Just Starting Out What to Buy

Hi All:

My wife and I are thinking of getting into Kayaking, we are in our mid seventies. We travel throughout the US in our Motorhome at least 5 months a year towing a 2012 Honda CRV. We are very active playing quite a bit of Golf plus Hiking where ever we travel. We have been looking at the Perception solo Swifty Deluxe 95 Kayaks and the Swiss Cargo 3 in 1 Roof Top Rack. Would appreciate input on Kayak quality. We would be only Kayaking in Lakes, Ponds, some mild Streams and Rivers. We would also like to be able to fish from the Kayak. Were considering the Perception units because of Price, Weight, and from what I have been reading a good unit for beginners. On the Roof Rack I am searching for a good quality set of racks sine we do put a lot of miles on the motorhome and towing the CRV is pretty bouncy so the Kayaks would be taking a lot of road bounce. Greatly appreciate any input or ideas on which anyone thinks is the best direction for us to consider for Kayaks, Racks, Paddles, Life Vest Etc.

We live in Palm Desert, California



Bare roof or side rails on the Honda?
If you do have tails, you can buy a setup from Yakima that’ll go right into the tunnel for rails. Honestly that looks more solid than trying to use Honda’s rails, tho maybe they can be secured better than l think.

You are pretty much talking rec boats, lots would do you. Since you are also talking plastic, just how hot does it get where you would be going? Thinner boats can be more affected by lots of heat in terms of deformation. Not usually fatal, but new kayak owners tend to find it upsetting.

Hi, have you kayaked before?
because that would affect the answers you are going to get.

Can you go somewhere and do some different rentals of different models, before committing to a purchase?

The reason I say this is that you have some unique criteria there, in that the kayaks would be in a perpetual state of “being transported” for part of the year, and that will require trade offs between “how long can my kayak be” and “how do I lift and fit this into/onto my vehicle and keep it at my campsite?”

Your first priority is your own safety on the water- what happens when your model kayak meets wind and waves, and what happens “if” it takes on some water or what happens in a surprise capsize and can you recover from that situation. Does it float, or does it sink and is it nearly impossible to get back into, even with help?

The problem with some smaller recreational style boats that short is that they don’t do so well on lakes with strong head winds, crosswinds, and a lot of powerboat wake, and they are going to take a lot more physical effort to cover any distance in any sort of current. Even impounded lakes can have currents. The pricier rec-style kayaks with a cockpit will tend to have better quality, longer lasting plastic, and have some sealed bulkheads so if they go over, they don’t sink like a stone. They also tend to have nice hatches, better bungees where you need them, decent carry handles, etc.

In general, the longer the kayak, the less effort it takes to paddle and steer. Even a foot or 2 can make a big difference between models.

The second thing is ease of just dealing with what you’ve got to deal with. I can get in and out of my kayak… and I want and need that to be very easy, I want to be able to get wet easily because we can have incredible summer heat here, and I don’t want to roll. I want to not worry about natural waves, powerboat wake, and ski-doos. But I didn’t want a slow slog, so I went for the longest sit on top I could fit into the garage, because I can use a full size pickup truck to transport it and I’m not going to car-top. My longer kayak is MUCH easier to steer than a short one, and has more “glide.” People will laugh sometimes at the “stuff” I put in the hatches (I almost always have a waterproof dry bag with a change of clothes and a fleece, I don’t care if it is 110ºF in the shade, the water-is-cold) but I can also carry a picnic cooler, shoes, straps, and a wheelie cart for transporting the kayaks back over the levee to the parking lot at the take out.

Rocks are slick when wet. Rocks underwater can be really slimy and treacherous. Even a loading dock can be slick. IF you have a kayak with a cockpit, you’ll need to use extra caution getting in and out in some shoreline situations with a strong current. If you have any sort of balance issues, you may want to use one pair of shoes during the staging/loading phase in the parking lot, and another in the kayak, itself. I have a few pairs of running shoes that one would THINK would be good in the river, but they actually are not. They were okay at the lake, but on polished river granite cobble, forget it. Worst than ice skates. This shoe traction thing always surprises me, I have a pair of cheap discount sandals with excellent wet rock traction, and a pair of wonderful shoes $$ you could not pay me to use near the river even if I was going in only up to my ankles. If you are doing a river with a strong current, don’t be embarrassed to use a helmet. (But don’t do it in that kayak you mentioned…)

Yes, I am that person testing shoes out by walking into the river :slight_smile: with them. Some people use those cute neoprene rubber booties, but the things must fall off a lot because I see a lot of lost singles out there.

You also have to carry your cell phone in some sort of dry container, secured to yourself or in a waterproof secure hatch, so think about that. I have seen people who have dropped their phones. It is sad. Face it, once you’re over a certain age, you are more prone to dropping things anyway, and now, there will be water for it to land in. I also clip a small knife and a flashlight to my life vest. Never assume any other boat can see you, especially at dusk. Use caution making the bigger water crossings, because that is the witching hour and there can be a lot of people being “not smart” out there with speeding and beer drinking after a day of fishing. A small floating flashlight (or water-resistant flashing bicycle light, clipped to your bungees) is really cheap compared to hoping someone notices you’ve gotten into a bit of a pickle after dark.

Life vests, aka personal floatation devices: try them on, fit is individual, expensive does not mean “better” all the time as different brands may be using the exact same model made in China with a different logo, and where the foam is may or may not go with where the seat back is on your kayak seat, and where your arm muscles are.

consider inflatables

– Last Updated: Mar-30-16 9:39 PM EST –

You might want to consider inflatables. They can be carried within the motorhome or in the trunk or backseat of the car. They can be inflated with an electric pump or high efficiency hand-pump -- since you will always have power available with the vehicles this should not be a problem. Inflatables are far lighter than molded plastic boats. They can also be very comfortable for relaxed paddling and fishing. Some examples, all about $500 each, are:

Innova Twist 1

Aquaglide Columbia XP One

Advanced Elements AE1012

This is one vendor that sells all of them, though they are available at other stores:


Another light and portable option is folding kayaks, with nylon or plastic "skins" over a rigid frame. Two such options are the Pakboat Saco (which can be used with or without the optional deck) and the Orukayak, both of which run around $1000 new and are under 25 pounds.

As has been mentioned, plastic molded boats can deform when left on racks in high heat. Carrying them hull side up can limit that deformation to the deck rather than the hull (where it can affect performance if it becomes severe.) With inflatables, you only have to remember to release a little air from the bladders before leaving them on the roof (too much air expansion can rupture a seam or valve, though this is repairable.)