Kayak Ideas

Hey everyone just wondering if I could get some suggestions for purchasing my first kayak. I am not new to boats I was on the crew team in school and I have done some canoeing in boundry waters and the glades. I have spoken with a few people and they suggested either the touryak or seayak by prijon. I will be doing a lot of day trips on Lake Michigan near Chicago, but I also want the ability to do multi day trips. Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

There are SO many choices.
We need:



How much you want to spend.

Forgot that part. I am 5’9" and 200lbs. I am looking to spend around 1500 - 2000.

Still so many options…

– Last Updated: Jun-17-10 3:39 PM EST –

You are within the target paddler size for the majority of good sea kayaks. There are scores of boats which would work for you. The price range can get you a new poly boat or a used composite one. Be aware that there is an amount of gear you need to safely use a sea kayak on the Great Lakes.

Start playing in boats. Prijons have a long honorable history, but there are many other very good boats available. Every boat has a somewhat different personality. You will not know until to paddle a few what suits your personality. Hook up with a local paddlers group. People are nearly always happy to let you try their boats, paddles, etc...

Try to demo boats in the array of conditions in which you want to paddle. Many sea kayaks do not reveal their real personalities until you are in lumpy seas - have fun!

Your rowing and canoeing experience will serve you well as you already have a degree of comfort and sense of balance in boats that often takes a while for new paddlers to acquire.

Each of us on this board could give you the list each of us thinks are very good boats for someone your size, experience and desired use. Each of those lists would reflect the individual paddler's experience and preferences. Each of those lists would be somewhat different...

My short list for you to try would include: NDK Explorer, Necky Chatham 17, Valley Aquanaut, Wilderness Systems Tempest 170, P&H Cetus, P&H Scorpio and, for kicks, Valley Nordkapp or Nordkapp LV ;-)

more boats!
I heartily second everything wilsoj2 said.

The world is your oyster as far as kayak selection. So go have fun and demo a lot. If either Prijon is your choice you’ll know you picked them for good reason.

Here are some other boats to try (not duplicating wilsoj2 suggestions, as they are all good)

Current Designs Caribou (skeg or no skeg)

Current Designs Solstice GTS(w. rudder, like the Prijons)

Current Designs Cypress

P&H Capella 166 in plastic, 167 in fiberglass

Hurricane Tracer 165 in Trylon (thermoformed plastic)

Eddyline Nighthawk - the 16 footer.

Eddyline Fathom, maybe Fathom LV as well.

Boreal Designs Ellesmere

Impex Cat Force 4

Valley Skerray in roto or plastic - this boat model ceased production in 2005, good ones can be found often at near stealing prices well under $1000.

Necky Chatham 17, try the 16 if you want a more playful boat, the 17’s the trackier of the two.

Other people will jump in w. others. You can really fit a lot of boats, just depends on whether you lean towards a daytripper, a longtripper, or a do all boat somewhere inbetween.

my 2 cts worth…
… I think 1st you need to decide if you want a light composite boat or a abuse resistant poly boat… probably anything in the 16’ range and up will be good for multi-day trips. a word of caution on the Prijon’s, while they have a good rep…getting any replacement parts make be difficult… I say this only 'cause i have a 1998 model Seayak and have had a hard time getting a replacement seat cover for it. Everything has to come from Germany I understand.

poly vs. composite
not sure it is that big a dividing line:

some plastic is cheap & not very durable. Duralite was an early experiment in a lighter, thinner plastic that deformed more readily. It was discontinued largely due to the number of warranty issues.

There are a number of long (17 foot) kayaks now on the market that use a stiffener in the floor of the boat. Is that bec. the plastic is so thin (to save weight) that it has to be supported? IMO yes. Necky for example has not chosen to go that route in their Chatham 17, Mark Palinsky of Necky explained that they use a higher percentage of solids in their rototational moulding than other companies. Perception and Dagger have stiffeners in their longboats, and in the Dagger Alchemy as well.

Time & customer experience will prove out which methodology is better.

some plastic is bomber tough and proven to be so over years of use including Jon Turk’s expeditions using Prijon boats. Prijon, Valley and P&H’s Corelite are all good examples of tough plastic.

some composites are sturdy and take all kinds of knocking about - and fglass for example is much easier to fix than roto.

other composites are eggshell fragile. And, it depends specifically on which composite in question, and which layup process is used. There have been many advances in vacuum infusion and other methods that produce a kayak both light and strong.

It depends more on the mfgr, the process used, and the overall build quality/quality control than just the broad categories of “plastic” and “composite.”

My fiberglass Aquaterra Sea Lion.
I’ll probably be selling it soon. It’s bigger than I need. Email me if interested.

Prijons good
I have a kodiak, its tough stable and loads of room.

It is big though and heavy, but I figure I didnt plan on carrying it around anyway.It has a rudder that is good to have on a long kayak, if needed just pull the cord and drop it in the water. So many choices out there check out the reviews here it will help narrow your choices for sure. This just happened to fit my taste!

Colorado kayak has good deals.

Good Luck!


you’ll hear a lot of ideas here

– Last Updated: Jun-18-10 9:31 AM EST –

but the two you just named are good boats

Try used first
No one has said this yet, so I will - consider a used boat. It’s a good way to get a nice boat and not have to worry about putting the first scratch in it. If it isn’t to your liking, they can generally be resold for about what you paid, more or less.

I think it’s worth trying to get as light a boat as you can afford. It makes the whole experience more enjoyable. For me, this meant I didn’t even consider a plastic boat as they are too heavy.

There’s a lot of good suggestions above. For a beginner, I’d also suggest considering the QCC Q400, (which is the same hull as a Swift Caspian Sea). It’s a really nice boat - stable, hydrodynamically efficient and forgiving in confused seas. I’m exactly your height/weight and I find the Q400 to be a very sweet boat. It’s somewhat short, but has a long waterline length and has plenty of storage for tripping. The cockpit is quite roomy, which I like, but many say it should be outfitted with foam to provide good boat connection. They show up used fairly regularly.

Prijon parts

Sure the company is German, but AquaAdventures in San Diego stocks a number of Prijon parts and can order anything needed. MIght be a little more research if a significantly older model, at most.

I dropped a line to the Good Folks at Aqua Ad to confirm this.

Any dealer than offers gear by Wildwasser will almost always deal w. Prijon as well.

So don’t let that deter you, OP, from considering Prijon boats… they have a few models that could fit the bill for what you want.

Note: I am not affiliated w. Prijon nor anywhere else in the paddle industry. They just flat out make great boats for tripping, and people who want a touch more stability combined w. a rugged layup. Jon Turk chose them for his Arctic & sub Arctic expeditions for those reasons…

Used composite for the price of new RM
You can buy a used composite kayak for about the price of a new RM, and unlike buying a new boat, when you sell it you can get about the same as you paid for it.

With your background I think the beamy boats might be underwhelming. Most responsive sea kayaks have a beam between 20-22 inches give or take an inch. The more barrel like boats tend to feel…like paddling in a barrel.

We agree that a used composite boat is a good idea, but you appear to be implying the Q400 is a barrel, which is not the case. However, it is a good seakindly boat for a beginner who may find himself in dicey conditions from time to time, which may come up on Lake Michigan.

Hi Carl,

Friend has a QCC400, overall a surprising boat. I normally prefer much narrower boats, but this one acts like boats that are narrow and is reasonably fast too. Not having long overhangs that do little helps the speed alot and it’s the waterline beam that matters, not the boat that’s up in the air.

Bill H.

Different Strokes
Though I haven’t paddled a QCC400, I have paddled both Swift Caspian Sea and Bering Sea. They are much higher decked and beamier than I prefer. They are very popular around these parts among the folks to like going fast on relatively flat water. Not so much so among those who like to play in lumpy seas, rock garden, or surf. I’m not fond of their behavior in clapitos and the like. They are not as supportive of rolling and bracing as lower volume, narrower, lower decked boats. Not that you cannot do all of that in these boats…

Not new to boats
"I am not new to boats I was on the crew team in school and I have done some canoeing in boundry waters and the glades." OP

My experience with folks who have crewed is that even narrower sea kayaks feel overly wide. I also found when having a canoeist try our sea kayaks for the first time, the one he liked best was the Nordkapp LV which is the narrowest with the lowest stability of all our boats.

A beamy, high decked kayak with little rocker can easily feel unresponsive. If one wants long waterline for speed, a QCC600 or 700 might be more engaging than a 400.

Fair enough

– Last Updated: Jun-20-10 10:49 AM EST –

I understand your opinions, and I'm happy that you've actually paddled a Caspian Sea (plenty of people will dog boats they've never paddled). Anyway, the truth is neither of us knows what the OP wants (he may not know) - I just wanted to put forward a non-traditional sea kayak shape that I like. It was the pejorative term 'barrel' that bugged me, it really isn't applicable. I didn't denigrate all the narrow, high-rocker sea kayaks mentioned previously, I just offered another possible style of boat, which is the point of the thread. BTW, the OP and I are the same size, and the Q600 is way too small - the Q700 would be fine, although for me the deck was too low for comfort. The OP mentioned day trips, which is really what the Q400 is about, and it has enough storage for overnighters.

My apologies
I did not mean to imply that all QCC or all plum bow minimal rocker boats are barrel like. The Swifts that I have paddled (one of which you noted is the same hull as the Q400)felt much more barrel-like than the boats I usually paddle and prefer.

I have a friend who learned to roll using his Bearing Sea. As a result he has an audacious hip snap and had to repair the flanges and coaming on his Swift. He subsequently bought an Avocet and now also has an Anas Acuta. It seems that these boats are more supportive of rough water play, surfing, rolling, etc… than his Swift.

As I noted, different strokes for different folks. Swift kayaks are very popular in these parts. They serve certain populations very well.

QCC owners have told me there is a world of difference between the 400 and the newer hulls.

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