deciding which brand of kayak to get

Hello new to kayaking I live o LI est end with bays and the LI sound . I want to purchase 2 kayak s for recreational use . The choices are overwhelming. any name brands I should focus on?


LI Sound?

– Last Updated: Jun-12-11 2:48 PM EST –

Are you truly talking about "Rec kayaks"? Per manufacturer's parlance, that generally means short (10-12 ft) kayaks with no or limited bulkheads or perimeter lines, with width measurements 26" and up and big cockpits without thigh braces. Cup holders usually abound though...

Or are you talking about sea kayaks for exploring versus racing kayaks?

The short of it is that the rec boats as above do not belong on the LI Sound. If you look at the manufacturers' own statements, you'll see verbiage indicating that they belong in protected quiet water. The LI Sound, open to the sea for the full length and miles to the opposite shore, is not that.

For the Sound, unless you are going to stay a short swimming distance from shore, you should have some skills like in-water self-rescue including rolling and generally decent bracing and boat handle. The kayak should have the basic equipment of a sea kayak if not the length - two bulkheads, full perimeter lines and a narrower hull intended to have higher stability than rec kayaks when it is sitting up at 30 or more degrees sliding on a wave.

You should get in contact with a paddlers club to check into maybe relatively inexpensive opportunities to get into some boats, maybe as rental but that is a good way to try them out, and find some used boats for sale. That way you can get more boat to start - something that matters for where you want to paddle.

Check out these guys - last I knew they were active, even if their website seems a little old. Long Island Kayak Club at

Also worth a call to Peconic Paddler ( They may not have exactly what you want, but if you would like to consider rec boats and quiet water there is plenty of it around LI. These guys seem to run tours in some of those areas.

Thanks for the information, I may go that route before I invest to be sure what boats they use in my waterways. For the most part I am going to do the close to shore and creeks out here. I want to be able to handle the boat on and off the car by myself so I thought I have to stay light. Our local dealer is suggesting ocean kayak sit on tops(which will make my husband happy). that’s where I’m at now. thanks again

Make sure you try to load one

– Last Updated: Jun-12-11 6:15 PM EST –

If you want to handle the boat alone, make sure you actually try getting a boat up on a car, even if you have to borrow someone's who works at the place, before you fork over the cash. A short solid piece of plastic can actually be harder to load than a longer skinny one with perimeter lines - the long one is easier to slide up especially of you aren't terribly tall.

On the good side, you can drop a hunk of plastic on the ground and it'll be OK.

Get the rec kayak.
Hundreds of people paddle their recreation kayaks in the ocean every day.

Do like you say, and just stay close to shore.

You can get skirts for rec boats, and once you are confident you can paddle as far off shore as you desire as long as you have either watertight compartments or floatation and know how to do a self rescue.

Also make sure you have a bilge pump

Jack L

basic advice

– Last Updated: Jun-12-11 9:35 PM EST –

Your choices will not be "overwhelming" at all if you do a little legwork and research and "test drive" various types of kayaks in and around the sort of waters you plan to paddle in. I am constantly puzzled by people who are eager to drop hundreds, if not over a thousand, dollars on a new sporting toy without having the slightest idea what they want or need. Would you buy shoes you had not tried on, or a car you had not test driven? So why shop for a boat by looking at ads in the Sunday paper or asking strangers on line?

I know there are respectable kayak outfitters in your area -- visit their shops, talk to their knowledgable sales staff, try out boats in the water on a "demo day", take a class or two from them, rent boats or borrow demos for test paddles, go to a local regatta where a lot of people are paddling kayaks and talk to them about their boats (most kayakers are eager to show off their boat and even let you take a couple minutes turn in it.)

It would be worth your while to take a day trip to the other side of the Sound to Westport, Connecticut to the Small Boat Shop in the harbor. I have been in dozens of paddle sport shops throughout North America and I would rate them the best I have ever known in terms of depth of stock, expertise and customer service. They are right on the water and you will be able to try out boats on the spot as well as get excellent instruction.

Not knowing you, I can't tell you what type of boat is really going to work for you, but I will tell you that you owe it to yourself to get inside a variety of boats, and see how they handle on dry land and in the water. The range in performance is always more than novices realize -- save yourself a costly disappointment.

I have paddled in and around L.I. Sound (in a 15', 35 lb. folding sea kayak) -- it's a fabulous area. In fact one of my favorite day trips of all time it paddling down the Housatonic, through the maze of salt grass marshes in its delta and out into the Sound, then back up the river, stopping to tie up to a dock and get dinner before paddling by moonlight back upstream to the take-out. Get the right boats and you'll have many happy times out there.