First Kayak Purchase

I’ve been researching kayaks for the past few weeks and can’t seem to land on one to buy. I’m hoping someone here can provide some advice.

I’m in my thirties, am 6’2" tall, and weight 195 pounds. I plan to paddle mostly on lakes (small to large but no Great Lakes). I’m also looking for a versatile kayak that will grow with me as I gain more skills. I’ve been looking for mostly 12 to 14 foot kayaks. Have looked at the Venture Islay, Dagger Alchemy, WS Tsunami 14, Delta 12.10, and others of that ilk. Unfortunately, I don’t have the option of paddling any of these before making a purchase. I’m not opposed to a skeg, but have an unfounded preference for a boat without one (not sure why).

Really appreciate your advice. After renting cruddy kayaks for the past year or so, I’m looking forward to taking the plunge into this hobby.

At least 14’
At your size, I would definitely be looking at 14’ or even longer.

I don’t know what your budget is, but if you insist on no skeg, another one to look at is the Eddyline Equinox. Costs a bit more, but very high quality and it weighs substantially less than the other 14-footers you listed. Or the NC Escape or NC Excursion at 15’ – pricier still, but a very nice boat.

But why rule out a skeg? If you’re in calm conditions and don’t need it, fold it up and out of the way. But if you’re ever out in wind, and you will be, a properly trimmed skeg is a simple but very important tool for keeping your boat going where you want it.

Buy the Tsunami.
That was easy.

145 probably, 140 probably not

– Last Updated: Jun-27-16 11:56 PM EST –

The 140 is usually a hard fit for paddlers much over 6 foot, simply because there's not enough room in the foot and leg area. The 145 opens up a little length in the tracks and is a little deeper. It also has more capacity for a 195 pound paddler.

Similarly in the Alchemy series, the 145L would likely be fine, but the narrower, shallower 145S probably wouldn't.

Did not know that about the 140
Under 200 the 145 would be pretty loose and ride high. I’ve got one but luckily I’m fat.

My thinking is they are good boats to learn with and in 2 years he’ll have a clearer idea of what he needs. Even if test paddling isn’t an option it would be really advantageous to sit in your choices just to see if they fit.

I had a list when I first when shopping, agonized over the specs and reviews for weeks and weeks, then scratched half of them within 5 seconds of seat time on the floor of the store.

I’d go for 14’ minimum.

grow into
If you want a boat for lakes, even small ones and one to grow into as your skills progress I’d look at something at least 16’. Most sea kayaks are in the 16’ to 17’ range for a reason.

Bill H.

I have one. Bought it used and took out all that stiffening, whitewater hardware. You’ll be glad to have the skeg when the wind picks up.

Go with play potential
Get the Islay or Alchemy. Funner ride.

Skeg/rudder = same ends. Helps with tracking when you need it.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Thanks for the recommendations, everyone! Much appreciated. It sounds like I should rethink the skeg if I really want maximum versatility. That makes sense. I’ve got access to the Tsunami, Alchemy, and Venture, so will sit in those and make the call.

another vote for the Alchemy

– Last Updated: Jun-28-16 9:59 AM EST –

Fun boat that you can enjoy in large rivers as well.

Paddle with the skeg up to gain proficiency in using edging and paddle strokes to change direction. Once you have that part down, the skeg will be an added bonus.

I want one or a model like it myself. Here's some sales schlep:

are often cited as a “crutch” for inadequate technique, but can be of substantial benefit on open water crossings.

In a steady quartering wind, trimming the skeg to mitigate the weather-cocking tendency of longer boats will allow for more effort toward forward progress and less in corrective strokes.