I need advice on choosing a kayak


I’m about to get my first kayak in a month.

What I need is a kayak which is in this order

-between $500-$700

-able to seat two,

-fast and manouverable



I’m a fairly small person and I want to paddle with a partner in lakes, streams, moderate rivers, and maybe occasionally the coast on a calm day. What should I get?

Wow. The need for a dual is a limiter…
…probably in that price range would be a used

Old Town Loon 138T.

But if you take it out in this time of the year,

a lot will depend on where you are. If it’s

cold you’ll wnat a spray skirt, which is going

to be hard to find and expensive for that boat.

ps. But you’ll have to give up on…
…fast and maneuverable

Two boats

– Last Updated: Nov-17-05 12:10 PM EST –

Yeah - you aren't going to get fast, even within the tandem grouping, without spending a lot more money. I am not sure about tandems and maunuverable, those will tend to be mutually exclusive compared to solo boats anyway. Don't know tandem boats well so the best I can offer is that it's a tough criteria.

Seriously, if you are a small person you will be swimming in the cockpit of most tandems, especially in that price range, making it difficult for you to manuver the boat even it is willing. I am not sure why you have ruled out two boats, but please think about it. Especially for smaller people, a single will give you a chance at a better fit in the boat, making it more manuverable and enjoyable, than you'll find in a tandem.

two boats

– Last Updated: Nov-17-05 1:40 PM EST –

it's a good idea to buy 2 solo boats. that way you each have a "buddy" boat to rescue you. you paddle more like a butterfly than a freighter. as in " hey, I'm going over her, want to paddle with" instead of "hey, would we like to go over there" Two people can also upgrade their boat seperately, when or if they are ready to upgrade instead of waiting until both people are ready. And each can paddle with other friends easier, and transport can (not always) be easier.

Just a thought
Best Wishes

actually after re-reading you list of things you want, sounds like you are actually looking more at the specs of a canoe

I’m also in the market for a boat that fits your description. All my online and personal research so far points to the Wilderness System Pamlico 135T (although I have yet to demo one, that is ALWAYS the final and deciding factor). It’s slightly more expensive than the range you mentioned (2006 models are $730) but there may still be a few 2005 or demo models out there at the old price of $699 (or less). The 135T has a front seat that slides back to a solo paddling position (for the occasional solo outing), it’s long enough to track well and most say it manuevers well (relative to a lot of other tandems). For more comments, check out the Product Reviews section of this site.

Maybe Phoenix Vagabond Poke Boat
at www.pokeboat.com if you can find one used. They’re about $2000 new, but I found mine for under $500 - it was 20 years old.

It’s 16’6" long and 30" wide and weighs 46 lbs. It maneuvers quite well for a boat this size and handles easily for me solo and I’m 5’6" and 150 lbs.

I had an Old Town Loon 160T that I sold last spring because it was too heavy and my wife prefers the Wenonah Solo Plus for tandem use. It’s seats were much more comfortable than the Phoenix Vagabond.

The main draw back I’ve found in the tandem recreational kayaks that I’ve tried is that the two paddlers sit too close together and must coordinate paddle strokes in order to avoid banging paddle together.

Good luck in your search.

it’s fun to do a little “kayak jousting.” Build up a little speed and ram them just like the Roman Galley scene in Ben Hur. (Roman Legion and Galley Slaves sold separately).

this is probably your best option from what you have discribed. however i will tell you that tandem rec boats are not sutable for true ocean conditions. if you swamp (which is highly likely) it is very difficult to recover in ocean conditions in a rec boat. in coastal paddling, whatevere made you swamp is generally not a one time condition, meaning the waves do not stop. you need to purchase a boat that serves your purposes 80% of the time. rent a real tandem boat for when you want to go to the ocean, or if you are paddling mostly coastal conditions you need to buy a boat that is most suited for those conditions.

There is a reason why…
tandems are called divorce boats.

Unless you have a paddling partner with whom you have worked out an awful lot, paddling a tandem kayak can be a recipe for estrangement.

I need new boat advice
ok, so after thinking this over, I’ve decided to get 2 solo boats for maybe 300 apiece

what would be my best options here?

I’m still planning on paddling mostly on inland water but going to the gulf coast occasionally. I’d really like a sit in so that I can stay dry, but the last thing I want is a wet butt. Are ocean kayaks dry on calm water, or can sit-ins take the ocean? What should I do here?


– Last Updated: Nov-18-05 7:38 PM EST –

Another option...

Unless you are in some seriously choppy water, you can proably keep a dry butt, even in a sit-on-top. Most of them sit about 12" - 14" high...about the same height as the open sides of a recreational S-IN-K. Even if you do get some water over the sides the scuppers should drain it off pretty quickly...you might get a wet butt but at least your boat won't sink. The $300 price range may limit you to a used pair of boats, send you to the local "big-box" sporting goods store (not much selection usually) or force you to settle for a shorter, smaller (10-12') boat. Contact the local dealers in your area as this is the time of year they will be changing all their demo's over from a 2005 to a 2006. You might luck up and get a deal, especially if you tell them you want more than 1 boat. Good luck!

Dry butts, kayaks and ocean
If you seek a truly dry butt, you need to get a drysuit (which will cost more than the kayak you envision) or think about something other than a kayak. A sit inside will have the seat close enough to the bottom that splash from getting in and out, or taking a small wave, can leave you damp even with a lightweight skirt. A sit on top will be higher above the water, but of course you are open to splash from the side. Didn’t check where you are from, but a sit on top is not a plan for places like the waters of Maine unless you are awfully warm-blooded.

In sum, thinking damp butt would probably be a better start.

As to the ocean part - a boat with a hull designed for dimensional water (waves) can handle it. The issue isn’t the type or size of the boat as much as the design of the hull. But by and large most boats with the right hull designs run at and above 16 ft in length. It isn’t an easy task to find such a boat for $300. There are also shorter, very manuverable boats out there that will handle dimension quite well, but they don’t tend to be easy to paddle distances without some decent effort, and often aren’t kind to beginning paddlers. At least unless you like swimming a lot.

Is there a paddling club around that you could connect with, get some lessons in a pool over the winter? It would help a lot for you to get some training and a better sense of what these boats do. Or at least, do that before you decide to take whatever boat you get now out on the ocean.