Deciding on a Kayak

I’m sure this questions been asked a million times but i’m new - been researching as best I can. But, i’m not really sure on what kayak to get. Most of my adventures will be lakes and slow moving rivers. I’ve looked at the Perception prodigy10 - fits nice - very roomy I’m 6’3" ( 160 lbs) but i’ve heard concerns/reviews of leak problems where the seat attaches to the hull. I like the Necky M. sport but noone has it nearby where I can try it on ( fitment).Does anyone know if I’ll fit this kayak? So my question I guess is what would the experienced kayakers suggest for someone of my height, in the water i’ll be playing in, for under $700? I’ve got a paddle /vest/gear , but have been borrowing/renting the kayaks. Would like to make an informed purchase. Thanks for any help that can be given.

If you can afford it, I’d go with the Manitou 13 over the Sport. It’ll be much more efficent to paddle, and be a better boat for developing skills.

A lot of the folks here have said that they started in 10’ boats but quickly moved to the 12’-14’ range for easier paddling. Beginners tend to buy wide boats because they’re worried about stability, but find that stability becomes much less of an issue with more time on the water. Wide boats make it harder to have an efficient paddle stroke. The maneuverability of longer boats improves dramatically once you get comfortable edging and leaning.

Third that
10 ft boats tend to become great planters, especially the first time someone has them out in wind. Also, they won’t serve you well when you want to go further - which you will regardless of what you think right now - because of the big cockpit that easily acquires water and and difficulty of adding floatation that’ll stay put.

These are great boats for having around so that people can go out and paddle around near shore, like at the place where we rent in Maine. But for a personal boat, you’ll quickly want more. Consider picking up used if that’s what is needed to get you into a desired price range.

Manitou 14
The Eastern Mt. Sports store here in Albany has a used one for $725. Someone in RI is selling two for around that, also. This is one heck of a boat for the price, and will be very capable for you. I used them for beginner paddlers last summer, and everyone had a good experience. It’s a safer boat, with bulkheads and hatches fore and aft, plus a skeg.

Good luck - Alan

If you think
you will really get into kayaking, don’t make the mistake of getting a “rec” boat. They may seem cheaper but in the long run they are not and they generally are not safe. You should look at a Tsunami 120-125 , or the 140. They have bulkheads, are rigged right and you can learn most kayak skills in them. This is not the case with the so called “rec” boats.

I agree. Dont get a rec boat. You will grow out of it within the season. Try looking at Venture Kayaks. They have an Esky 15 foot boat. My husband is a big man and he fits in it easily. I have tried it and I like it because it tracks well. You can get last years models for less than $800. Try Craigslist. I started with a rec boat when I wasnt convinced I would like kayaking. After a few seasons with the little 9 foot Otter I graduated to a 12 foot Dagger Blackwater. Now Im in a 17 foot Venture Skye. I love the long boat, really liked the Blackwater and still like the Otter for friends to try kayaking.

Where you use the boat
makes a big difference. If the river is a small one with lots of twists and turns, long boats can be a handfull. Not all 10 footers are the same. Some track quite well. It depends on the hull shape more than the length. You don’t need a sea kayak to have fun on the water.

The question has been asked
Exactly 997,348 times and counting.

A lot of rec boats are really okay. I would recommend trying some longer, narrower boats to see what is comfortable. My experience is that 28 inches or wider is stable for most anyone – good for fishing and puttering around – not as much for longer trips (10 miles or so). A 21 inch wide boat feels pretty tippy to me. I could probably get used to it and do okay, but I’d never put a friend in a boat like that the first time out. I think somewhere in between is the right boat for a beginner on flat water/slow rivers. Maybe try some in the 12 to 16 foot range that are 24 to 28 inches wide.

In plastic we are talking boats in the $700 to $1500 range – longer = faster = more $$$ in general. Look for sales and on the auction sites for deals on new/slightly used boats. I saw a new $850 kayak for $500 on ebay last fall.


Thank you all for your advice - it’s appreciated.

More on length
A 16 ft boat isn’t needed for your purposes, but something more like 12-14 ft would probably leave you decently set.

okole sent me a personal email to tell me that rec kayaks aren’t any good. So, there you go.

If you were going our on the great lakes or out to sea, I would agree that you need something more. But if you are hanging our on local lakes and rivers you will likely be close enough to shore to handle a wet exit – as long as you are dressed for the water.

Local clubs and groups are really the best source of info, but barring that, you just have hope for the best with this crowd…


try boats out
Its all about trying a boat out. My little otter was perfect for me for a while. I used on lakes and rivers and loved it. It tracked badly but who cared, I was on the water and happy. I bought a bigger boat because I wanted a boat that tracked better, I was using kayaking more as exercise. It was great until someone suggested I get a bigger boat to go on Lake Superior. I did and I still havent gone on Lake Superior. I still go on the river and local lakes in my big long boat. I love the boat but some days wish I still had my otter. At least with that boat I could go back in the bay, put my legs on top of the kayak and relax. I would tip over with the boat I have now. Just try boats out and dont get a boat bigger than your needs. Good luck.

"…rec kayaks aren’t any good."

Most boats are good for something. The problem is finding the boat that’s good for what you want to do. Rec boats are fine for a certain set of paddlers and/or conditions.

People give advice based on their experience. The original poster wanted something for “lakes and slow moving rivers.” For me, the lake I know best is seven miles long. The idea of paddling it in a wide 10’ boat has no appeal, so I’m going to suggest something with a bit more speed, and more capability for self-rescue.

For someone else, “lake” could be anything from a glorified millpond to Lake Superior, and their boat suggestions would reflect that.

unless you are georgia_kayaker
then you can accomplish a lot

Rec boats

– Last Updated: Jan-17-08 1:49 PM EST –

As said so well above, they have their place.

I admit to a bias against the ones like the 10 ft Prodigy when I read posts like the above from someone who is (a) new paddler and (b) says that they will be paddling slow rivers and lakes most of the time.

I tend to wonder what the minority paddling venue will be. More up front though, I presume that the ambitiousness of paddling venues and trips is likely to increase from current expectations because the paddler is new. So I tend to think that a little longer is a prudent idea.

I could be all wet. (OK, baad pun intended)

Manitou Sport
I have a Manitou Sport (11’) that I use pretty much exclusively on smaller rivers and mine ponds. For me, it is the perfect blend of tracking and maneuverability. It seems perfect for what I like to do, and it is tough as nails. But I’ve never paddled any other kayak, so there you have it.

I think my next kayak might be a longer boat, but I still don’t see myself needing or wanting a sea kayak type of boat. The Pungo 14 looks like it would be great on rivers and maybe a little faster and better gliding on a lake.

But I remain very pleased with the Man. Sport, I think it is a great buy.