Kayak Buying Help


I’m looking for some advice on buying a kayak for a beginner. I live in the southwest ohio area and would be kayaking Class 1 & 2 type rivers, possibly a Class 3 at the most. I’d also like to kayak on lakes. So I would need a kayak where I can do rivers and lakes.

I went to a small mom & pop type of kayak place to get some advice. Most of their kayaks were $800 and above. To me, this seems very expensive.

My question is why should I pay over $900 for a kayak, when I can go to Dicks Sporting Goods or Bass Pro Shops and buy one for $300-$600? Why the huge difference in price range? For the type of kayaking I’d want to do, as described above, would I be alright just buying the cheaper ones from a place like Bass Pro? Bass Pro sells brands like Old Town, Ascend and Ocean Kayak. The mom and pop place sells brands like Liquid Logic, Dagger, and Perception. Any help I could get on this would be greatly appreciated.

WW has specific needs
The big open cockpit boats simply don’t work well in WW compared to a boat designed to handle it, and by class 3 the problem becomes one of your safety as much or more than the finer points of what you can get the boat to do.

Look for some lessons so you can get a good sense of the basics and what I am talking about, then go looking for a used boat. You’ll get the price you want and a much better boat.

try out the boat
When I first considered a kayak I choose to rent from a local outfitter for my first several trips. I then worked with a local outfitter on their suggestions on which kayak would fit my paddling style.

  1. See if your mom and pop will rent a kayak for you to try. THis is where you get a tremendous amount of information on type of kayak you fit your looking for.

    2.In addition read up on what kind of kayak (or ask for advice from outfitters) you need for the places you will paddle most.

  2. Not all kayaks are the same in fit or preformance: cockpit with, beam of boat, length of boat and hull all go into what kind of kayak you need to paddle safely.

    hope this helps

Buy a used whitewater boat for $400 to $600.


Whitewater classification
People often reference river classifications without knowing what they mean. A newbie thinking he may wish to take a rec yak into Class III clearly does not know.

From the American Whitewater Association:

The six difficulty classes:

Class I Rapids

Fast moving water with riffles and small waves. Few obstructions, all obvious and easily missed with little training. Risk to swimmers is slight; self-rescue is easy.

Class II Rapids: Novice

Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels which are evident without scouting. Occasional maneuvering may be required, but rocks and medium-sized waves are easily missed by trained paddlers. Swimmers are seldom injured and group assistance, while helpful, is seldom needed. Rapids that are at the upper end of this difficulty range are designated “Class II+”.

Class III: Intermediate

Rapids with moderate, irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid and which can swamp an open canoe. Complex maneuvers in fast current and good boat control in tight passages or around ledges are often required; large waves or strainers may be present but are easily avoided. Strong eddies and powerful current effects can be found, particularly on large-volume rivers. scouting is advisable for inexperienced parties. Injuries while swimming are rare; self-rescue is usually easy but group assistance may be required to avoid long swims. Rapids that are at the lower or upper end of this difficulty range are designated “Class III-” or “Class III+” respectively.

Class IV: Advanced

Intense, powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise boat handling in turbulent water. Depending on the character of the river, it may feature large, unavoidable waves and holes or constricted passages demanding fast maneuvers under pressure. A fast, reliable eddy turn may be needed to initiate maneuvers, scout rapids, or rest. Rapids may require “must” moves above dangerous hazards. Scouting may be necessary the first time down. Risk of injury to swimmers is moderate to high, and water conditions may make self-rescue difficult. Group assistance for rescue is often essential but requires practiced skills. A strong eskimo roll is highly recommended. Rapids that are at the lower or upper end of this difficulty range are designated “Class IV-” or “Class IV+” respectively.

Class 5: Expert

Extremely long, obstructed, or very violent rapids which expose a paddler to added risk. Drops may contain** large, unavoidable waves and holes or steep, congested chutes with complex, demanding routes. Rapids may continue for long distances between pools, demanding a high level of fitness. What eddies exist may be small, turbulent, or difficult to reach. At the high end of the scale, several of these factors may be combined. Scouting is recommended but may be difficult. Swims are dangerous, and rescue is often difficult even for experts. A very reliable eskimo roll, proper equipment, extensive experience, and practiced rescue skills are essential. Because of the large range of difficulty that exists beyond Class IV, Class 5 is an open-ended, multiple-level scale designated by class 5.0, 5.1, 5.2, etc… each of these levels is an order of magnitude more difficult than the last. Example: increasing difficulty from Class 5.0 to Class 5.1 is a similar order of magnitude as increasing from Class IV to Class 5.0.


OTOH - why should you go to Dicks and pay 300 - 600 for a kayak when you can just buy a 10 year old plastic kayak at craigslist for $100?

Any of the above have a hole in which you sit and float. That’s the general idea isn’t it?

Great Advice

I just want to say thanks for all the advice. It has really helped me out. I think I’m definately going to stay away from the big retailers.