First kayak

Hello! I am purchasing two kayaks as a Christmas gift for my husband and I. We enjoy camping but have limited time off together. So, the main purpose of these kayaks would be for some lake trips on the weekend and maybe one or two multi day camping trips. I do not want the very beginner kayak as we have been in kayaks and canoes before and I think it will be a waste of money just to upgrade in a year or two. We are in the Kansas City area and hope to take it to area lakes, parts of the Colorado river in Utah, and maybe some lakes in Colorado, so we will need somewhat of a dynamic kayak, but no rapids yet.

Right now, I am looking at the 12’ Perception Carolina that weighs 53 for my husband, who is 200 pounds and 6’1" tall. For myself, I am considering the 12’ Tribute that weighs 42, and I am 5’2" weighing 135 pounds. My main question is: since he weighs 70 pounds more than I, would it be a bad decision to get him a heavier kayak? I do not want to be way ahead of him. Will these models be able to do lakes and swiftly moving currents?

I would appreciate any other opinions or info regarding this purchase that anyone may be willing to offer. Would I be better off just getting the same model kayaks?

Thank you for all of your help!

How much money are you prepared to spend? You say you don;‘t want to upgrade right away; if you’re like the rest of us, 12’ boats will not do the trick for very long.

First, no you and your husband are two very different sizes, should not have the same boat.

Second, neither of these boats are going to do well if by swiftly moving water you mean rated whitewater. Survive in class 1 or light 2, do well no.

I really suggest that your first purchase be a class in basic paddling and on-water rescues, then decide what boat. You are in an advantaged situation with two of you paddling together. Find out how that help in handling issues, that will be the single best thing you can do to get the right boat. It sounds like your experience has been in 10 ft pumpkinseed boats. That by itself is not helpful in figuring out how to choose a more serious boat.

Over in the get together and paddle section / board there are three lines discussing a paddle club (s) in the KC area. What do they paddle? Have you paddled with them? They will know what works in KC. We are wonderful people but most of us are 1,000 +/- away from you. You need some contacts in your local community.

I will not want to spend more than $1000 per kayak. So you are suggesting that I look at 14’?

Compromises in kayak design are such that touring kayaks - long and skinny that track well and are quite fast - and river/whitewater boats - short and squat that need to turn easily and rely on current for locomotion - are very different animals.

I would second the advice here that you hook up with a local paddle shop or club and take a lesson or two first, but with your differences in sizes I think you should be looking at a woman specific low volume boat and your husband at a medium or even high volume boat. Better boats are designed for specific sizes of paddlers.

@Aroot said:
So you are suggesting that I look at 14’?

Jumping on the band wagon - the suggestion isn’t for a certain size boat, but to hold off on buying boats right away and instead take a class. This will help you learn what features and designs work for you and your husband. This may make it hard to buy these as surprise gifts, but given the chance of not getting it right the first time and the desire to not have to upgrade in near future, it seems to make a lot of sense. After the class, maybe also rent or demo boats until you find the ones that work.

Now a few things related to your basic query:

  • weight of boat mostly impacts off water, but has very little impact on-water (about all is a small amount of acceleration difference, lighter being better - but this is only rally important to those pushing the limits of the boats, such as racers). So the fact that your husband’s boat would be heavier than yours doesn’t mean anything, so long as you can get it on your car and carry it around (and there are ways to help do that, should the boat be too heavy to carry - like dollies/carts).

  • length of boat - in general the longer the boat, the faster and more straight it paddles. If you are going long distances, a long boat is very useful. But longer boats are harder to transport and store. Derek Hutchisen, one of the first to writes books on sea kayaking, was once asked what the perfect length was for a sea kayak, and he said 16 feet. When they then asked why, he said that was because his garage was 16.5 feet long, so that was the largest he could store. Now, it sounds like you aren’t doing large open water areas, and if the type of paddling you are thinking of is gunkholing (poking into narrow channels and creeks to explore), a shorter boat to allow you to navigate the tighter conditions may make sense. But this goes back to you deciding what makes sense for you, which is why we suggest the class.

  • You and he having different weights will require different boats. To keep a person afloat requires displacing water. if you and he used the same boats, his boat would sit much lower in the water. Chances are one of you would not be at the efficient amount of displacement for the boat. So likely he will end up in a boat that is either longer or wider than you.