Help in Selecting Kayaks


I want to purchase a beginner kayak for each member of my family: wife, son 12, daughter 13, and me. I am overwhelmed with the choices out there, and am asking someone who is kind and knowledgeable to point me in the right direction. We live near some large lakes, and would be using the kayaks mostly for lakes…perhaps some slow moving rivers as well. I have canoed in the past and enjoy the blend of stability with maneuverability. Would like to spend between $400 and $600 per canoe. Could you direct me to a particular line that is well regarded in this pricerange, and best retailer as well?

Thanks very much,

Dan McDowell

beginner kayaks
A common mistake is that parents buy boats for their children that they’d feel comfortable in, and the kids end up fighting with boats that are too wide, too deep, and too heavy for them to paddle comfortably. Kids tend to have better balance and much less fear of capsizing than adults, so stability isn’t a big issue for them. Being able to go fast is.

Most rec boats are sized for the ever-expanding “average” adult male. Smaller paddlers - of any age - should have boats that fit their proportions. Don’t focus on length – beam, depth, and cockpit fit make a huge difference in paddling ease and comfort.

The Perception Carolina 12 and EPI Episea are often mentioned as good boats for kids, but yours may be getting too big for them. For adults, the Wilderness Systems Pungos and Old Town Dirigos have a lot of fans.

depends on kids
Some kids are athletic - others aren’t. By the age of twelve or thirteen, just about all of them can handle an adult style yak.

I usually buy used and trade later when my son changes his mind. His current boat is a Dagger Savanna, he wants a solo canoe, and I just ordered a fishing SOT for him. He had a WS Piccolo. The athletic boys preferred a Looksha IV and a Sonoma 13.5 - within ten or 15 minutes they had the hang of them ( well at least going straight!)_

Thanks very much for your input.


A good choice
is the WS Pungo line. They track very well, especially for a new paddler…

Good luck and have fun!

Same old story
I went through the same story that’s been repeated here many times. I started out with a Old Town Loon 138 because it was wide and stable and I wanted it for calmer waters and for fishing. After about a season I started hankering for something that was longer, faster, lighter, and handled better. I ended up getting a Current Designs Kestrel 120 in TCS (the plastic one may suit some of you from a money standpoint) for my river/fishing boat and a used Current Designs Sirocco for somethng longer and faster.

Bother are considerably narrower then my old Loon and I suppose you’d call them “tippier”; but I must say I never feel like they’re very tippy at all. I feel very stable in both of them and even do fishing out of both of them.

I’d highly recommend trying some out first and seeing what you think of narrower boats. They’re generally faster, easier to manuever and just plain more fun. I can’t imagine getting back in my Loon now and trying to paddle it. Even getting into my Kestrel after paddling the Sirocco feels like sitting in a bathtub. It’s amazing what you get used to.

Don’t buy short and fat just because they’re cheap. Check out used boats and hopefully you can find some good deals.

I ran across this Prijon Capri on Ebay the other day. Don’t know what the sell price will end up being but it could be a good boat too.


Tarpon 160s!!! they rock, and are easy to remount. bottom line test paddle first. You can paddle a kids plastic swimming pool, its also very stable!!