Good rec kayak for beginner

I’m new to kayaking and want to get a rec kayak. It will be used for flatwater only. I tried out a Jackson Ibis and liked it but a search here didn’t turn up anything. Anyone have one? Opinions? There’s a used one I’m considering.

Jackson Kayaks
Jackson kayaks are well respected for whitewater designs, the rec boats are kind of a new venture for them. The boat looks like it would be decent for a rec boat for flatwater, and probably paddles faster than many but I’ve only seen it out of the water. The seat looks a little clumsy, you’d have to judge how well it would work for you.

How about “using pnet” reviews ?

Kayaks under 10’ in Length

Kayaks under 12’ in Length

Kayaks under 14’ in Length

Are you looking for speed,or what?

– Last Updated: Sep-08-12 5:15 PM EST –

That seems an odd question but do you have length restrictions,are you going to use it for fishing? 'Flatwater' can be lakes, farm ponds, rivers,or swamps.How about the weight of the boat?
There are lots of good rec boats like the Wilderness Systems Pungo series. I would stay away from the Pelican brand but that is me.
You can go low in price or buy something like an Epic.
My advice to beginners is buy a boat that is comfortable for you, buy a good paddle like an Aquabound (not an aluminum beast that can double as a shovel or an axe, like my first one)and buy a comfortable PFD that you will wear.
As a rule, the longer the boat, the better it tracks and the more weight it will carry.
If you are over 200lb, you probably need a 14' boat.
That Ibis is a good looking boat.

You need…
An RTM Tempo

There is an article you may want to read. The Summer 2011 issue of California Kayaker Magazine had an article on selecting a recreational kayak. Can be read for free online at


– Last Updated: Sep-09-12 12:15 AM EST –

Thanks for the replies. It'll be used on a river (slow moving) and not for fishing, at least not by me, possibly from time to time by a family member who does. Speed isn't super important, but I guess it could be nice. I'm 5'7" and 140. My husband will use it too and he's 5'10" and 155. The boat weighs 50, it's at the upper limit of what I want. I'll check out those links. It's important to me to have a boat that's really stable and tracks decently. Judging from the 90 min I spent in the Ibis, the seat was really comfortable.

Be carefull
I bought a yak from a big box store and hate it! It plows through the water. I have to dig hard all the time to get it to move, then my arm hurts and im done. Went to a local yak shop and tried out another one and what a difference! A quality yak is a bit more costly yes but so is buying 2 or 3 yaks or just quiting a great sport. good luck

Rec kayak not equal to beginner
This is a mistaken but common impression. Rec kayaks as usually described are about boats that are not intended to be capable of doing more than puddling around near shore. The only reason they are associated with beginners is that they are cheap, thus reducing the sticker shock, and are such barges that anyone feels like they won’t tip when they get in.

The first is obviously attractive initially but not so much fun if you want to resell it for another boat, when you find out you can’t get even close to purchase new price for one. The second is just a matter of seat time and it is a mistake to judge the stability you may be comfortable with based on a few initial paddles.

Tracking is as much about paddler’s ability to paddle correctly as the boat. But expecting a 10 foot recreational boat to track and handle wind as well as a 12 to 14 ft transitional boat is just plain unrealistic.

Based on what you said about tracking and speed above, go used and longer.

Kestrel 140 roto.

Have you considered an Old Town Vapor? It is not very fast, but tracks very well and is extremely stable.

still thinking about it
So the Jackson Ibis is 12’ long. I wish I had a chance to try out more boats, but I have a baby so I’m short on time and arms. I figured we’d get a rec boat instead of another kind just because neither of us plans on using it for whitewater or the sea-- just want to be out on the river for quiet paddles, see some birds, get some exercise etc. I had looked at a big box store initially but soon switched to a local shop which I like much better. That’s the place with the used Ibis. I went to two other local shops yesterday to chat with the folks about kayaks but didn’t have a chance to try any out since I had baby with me. Maybe today we’ll all go out and try something else.

The CD Kestel 120 Roto. Under 50 pounds, not too extremely wide (25" I believe), but nicely stable.

The RTM Disco is a great SOT for
someone your size. A female friend has one and loves it.

the Disco.While it’s a nice boat initial stability is not it’s strong suit.That one’s meant for paddlers of intermediate to advanced skill level’s.A determined beginner could get the hang of it’s low initial stability but plan on swimming.Definitely not a kick back and relax/enjoy the scenery boat.Now if your idea of fun is to attack some mean arse waves/rapids it’s hard to beat.

I am a senior citizen who has trouble
walking with a VERY high center of gravity and I noticed absolutely no instability with the Disco. I guess one man’s tippy is another stability.

Ridiculous - the Disco is stable
And now that you’ve shared your weight I’d highly recommend it. The more you share here the better advice you’ll get.

The Disco may have
strong secondary stability but even it’s most ardent supporter I know of Cap’n Jimbo said it feels tippy to beginners.

Venture Flex 11
My first kayak was a Venture Flex 11, and I highly recommend it.

Heres a review:

I’m 5’6" 145lbs and primarily used it on a winding river and some mangrove estuaries. Its primary stability is very comforting- you won’t feel like you’re going to tip over- and it also has great secondary stability for edging. Though I’ve moved on to a longer narrower boat, I still have the Flex for visiting friends. I found the outfitting very comfortable- you can have the seat back in a low position for performance or in a high “flipped up” position for comfort. Unlike most rec kayaks, the flex has thigh braces so you can progress more with your skills if you so desire. Its extremely maneuverable but also tracks will, especially with the skeg down.

If you have a Venture dealer nearby, give it a try.

Good rec kayak for beginner
I’m writing the below from the viewpoint of someone close to age 80, on chemo, so not in the best of shape, but very keen on the health benefits of kayaking. Been paddling about a year. Have tried many boats, owned and sold several while looking for the best one for me. Also heavily involved with showing Baby Boomers & Seniors the huge health benefits kayaking presents for us oldsters. But first:

  1. You need to do some contemplation of just what/where/why you want to paddle. Some styles might be: a) Health workout on flatwater a few times a week at a local pond. b) Occasional jaunts with family or friends on either flat or very mild rivers (called floating); c) Fishing from a kayak d) Maybe coastal or estuarine jaunts.
  2. You need to carefully asses your physical capabilities, then reevaluate them as you gain experience. Likely to surprise yourself. Kayaking can be very mellow, yet provide huge mental and physical health benefits.
  3. You should locate a qualified school or instructor to help you learn. Consider looking for places/teachers that are certified by the American Canoe association (ACA). This assures a certain experience standard. There are many key right & not-as-right ways to learn paddling.
  4. Find someplace you can actually test/demo boats. Look for river or paddle fests, club meets, classes at swimming pools, dealers, swap meets.
  5. Consider that your interests/goals may change over time.

    These said here are the first things to look at in boats, after you decide the above.

    COMFORT: For us oldsters the absolute first thing to look at is the comfort of the boat. We tend to have things like arthritis, loss of flexibility, other physiological changes that kayaking can help immensely (arguably even more than any other sport, especially when one examines the mental benefits), but which also influence your boat choice. For example: a) Ease of getting in and out at the put on and take out; b) Seating comfort over more than just a few short minutes; c) Ergonomics of the boat’s outfitting (how your body parts and the boat connect with each other; d) Huge weight and heftability: How well can you put it on and off your car/truck, carry it to put-on and from take-out? (Give majestic consideration to a “lift assist” cartop rack like a Thule Hullavator, Malone Telos, or maybe a kayak trailer.

    Once you work these out, begin to look at on-water stuff like initial stability (how tippy is the boat) secondary stability (can you turn it easily with edging—do you even want to?), how dry is it ( if you get into some waves will they break over the deck and put water inside the boat hurting handling or making you wet & uncomfortable, if not cold. (Many solutions for these) And more.

    One of the posters above suggested an Old Town Vapor. That’s a great suggestion for the reasons mentioned, and you can get splash decks or skirts for them to keep water out. BUT, they are heavy and slowish and react mightily to wind. (They actually do surf kind of nice though!) A big feature is their cockpit size which helps entry & egress and allows you to put a dog or grandkid in your lap. I’ve had one of these all over Lake Powell with pretty good results. Find an Old Town dealer (even Sportsmens Warehouse and other box stores carry them). Demo the 10, not the 12 ‘cuz that’s really heavy and harder to maneuver. There are lots of them on the used market since they’re good starter boats that people soon graduate out of. Buying used is always a great idea IF you buy the right boat (Vapor is one) and want to trade up or get out, be sure to get something that’s popular and you’ll not be out-of-pocket too much

    My wife (getting up there, too) and I do something we call “puddling” We have light and short Whitewater boats that are easy to heft around and easy to paddle both on flatwater or easy rivers. They are on the truck or close by constantly. Anytime we go somewhere, even the mall, we can plop into the smallest body of water and get a fun workout, watch birds and critters…mellow out, de-stress and really help our Arthritis. This includes Class I-II whitewater.

    Don’t let the word or boat description “whitewater” scare you off. There are many features of whitewater boats that are great for oldsters, such as light weight, comfort, stability, and just plain fun, even on lakes/ponds.

    I have a Jackson Zen (42 lbs.) which is a hoot on even the flattest of water. My wife has a Dagger Mamba (creeker) (44 lbs.) which she loves. We also have touring boats for days when we want to go more than a few miles. (Her’s is a pink (cool!) Perception Tribute 12 (41 lbs.) , mine is a LiquidLogic’s(Native) Inuit 13.5 (54 lbs. with rudder). I can take my Inuit into ocean surf with no problem. That’s fun, but the Zen is even more fun. Different styles, different fun.

    A nifty boat for Seniors is the very lightweight (33 lbs.) Eddyline SKY 10. It’s a stable craft that weighs almost nothing, has hatches, comfy cockpit, bulkheads fore & aft for safety, and more. Not too pricey, either despite the name Eddyline

    If you, or any other oldsters want to learn more about the above or about special kayak learning sessions for Seniors and Baby Boomers, feel free to post to

    Be happy. Be Healthy, Be a paddler!