First Kayak Suggestions


I’m looking to purchase my first kayak. I’ve been going kayaking on a regular basis for a couple years and borrowing friends’ kayaks. I’m ready to buy my own and was hoping for some advice.

I’m mainly looking for suggestions as to the best size and hull shape for my needs rather than specific models. But some specific model suggestions would be good too, it would give me an idea what to look for.

My budget is around $300 new or used. I’m located in the midwest and generally kayak on lakes and in creeks and small rivers. I don’t have any plans to take this kayak on long trips, I mostly just spend 4-6 hours at a time on the water. I weigh about 160lbs and am about 5’10”.

I’d like a sit in kayak and will mostly be using it for paddling around the local lakes and rivers. I also plan to do some fishing out of this kayak. I don’t need something geared entirely toward fishing, but rod holders would be extremely nice.

Overall, I’m just looking for a good kayak to fish and paddle around in. I’m thinking something 11 or 12 feet long and with a flare hull and medium rocker. I’ve never bought a kayak before, so I could be way off base here.

What would you guys recommend for my needs? I’m looking for suggestions as to length and the type of kayak I should look for, but it’d also be good to know brands to avoid or keep an eye out for.


With your budget…
you will have to look for something used and then you won’t find too much in a decent length.

Jack L

what have you paddled?
What boats did you paddle? Basically, there are many boats that could work fine for you, so knowing what you paddled would let us say that they would be fine and/or if you considered such and such a change you might enjoy the experience more.

On the whole, longer (and narrower) means faster and easier to paddle, but more expensive.

Jack is quite right - your budget will be your major limiting factor. For sit insides, you are likely only going to find used recreational boats (or new very low end recreational boats). Anything in the touring or day touring category would be more expensive.

Kayak to purchase
The very best thing for you to do is to keep track of the kayaks you have been in and purchase the one you like the most. You have one responder who is absolutely corect in the assessment of your finances - You dont have alot to spend on a boat and used boats can be great or they can have issues. Be certain to try out a boat before you buy it to determine the issues. Your best bet is Cl or to purchase a boat from a dealer or rafting guide service who sells bats used every year. Good luck I hope you find something awesome

consider an old whitewater K-1
Back in the early 1990s there were lots of whitewater kayaks in the 10.5 - 11.5 ft length range and a lot of them are still around. Many of the people who boated whitewater back then don’t anymore and eventually sell off all their stuff at a low price.

I have often seen an old school whitewater K-1, paddle, sprayskirt, and sometimes PFD sold as a package at $300 or less.

Some of these older, longer, narrower whitewater boats are considerably more efficient to paddle than the typical “pumpkin seed” recreational kayak. Some models to look for would be a Dagger Reflection, Dagger AQII, Dagger Animas, Dagger Crossfire, Perception Pirouette, Perception Corsica, Prijon T-Slalom or Prijon T-Canyon.

You would probably have to add some deck rigging to make them suitable for fishing, however.

Thanks everyone for the advice.

Currently I have only used two kayaks. The one I’ve used most is a Patomac ES 100. The other I’m not sure the exact model. It’s a couple feet longer than the Patomac and a little narrower.

The longer kayak is considerably heavier and didn’t feel any easier to paddle. It could be that it’s just a lower quality kayak. The patomac is ok. It’s fairly comfortable, but doesn’t feel like it maintains a straight line easily. It also has a low amount of storage.

I was looking at a few kayaks at a local store and saw a couple perception models around $300. One was a sport rhythm 10. Would that be a good choice? I’ve also seen a few Field and Stream kayaks on sale within my price range.

Local stores
A local store in my area posted this which you may find useful:

In addition, some stores also take trades on kayaks when folks are upgrading, giving you other options with knowledgeable staff that can help. Local for sale ads and CL are good if you know what you are looking for/at, but you could also end up with junk. Good used kayaks at a fair price go quickly at our local store, so the inventory changes frequently. Here is the current inventory of used from the same store: