Hey everyone, been lurking for a while and decided to post. I’m a first time kayak buyer, have a couple trips out in kayaks in the past and enjoyed myself, just never had the funds to buy my own boat until recently. Equinox is probably more boat than I need right off the bat but I want something I can grow into. Anyone discourage an Equinox as a first boat? Thanks!
It’s actually a fairly conservative beginner boat. I would not consider it something you would need to “grow into” since it is quite wide at 25" and has a somewhat oversized cockpit and no skeg or rudder. In fact, it is really not a full sea kayak due to those characteristics. If you intend to eventually do sea kayaking it would not be up to that challenge.
I know Eddylines are beautifully finished and designed kayaks but this one is more of a Dodge Dart than a Ferrari performance wise (I would classify the Eddyline Falcon 18 as a Ferrari among kayaks). Unless you feel you are going to limit yourself to casual day touring on moderate waters, the Equinox strikes me as a bit much to pay, kind of like a Mercedes minivan. There are cheaper rotomold boats with more range of use and with features that will enable better skill development (like bracing, sculling and rolling.)
Bottom line, I would discourage the equinox as a “first boat” not because it is “too much” for you performance wise, but because you will easily master it and may quickly get bored with it. That’s an expensive first mistake. Until you have some miles of paddling under your belt you won’t know exactly what you want your personal kayak to do – spending almost $2000 on a first boat with limited talents is highly risky.
Not knowing your body size I can’t tell you exact models but why don’t you check out the the Elie Strait series and the Venture Easky series – both are 40% cheaper than the Equinox (in fact, you can sometimes find one for under $800) and have more of a sea kayak design and features to them that will enable you to push your skills at a mid-range price. If you decide after having one of them that you want a more stable, wide and conservative open-cockpit boat, then by all means sell the first boat and spend the $2 grand on the Equinox. But I suspect you may prefer a faster and more versatile boat than the Equinox in the long run. Just one person’s opinion (my own first kayak had similar dimensions to the Equinox and I rapidly found it too slow and not as maneuverable as I wanted – much happier now with longer and narrower boats.)
maybe shop around some more…
I’m no expert, but the Equinox looks to me like a day-touring boat that’s priced like a full-on expedition/sea kayak, which to me seems like the worst of both worlds: A boat that you may eventually outgrow, but which is priced like one you won’t. =<br />
If you just want a good day-tourer, there are nice alternatives that are priced quite a bit more reasonably.
And if you really do want/need to spend $1800, there are more capable full-on expedition boats available in that price range that would be difficult to ever outgrow (but which may be tougher to learn skills in for some).
If you’re looking at Eddyline, I’d go for the nighthawk before the equinox. You’ll grow out of the Eqinox in one season. The nighhawk is longer, faster, more versitile as a day or weekend tripper. You can grow into it. Also maybe look at Fathom LV, depending on your height and weight.
Thanks for the suggestions. I should add that I’m shopping for used boats, if that makes an difference. I’m currently living in a condo, not much room to store a boat and would like to keep the length around 14 feet if possible. Living in the Seattle area, the Puget Sound and larger lakes in the area will be what I paddle most. I’d like to have something I can take up into the San Juan Islands for a day or two once I become a little more seasoned. I’m 5’8", right around 200 pounds so I’m fairly stout and I’m intrigued by boats with a somewhat larger cockpit. There is a Nighthawk (I assume 16 foot) for sale locally with a bunch of gear for $2,000 supposedly with a custom, large cockpit instead of the standard keyhole. I don’t know why but I’m hung up on the Eddyline boats, they seem to be very popular and are available on the used market. Keep the suggestions coming!
A given make of kayak will have a high presence in some regions due to long term relationships with dealers and/or proximity to the home plant (as much as any kayak gets made in a "plant" - it is more of a one by one thing). You are near where there will be a lot of Eddylines due to that. They make a good boat, but there are other reasons you are seeing a lot.
That means you are also near big water, as in the ocean, and are likely to want to paddle there. For that, especially if you would be paddling alone, you need to think about a boat with the following features: at least 2 sealed bulkheads one front one back, a full run of rope or static line around the edges of the boat (called perimeter rigging), a cockpit that affords you good contact for thighs to help control the boat and likely a skeg or rudder (unless your really want to add to your challenge in wind).
These are all basic safety and/or control features for a boat to go on the ocean with, or to learn those skills with. As said above, you are likely to be looking at something less than 25 inches wide to get this setup. That will feel unstable as heck to you at first, probably enough that you'll demo a boat like this and think what I just said is nuts. But it is what you need.
willowleaf has some good suggestions at the price point for this level boat. The other option is one of the true little sea kayaks like the Dagger Alchemy, and I think there is another one out there in plastic, which are not fast but are fantastically fun little boats that will do any skill you want.
I suspect your problem is going to be that any cockpit associated with a boat like I mention is going to feel alarmingly tight. You could work your way slowly thru this issue with demos and paid tours and hope you had things sussed in time to pick up a boat at fall prices, or you could spend some bucks now and get a couple of lessons to shorten that process.
One thing you may want to consider is a folder, like Feathercraft, which are perfectly capable sea kayaks but can be packed up. At some point you'd probably want a hard shell, but that would give you some seat time in a boat to make a better long term decision and fit in terms of storage.
I don't know if it'd fit in your apt, but I'd also suggest seeing if a used Necky Zoar Sport is around that you could sit in. We paddled with a guy who had similar dimensions to you a couple of weeks ago with Zoar Sport. After spending a little time showing him rescues and paddling after, I liked how comfortable he seemed in that boat. It may be more expensive than the Venture boats though.
It is a good boat
and may serve you well for the rest of your paddling life. Or it may not as you become more experienced and want to branch out into other areas or more adventureous sea kayaking, e.g. But it is certainly not a ‘wrong’ choice for a first boat, will serve you well, and as typical of Eddyline boats hold it’s value pretty well if you are buying it used. Their boats are all very well made, a fact that is recognized by knowledgeable boaters.
If you want something shorter with a larger sized cockpit and space for overnight camping, you may also conxider looking around for the discontinued Merlin XT. Since you are in prime Eddyline territory, there should be a few on the market from time to time. It is a decent daytripper, I like the roominess and hull design better than the Equinox, and it paddles a little more balanced to me without a skeg or rudder.
My first was a Necky Manitou 14
which is in the 14' x 24" range. I bought an Eddyline Fathom a few years later. I do not regret having bought a 14x24 roto to start with -- had tons of fun! Just my experience. Yes, you could get a less expensive "starter" than the Equinox. Only you know how much the thermoform/Eddyline is worth to you (looks, WEIGHT, personal preference). I did see in a review of the Equinox that some folks felt their knees were too low, so I think you would want to check that out for yourself for sure. Note: I am not an ocean paddler so I can't speak to some of the points Celia made, but if I were you I would consider them seriously. If the $$$ is not a problem, being in Eddyline country, you should be able to demo other boats of theirs. As suggested, you might spend some time in other boats to see if an early preference for a wider boat continues for you (but don't wait TOO long to get a boat of your own if it would get you on the water more!). I have no experience with the other alternative boats that have been suggested that might be better starters, so I can't speak to that. -- Just some thoughts, some probably contradictory! (but hopefully helpful in some way).
Edited to put "weight" in capital letters above :-)
Now that I’ve heard more about your size, location and storage challenges, I agree with Celia. Look at the Feathercraft Big Kahuna with rudder or the K-1 Expedition.
The Big Kahuna weighs around 40 lbs and folds down into a duffel bag. It has an oversized cockpit for larger paddlers (the same size as in the K-1) but at 14’ 9" and 24" width it behaves very well in the sea. In fact, a folding kayak feels great in rough water, absorbing the force of waves instead of fighting them. There have been major ocean crossings in Feathercrafts yet they are enjoyable boats for casual day outings. The inflatable seats are divine. My first sea kayak was a regular Kahuna (same boat with smaller cockpit and a small skeg rather than rudder.) A new one is around $4,000 but you may be able to find one for closer to $2,000. The K-1 is a more substantial boat at 16’ plus – heavier but it is faster though harder to set up (45 minutes versus 20 or 30 for the Kahuna) and runs about $5,000 new.
If can’t find any locally, you can arrange a day trip up to Vancouver to the Feathercraft factory shop right on Granville island. If you call ahead they may loan you one to paddle around False Creek inlet right there beside the shop. I test paddled the Wisper I have now out there 2 years ago before buying one. Super nice people and wonderful products. I have owned both a Kahuna and a K-1 in the past. Sold them to get the Wisper which for me combined the best features of the other two (Wisper is too small for you.)
Feathercrafts maintain their resale value if well cared for (if you find a used one make sure you see it folded down as well as set up because failure to lube and clean the aluminum frame joints can cause them to weld together.)
In fact, though I currently own or co-own 7 different touring and sea kayaks, if I was only to have ONE kayak it would always be a Feathercraft. Seaworthy, high quality, comfortable, ultra light and I can take it as checked baggage anywhere in the world and store it in a closet.
Big Kahuna in BC
There’s one for sale in Whistler, BC, on Craigslist:
$3000 is a little steep but it seems to be well-outfitted and not much used.
Also saw a an older K-1 for sale in Seattle for $1,000 on CL. It needs a seat but Feathercraft still stocks all the old parts – the newer seats are better anyway and should fit the frame. Could have unseen problems (like locked up frame) but might be worth looking at. My K-1 was a 1995, similar to that one – they are a little challenging to assemble but really rugged boats
I don’t recommend the Equinox
Eddylines makes great kayaks, but I don’t recommend the Equinox for the needs you describe. The Equinox is a solid recreational kayak, but the conditions and use you’re describing are a step above that.
Any Eddyline experts feel free to correct the following comments on hull shapes if they’re incorrect.
To the best of my knowledge, Eddyline has two basic hull designs. The Equinox, Journey, and Fathom are the newer design, with a SHALLOW V. The Merlin and, I believe, the Nighthawk have the old design, which is a DEEP V. The deep V is not a hull shape for a beginner due to lower stability. The shallow V is much more stable for a beginner.
So I advise you to look at the new Eddylines and skip the Merlin and the Nighthawk.
At your weight you’re right, you need a larger cockpit. That rules out the Fathom and narrows you down to the Journey and the Equinox. Between those two, the Journey is clearly the better performer, being narrower and considerably faster than the Equinox. The Equinox handles like a typcal recreational boat—bulky and slow compared to the Journey.
If 14’ is important to you, there are other 14’ kayaks that paddle better than the Equinox. But if you’re looking for more performance, I strongly recommend the Eddyline Journey. The cockpit should fit you well at 18.5" x 35. You will quickly adapt to the stability. Question is only whether you have the room to store a 15.5’ kayak.
Go try the Nighthawk to see what you think of it. But I wonder if you have the skill to test it in rough water, which would be the only way to get an understanding of its stability and handling.
Heed the stability ratings at the Eddyline website and take them with a grain of salt. When they say “medium,” realize that that’s not a beginner’s kayak. The Journey is rated as high stability and that is accurate. The Merlin, with the deep V, has been discontinued, due to (I’m told) poor stability.
Keep looking for used, especially on Craigslist. $2000 is too much to pay for a used Eddyline. Should be between $800 and $1500. A friend just got a used Journey off Craigslist for $550. Kayaks go on sale in the fall and a new Journey or a demo might be had for around $1800 then. Save some money for a good paddle.
What does this advertiser mean by “custom large cockpit”? That sounds dubious. Maybe he means he ordered it without the thigh braces, which Eddyline does do. That makes it easier to enter and exit. You can cut the thigh braces out of a used boat if they bother you. Otherwise they are useful to have.
Eddyline makes very nice boats and the Equinox is a fine choice for a first boat. I had one as my first serious kayak and it served me well for two years. There are some limitations. While the boat is equipped like a sea kayak with hatches and peripheral lines, it really is a high end rec boat. Having said that I was completely comfortable with waves breaking over the bow and washing over the spray skirt and I know folks that use them all the time in the ocean on long hauls and keep up with the group. They are costly as a rec boat, but what no one has mentioned is the weight advantage. At 45 lbs. they are 10 to 15 lbs lighter then many equivalent rotomold boats. While this does not matter on the water it might make the difference of your being comfortably able to get it to and from the water. The boat tracks like a bullet. Nice on the ocean but it cuts your ability to turn - there is no need for a skeg or rudder.
If you want a top end rec boat and the coin is not an issue, the Equinox is an excellent choice. I swapped mine after two years because I wanted something that was faster and could roll and turn - a bigger challenge than the Equinox. It was a great learner and could serve you forever, or your could outgrow it.
keep em coming!
The Equinox I found has only been in the water half a dozen times the advertiser says and it comes with a Werner Shuna paddle, paddle float, bilge pump, etc. for $1700. I might add that I don’t plan on open water travel but maybe a couple times per year, mostly large lakes and the sound. Maybe for those seldom trips I could neutral rent a boat? Thanks for the opinions, keep them coming!
Puget Sound IS serious open water. Not the place I would take a rec boat, even one as nice as the Equinox. Considering where you live I think you need to allow for eventually being tempted further off shore.
Dagger Alchemy a good choice for where I’m at? I may be able to store a 16 foot boat if absolutely necessary to satisfy the need I would just prefer to stick with 14 if I can get away with it. I like the Feathercraft idea but cost is a huge factor, I’m trying to get boat and gear for $2,000 or less. Also, I would like to grab the boat a couple times per week after work and would prefer to not have to assemble it multiple times in a single week. Wish the Journey wasn’t so spendy, can’t swing a new one
Alchemy would do fine, but…
Look at some of the other threads - a true little sea kayak with all the safety features.
That said, if willowleaf says that the Puget Sound is BIG water there’s a lot more to the paddler side than you seem to know now. Like solid skills in bigger waves, self-rescue including at least trying for a roll etc. You really need to incorporate some kind of work to learn this stuff - as in lessons - as well as a decent skirt and other gear if you want to make that a regular event. Or find others who can bail you out of trouble o paddle with.
Check out the Nifty 430. 14’ by 24". They’re surprisingly well-made, well-designed, and good quality for the price. New they’re about $1000. It has a huge cockpit, is very stable. It can edge quite well, so you can develop more advanced skills in it. It has sealed bulkheads, good deck rigging, and foil-shaped rudder with gas pedal-type foot petals, thigh braces. The plastic is thick and overall construction seems tough. It’s playful and can catch downwind waves fairly well.
The downsides are that it’s heavy (thicker plastic) and slow (as any 14’ x 24" kayak will be).
Huge cockpit can be a problem
It can let in enough water to really destabilize you if a nylon skirt gets collapsed by waves, or you pay a bunch for a neoprene skirt that may be tough to pull off.
"The downsides are that it’s heavy (thicker plastic) and slow (as any 14’ x 24" kayak will be)."
At 58 lbs the Nifty 430 is unusually heavy.
There are quite a few exceptions to a 14’ x 24" kayak being slow. For example, the Current Designs Kestrel 140 in TCS has great glide and yet is a whopping 26" wide. The original Old Town Cayuga 140 (24" wide) in Polylink 3 had great handling qualities. I haven’t paddled the Current Designs Vision 140 (24" wide) but I suspect it’s another example of a 14x24 that has good speed. I bet there are many more examples of good kayaks in this length and width. In fact 14’ x 24" is a great beginner to intermediate size and can have good speed if well designed.
Sidenote: This is a terrific forum
To be OT for just a second: This is a pretty terrific forum. Lots of ppl with lots of knowledge, and willing to SHARE it. :)
This contrasts with other kayaking forums I've been on (*cough* SeaKayaker Magazine *cough cough*), where, with a few notable exceptions, it seems like most folks are lurkers, not posters.
Kudos to paddling.net and the ppl here! =]