Kayak advice @ $500

-- Last Updated: Apr-05-10 4:45 PM EST --

Hi all,
New to the forums. I'm looking for advice on a reasonably priced Kayak. I'm interested in lake kayaking, and a few excursions on pretty tame rivers. I would like some storage so I could do some Camping.
I'm about 6 foot and weigh 195lbs.

I'm currently looking at the Pelican/Elie Sound 120 XE. This is probably a little more than I want to spend, ideally the kayak would be about $500.

What would be recommended in that price range?

Pelican tends to have a “cheap” reputation, but if it suits your needs for the price, who cares? Sounds like you’re looking for something in the recreational to day touring class, but at that price range I’d say craigslist is your friend…

Go used -check out craigslist
You can get a lot more boat for your money just by looking at used boats. The classified ads here, and craigslist are good places to pick up good boats. Most boats below $500 new are junk.

2nd the junk comment.
IMHO, a 200 lb paddler needs more than a 12’ boat unless you plan on only lilly dipping.

Go used
Maybe a Pungo 14 or a Tsunami. And 12’ is a little short unless you aren’t wanting to go very far (

cheep cheep cheep
I have an old Towne Otter Kayak - it’s perfect for calm water lake kayaking and it’s stable as can be. I’m not a small person, at 180# - and have had people borrow it larger than that - and it hasn’t sent me, or anyone else to the bottom yet. New, less than $500 at Gander Mtn. Fancy? heck no. Practical to find out if you actually enjoy kayaking, heck yes. You can always upgrade later.

For tame rivers…
you’ll be just fine in a short boat. But lake paddling is another item.

A short boat needs to be quite wide to provide the floatation, this will cause you to work harder to cover distance, and be less comfortable in chop and boat wakes.

My two cents is to look for 13’ or greater. Ebay, craigslist, local clubs, used is the way to go.

Wilderness Systems, Necky, Current Designs, Old Town, and more offer entry level boats that are quite nice.

You may be happier with paddling a better designed boat, and therefore paddle more often.


A local find
Thanks for the replies so far. Someone local is selling a Current Design Squamish. Seems this is 15’8". Would this be good first Kayak?

I tried a friends race style (?) kayak and I had to struggle just to keep the thing upright, I’m hoping the squamish has a little more stability…


PNet tends to be biased with longboaters
save up just a little more and look for a used Tsunami 125, you can find em for around 600-650… you’ll be much more satisfied in the long run than with anything from Pelican. big lakes, 20-mile days and lightweight multi-night camping are possible.

Prijon Yukon Expedition used
You can get one on Ebay now for $850. It is a much better boat than anything suggested so far. The extra $350 is an excellent investment. You can do everything you say and much more.


– Last Updated: Apr-06-10 1:23 AM EST –

your profile, and included not only your size, and the generic waters you're interested in, as you've indicated, but your general state and city locale, and the waters you'd likely be paddling, and other data which might be helpful. There aren't TOO many axe murderers or computer hackers here, so you're in pretty safe, maybe even danm fine company, if I say so myself...

As to the Squamish, if you can paddle it fairly comfortably, and you're running calm rivers, it just might be a good boat for you. You'll need to check its condition, ask its age and how it was stored. Look for things like whether there are cracks (not the usual scratches -they're OK), if (a) part(s) of the the hull are(is) overly flexible, if the hatches are pretty well-sealed, and if the skeg works easily.

The latter is something you should do a little research on, tho', being a newcomer... Skegs aren't for everyone, and that might be the case for you. Or not. I went from a shorter (14'-9") unruddered to a longer (17'-2:) ruddered, and now paddle a 17-7 skeg boat, and I like the way the progression ended up.

But if it doesn't work out, you can keep looking, but don't necessarily limit yourself to a 'big-box special'; rather continue to check Craigslist, eBay, or local paddling shops as well as right here at P-Net's classifieds.

Now you're talking a boat, but you understand there's a bit more, right...?

Whatever you want to spend, you DO need to take all the following into account:

You'll need a paddle -and not a 'cheap', slab-sided oar-like one. A decent -around $85-150 new, $50-100 used -medium-weight (say 30oz., more or less) paddle will do you well. A 2-piece will probably work well as it will fit in most trunks/storage areas OK. Lighter is good, but significantly lighter usually equates to more expensive. And don't buy too long -220-225 should be more than enough for a boat like the Squamish -unless it's a really good deal.

You'll need a PFD -a life jacket. You can get a decent one for around $25-30 at a big box, but a good PFD will fit you, provide you with adequate flotation, allow you to sit in your boat and not have it ride up because it's hitting the seat back, and be comfortable. It's important to have a comfortable one because that's one you'll wear, and as a newcomer, you really should be wearing one out on the water.

And you'll need some sort of transportation system, too... You can get away with a $35-$60 "quick" temporary stiff foam block and lines 'rack in a bag' kirt, and that might be a good way to go if you're really not really sure you'll want to follow the sport. Be sure to also get bow & stern tie-downs as well if they're not included in the kit. If you do make that commitment, a 'regular' roof rack system ir eally the way to go -Yakima, Thule, Saris -the big three -all have systems to fit most vehicles. They'll run in the neighborhood of $200-$300 new.

A couple other items are usually considered as part of a kayak gear set -a paddle float & pump.

Then there are things like dry bags. Don't think you need one? You have any sort of electronic key for you car? You need one. You have a wallet? You need one. A large peanut butter jar, washed, will work just fine if you don't want to spend the $10-$35 for a 'regular' dry bag...

And perhaps as important -you can buy every thing used -and still get quality gear -and save a bundle. Looking at the ads here, on eBay, and on Craigslist is a start. Check oit local padling shops for used equipment, or consignment items, as a way to save some money.

But one of the best things you can invest in is some sort of introductory instruction -either meeting up with some experienced paddlers, in or out of a club, or by taking a course at a local paddling shop or perhaps a county park & recreation department.

At any rate, set up a profile, keep on researching, check out that Squamish, and have fun as you begin your journey on the water as you start to


-Frank in Miami

+++ Good Advice +++
Nice boat for rivers and camping.

Be sure to budget for a decent paddle, PFD, skirt, and wet suit or dry top if paddling in colder water …

CD Squamish
I’d say, go for it if the price is right. I’ve never tried that kayak and my personal preference is for swede form (this is fish form) but this one should be OK for what you mention.

But try it for comfort and stability. Most sellers would let you test paddle their kayaks. It has a “normal” size cockpit at 16x29" per CD’s web site and some novices find that too small, but as long as it does not restrict your movements or pinch you somewhere it is better to be snug than loose. For “tame” rivers it probablyu does not matter much but will let you learn a thing or two down the road.




L.L. Bean
LL Bean is having a 20% mark down on all kayaks this weekend, at least in the Pittsburgh store. My understanding is that this is a company wide sale.

Their Manatee 12 (actually a Perception Prodigy 12) might fit the bill.


Buy a $1000 kayak used for $500
The $500 retail/sale priced Dick’s sports specials suck.

Ideas: Necky anything, Prijon Calabria, and some others. People know these boats better than I do, but trust me, the stamped out dime a dozen Dick’s models with a cumbersome aluminum shafted paddle will not have you loving the sport.

Spend considerable time to find a properly fitting paddle, lightweight (but not fragile). Key key key!

Rutabaga in Madison, WI
You’re in southern WI, so a jaunt and test paddling at RUTABAGA would be a day well spent. Very knowledgeable staff, good prices.

kayak choice

keep in mind you kayak has to hold not only you but your supplies and water needs as well.

A used Pungo 14, or something similar, might work for you and your budget.