First time kayak buyer

Hello, everyone! I am looking to purchase my first kayak and have a few questions before I do so.
My biggest concern is I will most likely be buying two so that when friends/family come visit we will both be able to go out at once.
My dilemma is I would like a well equipped day touring type kayak for my solo trips but do not want to outrun someone in a slower recreational kayak when they come visit. Would it be best to get two of the same model so that one person isn’t going to be moving a lot faster than the other or would be it be alright to get one faster more equipped kayak and then more of a beginner kayak for the second one (or two different types example: day touring and recreational or fishing)? I will also be a beginner and can upgrade later.
I will be primarily using them on the Metedeconk River in NJ.

Currently looking at the Pelican Mustang and Trailblazers as they seem to be solid beginner kayaks but open to any other suggestions. Price range for my 2nd kayak I would like to keep around here. If it won’t be a big issue of having one faster kayak and one slower, than my primary kayak I will be willing to spend more.

Thanks everyone! Looking forward to getting out on the water with all of you

Edit* Also I know there are tandem kayaks. Would these work for my solo trips or better off going with two solos?

Realize it’s not like you get in the kayaks, push a button and the sleek pricy kayak tears across the lake leaving the cheapo beginner boat in it’s wake.

It’s very much a physical skill and the speed may vary greatly regardless of which boat you are in.

I wouldn’t worry about any speed difference. Your guests may range in capabilities and be slower paddling in any kayak. I would think in terms of having the guest kayak be something you might use as well, maybe a smaller recreational kayak that you can use if you want to explore some shallower creeks or rocky areas without subjecting your better kayak to the added wear. Sometimes, when I travel, I’ll put a recreational kayak on the roof just to have in case an opportunity to paddle comes up.

1 Like

I agree, don’t buy two identical boats. I found that newbies preferred the boat that was easier to paddle in a straight line, which turns out to be the biggest challenge for the uninitiated. But mostly you paddle alone and its nice to be able to choose the best boat for the occasion. Never had a tandem but they are a heavy lift onto the car.

One way many seem to do is to get 2 different boats for different needs for the owner. This way the owner has more options. Among sea kayakers, it is common to have a touring version (long, load carrying boat, often composite) and a shorter playful day touring boat (often plastic).

When guests come, of course an experienced person will be faster than a newbie guest, so the experienced person just adjusts their paddling to match the guest.


It is more important that you acquire the skills to help friends if there is a problem on the water than worry about which boat is faster. As a matter of courtesy the faster paddler should stay with the slower one anyway.

It isn’t a race out there for new paddlers. But people don’t seem to realize this at first


Either boat would be a good beginner boat. Keep in mind that neither boat is really suitable for big open water. These are designed for mostly calm protected water, the upper reaches of the river you are planning on paddling and not toward the mouth or on Barnegat Bay. Both are relatively short wide boats with a large open cockpit. They should be very stabile in calm conditions, but will not take too well to a spray skirt and can swamp and lose stability with significant waves. Tracking will be only fair and may be hard to handle in windy conditions as they are short do not have a rudder or skeg. Compared to a sea kayak, they will be slow and not suited to long distances. They would be perfect for exploring creeks and marshes, watching wildlife, and probably suitable for fishing.

Given your price range, to get a boat more suitable for open water and any distance paddling you would need to search the used market, probably for a non-composite hull sea kayak.

Unless you are planning on paddling with someone that you are really, really compatible with or are into competitive racing, I generally do not recommend tandem boats. There is a reason why they call them divorce boats.

1 Like

Thanks for the responses. After reading them and watching a bunch of videos on youtube last night I think it might be best to just get one first and learn the sport before taking others out. Very glad to see that the performance of the boat won’t matter as much which will allow me when getting my 2nd to pick another type. I see a lot of people in my community with kayaks so going to look/ask which type will be best for the river right near us. Also willing to take any recommendations here. Price range I’d like to keep under $750 unless a little more would be a big game changer.


Regardless of the model, consider buying used. Specially if it’s your first boat. This time of the year tends to be good to find offers in craigslist and other sites. And you may even get freebies such as paddles and accessories. Actually, if you find a good deal, do yourself a favor and buy a better paddle with the money you would have saved.

I was going to ask what your skill level was, but saw your later post.

Defiantly learn what you are doing before putting friends or family into another boat and expecting you to help them.

Kayaking and canoeing can be a joy, but it can also be tragic if you are not ready when it isn’t fun because of too many things. Keep those others safe and know what you are doing first.

1 Like

Kayakers are generally a friendly lot and love to talk about paddling. Talk to the people in your community about their boats, what they use them for and why they chose the boat they have. What they like and what they might want to get for their next boat. If you’re lucky some of them will be willing to let you try their boat out on the water so you can get a feel for different types.

You might even find someone who is looking to move up who will sell you their present boat. You will also meet people that you might want to paddle with. Paddling with others is orders of magnitude safer than paddling alone and if they are reasonably skilled they can teach you basic skills and about safety on the water.

As it’s very rare that people stay with their first boat, used is the way to go. If after paddling your first boat for a while and you decide to move up or choose a different style, you can almost always sell a used boat for about what you paid for it.

Awesome info thanks again guys. Il shop around for some used and ask around. Still a little early (for me at least) to jump in the water

Lots of people will be looking for kayaks as the weather gets warmer. So I’d start looking now and grab something if you see a good deal.

If you are willing to drive a couple of hours, this Hurricane kayak for sale in White Plains, NY, at $775 is a good deal for a super light versatile size used kayak. These were $1200 new and it looks to be in good shape.

You didn’t mention your metrics (height and weight) – you need to keep that in mind. They say it is the 135L model which is for larger framed people. At 23" beam it is a good width for touring for smaller people too. You could safely take a boat like this into coastal bays once you developed the skills and judgement for those environments.

Thanks il check that link out. I’m 5’10 ~165 lbs. My legs are pretty long tho too for my height

They list it as an “L” model (large) so that should have decent leg room. The foot braces and seats can be adjusted too.