difficulty choosing new kayak

Hello all, I am a total beginner and am trying to decide on my first kayak. I am 6’3" and currently weigh 215lbs. (going down!). I have a 34inch inseam.

My intended uses would be rivers (not whitewater), lakes and possibly shore use. I do not want to trailer it, preferring to put on top of my Subaru Forrester. Given these criteria, I have narrowed the search down to the Feelfree Nomad and the Cobra Navigator. Price seems to be withing $100. I would love input from anyone with experience with these models, thanks!

Choosing between 2 SOTs
I’d suggest that you post your inquiry at the SOT website Topkayaker.net where you may find more folks with some familiarity and or experience with the two boats you’ve mentioned.

Personally, I’ve been SOT kayaking for about 4 years and have no familiarity with the Feel Free Nomad other than seeing the everpresent adds on Ebay. On the other hand I’ve briefly paddled a Cobra Navigator. I wasn’t too impressed but that’s probably just my personal preferences/predudices working. I’m primarily a salt water paddle and tend to prefer a SOT that is longer and skinnier than what is typically made and marketed. (BTW for reference I’m 6’1", 190, 33" inseam)

Before you make up your mind take a look at the SeaDarts by Heritage, the Tarpons by Wilderness Systems, and the Scupper Pros and Prowlers by Ocean Kayak.

If possible try before you buy after all YOU have to feel comfortable with your choice.

Dagger Charleston 14
If you can find a Dagger Charleston 14 or 15 used or leftover from last year this sit in will do it all and you will fit effortlessly. Impala Bob

Rent First
Whenever possible rent to buy.

I hope you’re right about the
Charleston. I put money down on a left over 2004 at a local shop. It fit great on the store floor, just have no opportunity to test paddle since its more of a retail chain than specialty shop. I realize the benefits of test paddling and visiting a paddle shop for advice. I will be learly about my choice until I get it in the water, but I am relying on reports from this website that it will do fairly well what I want it for. I would not recommend going this route since it is a lot of money to spend. But again, this will be my third kayak in a year and I am still a beginner, so chances are you will move up to a different boat soon enough…unless of coarse you go “big” right off the bat if you can afford it and grow into a challenging boat.

Good luck.

You’re not alone
FYI, I think you’ll have the same difficulty choosing a kayak when you’re a seasoned professional. Keep open to other models in your research, try before you buy if possible, and don’t imagine that your next boat is your last boat.

A plug for a Tarpon.Pick your length.

intended uses
Thank you all for the helpful suggestions. I am definitely looking for a SOT, and probably a smaller one, 13’ or smaller. I may fish a lake occasionally, but mostly this is for fun, exercise and exploring. It must be easy to maneuver. This will be my first kayak, so it needs to be versatile and also easy and fun to learn. Also, cost is a concern, my total layout for this first purchase is limited to around $700 including paddle and PFD. The Cobra Navigator is looking good due to it’s size and storage while remaining not too big. Again, mostly it will be used on rivers (not whitewater) and lakes and the Massachusetts shore. Are there any known drawbacks or better performing and or priced units given my criteria? Thanks again.

BTW, I am being quoted $599 for the kayak, padded seat and paddle, hatches are extra. This is from a local shop and seems fair. I would only need to buy the PFD to drop it in the water.

Sit on Top Kayaks
I would advise against the Navigator for your intended use. Its not a bad kayak, but its an older design and with your height and weight will be a little tippy. It doesn’t have very good secondary stability and is rather slow compared to the Tarpons and Prowlers in its size class.

In case you think I may be biased against Cobra, that couldn’t be further from the truth as I own a Tourer and I love it (except for the hull slap). If you do some research over at kayakfishingstuff.com which is primarily a sit on top fishing site, they have lots of info and practical advice.

The Navigator is on the low end of the spectrum in regards to speed and stability. If I might suggest a kayak which would fit your criteria and might save you some money too if you look around for the right price, it would be the Ocean Kayak Caper. It is also light like the Navigator, but has it beat for speed, stability and storage is not bad. I rented one last summer and was very impressed. It would also handle your size very well.

3 other sit on top yaks I’d recommend near that size range - Tarpon 100, Tarpon 120, and the Prowler 130. Get over to kayakfishingstuff and ask some questions on the “Choosing a Fishing Kayak” forum. You’ll get lots of good advice from some seasoned sit on toppers. Good luck!

Tarpon 120
After further examining your recommended looks, the Tarpon 120 is very intriguing! Can anyone suggest a fair price for a new one?

Tarpon 120
The Tarpon 120 is a very popular yak and is a good versatile all around performer, enough speed and stability to take it into rougher saltwater conditions, and small enough and maneuverable enough for river use. About 2 years ago when it came out, it was the hot sit on top “yak of the year” (unofficial). Its still maintained its popularity because its proven itself. I think it would be a good choice for you. They usually run about $599 new, but if you shop around you might be able to get a reasonable discount. Many have said for a SOT, you can’t go wrong with a Tarpon 120…