The quick story…I’m in the market for my first kayak to own. I’ve been out several times over the years, taken classes, rented boats, etc. I would consider myself an intermediate. I live in coastal South Carolina so a lot of my time will be spent in coastal waters (NOT ocean surf) but tidal areas with currents. I travel a good bit so lakes and slow-moving rivers will also be in the mix. An avid backpacker, I’m looking forward to taking my gear out in my kayak for some overnight trips as well.
Unfortunately, I’m looking for a unicorn. I want a boat that will be adaptable to the conditions I listed above. While I would love a portfolio of boats, that’s not realistic and I need to work with one! I am always solo so need a boat that I can manage on my own (cartopping, getting to/from launch sites etc). I would like to keep the length to 12’-6" max for that reason and that’s also about the max that I can fit in my garage. I’m late 30s, decently fit (5’-6" and 145lbs). I have a Showboat to help load the kayak onto my Outback, but I would still like to keep the weight in the 50lb range. I want bow and stern bulkheads (possible overnight trips). Also, need something sturdy as our creeks are FILLED with oyster beds. I am lucky enough to have a dock on a creek, so I will be dock launching as well as shore launching. I’d like to keep the price under $1600, but if I’m really wowed by something, that could be flexible.
I’ve so far found four options, but none of them are perfect (oh the sorrow! haha). I’d love to hear your thoughts on these as well as any other suggestions…I’d REALLY love to hear if one of you have found my unicorn!
Here’s what I’ve found:
Perception Carolina 12 - This one seems pretty great except for one big detail… it doesn’t have a skeg. It’s rudder capable but I’m just not a fan of rudder systems (I know, I know, call me crazy, but I don’t like them).
Dagger Stratos 12.5S - This one seems pretty great as well, but I have read several reviews that it is INCREDIBLY tippy. Again, intermediate paddler with decent balance, but I don’t want to be falling into the water every time I try to edge. Would love to hear thoughts from an owner!
Boreal Baltic 120 - Don’t know much about this one, but saw it on REI’s website. My main concern with this one is that it says “flatwater” and I’m not sure how it would handle in the coastal waters where I spend a lot of time.
Riot Eduro 12 - Similar to the Baltic, I don’t know much about this one, but saw it at REI. It seems maybe a bit more entry-level and the 59lb weight is definitely a turn off. But I wanted to include just in case.
I think I’ve covered most of what will be relevant without turning this into too much of a novel. I’m happy to answer any questions that may be helpful in your offering suggestions. And like I said, I’m open to other ideas and have a thick skin…I won’t be offended if you tell me these are all terrible and I’m crazy…but please offer an alternate if you do!