Help picking beginner kayak

Found 3 beginner kayaks for BlackFriday: Future Beach Trophy 126; Perception Sport Swifty 9.5; or Old Town Escapade Kayak. All under $300. I’m 56yo female. Planning just to paddle around flat water (inland lakes, slow rivers.) Reading prior posts, I know many favor longer kayaks, but I want to stay in price range, weight. Comments on the 3 choices? (BTW - already checked CraigList - none available in area.) Thanks!

I don’t know about the first or the last
one, but we, (my wife and I)started with the Perception Keowee which is the exact same kayak as the

Swifty, but the original model.

We enjoyed them tremendously and still use them in white water with skirts.

They are fifteen years old and are just about indistructable.

Believe it or not, we paid $299 way back then.

good luck on which ever boat you pick.



my 2 cents worth…
HI…I did a quick search on those 3 boats :

Escapade >39# /28" wide…Swifty>39#/ 29"wide…trophy>50# x 29.5" wide…the trophy outweighs the other boats by 11 pounds…how much weight can you lift? do you plan to haul on top of a vehicle or trailer or haul in a pickup bed? all boats are fairly equal in width/ no issue there. If weight is no issue. i’d go with the Trophy, only because of the storage hatches and the 12’ should track better. If weight IS a issue, I’d go with the Escapade@ 28 " wide. Have you sat in them? is there enough leg and foot space so as to be not cramped? Are the seats comfortable? seat too narrow/ too wide? some of the cheaper entry level boats don’t have high foredecks to allow a natural upright foot position. by all means , if you can demo these boats , do so! Well worth the effort. hope this helps , good luck

More comments?
Thanks! We’re just beginning (there’s 2 of us). I found the Swifty had the longer history and good rep overall. Some reviews like the Trophy (and it has more options included) but it’s the heaviest. We’re a block from the lake and even with a trolley I expect it might get a bit unwieldy. And trying to load it on the car? We’ll need to build up our arm strength first! I haven’t seen them (other than online) or fitted them yet. Great suggestion re: actually trying them on. Hope we can at the “big box” store.

Comments like these are what we need. Any other comments from overstuffed T-giving diners?

More comments…
JackL and beau-guest have offered some good comments on the specific boats you mentioned, and since I’m not familiar with any of them, get whatever gets you on the water and makes you happy for now (if you can, “try before you buy” is always a good idea).

Perhaps one thing to think about before going to that big box store… you may well be able to start out with “more boat for your money” if you consider used boats. In addition to the “more boat for the money” thing, a decent used boat for a good price will hold its value if/when you decide to sell and upgrade someday, whereas a new boat, like a new car, will lose much of its resale value the moment you take it home, and you may end up with just an expensive planter once you decide you’re ready for something else.

Finally, for future reference…

If there ever comes a day when you wish to expand your paddling horizons (performance/techniques and/or venues/conditions), you can still remain within your current price range, go even lighter, and enjoy totally custom fit and design…with SOF (skin-on-frame) construction that you can do yourself! :slight_smile:

Welcome to the wonderful, totally addictive world of paddling! :slight_smile:


Besides price…
Can you lift the boat, and also can you lift it on top of your vehicle to rack it? Boat weight can be a real issue for some. I’d go for a longer boat, but, you have to consider what weight you can manage.

Have fun, no matter what your choice, and just get out and paddle. Enjoy!

Got the Swifty 2 years ago as a Christmas present. Have gotten two more kayaks since then, but still use the Swifty quite a bit.

Great boat.

If the OT has the good seat.
Then snatch it up. They simply have the best comfort and if this is your first boat, you will so much appreciate the comfort.


– Last Updated: Nov-27-09 9:10 AM EST –

Admittedly a bit random...
Shorter boats like the Swifty, while light, can actually be harder to load and unload from a car top than longer ones. That is because they are so short they usually have to be lifted - by the time you get to about 14' they can be slid so the person is never carrying all the weight of the boat.

Short boats without stuff like perimeter rigging can also just plain harder to get a good hold of for loading.

Should you capsize, they are extremely difficult to re-enter on the water compared to more featured boats like with deck rigging. For a smaller person like a woman, you could expend less energy swimming you and the boat back to shore as trying to get back in on the water.

In higher winds in the 10 footers, you can find yourself facing in undesired directions.

All that said, Swifties and their kin are fantastic boats for getting on easy water not too distant from shore and paddling around, and except for one relative of mine who can capsize anything they seem to stay upright quite well. If you aren't interested in doing more than that right now, these boats are hard to beat. We spent several summers doing just that... as well as things that we should not have been doing with a Swifty.

Bought Swifty
Thanks to all who replied. We picked up 2 Swiftys yesterday. First time ever out on “black Friday” but couldn’t pass $269 pricetag. Next is PFDs and paddles…and surviving winter :slight_smile:

Good decision !
Good price !

Good paddling!



spend some of your savings on good ones
MTI makes several nice quality PFD’s under $100. And a decent but affordable paddle like the Bending Branches Slice or Werner Skagit will make paddling a lot more enjoyable than getting a cheapy one. Even though the Swifty is wide, you can probably go with a 220cm paddle and learn to paddle with a higher angle stroke, you’ll go straighter.

Paddles and PFDs
…and now its time to leave the box store behind and find a local kayak dealer or an experienced kayaker to help you with PFD and paddle fit. You’ll be happy that you did.

Congratulations :^)
You got a super deal on nice little boats that you’ll have fun in. I received my Swifty as a birthday gift in August, 2000, and I still love it.

Plenty of time to explore
My thoughts exactly re: leaving big box behind now. Planning to visit local and midsize retailers to try on, get advice, etc. (What’s etiquette here? Can I mention retailer names?) Anyway, we’ve got a few months until we can get our feet wet.

Paddles and PFD, Wetsuits, Splash wear

Check out the NRS online catalog for deals on decent paddles and PFDs.

Paddles and PFDs at the Box stores tend to be junk. Before long you will decide you need appropriate clothing to paddle in cool weather.

Paddles tend to be a lot more important than most beginners think.

Aquabound makes decent entry level paddles.

MTI makes decent PFDs.

Depends on where you plan on going… if it’s fairly calm and shallow water, not too far from shore, then I’d look at the pfd’s at Wal-Mart. I’ve gotten 3 from there, my last one is a fishing style one with a mesh top, a big plus down here in FL. You don’t have to spend a fortune on accessories like pfd’s, but make sure you get the proper sized and comfortable paddle.

All-person-fit PFD from is $59. I’ve been very happy with mine. It is extremely adjustable, so if you later feel the need for something fancier, it will be a nice spare for guests.

Get a kayak-specific PFD
Any PFD will keep you afloat if you end up in the water, but some are made to fit kayakers and most at the big box stores are not. You’ll be wearing that thing hours on end, while paddling. If it chafes your armpits, or pushes up into your chin when seated, or interferes with the boat’s back rest, then you’ll wish you spent a few dollars more.