Hey everyone I have a question. I’ve never kayaked or anything before and I’ve been wanting to try it. I seen a cheap kayak at Sports Authority the other night for a little under $200 and I’m thinking about purchasing it and just trying it out and seeing how I like the sport and if I’m going to stick with it. If I got it I would just be using it on small lakes and ponds but my question is if I got the kayak do ya’ll think I should just go out and try my hand at it without any classes and see how I like it first or should I invest in taking some classes? Thanks!

Classes are a good idea
for two reasons.

  1. Most instructors have boats that you can use for class, so you don’t have to go right out and buy something that you may find does not suit you once you know more about it.

  2. If you take the class and decide you don’t like paddling after all, you’re not stuck with the gear.

besides the boat realize that
you will also need a paddle and PFD and possibly additional gear to cartop the kayak to your paddling destinations.

Still, if you are looking at a relatively modest investment for a boat to be used in relatively safe and non-demanding conditions, whether or not to invest in lessons is really up to you.

There is always some value in instruction, but leisurely kayaking in protected flat water areas is relatively straightforward and intuitive so you may want to save yourself the expense. The best option would be to find someone in your area who has an extra boat you can try who would be willing to spend a couple of hours out on the water with you.

That’s what I did.Still paddling many
years later. WEAR THE PFD.

Yes go for it
and no you don’t need lessons to start off in a rec boat.

keep in mind about what the posts above have said about the extra gear you’ll need.

My only criteria is that you know how to swim.

Jack L

Get the boat
Better yet get two of em and talk a friend into learning with you. Those little boats got good reviews for what they are.

Rent first, Try before you buy.NM

Where r u?
BrandonH12, I am in Central Ohio, and would be willing to hook up. May be able to get a 10’ Loon 4 u to play with.

take classes/test paddle lots
Take the classes, the kayak you like after paddling may not be the one that appeals to you at first. Also, classes help by gaining you the experience of a seasoned paddler. I am always willing to let my kayaks be used by others but I have poly and don’t mind a few dings. Others my be more protective and if they have sit insides with modified seats, hip pads, foot braces you may not like the way it fits due to differences in body size or seat positions. I have a sit inside for touring and a sit on top for fishing but I live in FL and can paddle either in January with the right clothes. Good luck and see if any local shops are having a demo day. John

Take a class, try demo days
Many dealers have a demo day where you can try their boats. Also you could take a class where they loan you a boat to use, and then you’d have a good foundation for when you DO buy a boat. Money well spent… usually not too expensive.

Not much to lose
No, one of those little $200 boats isn’t much, but it will get you out on flat water and one of two things will happen. Either you will like it and get plenty of use out of it, beat it up and then sell it for $100 a year later after you have 3 other boats, or else you will hate it, and sell it as hardly used for $150 in a week or three.

Either way…not a bad investment to give kayaking a try…though if you can find a one year old one beat up one for $100 you will do just as well and spend even less!

That is exactly what I did. After 10 yrs of paddling. I still own the Old Town Otter & still prefer it when I go out fishing. Once you see if you do enjoy the sport then you can always upgrade & or add to your fleet. It is easy to sell a used recreational boat. I have owned (11) kayaks in total & now have(5)from the Old Town Otter all the way up to a Tahe Marine Mini Revel which is the Cadillac of my fleet. You have nothing to loose…except regret that you never gave it a try. Happy paddling!

don’t take the wrong class
I took a whitewater kayak class about 10 years ago and capsized when entering the river from a creek (probably didn’t lean correctly). It was Spring, the water was fast and cold, I had to wet exit becasue I was tired from the class and couldn’t right myself with a T-rescue (bow of instructor’s boat at your side upside down). The banks were steep and unstable, so I floated quite awhile with my boat before being able to get back in. Freaked me out a bit. I (sadly) decided “kayaking” was not for me. Then a couple of years ago my GF lined up a guided multiday flatwater trip in “touring kayaks” on the lower green River in southern Utah-- loved it! – demoed a few boats at home right away and bought a couple for us. Hard to believe I missed those years of kayak fun! Point being, I started with a class, but didn’t really know the full options for kayak fun. IF you start with a class, start with the right one. (Maybe there weren’t as many touring kayaks around 10 years ago for me to notice?)

screw the classes
buy the boat, go paddling.

A decade ago I stood in your shoes. There were no classes locally, no club, nothing, but there was a cheap kayak at the local sporting goods store. I bought it without knowing anything about paddling because I thought it would be fun. Sure enough, I thought it was.

Now I cannot imagine my life without my boat.

Paddling eventually defined who I was. Give it a try.

The money you spend on classes could go towards the boat, and you can easily learn basics with trial and error and questions on Pnet.

It sounds like you want to keep
expenses low. If you are looking at $200 boats, you cannot rent a boat four times and spend that little most places. So for your money and a life vest and paddle, you could maybe rent a boat six times. If you blow that money on rentals, you have to double up to go purchase one then. And if you blow your money on lessons, you are just that much poorer to purchase a boat. There is no person that cannot learn something from lessons unless they have their minds made up not to. But for getting on the water reasonably, you have a good plan. You could unload that thing for 75% to 50% of what you paid and you will be money ahead after six boat rides, compared to renting plus lessons. A couple of lessons can cost as much as that boat. Once you decide you like it enough and then if you decide you just have to aquire advanced skills, it may be time to consider some professional development. But a determined person with a curious mind can usually acquire skills needed for probably 85% of most paddling conditions. If you want to get into scary white water, ocean expeditions or high risk scenarios then perhaps an investment in training could pay off.

Do it!

– Last Updated: Aug-17-10 12:56 PM EST –

Everyon offers good advice, about lessons, about testing boats before you buy, etc., but sometimes you should go with impulse. You've already seen the kayak at Sports Authority; waiting to find the right instructor, then trying out his boats, and waiting to find a good deal on on of those boats may end up making you put it off, put it off, put it off, and you'll regret not having just made the plunge.

Go out after work today, buy the $200 rec yak, a paddle, and a PFD, and get on the water as soon as you have a day off - or even after work one day. Classes later may help you advance in the sport, but right now, you can paddle easily, safely, and enjoyably on a rec yak in protected waters of a lake or pond with no training - no problem.

You may find after a few years that you want a different kind of boat - no problem, just sell your starter boat on craigslist and buy what you want.

Happy paddling, and wear that PFD!

I got a Perception Swifty 9.6 a couple of years back.

Son got it for me along with a paddle, and I went to Wal-Mart and bought a PFD.

It was a blast and I just used it last Saturday.

Since then I’ve traded a beat up canoe for an RTM sot 12 footer and then purchased a Dirigo 140 so I could take my granddaughter with me.

I use all three at different times and locations.

Just Do It. Go buy the cheapie and have fun. Don’t over analyze.

Go for it!
I started off with a Victory Blast from Dick’s Sporting Goods years ago. A couple of years later I bought a much nicer boat and let my friends use the Blast. Someone said earlier and I agree, find a partner, it’s much more fun.