First Kayak

I went out and rented kayaks with my dad the other week and fell in love with it. We had rented Pelican Trailblazer100’s which seemed to be okay, though after a couple of hours my lower back was hurting pretty badly. I’m a 6’6" guy, thin build, and seemed to fit alright in the kayak though.

Needless to say, I’m looking at buying my first kayak now. I’ve settled on two that I could pick up at Dick’s Sporting Goods and am just looking for any recommendations on which way you would lean.

First is the Old Town Trip10 Angler

Second is the Perception Swifty Deluxe 9.5

I’ve read the reviews, researched what others are rating them, and today I’m going to go and sit in them to see how they feel. Say everything feels great in both of them, which would you choose? They’re going to be used mainly in slow moving creeks, rivers, and lakes here in Louisville, KY.

Thanks in advance.

Reason for 10’
Is there a reason, other than price, that you’re looking at 10’ kayaks that are little more than a pool toy especially for someone your size?

Did you try adjusting…
…the footpegs in the Trailblazer when your back started hurting? That might have given you some relief from the back pain. I’m no expert, being new to kayaking myself, but I think you might want to go with something a little longer than the Swifty because of your height. I know the experts here will have lots of suggestions on what boat to get. (Don’t be surprised if they warn you away from box store boat purchases. Some experts here loathe inexpensive kayaks.)

I have a Trailblazer 100 and love it. I suffer from sciatica and have had no problem with it when using the Trailblazer, (but I am also much shorter than you (5’5")) even when paddling three or four hours.

I understand the Old Town Dirigo and Wilderness Systems kayaks have really excellent and comfortable seats, but have not had the opportunity to try them myself (yet). More money, and heavier, but quality quiet water boats.

Price is a big factor, I’m on a college budget. Space is another huge factor. I was originally looking at 12’ until I stood next to some and realized how massive they are. A 10’ I could see hanging in my apartment, a 12’ might be a little too much.

Right now I’m just going for one that I’ll be able to easily take out once or twice a week just for fun, not looking for a huge investment. In a year I’ll be moving next to the ocean for grad school and will likely be in the market for a sea kayak then anyways, this is just to hold me over.

What she said
Landlockedmaiden couldn’t have said it more succinctly, but, I’ll try. Look at a lot more boats–especially longer ones. You’ll save money in the long run. The difference is enormous.

Then there’s the paddle, etc.

Sounds like you have given it some thought.

I started with an 11’ SOT because I wanted to store it indoors. That plan soon became a PITA and it was fine until I started paddling with a club and quickly found out that longer kayaks were much faster. I got a sea kayak but still kept the SOT for solo exercise.

Good luck on your journey.

Old Town
Being from Maine, I’ll always tell you to go with an Old Town anything. :wink:

consider inflatables

– Last Updated: Jul-29-15 12:50 PM EST –

With storage an issue you might want to look into inflatables. There are some reasonable midpriced ones (not the cheapies, which are little more than kiddie toys.) Advanced Elements, Innova and Aquaglide all make nicely designed inflatables, many of which can be used on mild whitewater as well as flatwater streams and lakes. In many ways they are safer and more versatile than the basic plastic "rec" kayaks you are looking at. A drawback to the plastic sit inside kayaks is that if you swamp they will sink like a stone unless you have placed inflatable flotation bags in the front and rear. If you capsize without those you will not be able to empty your boat and get back in it without swimming it back to shore.

We all know how much fun kayaking is and understand the urgency that folks feel in wanting to get a new boat as soon as possible, but if you do a little research and consider your options you can make a more informed decision and get a boat that will serve your best interests. As has been mentioned, you will also need to invest in a paddle and that is something that you should spend as much as you can on. A cheap heavy paddle can really limit your enjoyment of the sport -- after all, the paddle (and you) are the "engine" of the boat. You are also required in virtually all states to have a PFD (life vest) and the $15 orange horse collars ones are not suitable for kayaking. Minimum cost for a decent PFD is around $40 or $50, though this time of year you can find some deals on sale.

Speaking of deals, what we usually suggest for beginners is to look on your local Craigslist for used boats. Kayaks don't wear out and you can get a much better bang for your buck if you buy used, and the sellers often throw in the paddle and PFD.

You need to take the user reviews of boat models with a grain of salt -- even on here. For most people (yourself included) the first outing in a kayak is exhilarating and so everybody thinks the first kayak they have is the bomb, even if it is a slow, clunky thing. With nothing to compare it to, first buyers tend to rave and rate their $199 Wally World special as a 10 out of 10. Keep that in mind when you read reviews.

While there is no doubt you could have fun with a 10' cheap kayak for a while, you'd be better informed as to if that is what you really want if you can take some time to research some more. Check and see if there are actual kayak dealers in your area (not just the big box stores -- there are better sources than Dick's). Many real kayak outfitters will offer some sort of on the water demos where you can compare models and see how they actually feel in action. The performance differences and comfort range of kayaks is really vast. You also might be able to check out inflatables, which can be a great option for apartment dwellers and students.

Get the cheapest
What ever gets you on the water will work.

If you get hooked you’ll be upgrading later.

For what it is worth, my wife and I started with Perception Keowees which were the first of the little Swifties.

That was 20 years ago, and we now have long skinny sea kayaks, but we still use our little 9’-5" Perceptions in white water with skirts

Jack L

Buy A Book On Paddling Techniques
Your technique is probably want caused your backache.

Have fun with your kayak. I’ve seen big guys with small vehicles having a great time with their small kayaks. You’ll know if and when you want to move on to a bigger boat. Trust your instincts.

I kept my Swifties
I have a whole fleet of crossover and sea kayaks but I kept the two Swifties I bought early on.

As long as you realize you’re buying a low end starter boat and stick to the waters they were designed for.

Ignore all the reviews. You will be writing your own a week after you buy the boat and , honestly, how useful will that be to anyone?

Old Town Vapor
While it would be great to have a bigger and nicer kayak, I understand a college budget. I have two kids, so my budget in many ways for fun feels even tighter than a college budget. I purchased an Old Town Vapor this year for a first kayak. While not a longer touring model I have tried and would love, it was affordable, fits in my garage around the kids stuff, and lets me get out on the water (lakes and rivers) once or twice a week. I am 6ft 2 in and 220lbs and the Vapor has been a great fit for me. Comfortable, tracks fairly true, and can handle some waves or just cruise on flat water. Look at it over the Angler, usually you can get it for $100 or more cheaper and you can outfit just like the Angler minus the hatch on the back for under $50. Almost the same kayak, just minus the hatch, rod holders, ancher trolley, and bungee cords.

Good luck in your decision. Let me know if you have more questions about the Vapor or how to outfit.

Happy paddling!

No Need to Buy a Book…

he’s a on a tight budget, and lacks storage space. Just go on Youtube and you can find all sorts of paddling tutorials. Some are even from this very site!

your budget
Since your budget is tight, go to a rental place and purchase one of their one year old yaks. You’ll pay half the price and it will be as good as new. Then, you can upgrade to a much better seat.

When sitting in the yak, don’t scoot your bottom forward and lean back. That will give you a backache in no time. Scoot your rear all the way to the back of the seat. This will force you to sit up straight, which is better for the back. Be sure to keep your knees bent.