kayak advice strategy

This is both an attempt to advise and for general help.

I’ll preface it by saying I think everyone should be allowed their own level of expectations when it comes to the type of paddling they do and the proficiency they wish to develop (so long as those two align). I’ll always defend rec kayaking and people who don’t want to progress further.

BUT - what’s the group consensus when it comes to questions like this:

“Help me pick between these two boats. Boat #1 is a P.O.S. I saw at Dick’s for $200, and boat #2 is a P.O.S. I saw at Dunhams for $225.”?

I know if someone were buying a car and wanted help picking between a Pontiac Aztek and a Suzuki wagon I’d ask them to pick two better cars but I feel funny telling someone that about kayaks. Yet I think it serves none of us well that these big boxes carry such P’s O.S. let alone recommending someone buy one.

I think when that kind of question appears its the fact they don’t realize there POS kayaks. Maybe the best way to answer that is explain why there POS kayak. I think thats the best anyone can do here online. Explain why bulkheads are important or deck rigging is.

If there budget is low best to say look used. But buying used brings a whole lot of other questions too.

Then there is the POS I bought 5 yrs ago
And took paddling last weekend because that was the perfect boat for the water we paddled that day.

Sometimes those are the right boats. All you can do is explain the limitations.

More problematic are all the reviews here on P Net that say " I just bought my first POS from Wally World and paddled it for half an hour in my kids pool and it handles beautifully. I was able to edge it easily and it tracked like an arrow. Truly an awesome buy, everything I hoped for"

I don’t want to dissuade anyone from getting out there. Also, I know there are people here who think if a kayak is a “rec kayak”, it is by definition a P.O.S.

Well, what we call POS kayaks are actually appropriate boats for some limited conditions. Small ponds where the waves will never show up and the water is warm enough and shore close enough that the person could swim to shore in an emergency.

Unfortunately I am not sure that cars are a great examples, as all cars on the market can drive on freeways, around town, etc. They have built in safety (good brakes, air bags, seat belts, etc.).

Better might be to add in some extreme. Say that the POS kayaks are the golf carts. They can be used around town for short distances, but can’t go on highways, can’t be taken off road, go long distances, etc. For these activities, you’d need a better suited car.

My Strategy?

No matter how diplomatic I tried to be I’d come off like some snob. Had I ever owned a big-box POS I could honestly discuss it.

Look. Already I sound snobbish.

Oh hell, let’s roll with it: Brent could make a forum entitled “Advice and Suggestions About Your Big-Box POS”



I haven’t even had a drink and I start with this.

Silence is it, I’m tellin’ ya.

thank you
I’m still chuckling at your new forum suggestion!

Maybe in the profile areas
Boats Owned: select all applicable




Big Box POS

I Like it!
OK, I’ve had one Black Russian. (the drink; not the human being)

I think the ‘old-but-used’ suggestion might be good. Coming from a bicycle background I know that ‘pretty-danged-old-and-very-used’ can save a lot of money and you can still play with the big dogs.

If someone asks about buying the POS you could suggest that. If they ask about their POS after the purchase…


We all started somewhere
It takes time to come to love a new sport, learn about it, and decide to commit more resources to it. My kayak progression went something like this:

Old Town Loon 111 + plastic paddle (just fooling around)

Old Town Cayuga 146 (wanting to camp on bigger lakes)

Swift Kiwassa 12.6 + carbon paddle (ready to spend more, looking for more ease of paddling)

Eddyline Journey 15.5 (looking for better performance)

To get to that point took several years of learning, experimenting, and figuring out how to get the money for better gear. There were a lot more kayak purchases in there that were either mistakes or to raise money for the next purchase.

Usually one lousy kayak is in fact better than another lousy kayak, and that’s what the poster wants to know, so tell them.

Above all, ask questions about the poster’s needs, ability, and resources and try to answer within THEIR frame of reference. Often when someone asks, What do you think of Kayak A, people respond with a slew of other kayaks that they themselves prefer. That doesn’t help the poster.

I like that a lot
Someone who still has some pull with Brent should suggest it as the top forum when folks log in.

Put float bags in either POS
I’d tell them nicely that I don’t think either boat is good for more than short, close-to-shore, no-currents-or-waves, calm nice weather, etcetc. And since that actually is a great way for a newbie to start out in ANY kayak, just get the darned POS, add float bags, wear the PFD, know how to swim, and then…go have some fun!

Without that initial worry-free fun as a hook, there ain’t much to entice someone to spend more money on an even bigger POS. It’s not likely that someone considering a $200 POS is going to buy a $1500-$4000 sea kayak as either the first or second boat…unless the first POS got them hooked enough to spring for that much of an expenditure.

And if all they ever want to do is piddle around in the POS, more power to them for knowing what they want and sticking with it.

You get my drift. You can attract more bees with honey than you can with vinegar.

Hope You Know More About Boats…
…than you do about vehicles. My four Suzukis have been great - if the Big Three built anything as solid and reliable as the Zuks, maybe the taxpayers wouldn’t had to pump into those dead and still-rotting horses.

I drive a toyota

– Last Updated: Jun-11-14 11:07 AM EST –

Must be my different frame of reference.

By the way, the taxpayers only pumped money into the big two. But the only market where manufacturers enjoy home-market protection more than Japan is China.

my apologies
For the acronym I used. I probably err on the side of encouraging people to get into the water. But last time I was in Dunhams, just looking at the boats they had made me wince.

i would buy a jimney
If they sold them here. But let’s be real.

true dat ^
Not only does the old family 'zuki SUV have way over 100,000 mi on it and still runs great, but it has been hit not once, not twice, but three times by other people who were being jerks, and it has been a tank when it comes to protecting its driver and passengers.

The best way to convince someone to try another model is to offer your own for a practice run… people have to learn by doing, as most people haven’t studied design and cannot remember details of school physics courses. What is desired by the eye for an aerodynamic “look” on the road while using gasoline in an engine to turn wheels, isn’t going to work the same on the water using arms and paddles.

If only there was that “new kayak smell…”