I think I really opened a can of worms here, but I also think that it is about time to say this.
As I see it, there are about three types of paddlers:
1. Begginner/Low Rec: These are the paddlers who own a lakehouse on a small lake, go yaking once or twice a year, or want to start out with a begginner boat (I know that there is no point to the begginner boat thing, but there it is). They like floating around or going on very short jaunts. They buy boats for $200 - $400, and never go on the ocean.
2. Intermidiate Rec/Mild Day Touring: A step up from number one, they look for boats $500 - $1000, more expensive rec boats or very cheap day touring kayaks. They go on longer, maybe overnight trips, and occasionally in rougher water. They may go on the ocean.
3. Advanced Touring/Proffesional Kayaking: These buy the best kayak that they can afford, and that meets their needs. They can roll, edge, and handle very large waves. Would almost never buy from any but a specialty shop. They mostly kayak on the ocean or large lakes.
(This does not include whitewater)
I rate myself a 2. I live on a 100 acre lake, and love to kayak. I feel as if I am flying. I can edge and brace, and am trying to learn rolls. I had an Old Town Vapor (called a Trip by Dick's), and I loved it. I spent close to a year researching the perfect kayak for me, and I found it at Dick's. The kayak department was very knowledgeable, backed up all the research I did, and gave me instructions on how to store it. A year later, it was stolen. I went throught the process again, and, being only 15 years old, could not get anything very expensive. I wanted to upgrade, and so I looked at a Dirigo, and went to Dick's to sit in one. The salesperson and I decided that the Vapor was a better fit. On the way out, however, I saw the Perception Sport Conduit 13, which appeared to be a ttouring kayak, with 2 bulkheads, for only $50 more! I did my research, and came back to sit in it. I was quite torn between the Trip and the Conduit, and, without trying to sell me either, the salesperson told me that the Trip would make a great, stable fishing yak with many features, but the Conduit would be faster and handle better. I bought the Conduit, and loved it a good deal more than the Trip, as I determined from what the salesperson said.
So, I am sure that not all stores are like mine, but don't rule out Dick's unless you really want something good.
I really do know where you guys are coming from when you say to not go to Dick's, and I really respect your knowledge, but not everyone needs a Looksha or Tsunami.
I also have heard people say it is the "Walmartization of paddlesports," and I suppose it is, but if it gets people on the water and outdoors while having fun, I think that's ok. If each paddler gets what fits his/her needs, who cares where it comes from?
I don't know if this was a question or not, so here is one: What do you think?
Update: I just read Advice on Giving Advice, and I guess this is kind of similar. Sorry!
I think I really opened a can of worms here, but I also think that it is about time to say this.
It all boils down to a salesperson.
Some know about local instruction, pool training,
local paddling groups, water conditions, gear,
the ACA / BCU i.e British Canoe Union (BCU)
and the American Canoe Association (ACA).
Some know only whats in the merchandise hype
brochure attached to the boat.
It's always been Buyer Beware and I urge folks
to put emotion aside and do the homework first.
Demo before you buy whenever possible.
Take a intro course first and the purchase
experience will be ohhhh sooo much better.
A buyer who educated themselves first
will be more apt to get a boat they'll keep
instead of selling it the very next season.
Many have an epiphany, a light bulb moment,
the second they try multiple boats on the
water as they understand "butt feel" of a boat.
enthusiast versus recreational
Part of it is that those people who hang out on boards like this are enthusiasts - generally more involved and higher level. So category 2 or 3 of your ranking. And we suggest things matching our needs (often incorrectly, as this post and the Advice on Giving Advice post suggest).
The category 1 people likely wouldn’t be here.
Not so sure
A lot of times category 1 people come here for advice though Peter. When that's the case Dick's is a perfectly fine place to start.
However, I can't recommend going to Dick's for someone trying to find a decent tracking, touring type kayak.
It could very well be where I'm located, but every Dick's I've ever been into only carries 10 to 12 foot rec kayaks and that's it. Plus the salespeople don't know jack about kayaks around here.
Maybe on the coasts it's different, but I think here in MN, Dick's is targeting the "category 1" cabin people more.
… I bought a dry bag there once
I’ve only heard of Dick’s
from this board – really.
It must be a place for enthusiasts
Dick’s does carry a couple of kayaks that might fit into ‘Category #2’ above… the Conduit 13 and the Rhythm 14. Both have front and rear bulkheads, and more than the ‘token’ deck rigging you often see in the price range.
And dimensionally, the Rhythm 14 seems very similar to the Necky Looksha 14, a decent-enough transitional boat.
Have never been in a Dick’s store. I don’t think there are any of their stores in the area where I live?
Isn’t Dicks the store that uses those huge highway billboard signs, with pictures of Obama & Romney on them, to advertise their store?
I could be wrong?
People around here seem to love Dicks. Any time I have gone there, even with a good coupon, I end up leaving Dicks empty handed.
Both Dicks and Sports Authority near me are pretty lacking in paddling gear but usually seem to have good camping, fishing and hunting sections.
They are about on the same level as a Sports Authority or Academy -- a big box sporting good store but a step down in prices from a EMS or REI.
I have 4 kayaks and I bought them all at Dicks. Couldn’t be happier. I often loan my boats and have introduced a lot of folks to paddling. There is a boat for everyone and no one can say what is best for anyone else.
PS: I too own the Conduit and it is out on the water often.
You do have good points
I overall agree with your ranking of paddlers but skill and expensive of gear doesn’t always go hand and hand. I know completely clueless people who always have to have the best and if they got into kayaking they would rush out and get a 17’ kevlar kayak even if the biggest water was a 250 acre pond and will never spend anytime getting better. Then there are people like you, who are using what people are perhaps unfairly considering cheap kayaks, but who are working on their skills and trying to learn.
Seems like more and more everyone is becoming a gear geek on the internet and spending way too much time either claiming their choice is better or defending themselves for making a different choice. I had two main bikes during my teenage years. One was blue and one was red. I have no idea what brand they were. They probably came from Sears, because everything came from Sears. My friends and I didn’t stand around arguing if Huffy or Schwinn was better or what shoes to wear or mocking someone because his bike came from that big box store (like Sears). We just rode, had fun, and gathered a large collection of scars. I still remember the good times and what my bikes looked like but no idea what brand or model.
Lots of the kayaks at Dick’s and other stores like them just seem to be rebranded or discontinued models that were once considered to be “better kayaks”. The Conduit is a Dagger Catalyst, the Rhythm is a Dagger Element and the Swiftwater is a Dagger Blackwater hull (not sure if it still has a skeg however).
The Catalyst seemed like a good light touring kayak when it was new. Maybe they used some slightly cheaper outfitting to get the price down for Dick’s but for the price it probably is a very good deal. Just go out and have fun.
I’m not sure I’d draw up the categories quite like that, but it’ll do. Around here, few people have lake houses but plenty just go down to the nearest river to lily dip on a warm summer afternoon. And I know many quite experienced paddlers who would never pay more than a grand for a boat, but mostly they are savy at acquiring used boats for good prices.
Re Dicks: I think you’ll find that many avid paddlers, and outdoor lovers in general, tend towards political persuasions that favor small companies, such as local paddling shops, over large big box chains like Dicks, Bass Pro, and the like. So there’s that. But as a practical matter, I find that big box stores, even REI (whole ‘nuther bags o’ worms - oh boy! let’s not go there) are uneven when it comes to speciality sports like paddling and even cycling. Some are good, stock good merchanise, and have knowledgible salespeople. Others are clearly gunning for lowest dominiator and easiest buck. And I’m talking about different locations of the same store.
So, if you found a good Dicks, than great. I’m sure you understand Dicks’ limitations for getting quality gear like PFDs and paddles (which are, frankly, more important than the boat itself in a lot of ways). Have fun and be safe.
Our Dicks let’s you bring it back…
Like a test paddle. As long as you don’t register the thing and still have the original docs. Pay for it, use it, bring it back.
Fine if you’re an average-sized guy
I think your chances of finding a suitable kayak at Dick’s is significantly greater if you’re male of average or greater height and weight. You might also find something for kids. There’s very little, if anything, for women. The right kayak not only has to be appropriate for how/where you use it, it also needs to be sized appropriately. JMO.
The problem with Dick’s
At least the one in my area. Their selection is limited and includes only low end boats. The sales staff is clueless. And the life jacket, paddle, etc. stock is also low end. So what, you say? Well there is a local store that carries a full range of merchandise. From a large collection of rec boats to high end sea kayaks. Paddles in a range of sizes and brands. Good life jackets. They also support and encourage lessons for beginners by arranging for lessons on a nearby lake and provide the equipment. So why would I go to Big Box Dick's?
When Dick’s was brought up on my thread a couple weeks ago, I did say I would be unlikely go there…
However, I wasn’t disparaging the quality of their merchandise or saying that I was above the level of kayaks they sell.
My issue was that every time I’ve gone to Dick’s, the people working there were not in the slightest knowledgable in any sort of outdoor gear, as opposed to REI, whose staff is always able to answer my myriad of questions.
If I do my research and find out that the boat I want is being sold at Dick’s for the right price, I won’t hesitate to get it there.
Just yesterday, I found myself with about 45 minutes to kill and a Dick’s was nearby, so I thought, “what the heck?” and went in to look at their selection. It was about what I expected, but just a little better. Mostly low-rec style yaks, and a few Old Town canoes, but nothing that appeared to suit my needs. And as I suspected, there was nobody staffing the outdoors department and if I needed any help, I would have had to get assistance from someone from shoes or clothing.
here we go again
Really, what is the point of these threads? If you want to make a point about Dick’s, be it for good or ill, then go ahead and do so, but I really don’t see the benefit in trying to pidgeonhole all paddlers into three neat categories and then assign them the “appropriate” type of boat. Reality is not that neat and tidy.
For instance, one big oversight with your system is that it ignores relatively novice paddlers who may not yet have the skills that you list in the “advanced” category, but have the desire and drive to achieve them. As long as there’s no deception involved (i.e. unscrupulous sales practices) I see nothing at all wrong with recommending more specialized kayaks to those sorts of paddlers, without the need for some sort of “starter” boat. Presumably they can then make their own decision based on individual finances, etc.
And as for the “couple of times a year” paddlers, do we really need to protect them against people telling them to buy $3,000+ kayaks? You’d have to be pretty daft not to understand that that would be a pretty bad return on investment. And heck, if someone really wants to spend that kind of money on a boat that they paddle twice a year, well, it’s their dime.
I have a Conduit, and I think it’s perfect for #2s.
is quite good. As was previously stated, probably every store in the chain is different. Mine has 13 and 14 foot boats, and the $99 Carlisle paddles, as well as decent (not amazing) PFD’s.
Also, it is the only place that i can find that is close to go to. I am sure there are better places.