First Kayak: Otter vs. Streak

-- Last Updated: Oct-23-05 8:31 PM EST --

Hello to everyone, I just found this site while researching my impending kayak purchase and I have learned a lot so far. Anyways, my question is which kayak would you recommend as a good first kayak, the Old Town Otter or Mainstream Streak. Through my work at Gander Mountain I get a nice deal on either of these kayaks, to where they are about the same price. I'm getting two kayaks, one for myself and one fore my girlfriend. I have limited kayaking experience and she has none. Also I would say we'll get out a few times a month with them. I like the Streak a bit better just from the features it has, such as bow rigging, a nicer seat, dual tracking channels on the bottom, and adjustable footbraces. However, I seem to hear/read a lot more about the Otter than the Streak. Well, I just wanted to get a few more opinions before making my decision. Also if you guys would recommend any other kayaks, I have a limit of $250-300 per yak. Thanks for any help you can provide.


Get the Otter. Its better built in my
opinion. As for the rigging, you can do that yourself. Be sure to get good personal flotation devices (pfd’s, or life jackets as they’re also known) and consider getting floatation bags. Better yet, save your money and get a Loon.

Try them both…
…if you can.

That way you can probably decide which handles better and is more suited for you.

Remember looks can be deceiving.



Where will you be paddling?
If in bigger water, you may want to move up in length from either of these boats.

Foot Braces
If you get an Otter either get the up graded one with the foot braces or have them installed in your boats. They make a big difference and are not standard in Otters. Not sure about the other boat you mentioned.

Lakes and slow rivers
I will primarily be using the kayaks in the rivers around where I live (near Dayton, Ohio). The Great Miami, Stillwater, and Mad Rivers are all pretty docile with only a few tricky spots, so I don’t think the kayaks will be overmatched.

Experiences with Mainstream?
Also, what do you guys think of Mainstream in general. Old Town seems to be a much bigger name in kayaks, so if you have any positive or negative opinions of Mainstream, I’d love to hear them.

My experience with Old Town
I have an Old Town Rush which is just the next step up from the Otter. I don’t know anything about the other brand.

the Rush is the exact same length as the Otter, 9’6". I have foot pegs and some bungee rigging.

I had that boat out every day for exercising and very quickly surpassed it’s capabilities. It does not take long at all.

The boat is 27 or 28 inches wide and to me feels like a barge now. I couldn’t turn it over unless I really tried.

The plastic is strong and stiff, and this may be one of the most compelling reasons to go with Old Town as it just feels much stronger than other plastic boats in that range.

It all depends on what you want to do and the toughest thing is projecting where you think you may be with the sport a couple of months from now. I outgrew the Rush in about three weeks. But before I bought it I didn’t think I would ever need more than that. I didn’t want to look at other boats that were longer because it would be difficult to get them on the car, were heavy, and I just didn’t see myself in that category.

A month later I was paddling a Tempest 17 foot sea kayak and as happy as I could be…well I am looking at a couple of other boats like a 14 foot sit on top for the wife and a Greenland style boat for me. And a skin on frame, and a wooden kit boat, …sigh…you sure you want to get into this…I guarantee you wil get bitten by the bug.

Ok after that long winded post, my advice to you is to go used, spend your money on top quality flotation devices for yourself and your family, if you do get a boat without compartments (bulkheads and hatches) please please put flotation bags in the boat…cost very little comparatively and will allow the boat to stay on top of the water sufficiently for you to self rescue.

Or, again as you assess what you ultimately want out of a boat, you could research, rent and demo as much as you can, and skip that first rec boat step that all the manufacturers love to have you spend your initial dollars on and maybe upgrade to a boat that has some significant safety features like flotation compartments and deck rigging.

As I write this I look up and see the rush hanging on the ceiling in my garage collecting dust. I think I will take it to my brother in NC next week.

Just my 2 cents.


Time & Money both in short supply
I’m not too concerned about outgrowing either of these kayaks in the near future. I go to college full time as well as working 35+ hours week at my job, so I don’t think I’ll have that much time to outgrow them in the next year or two. Aside from that though, I simply don’t have enough money to upgrade past these entry level rec. kayaks. I’m sure once I graduate I’ll upgrade to something better, but for the next 1-2 years, I think these will do fine.

check around.
but your choice. have fun and be safe.


was my first kayak and I still have it. Now use it for river trash pick up and letting first timers paddle.

I bought the ol’ Standard model, added foot pegs, bungee cords on the front deck and a small hatch on the rear deck.

Good stable craft that is like a Timex - “Takes a lickin’and keeps on tickin’.” Do not know anything about the other craft.

Stay safe on the water

OT Rush
Actually, I just found out that due to a price break, I can afford to get an OT Rush. Since it is basically an all around improved Otter, I think it should do just fine. I can only afford one Rush though, so I think an Otter will be my other purchase.

first yaks
I just bought a Riot Stealth (12’-6") and Necky Santa Cruze (12’-X") a month or two ago. I take the Riot out and my wife and cousin use the Necky. They are both fun and work well for paddling briskly on smaller rivers and decent sized creeks. I got the boats for exercise and I have been using them about three times a week for 45 minutes to an hour at a time. My wife really liked the Necky and so did my cousin. For their first times in a kayak they did very well and had fun paddling around in flat water. No wet exits or anything. :smiley:

Good luck with your purchase(s). They’re a lot of fun, and like said before you can find great deals on good used boats instead of buying new. I’ll likely buy a used longer(~16’) higher speed boat in the future for bigger water.

oh yeah…
Dave at D&D Outfitters in Cincinnati has been very helpful in answering questions and helping to pick out good gear like snapdragon skirts. I noticed you were in Ohio, so I thought I would add that in. Happy paddling…