First 'real' Kayak Advice

Hello all, thanks for taking the time to read my post and offer any advice you might have! I’ve paddled cheap recreational kayaks my entire childhood. I’ve now saved up money and am looking to buy a more quality, used touring kayak. My max budget is $1,500. I’ve read through a lot of the posts on here about first-time kayak suggestions. So I’ll try to include all the required information below…

My info:
-23-year-old male

  • 6ft tall
  • 160 pounds
  • Athletic/good cardiovascular shape
  • Good balance/core strength
  • Intermediate paddling skills (10+ years of kayaking rec boats in small/medium-sized lakes and rivers)

What I’m looking for in a kayak:
***Good initial stability> I’m into photography and would like to be able to take photos from the kayak.

  • Medium capacity> The kayak would mainly be used on day trips or single night camping trips. My current hiking backpack is 40L and holds all my gear for an overnight trip. Having a day hatch would be a bonus, but not a necessity.
  • Big water capability> A majority of my paddling will be on the great lakes. I don’t intend to go out in storms/big swell, but weather changes fast and I don’t want to be SOL if I’m caught in it.
  • Decent cruising speed> I realize I’ll most likely be sacrificing speed for initial stability in a kayak. However, I’d like to retain the ability to cruise at a decent pace (4mph? give or take).

One kayak that caught my eye so far is the QC500x. From reading reviews it seems to be a very stable boat, also capable of paddling in big water. It’s made in my home state(Wisconsin), so there are several used ones available for good deals locally. My concern with the 500x is that I am physically too small for it. I’ve read through the posts about them on here, which were from paddlers in the low 200’s bodyweight range and above. The resounding opinion seems to be that the boat handles best when it is sufficiently weighed down. I was wondering if anyone around my size has experience paddling one, and how it felt. I’d also love to hear suggestions from you guys/gals about any other kayaks that might fit my needs. Thanks again for reading and for any suggestions you might have!

Advice : DON’T DO IT ! It’s one more step down the rabbit hole.
I’ve enjoyed all of mine, even the missteps.


At 160 lbs, I’d be hesitant to look at MV and especially HV boats. As long as your feet fit you may be happier with a low volume (especially with your backpacking/light packing experience). Big water capability doesn’t necessarily mean a big volume boat.

Why settle for a used boat when about $1500 would come pretty close to getting you a brand new Current Designs Sirocco. The Sirocco isn’t just a good boat; it’s a great boat and will do it all… Get a white one. Treat it nice and it will last you a lifetime.

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At your size I would suggest you look at lower volume. I’m near your weight and paddle the smaller Dagger Alchemy and the smaller WS Tempest. Be ready to move the seat back some to accommodate your legs. Too much boat and you’re paddling a boat. When you get the volume right it’s more like you’re wearing the boat; more like an extension of your body. The 14 foot Daggers have been called “The Swiss army knife” of boats and I believe it. If you need more speed look for something 16 - 17 feet.

I looked up your QCC 500X. Looks like way too much boat for you. Too much boat on a windy day can be pretty miserable.

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I have a qcc 600 and I do feel like I’m not quite heavy enough for it when the winds kick up. I’m 140. At 5’6", my thighs hit the right spots on the top, I can brace well. So I can’t be too small. At 16 ft 8 in and 40 lb because I have the carbon fiber, it’s hard to battle the headwinds, but then again I’m not a very experienced kayaker and all that could be just a part of my sketchy technique. The 500 is a little smaller and should turn a little better. If you can get it for $500, jump in it and go.

As someone with a qcc 600x, tell me about it!

There is a list that ranks kayaks and canoes. It doesn’t include all the models, but it includes quite a few and has been really informative for me. I forget who posted it, but here’s the link: