Help! - Buying is sooo confusing

Hi. This is a great site! Okay, another beginner, but I really could use some help. My wife and I are just getting started. I believe we need recreational kayaks since most of our trips will be small lakes and easy rivers, but I’m also afraid of outgrowing. We have tested: WS Pungo Classic, Perception Acadia 11.5 (top so far, turns easier, but less tracking, wife loves), WS Pamilco 120 (nice also, more tracking, doesn’t turn as easy as the Acadia, I like), Perception Sundance. I also want to try the Necky Manitou Sport or 13, and the Dagger Blackwater 10.5. I like the idea of the skeg for tracking in open water. Any comments and suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I also want to buy the J’s for loading, so if anyone has any input on Thule 835xt versus Yakima 4038, that would also be great. Thanks!!!

Since you are still trying boats and are concerned about outgrowing the ones you buy, try some that are closer to 14-15’ long and 24" or less wide.

Or you could rent different boats for a year until you know what you want.

Whatever you buy
If you really find you love paddling, you’ll want a different boat in a year. That’s okay, because you can probably sell your first boat for about 70% of what you paid for it. If you have the opportunity, keep trying narrower and longer to see how they feel to you compared to the Sundances and Pungos. Your particular body size and shape will determine how stable or unstable a boat feels, but I’d second the recommendation that you try a boat with a 24 inch beam. This is right on the line between rec and touring. If it feels a little tippy on your first try, it will feel perfectly stable once you’ve had it on the water a few hours (if it feels impossibly tippy, that’s another story). The advantage of a 24 inch beam is that you will learn a better stroke than you will on the wider boats.

Still, wider rec boats with open cockpits are great boats, too, for certain kinds of paddling. If you’re looking for something to paddle down a lazy river all day, and you might want to fish or just put your knees up every once in awhile, boats like the Old Town Loon 120 and 138, OT Dirigos, WS Pungos, etc. are great. Just be sure to put flotation bags in the bow, and the stern if the boat doesn’t have a stern bulkhead. You don’t want to swamp 12-15 feet of rec boat without bulkheads or flotation.

I have the Yakima HullRaiser J-Cradles and they are fine.Keep in mind that J-Cradles add a few inches to the height you have to heft that heavy plastic kayak (I use mine mostly for my lighter wood and glass touring boat). And with Yakima round bars, trying to lift one end into the cradle and slide the boat into place is not really an option. You have to lift the boat over the J-cradle lip into place. (The advantage of the round bars is that once in place, you can adjust them so they follow the curve of the boat perfectly–more of an issue with more expensive glass and composite boats.) People who have Malone Autoloaders swear by them and say the lower lip makes them easier to load than Yakima and Thule J-Cradles.

J-cradles enable you to put more stuff on your roof, and I’ve had two boats and three bikes on mine before. But if that’s not an issue, you might look at saddles, or saddles with Hully Rollers. I think loading heavy boats onto saddles is slightly easier than J-cradles.

Go longer, you will not regret it.
You said you are comfortable in these boats and all you have done is demo them. Stop and think then how fast you are going to outgrow them!

Happy Paddl’n >:^)


Something else to consider - the height of your garage door.

Sounds funny, but when I put my 22 inch wide boat on Malones, the clearance is less than 1 inch. If my were more than 22inches, I would be in for some complications :wink:

Okay, I’ll start renting longer ones.
Thanks. I’ll start renting the longer ones.

Thank You!
Thank you for the responses. I can see now that, even though we want to have our own, we are no way near deciding which ones to get. We will try longer ones in the hope we don’t outgrow, and will try the ones recommended. We have already decided to go the the Chesapeake Bay to also try more of a touring kayak, and I’m going to go up to Ohiopyle and take the beginner/intermediate/advance classes on the Youghiogheny. Thanks.

Buy used
You’ll get more boat for your money. You also might get a boat you can grow with until you really know what you want.

After the class
If the Chesapeake Bay is in your sights, at least one of you will eventually be looking at skills like rolling etc. You’ll start to get why things like rolling and really good bracing are not really advanced skills in big water environments - they are just basics you need to at least try for. Until you’ve had some classes it’ll be nearly impossible for you to get a boat that’ll fit well to support those kinds of skills without handing some faith and confidence over to someone with more experience.

You’ll be happy you took the time, and as above consider used at first.

Make sure
that those are the classes you really want to take. I was under the impression that paddling around Ohiopyle is primarily whitewater, and would expect the classes there to be the same. The skills taught, and boats used for whitewater paddling and touring are very different. For what you want to do those classes may not be appropriate.

Sorry in advance if I’m incorrect about what maybe offered for classes in Ohiopyle.

Good luck