First time kayak buyer... need help!

Hi everyone,

I need help picking out possible kayaks, as there are so many options that I am not too familiar with. I have kayaked a fair bit as well as taken some lessons, and am comfortable with waves and rolling, but still wouldn’t call myself advanced as I’m not too experienced with very rough conditions.

I’m looking for a 10-14 ft (probably 12 optimally) sit in kayak. I will mostly be using it for day trips on lakes, bays and gentle streams and rivers. I may take it on a few overnighters, but nothing that requires a ton of packing or very long distances. I’m quite small, so large cockpits typically just tend to get me wet, though a large opening is not a deal breaker for me since I can get a skirt. I’m a woman, 5’4" and around 130 lbs. For transportation, I have kayak racks on the roof of my jeep so it would be nice to have something light enough that I can lift it above my head myself. I’m pretty strong, but because of the length and shape of the boat I think that 50-55lbs would probably be around the heaviest I’d want the boat to be. Pluses for me include stern and bow hatches (stern required, bow optional), a skeg, a gear net or glove compartment for a phone and keys and cup holders. These aren’t required, as I’m aware that my price point is pretty low, but it would be nice to at least have a bit of storage available to me if I do decide to do an overnight trip and have a compartment with easy access for a phone, keys or knife etc.

If anyone has any suggestions for me, I’d love to hear them. Sifting through all the kayaks available is so overwhelming. As far as price goes, I’m looking to be at or under 700USD (blame the budget on being a university student). I’m totally open to suggestions on models and places to buy them and get a good deal.

TL;DR - beginner/intermediate woman kayaker looking for suggestions on a ~12ft recreational/touring kayak to be used on lakes and tame rivers or streams. Light, easy to lift, good storage. 700USD optimal price point.

" am comfortable with waves and rolling" - does that mean you’ve learned how to roll? How large are the lakes and bays you intend to paddle? Also, tough for anyone to suggest where to buy boats, new or used, without knowing your location.

There are underdeck bags that can be installed to carry stuff you don’t want on deck - but for important things like a cell phone, keys and a knife, it’s much safer if they’re on you.

Used Dagger Alchemy S at 14 feet? It’s been around a while so might be available on the used market. I just bought a new one for my son for similar use. I can’t say how it paddles but it’s advertised as a lower volume rough water hull (sea kayak wise).

You’ve taken lessons. You’ve been paddling something. If the lessons were with an outfitter when are they going to sell their older used models? Did you like what you paddled? Have you talked to friends, local club, etc? My first kayak was a sit in like you describe at 13.5 ft for $250 from a long time friend that used it three times in three years. Of course buying accessories can bump the $$$ way up.

I second the Dagger Alchemy, great boat, and can usually be found used.