Dicks Kayak Selection

Looking to finally buy a Kayak after 2 years of looking. I recently found 2 on sale at Dicks this week, the Potomac 100es (179.00) and Quest Kayak by Quest (229.00.) The potomac is about 10 feet and weighs 37 pounds, the quest is just under 9.5 feet and weighs 45 pounds. I;m 5’7 and 170 pounds, would be using the kayak once a week in the chicago river and possibly beach on lake michigan. Which option do you think would be the best, or other options. I want to spend under 300.00

Get a used boat
You will get a better boat for the same money.

Beginner Boats
As the saying goes if you purchase a beginner kayak - how long do you wish to remain a beginner ? The previous post suggests buying a used kayak, I couldn’t agree more. Most beginner boats are Rec. kayaks, they often lack a front bulkhead/hatch. This will affect how much waterr they can take on should they go over. If your looking for a fun kayak to use on the occasional summer afternoon on a smooth small lake, then Dicks is fine. However if your looking to grow into kayaking as a hobby, you might wish to rent some higher priced boats and see how you like the way

they handle. Do you want to check out flowing rivers, larger lakes, fishing from your kayak, then go to several dealers that specialize in canoes and kayaks: talk with them, check out their product lines and literature.

I wanted to offer a slightly different perspective on purchasing big box rec boats. This is reposted from the other string regardign new kayaks.

I agree that you should test as many boats as possible to test your comfort level and to see what style or fit you enjoy.

With regards to purchasing, I suggest buying something slightly ahead of where you are skill-wise, so you have some room to grow. So many times I see someone who spends hours and hours of research to get the best deal on a $300 Big Box boat. A boat with few features, outfitting and comfort features. The same person paddles for half a season, finds out they love paddling, but quickly outgrows their wide, slow and short boat. In every instance these people wish they would have taken my advise and purchased a more advanced boat.

I hope I don’t sound like a rec boat snob. I like anything that introduces someone to the sport/hobby of paddling, but very rarely does a new paddler stay to their backyard pond or local reservoir. Skills quickly advance and before half a season is over they’re looking to advance their skills, cover longer distances, camp, perform rescues, roll, etc. but find they don’t have the proper boat. All the while they spent tons of time reseaching a $300 paperweight for their garage. After one season they’re back at it reseaching a boat upgrade and looking for someone to purchase their old boat.

Up the ante a bit, if you were eyeing a 9 ft. rec boat, take a peak at a 12-15 ft transitional boat. If you’re looking at a mid level boat, try out a 15-17 ft. touring boat. Your skills and pocket book will thank you.

The plastic boats of today are much better than yesterday, For less $$ you’ll only save 6-8 lbs over a glass boat and today’s plastics are much stiffer.

My two cents,


Still Looking
I appreciate all the responses so far. My number one concern is finding a kayak that is stable. The Chicago River is not a body of water you want to tip into. I have had 3 experiences on the river using a perception prodigy rental and lucky for me no tipping. I want to keep my purchase on a budget just to make sure this is something i will not fall out of love with. Do you have any suggestions on models to check out or good online store to look.

used kayaks
Keep an eye on Craigslist, also look around at the various canoe/kayak stores in the area. I’d highly recommend not looking at the big box sporting goods stores like “Dicks” as they don’t know what they are selling, for them a kayak is just like selling shoes.

I’d look at the big brand names like Current Designs, Necky, Wilderness Systems etc. and at lengths at least 12 if not 14 foot, the short boats won’t track (go where you point them).

Bill H.

my 2 cents worth …
i’ve seen those boats at the local DSG store …have you sat in one yet?.. i seem to remember that a lot of DSG’s boats were rather shallow and didn’t leave much room for a upright foot …you had to angle your feet to fit …maybe i’m wrong but that’s what i recall.

I was in Dicks yesterday and took a quick look at those boats. They either had NO flotation or cheap foam just shoved into the boat. You will need to add some flotation bags to these models or they may sink if flipped.

I have a Swifty that I bought from Dicks and its not a bad boat for its size.

Falling out of love
The one thing that is most likely to happen by starting with these bottom line rec type boats is that you’ll fall out of love, and maybe very fast.

If that is your concern, you should start by seeking some group tours and lessons so that you can learn how kayaks work, get comfortable in them, THEN go looking for a boat of your own. Starting out being concerned about the boat’s stability rather than your own ability to paddle has a high correlation with churning that first boat.

Don’t buy from Dick’s
Find a local shop, or take a weekend trip to this place, two hours from Chicago.


The sales people at Dick’s are minimum wage workers who know nothing about kayaking, and anything they tell you will be wrong. Plus, their boat selection is limited, and most of the boats they sell are junk.

Even if you don’t buy from Fluid Fun, you will learn a lot just going out there to talk with the knowledgeable sales staff and trying boats. As for your concern about investment, if you buy a good boat you are more likely to stay with kayaking, and if not, you can easily sell it in a market like Chicago for 80-85% of what you paid for it on craiglist. So the investment risk is much more limited than you think. You can also search your local craigslist for used boats, but I’d urge you to take a fun day trip to someplace like fluid fun before you do anything. You will learn a lot.

Good suggestions
There’s alot of good advice to try a little more advanced than you want right now. I started out with a big wide rec boat, loved it for the first 2 months, then wanted a change, so i looked around untill i got a good deal on one of the rec/touring boats at 14 feet, then paddled it for a summer and upgraded to a 17 foot sea kayak. Like everyone, i wish i would have went with the 14 foot boat from the beginning, but at the same time, i got a good deal on the rec boat, and had a summer i wouldn’t have otherwise been paddling. It also showed me good and bad about different boats, and really made me aware of what i wanted that each boat didn’t give me. So if you look and can’t afford a 14 foot boat now, i’d say get the rec one, these days kayaks sell like crazy with online classifieds and if you find you’re outgrowing it, maybe by then you can afford an upgrade by waiting for a good used deal to come up and selling your rec boat. So if all you can afford right now is the rec, go with the rec, anything you can do to start paddling.

You make an excellent point regarding the floatation of these boats and rec boats in general. They meet the minimum floatation standards set by the USCG in that they should not sink, but have no positive buoyancy. These boats should never be taken farther away from shore than you are comfortable swimming, as you will find it impossible to re-enter and remove the water. If the foam falls out the boat will sink.

Dick’s Perception Montour
Although I will agree that most of Dick’s boats are junk and will be outgrown before the end of the first season, they have something good going with the “Dick’s only” Perception Mountour. It was my first boat and served me very well on flat and class 1 rivers… and now 5 years later, I have an 18 foot kayak as well as a whitewater boat, but I refuse to get rid of the Montour. It’s held up great and is a fantastic boat to lend out to other newbies. To the original poster, this may be out of your prescribed budget, but will give you way more bang for the buck.

I say just get something.
Whatever you can afford is OK, really. Most folks here have more than one boat and learned what they like. Some think they might know what you like. You might even think you know what you like. You might find you like something different from your original thought. Almost can guarantee that last statement.

So, if you have a nice little budget, just get something stable that appeals to your eye and get out there. Soon you will see others doing the same and will discover different brands and features. You have time to learn this during two seasons of paddling. That is about how long it will take you to decide if you are upgrading, or just using your boat a couple times per year with your buddies.

Old Town Rush
I bought the Old Town Rush on sale at Bass Pro Shop and I love it. It is 9.5 feet long and tracks great. I could not imagine using a boat much larger on class 1 or 2 rivers. I am looking for another boat about the same size to use on the rivers in Kentucky. I sat inside of a Swifty but could not get my knees under the cockpit. I am 5’9" and weigh 210 lbs. Can anyone suggest a boat as deep and comfortable as the Rush?

perception models
Dicks buys many kayaks from Perception that are made with discontinued molds. Example:the Perception Blast used to be the Victory Blast and before that it was the Wilderness Systems Critter.

Dicks is selling what they call a Perception Rhythm 11.2 which is actually an 07 Dagger Element. Its $499 but might not be a bad starter boat if you can go a bit higher in your price.


Get a boat. Get one now! The end of the worl could come and you’ll have missed out. Get the cheapest boat you can right now and go paddling in some safe and warm water.

As soon as you’ve done that, start looking for a good used 14 footer. Don’t worry about stability. NO kayaks are stable in rough water! YOU must provide the stability. To do this you need a boat about 14 feet long and no wider than 26 inches wide. This will be long enough and narrow enough for any touring you need to do for the rest of your life. Below 14 feet boats get a lot slower pretty quickly.

Have fun! Get lessons. Don’t go in the cold water without a drysuit or wet suit. Get real flotation bags for any boat you use in deep water. They will not have these bags at Dicks. So until you get the bags the boat is more like a pool toy.

Obviously you have limited funds
Just buy anything that fits your fancy then start saving. A decent used boat will cost you $600.00 or more anyway.

Buy what you can afford
Some of us dont have a budget that will ever allow $1200+ sea kayaks. And others of us may really just want a beginner kayak, something to play with and only go 4/5 miles on a smooth lake, river or creek. I have a Perception Rhythm 11 from Dick’s. Its a nice light little kayak that does well for its short length. Yes, eventually I want to save up and get a Perception Carolina 14 with rudder, but until then I’m satisfied. I’m not a small person, and for now I need something with a decent sized cockpit to get in and out of, and the extra stability.

The OP asked for opinions on dick’s kayak selection. Answer ONLY on what he asked for, because he obviously has a limited budget!

You could buy used. Ive seen some great deals on Craigslist, but mostly those kayaks are at least 5 or so years old, and with plastic kayaks ill buy new most of the time…

did you miss when he said…
"… or other options"? It appears to me most posted their response according to what he asked, which included “other options”.