Kayak/canoe buying advice

we need some kayak (or maybe canoe) buying advice… we are a family of 4 (kids are 14 and 11) and we travel alot… we have a tow behind trailer that we take out at least once a month somewhere… we also currently have 3 inflatable sea eagle se370’s… we really love the sea eagles for almost everything but the time it takes to setup/tear down when we get to the water… we are looking for hard sided kayaks for us all. unfortunately, i’m having a really hard time figuring out what we want (i think it is cause we want to be able to do so many different things with these)… here are some things we’d like kayaks (or canoes) for (in no order):

  • goofing around with some mild rapid day trips (class II at most)
  • overnight float trips down rivers with mild rapids (class II at most – we would likely do some portaging for rapids beyond that so weight is a factor)
  • goofing around on lakes
  • overnight trips on lakes
  • protected water ocean trips
  • possibly more aggressive rapids after training and more experience (and likely new kayaks)
  • possibly a coastal overnight trip (but again, only after training, experience and new crafts)

as you can see we prolly need to look at several different kayaks but $$ and storage space are a limiting factor here…

a couple things i’ve considered:

  • 2 tandem kayaks with enough capacity for all that gear
  • 1 tandem and 2 singles with enough capacity
  • 1 tandem canoe with comfy seats (old town saranac) and 2 kayaks
  • 1 pack canoe (old town next, maybe) and 3 single kayaks
  • 1 hybrid kayak (ascend h12) and 3 other single kayaks
  • 4 single kayaks with enough capacity for all out gear

i’m really finding it hard to determine which crafts have what type of whitewater capabilities (capacity, weight and length are factors as well, but those are always specified)… for instance, i was totally sold on wanting the old town next but then read on their site: “not for whitewater”… wondering if that means no whitewater at all… or nothing technical and complicated…

hopefully someone can help with some guidance.



Buy used. Forget about Class II water until you get some experience. Kayaks are not good at carrying equipment so think about large ones. Avoid flat bottomed cheap boats. Find someone to help you.

well… maybe class II is overstating it… there is a river here that ppl go down with inner tubes and we’ve done it easily in our sea eagles before…

I can’t advise on anything that covers such a range of use, but have you thought about how you’ll haul the kayaks or canoes? Canoes and tandems are heavy and that could be a bear if you want them on the roof of your trailer (I assume you meant it’s a camper trailer). But four singles potentially takes up more space.

definitely something to consider… we have a roof rack on the top of our truck which could fit at least 3… if needed, we can put the fourth one on the back of the trailer against the ladder.

as for the range of use, i’m not really looking for “high-end” stuff here… higher end stuff tends to be more specialized… i’m more looking for something that’ll be able to handle these different situations but not be “great” at any of them… after some time, we may realize we want to start specializing, or we’ll find we are only using the boats for one type of activity… then we’d stop and look at higher end stuff…

currently, our inflatables can do all the things i’ve listed there (except the aggressive rapids and coastal trip… which i’m not looking to do in our next boats, either)…

I wonder a bit about the Canoes are heavy thoughts. They can be of course - take an old style 17’ Royalex tripping canoe. That can run 80+ pounds but what does a tandem kayak that can function as a wilderness truck for 2+ weeks weigh? There are several builders that make solo canoes under 20 pounds and tripping solos in the low 30s, Tandems in the 40s.

You might want to look at a decent used 16’ Tandem canoe like a Prospector (several manufactures make something like this) in Royalex or R-Lite. New maybe something in T-Formex or Northstar’s IXP layup. And then a couple of what are known as Crossover kayaks like the Remix XP.

thanks so much for the recommendations… i will look into those

so… i took the advice of some here and started looking at used kayaks… craigslist, fb, offerup… i’m really glad i did!! as i did my search i slowly started changing my mind from wanting something to do lots of different things to wanting something that was solely for touring… the main reason i went used was cause shops were asking for 1/2 down and about 3 months to get order a kayak that i only saw in pictures…

i narrowed my search down to 3 or 4 kayaks that all looked great on paper and went to try them all out…

  1. aquaterra sea lion and sea lion s – these two boats were kept outside chained up under a tree… they were terribly oxidized and i didn’t fit in the cockpit very well
  2. NW Synergy – this one really looked cool. they left the gel coat clear so you could see the kevlar underneath, but again, i wasn’t terribly comfortable in the cockpit
  3. eddyline merlin xt – this one looked great on paper, but when i got in the cockpit, i couldn’t get my knees under the combing without straightening my legs…
  4. necky pinta – this boat was definitely well taken care of and had plenty of room for me to fit in so i bought it…

after this experience, i don’t think i’ll ever buy a new kayak without sitting in it first at the very least (prolly want to paddle it first too), but here in phx there just aren’t any kayak shops that stock or have demos.

thanks so much for all the advice!


Congrats, glad you found something

Nice boat! Neckys hold up well (though they are heavy). Lots of legroom and space for gear in that and I think you will be impressed with performance. I’m partial to hard chined Greenland style kayaks like that myself. It is a big guy boat, though, probably too much volume for the kids for now, or your wife unless she is close to your size. But a good start on the fleet.