First time Kayak buyer...need advice

I’m looking for my first kayak and have been doing some research, but still haven’t been able to figure out exactly what I need. I’m going to need a touring kayak, I’m an avid backpacker and I’d like to start doing some camping trips on the water. Mainly along rivers and possibly inland lakes. Gear storage is very important. I’d like front and rear bulkheads and I also would prefer to have a day hatch. My biggest thing I’m unsure of is what size kayak I need. Weight wise I probably fall in the mid size category at 175 lbs, but height wise I’m 6’2". I’d like to take weekend long trips mostly, but having the capability to go for a week at the most would be nice. I’m also unsure if I would need a skeg or rudder because I’m so new to this. I’m looking for a boat that can meet all my needs for the best price point seeing as it is my first boat. Thanks for the help.

The possibilities are too many to list for the parameters you’ve given.

Is there an outfitter near you that you can set up a lesson/demo time with?

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

look for demos
If you tell us whereabouts you live someone can probably suggest good outfitters. Most will offer demo days where you can try different models on the water. Fit is critical and being tall that is doubly so (your shoe size can be a deal breaker too.)

Taking a paddling skills class with an outfitter is another way to get to try out various models (and it’s a good idea for any kayaker starting out to take a technique and safety practices course.)

There are dozens, maybe even hundreds of models that would fall into the category you are describing so the good news is you have lots of options. Good value plastic touring kayaks your size run around $1200 to $2000 new. You could cut that in half by looking for a used boat, once you have an idea what fits you.

Most of us start out with used boats – once you really get into paddling you quickly figure out features and performances factors that you want to improve upon from your first boat, and (as with used cars) the resale percentage that you get back from selling a boat you bought used is a lot more than you would get from selling a boat you bought new. So I kind of look at the first boat as more of a short term lease than a huge commitment.

Sounds like you need a canoe.

might be worth a thought
String has a point. Have you considered a solo or pack canoe? A lot easier to pack a lot of gear in a canoe than a kayak.

Northeast Pa

No I haven’t really looked into a canoe

“Day hatch” is irrelevant
If you are new to kayaking and will unnecessarily limit your choices.

demo and classes

– Last Updated: Jun-02-14 2:32 PM EST –

I am a strong proponent of not buying anything that I have not paddled before. Fit is very personal, and what works great for one may cause intense pain for another.

Also, as someone getting in to the sport, I also would suggest taking the day long intro to kayaking class offered. it should cover basics of kayaks, what the various parts really are for (did you know a rudder is made to keep a kayak going straight, not really to make it turn?), how to use it (the basics paddle strokes needed), and how to be safe (on-water recoveries for when you flip over).

That said, if you pack back-pack light, you could make even a 13-14 foot boat work for a few nights, maybe even a week. A 16 or 17 foot could do true expeditions of many weeks. If you are more of a car camper, you may have trouble fitting everything you need for an overnight in a 16 foot boat.

Generally the longer, the faster the boat (so better able to cover distances) and the more gear it can carry, but also more challenging it becomes in tight confines of smaller lakes and rivers you talk about.

Schedule a Day Trip to…
…the Jersey Paddler in Brick, NJ (prob 2-3 hours for you). They have plenty of boats and a pond across the street where you can demo different styles, etc. Fit and feel are important so you can’t go on stats alone. One thing you should consider is the overall boat capacity - of course the numbers represent a rather inexact science. How many pounds of paddler/gear can the boat hold before losing performance?

Personally, I don’t quite match your size and shape (5’10" and 250) but I recently purchased a WS Tsuami 145 and I love it. Front/Rear bulkheads, day hatch and 350 pounds total capacity which means more than enough capability to hold me and all my gear. For a leisurely trip, I can even bring 24 of my closest friends!

With respect to rudder/skeg systems, this is more an artform. Every person you ask, you will get different answers. Best bet - demo as much as you can. Good luck. Hope to see you out on the water!

First time Kayak buyer…need advice???
Kayaking is a great way to experience the outdoors and extended the horizons of your camping expeditions. Here are a couple of kayaks that will help you reach the distance while carrying all your gear. The Perception Expression is the least expensive of all the options. Its a 14.5’to 17’ long kayak with great storage that comes standard with a skeg. Another great option is The Venture Islay 14. This is a Sea kayak that wil handle the ocean and big waves, the downside is that it does not come with a rudder or skeg. Next, you have the Focus, this is a touring kayak that is stable, fast and can carry a lot of gear. The biggest advantage of the Focus is that it comes with a rudder. Last but not least the Tsunami. This is one of the prefered touring and sea kayaks. Its designed for big open water, multyday expeditions but does not comes standard with a Rudder. Now keep in mind that there are rudder available for all this boats. All this boats fit the bill to the type of paddling you are planing on doing. Check them out and let us know if you have any questions.

Just right
One boat you should definitely look at is the Current Designs Sirocco. I guarantee it will fit you and it can haul your stuff and can handle any kind of water. And the price is right.

what marshall and string said
Back up. Start with what and where you want to paddle. Then find an outfitter and try demos.

A canoe came to mind for me also because you mentioned rivers, inland lakes and camping. Add some portages and that sounds like Boundary Waters to me, just right for a canoe. So again, think about what you want before deciding how to get there.