people making snide comments about this type of boat.
Most all boats should have some sort of added floatation when used in certain conditions. Any swamped boat will sink. Even serious whitewater boats should have float bags. They don’t have bulkheads, nor do canoes. How many canoers do you see with float bags on a less than class II? The answer is none!
To answer the original post, it sounds like those boats might be a good fit for you. You might want to look at REI or EMS, or a used boat, like another poster mentioned. Some boats that come to mind are the Pungo and Pamlico from Wilderness Systems.
Also, there a lot of ways to add floatation without buying expensive float bags. Check the archives for ideas. The bottom line is don’t let some “expert sea kayaker” scare you away from buying an entry level rec boat if that is what you feel is needed.
Kayaks prices have been going down for a while now.
You can get sit-in kayaks at this price level in almost any store - even cheaper ones.
Try to rent or demo some rec kayaks and then make up your mind.
I’m no expert at kayaking. I’ve done it once and canoed a few times. I have tried out a Tarpon 120 and 140. Recently REI had a sale and the 120 was down to $499. It was a great boat for a great price! It is a Sit On Top. It was very stable and an enjoyable ride. That’s coming from someone in San Antonio doing clas I & II stuff. Something to think about? God Bless. Dwayne
One important note…please, please, please make sure that you TRY OUT the boat BEFORE you BUY IT! However, that will most likely eliminate your purchase from Costco unless they have demo opportunities. Every yak has a little different fit and feel for each person. It might look great displayed in the store but feel miserable on the water. Don’t just buy something based on price because you could be easily disappointed and discouraged from enjoying such a great sport.
I have no idea where you live but please look up several of your local dealers, not necessarily the “big box” stores. The independent folks have to work harder to compete with the big boys and will do their best to help you with the best match possible. They will also most likely have regularly scheduled opportunities for demo testing. For example, my dealer (Mariner) has free demos (year round) every Thursday evening at White Rock Lake in Dallas. They also have adopted a part of the shoreline and participate (with free demo yaks provided) in the Second Saturday Spruce Ups at White Rock. This is not only a value added service to the prospective purchaser but they are also putting something back into our community.
Budgetary wise, you should have many good choices and still stay within your budget. Might I suggest that you try out the Wilderness Systems Victory 12. This is the classic Pungo with a new name and a price of around $399.00. Wildy also has the Critter and Pamlico lines that might meet your budget.
saw little ones for $229
at a local sporting goods chain … Dunhams
In fact they were Old Towns … can’t remember the model name.
IMO … all those ‘littlest’ 9 foot ‘rec yaks’ are about the same … hulls all look about the same … seats aren’t much diff.
… and ALL the ones I saw on a recent scouting trip (I was looking at the lowest dollar kayaks at 4 stores) … had floatation ‘plugs’ in the ends … (maybe thats a state law where I live??)
common prices for these little boats is $299 - $399
But I’d still shoot for a SOT for rec yakkin … they are safer and take less skills and experience to stay out of trouble.
A Little “Sensitive” There…
I actually think we're in agreement. Any boat going down a white water run should have floatation. Actually any boat should have floatation even on flat water because it makes rescues easier and thus makes the boat a little safer. I think Rec boats are fine for their intended usage. I didn't say: DON'T buy it. I wouldn't... having owned a Pamlico and Loon 138 for me and family. I got rid of them when I realized the the paddling venues I like more were(ocean and white water). My family members still prefer to paddle lakes but they do so in sea kayaks (with bulkheads/built in floatation). The fact remains that the majority of Rec boats invariably comes without adequate floatation. A lot of newer paddlers aren't always aware of the lack of good floatation in these boats so I recommend the buyers/users get float bags. More than several times I have seen rec kayaks and canoes swamped in the middle of lakes, where the paddlers can't get back in. I always offer to help. All times refused. No biggie. It was summer and the water was warm. So if they want to swim their boats to shore. That's cool. :)
Any boat going down a white water run that is not designed for it (which was what I was getting at) is a potential "wreck" boat. This applies to sea kayaks as well as "rec kayaks" and rec canoes. Last week, I saw a Coleman (rec) canoe wrapped around boulder after a class III drop in anotherwise pretty straightforward class II run. But a lot of class II runs will a have tricky spot here and there that will take an unsuspecting paddler, especially one without the right boat (i.e. maneuverable). Anyway, if nothing else, the wrapped up Coleman provided practice fodder for the white water rescue folks. I talked to the girlfriend of the guy who ran down the chute with his buddy in the Coleman. She said, he learned his lesson. He was advised not to do the run and did so anyway. His "floatation" was the spare PFDs strapped to stern and bow of the boat. The plus side of it all was that he and his buddy were not hurt and got pulled to shore. The brand new Coleman was destroyed but he and his girlfriend realized that they both like whitewater and will be buying an appropriate canoe outfitted with appropriate floatation. It was an expensive lesson but any lesson learned is a good one.
So, at the end of this, we are both in agreement (except for "wreck" designation). But the bottom line is that the original poster gets to hear more about the boats and outfitting for different paddling venues. And that's a good thing. :)
No, you are not making a hugh mistake
My wife and I got into kayaking by starting with Keowee recreational kayaks, without ever trying them.
It is next to impossible to demo a kayak in that price range.
Just about every 9 foot recreational kayak on the market is as stable a kayak as you will ever find.
Ours don’t have floatation, so we kept a couple of gallon juice jugs with the bottoms cut off for bailing them out.
We have skirts for them, and to this day use them in class I-II and some class III rivers, including the Nantahala.
Naturally you get what you pay for, but I think they are a wonderful way for someone to get into kayaking on a low budget.
Forget about paddling lessons, forget about self rescues. Get yourself a book on beginning paddling and go for it.
Don’t forget a good PFD, and if you are a good swimmer you don’t even need that except if you are going in the ocean to satisfy the coast guard rules.
Now let every one jump all over me.
Buying A Kayak
is never a "huge" mistake. You can always sell it if you don't like. I've lost tracked of how many I have bought and sold already.
As far as your tack on how to get in to kayaking, I'll have to admit that was the way I did it too (and still continue to do). The key is "getting" that book (or many books and videos, in my case) because it means you're not jumping in cold, without any knowledge of the potential dangers and well as a portal to the skills to be learned.
And, quite simply, suggesting lessons never hurts. I personally lean towards the "just do it" mentality (following initial research on what I am trying to do) for myself. But there are folks, for whatever physical and/or psychological traits, are not able to take this approach. They need coaching/instruction, or they simply quit before getting to the point of enjoying the sport. My wife is a perfect example of this. She will not take on something in the sports realm unless she has taken instruction and coaching and then more coaching on paddles. I have learned this the hard way when I couldn't get her to "just" downhill ski with me, or to just "mountain bike", or "just white water..." It's not her style of learning. Strongly saying what worked for me will work for her has proven to be wrong many times over.
In your corner on this one Jack…
“knowing your limitations and the limitations of your craft” will do more to enhance the enjoyment and safety of your paddling than any course offered.
Check out Heritage Too…
You might want to check out Heritage Kayaks as well…They seem to be a pretty good value for the money…
just got an email from llbean - thay have a $50. off package deal on a manatee - kayak, paddle, cover for $398.
I started out with a Sam’s club Mainstream twist. I added thigh straps and had a blast on a Class II+ river (I’m from Florida had to go to VA). After I found that the boats would not turn into a golf club fiasco (sitting in shed for 10 yrs) I improved my lot with a Mainstream renegrade (Sports Auth) now I drive a Perception Bimini. Have to start somewhere.