Help buying my first kayak.

-- Last Updated: Jun-15-07 9:08 AM EST --

I'm a beginner, but when I tackle any outdoor sport like this I want to push it as far as I can take it. I need something that will give me a little bit of room to grow in; I'd like to be nailing rolls and other advanced stuff as soon as I'm ready. I'm looking for something that can do light touring. Daily destinations would be lakes and the Mississippi River with less frequent trips up to Lake Superior. I can get a deal on Necky, Old Town, Dimension, and Ocean Kayak. Right now I am split between the Old Town Cayuga 130 and the Necky Manitou 14. I'd for sure consider the Manitou 13 if people think it is ok for light touring. I like everything about the Manitou, but I read on a thread here that you can't get thigh pads for it making rolling pretty darn hard. I'm trying not to go over $1000. I'm 5-6 and 160 pounds. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Used RM Avocet
All available in RM and should be findable used -P&H Capella 163 or lower number, Necky Chatham 16, or WS Tempest 165 (I think you are closer to a 165 than a 170 sizing, but maybe flatpick can help there) - in other words a 16’ boat in plastic to make it cheaper that is fairly manuverable and forgiving, so will support skills well and be enough day boat for a place like Lake Superior where stuff can get big.

I personally don’t think you are currently looking in the right group of boats for what you describe you want to do.

Thanks for the reply.
The Chatham 16 looks great, but unfortunately it is $700 over what I want to spend. I’d like to have something I can feel comfortable taking out on Lake Superior in the summer, but my guess would be that I would not be up there more than a few times each summer. I hate to make price the deciding factor over performance, but this is my first kayak and I would hate to spend a lot of money and wind up not using it as much as I had anticipated. But maybe I need to reevaluate my wants/budget.

How to decide…

– Last Updated: Jun-15-07 2:16 PM EST –

I completely understand buying a boat that'll work for most of the environments you paddle in rather than just the most challenging (that you'll only be in for small spots of time). We tried that with our first boats - got 'em to the bay in Maine and had our humility handed to us within the first five days of vacation. Went out and ordered real sea kayaks within weeks of being home. But for a few times a year of Lake Superior, so maybe you just don't try long treks across extensive lengths of open water.

The thing I am reacting to more though is your saying that you want to go for advanced skills right off the rip. I just don't see the boats you are looking at helping with that part, instead they are boats that could well have you kicking yourself within your first two rolling classes.

Thinking more abotu boats in the 14' range - my concern with the Manitou is that the size of the cockpit is big, nearly three feet long, and you are not. I see that the Tsunami 140 says it ahs a smaller cockpit, which sounds good at first blush, but in both of these 14; boats I see 24 or more width. If you could just get that down... I am wondering if you could make the reach to a used Tsunami 160 for example. Still says it has a smaller cockpit, width comes down to 23.5 inches, and i see a whole lotta rigging which you'll find yourself appreciating with skills work. Or maybe there is a 14 footer out there that offers a lower/lesser profile with a decently tight cockpit.

The smaller
cockpit of a Tsunami in the 14ft range is the 140. The 145 has a larger cockpit and some more volume.

Go Used …
A Rec boat is not going to get you to the level you want to obtain. Try out some more expensive boats at stores and keep your eyes open for used boats, look in the ads here and on craigs list.

You can certainly find a used boat in your price range that will perform what you want to do, and when you sell it you may lose hardly any money on it. New boats lose half their value pretty quickly.

Thanks for the replies.
I guess to clarify - I am not planning to trek across Lake Superior in a kayak. Cruising off the coast is what I had in mind. Thanks for all the suggestions everyone.

You see things in the distance…
Like islands, you want to go there. Don’t know what Superior has in the way of features, but it probably has something off at a distance.

I have a Manitou 14.
It’s a nice recreational yak, and a nice boat to start out with. Handles well, tracks pretty straight. Nice for slow rivers and lakes. Nice for day trips just floating or paddling along.

But as mentioned in another thread, the cockpit is big, and there are no thigh braces-which I think is a big drawback. My husband has a Tsunami 120. Better fit, though it’s not any narrower, and it has some bracing. Other boats I’ve tried and like are the Necky Eliza - not sure if a guy would want a chick’s yak, and the tempest 165. Love the tempest! My husband demoed a chatham 16 that he liked pretty well.

Another thing that may or may not be important for touring (I don’t tour), the rear hatch has the skeg, that takes up some space - hard to get larger objects in there.

If I had to do it over again, I would go with a narrower, longer boat. And something with bracing. Try a tempest 165 if you get a chance.

Good luck and happy hunting!


Look for used…

– Last Updated: Jun-15-07 9:08 PM EST –

I got a used WS Tempest 165 in very good shape for under $700 at my local LL Bean outlet store. And yes, I agree, it's a great boat!!!

Thigh pads/seat.
It looks like “dogpaddle” just ordered the thigh pads/seat from the Chatham 16 and added them to the Manitou 14.