how does this end?

It seems every week I read a new post from a new kayaker who bought boat(s) sight unseen at DicksBassProMartOutlet. People are putting as much thought into buying kayaks as they do buying a pair of socks, maybe less. As a result new paddlers are disappointed or endangered and will probably never reach the level of involvement that much if us have with paddling - which hurts us all.

I don’t see the big boxes changing, these kayaks apparently sell themselves.

they’ll need to add some floor space at all the Play it Again Sports stores.

Guess most people buy those as swim/floaty/chair beer drinking seats. Not my cup of tea. But I mostly don’t have a problem with it. Or they buy them to send the kids out while they lounge on the beach and that is good(within reason.) They aren’t trippers or coastal go someplace people and probably never will be, different hobby. Same name.

It doesn’t.
The general public doesn’t put much thought into anything, at least with regard to recreational pursuits. That won’t change. Otherwise there wouldn’t be the proliferation of value priced inventory available for people who suddenly decide they’re kayakers/mountain bikers/hikers/golfers/duck hunters…take your pick; any endeavor that requires some skills for successful prosecution will always be approached impulsively by some (many) consumers. Said consumers will either then quickly realize what they don’t know and seek assistance, leave their Sun Dolphins in the garage or back yard, get dead as a direct result of their poor decision(s), or be realistic about the limitations of their gear and skills and have a great time. Three out of the four outcomes are acceptable IMO. One isn’t, but sadly it’s inevitable. I don’t get too het up about any of em.

They thought we were nuts
We asked to try some Kayaks at Dicks, and wanted to sit in them on the floor, rock back and forth, etc… the sales associates looked at us like we were crazy beings from Mars high on PCP.

Sometimes they have really good deals on Old Towne & Perception boats, probably because everybody that buys Kayaks there goes for the $199 special rec boat.

Once Fall hits, they usually slash prices on their floor models to make room for hunting and ice fishing gear… keep your eyes peeled!

No need…

– Last Updated: Aug-31-16 12:02 PM EST –

I am in "total" agreement with deuce's opinions.

You nailed it man!

My only regret:
The "spur of the moment", "I don't need any training or pfd" crew don't find and buy
any near new, old school canoes by Dagger or Mad River.
Then, when they find out they need some skills to participate; I'm happy to help them out, and take those canoes that "won't go straight" off their hands.


explaining my beef with this

– Last Updated: Aug-31-16 11:55 AM EST –

I understand that people will buy what they'll buy, given no input. That's cool. I don't begrudge anyone stopping at the occasional rec-level of paddling.

What bothers me is that I think mindless boat schlepping keeps people from reaching the enthusiast levels of the sport, which would help the market for those of us already here. Unless more people progress to those levels they'll always be a small niche that's represented by a limited range of products and slim profit margins.

I usually resign myself to this reality, but once in awhile I ask why.

Yes, that’s a good point.
I just take heart that, at least around here, there’s a very vibrant and thriving niche market of specialty shops. They win market share a little at a time by providing good products and exceptional customer service. I’ve seen numerous examples of people who planned to buy from Bass Pro change their minds after someone directed them to an outfitter. Doesn’t always work out that way but I’m encouraged by the fact that it sometimes does and by the fact that those shops are doing well.

that’s great to hear
IMO our region, particularly MI, needs to do better, given the water resources. I’ve known a few outfitters go by the wayside and have only watched the big boxes continue to sprout up.

how how how
well, wuz out on the causeway escaping new regime of mosquito control …we center on the edge of a large coastal bay …on the weekend no less. depraved.

paddle boards were out on the leeward side. happy people. paddle paddle. very stable paddle boards…very local people out with kids on weekend. happy kids some with pfd.

this is Florida of course n everyone swims n everyone is more or less salty.

happy paddlers…stable SOT whatever. these people are more or less middle class working stiffs with kids. SOT generally appeared of some quality …that is the boards looked good in the water.

Me ? my preferences are fast cars fast women fast kayaks …but yacannah beat happy people snotto

according to the coast guard

– Last Updated: Aug-31-16 9:30 PM EST –

overall boating fatalities are down. So while we may criticize rec boaters perhaps they are safer in box store kayaksthan waveskis, motorboats and whatever these folks were inclined to boat before rec boats surged in popularity. It does look to me that there has been an increase in kayak fatalities.
I only occasionally run into rec boats. I would say the majority of users I've encountered are more into "floating" than paddling. Assuming that the environment is forgiving, the distances are short, most folks will be content. Your paddling domain just gets so much larger as you acquire more skills- nice to get into some of the pocket wilderness runs.

here’s a link to stats

– Last Updated: Aug-31-16 9:33 PM EST –

follow the link and you'll see another link to a pdf file of the whole report

interesting statistics

– Last Updated: Sep-01-16 12:06 AM EST –

Paddlesports fatalities have increased in the past decade while deaths involving other typed of boating have decreased. In fact, kayaking deaths went up over 50% and human-powered boats account for 30% of all deaths overall (kayaks, canoes, rowboats, SUP's, inflatables).

So, for some paddlers, the trip does indeed end, and not well.

and even with the increase with

– Last Updated: Sep-01-16 7:19 AM EST –

paddlesport fatalities, consider that overall on water fatalities are decreasing. So perhaps the education/safety emphasis (and dollars) needs to shift toward paddle sport education.

Unfortunately, that could also lead to more regulation and for me one of the great appeals of paddling is the "wide open" aspect. I like the fact that you get to make your own decisions without having to rely on others to tell you what you should or shouldn't do.

Will this new found popularity of rec kayaks be sustained? Time will tell, but looking at other paddling trends I look for it to taper down, believing that we are currently riding the crest of the wave and look for some of the energy to dissipate.

Regionally, the fishing kayaks are very popular in my area. We've gotten a couple of new facebook pages in which rec trips are loosely organized and skills and safety info is shared. That's a good thing.

I hate reading
things like this. And it can be with ANY topic. People insist that others feel the same way about something as they do!

I was on a kayak for the first time just barely 2 months ago. It was on the Wikki Watchee River on the West Coast of Florida. It was one of the most enjoyable relaxing experiences I’ve had. It was a slow moving scenic wildlife adventure. On a Rec Kayak. Who are you to say that this is the wrong way to kayak??? Any boat will do for this. I was on aBig Box Store boat and I loved it so much that I started researching kayaks when I got home. I also hit a beautiful spot in Kissimmee believe it or not.

My research and my proximity to the Great South South on the South shore of Long Island pushed me more to the “sea” kayak design. Had a beautiful experience on an early morning FLAT bay. Took the same route for a “sunset tour” and the bay was real choppy. I didn’t enjoy that as much. I like a more relaxed paddle. Is that wrong???

Spent the morning researching all the beautiful Reserves here on Long Island. Looking forward to do the Carmen’s River in the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge. Guessing I’ll see a LOT of cheap Rec boats enjoying a day of nature.

Just sayin…

Hey Bob…
Don’t worry about it.

The OP is always trying to stir the pot.

Don’t pay any attention to what he posts !

I’ll bet that 90 percent of the posters on these forums started with a little nine foot long rec kayak, and loved every minute of paddling it.

Whatever floats your boat is good


Hey BoB,
you’re doing it right. I hope none of my comments offended you because I meant exactly what I said. If one buys a cheap rec boat at a big box store and enjoys it that’s great. If they decide they want to progress into more aggressive and/or specialized paddling and invest in appropriate gear and skills that’s great too. If they never use their boat that’s a shame but no biggie. I just hate to see my fellow human critters get into trouble because they jumped right in over their heads. You understand the limits of your equipment and skills and stay within them. Most important you’re having fun, and that’s what it’s all about!

Bob - that was not my message
I’ve always advocated rec boats. It’s how almost all of us got started. Some of us still own rec boats. I probably paddled for five years or more as you are now.

I’m advocating trying to maximize the possibililty of a positive experience, so that paddlers come back, as you did, or that they progress in terms of interest. That progression is in part what keeps the market for whitewater paddling, sea kayaking and surf skiing alive. But Deuce is right: if your boat is working for your desired use then you’re good.

My comments were initiated by yet another story of someon new to the sport who was sold boats that don’t fit their desired use. We read those stories often in these forums. Those people may try again, or they may walk way with a bad taste in their mouth. That’s what I’d like to minimize.

lots of people started in rec kayaks
and I don’t see anyone bashing them. A bit of over generalization yes.

but the trouble with the buying experience in big box is that new paddlers never are given an explanation of what these boats are suitable for

and you can’t know what you don’t know and have no way to learn

I got my first rec boat in 1989. A Keowee I sometimes wish I still had it for doodling around on gentle rivers ( like your beautiful Weeki Wachee) but I spend more time on the ocean where its not a good idea.

hey genius
Show me where I said any of that.

Why do you only show up to throw mud on other posters? There’s another forum for that, I frequent it. Feel free to troll me over there anytime because I know you read it.