Kayak buying advice in Ontario Canada


I am a long time back country camper that has mainly canoed outside of some kayaking tours abroad.

Looking to get into kayaking

I am 6’2" 200lbs and will doing mainly 2-3 night trips in georgian bay.

I do some fishing as well but is not a major requirement

I do have some minor back issues, but outside of that I am a fairly capable paddler. I don’t have a budget but ideally under 4k. Gear wise i can pack fairly light

Any suggestions on what to look for?

Also, have seen some pedal kayaks on YT, are these suitable for rougher water and how does speed compare to a touring kayak?

Thank you

My experience with pedal kayaks……they seem to be barges. My experience is with ones that you can fish out of. Definitely not speedsters.

That is what I would have thought considering the design.

But doing some mild research online - many sites seem to imply they are faster. I am not sure if this is just in regards to the same kayak with and without the pedal drive though.

I was thinking more of a non-fishing pedal drive though. Something like a Hobie Revolution

they are surprisingly fast but really heavy. Dragging them up on the rocks in GB will really do the bottoms and the paddle fins in over time. Way better to be able to actually pick up and stash your kayak in the sometimes hard to find trees on Georgian bay when the weather turns sour. Or are you asking about something only for day paddles?

Would be only for camping trips 2-3 nights in a group.

I will be taking it to smaller lakes near me for a short paddle but not overnight.

The group is still undecided on which direction to go (we are all coming from strictly canoe trips). Some are looking at inflatable sea eagles to be able to do some family stuff and potentially getting a small outboard motor for open water stuff

For what you want to do, I recommend looking at Delta kayaks, they are widely available in Canada - you may be able to try them at a dealer. IIRC, the initial designs were by John Winters, who designed the original hulls that were sold by QCC kayaks and some by Swift. The hull lines are similar to canoes, and are generally well behaved and forgiving in confused seas.

I have a Q400 which is a great boat, but QCC is out of business. Some turn up on the used market, I think either a Q400 or Q500 would work well for you. There may be Swift dealers near you, they’re based in upstate NY.

I also have some back issues, and a key for me is to be able to move my legs around during the day. It helps to have a high deck to do that - say 13 inches or more. Coming from a canoe, this is something to think about. It also occurs to me that looking at pack canoes, or putting a spray deck on a canoe you already have might work well for short camping trips. A Placid Boatworks Rapidfire might be the ticket, cuz it’s just so pretty…


If looking at new boats, Delta and Swift kayaks come to mind right away. Both are Canadian companies so distribution in Canada is better than some other brands. Delta (out of BC) hulls are thermoform and are more affordable, but in my (limited) experience their boats tend to be designed for smaller paddlers - there are probably exceptions, but I don’t have a specific recommendation. I have a bit more experience with Swift (Gravenhurst, ON) and have found their boats to be good looking and well-made. Their aramid (Kevlar) composite hulls are very light and the seats are really comfy too (you mentioned back issues). However, you’ll pay more for the composite hull. Also, perhaps because Bill Swift is a big guy, they have models designed for taller paddlers. For the kind of activity you describe, a Saranac 15 would probably work very well, but MSRP is a bit over $4K. Swift has at least a couple of retail stores in cottage country north of Toronto and I’m sure Delta has a number of Ontario dealers too. A visit and test paddle is worth the effort any time, but especially when contemplating a $4K kayak. Good luck!

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I have three neighbors with fishing kayaks. All live on waterfront properties and haul out because we get a fair bit of bad weather… The boats seldom get used. Why? Cumbersome , heavy and they never car top them…

You will also need a trailer most likely for a fishing kayak.

It sounds like you are still learning about kayaks, so might benefit from some basics. If so, I’d start with an article about basic types of kayaks which was published in California Kayaker Magazine. Can be read online at http://calkayakermag.com/magazine.html . Issue #10.

There is another article in a different issue about kayaks and small living spaces. That will have some information about inflatables that might be worth reading.

Pedal kayaks are generally sit on top style. Fishing folks also are likely to use sit on tops, though it can be done with other style kayaks.

Camping is more often done out of a touring kayak (or for short trips with light loads, a day touring kayak), though can be done out of other types of kayaks.

For maintaining speed, generally a longer and narrower kayak will be faster than a shorter and wider kayak. You mentioned about paddling with others - you generally want a boat comparable or more efficient than your partners. The group will end up going the speed of the slowest boat.

Pedal kayaks are barges, but if you have strong legs, the pedaling systems sometimes allow you to plow that barge along at decent speeds to be able to keep up with others. As said, these barges are also usually beastly heavy, so that becomes an issue for transporting them.

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Look for something used from Current Design’s Solstice line.

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Group is still debating.

One is considering an inflatable sea eagle which is why i started looking at possibly a non sit in touring kayak since they likely won’t be moving fast.

I guess i was just debating if a longer, narrow sit on top would be viable option as i could possibly attach a seat for a small child for rec paddle. And if speed was an issue a sail or small electric motor could help.

I’ll take a look at the options above and read that article

You are starting to scare me mostly with your mention of small child and electric motor. With a lot of weight in the stern ( never mind how you could attach it), the craft may sink. If you can’t get back in with a small child the consequences could have been fatal.

Here is a link to a tragic accident on Lake Superior. Georgian Bay is not all that different.
Speed is not a priority. Safety is. Sailing a kayak is not something I can do well and I have been in them for some 30 years.

I post it not to call you out; you don’t know what you haven’t been exposed to in some way. Most of us had experienced kayakers showing us the way back in the day.

I said attach a seat for a child for a recreational paddle which i would do in a small lake near me, not with 5 people in lake superior.

I would only put an eletric motor in a vessel meant for it. Not sure why that would be considered dangerous when their are sit on tops that literally come with them and are meant for open water and ocean use. Some of these units weigh under 15 lbs. I have a bixby on a paddleboard that replaces the skeg.

Not sure that fully applies here. I read the article and wow that guy really made some bad decisions trying to paddle an overloaded kayak through open seas four miles with little kids.

We bought a Sea Eagle Explorer. I wanted something pretty much bombproof and stable that my wife would feel comfortable in. I’ve had it one some decent size lakes like First Connecticut and it handled very well. It’s not the fastest and I wouldn’t take it out a mile from shore on a Great Lake, but it would serve you well. The 380x also has a capacity of 750 pounds although my wife and I together are still under 300 pounds.

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They were looking at the Sea Eagle fast track or their inflatable canoe.

I was originally just going to get a touring kayak because that is what you predominantly see out that way, but I haven’t been out that way for about 10 years and many of these pedal drives are new.

But with them going that route (and being slower) that is why I was debating getting something maybe a bit more comfortable and easier to get in and out of that might be a bit more versatile for a rec paddle

the point was ; a series of small bad errors can add up. One alone may not be dangerous but two or three may be fatal… I am adding small child, Georgian Bay and overloaded questionably rigged kayak. This is more than four.
And of course as the OP has not actually done that , this is something to think about.

I would put child and SOT together in Grundy Lake… Nearshore. Not on the Bay with its clapotis and reflecting waves.

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I had to look up what Georgian Bay was and even if it was its own lake and not part of Lake Huron, it would still be one of the largest lakes in North America. It’s like a third of the size of my state (NH)! I agree that adding small kids on a small paddlecraft on a lake of that magnitude is not smart unless you’re staying like within 100 feet of shore. This past weekend I saw a mother with FIVE kids on the same paddleboard. Granted most of them were really small, but they were all wearing life jackets and they were in a small pond within say a couple hundred feet of shore, not in a massive, ocean size lake.

When recommending kayaks I would really like to see much more emphasis on hull shapes and how the hull determines stability. It does no good to talk about price, fit, material, etc. if the hull shape is not suited to the planned use, conditions, and paddler’s skill. Safety should come before all other considerations, as the tragic Lake Superior news story shows.

Swift and Delta kayaks have very different hull shapes. I’ve owned both. The Delta is far, far more stable. I was fine in my Swift until the day I was off Mere Point in Brunswick, Maine, and the weather changed very suddenly and the wind and waves picked up. I barely made it back to shore and it was a hairy ride. I sold the Swift immediately and got a Delta. The Delta never left me feeling unsafe.

Part of the problem is that manufacturers don’t educate paddlers and dealers about hull shape and how it relates to stability. Claims about stability are made without justifying them. Demos are done in calm, windless conditions. Most kayaks do fine in those conditions. What you need is a kayak that can handle the worst conditions you could be in, not the conditions you hope for. If you’re not an expert paddler, the kayak has to do a good part of the stability work.

The two brands that left me in danger in rough water and wind were Swift and Eddyline, even though Eddyline claims its designs are meant to “reduce windage.” That’s fine until you’re hit by wind and waves from the side.

If you want thermoformed, go with Delta for Georgian Bay. But be very aware that you will need to avoid running up on or against rocks with thermoformed. Be aware of the limitations of any material your choose. With thermoformed I would carry strong waterproof marine tape for field repairs. If that doesn’t appeal to you, go with rotomolded. Please don’t underestimate Georgian Bay.


This principle of accumulating errors leading to tragedy has been shown time and again in kayaking and mountaineering tragedies. In the Lake Superior case, the adults made only one good decision: putting PFDs on everyone. That resulted in saving 1 out of 5 lives. Everything else they did was wrong. Tragedy was assured the minute they left shore. Think ahead about everything that could happen, and have a plan for avoiding or mitigating the damage of each one, starting with the right kayak.