kayak newbie

Hello all. I am in need of advice for my first kayak. I have recently discovered the thrill of my first paddle while using a rental in northern Michigan. Needless to say I am hooked. The rental I was using was a sit-in Old Town Otter; very basic, I know. Now back home in central Ohio, there are several lakes within minutes but no rental places that I know of which leads me to purchasing my first kayak. In starting my searches on-line for beginner kayaks I seem to find that the Old Town Otter may be the lowest price (around $280). Of course, budget is a very big deciding factor during this purchase. Are there any others in this range I should know about and consider. Any and all help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Kayak Newbie
Try the Buyers Guide on this site. It is loaded with a wide variety of options. Once you are there and have selected a brand to view, look at the top right hand corner and you will have a choice on how you want the different models to be listed. You can click price, length, material, etc.

Happy hunting,


Before we can make
any really good recommendations about boats for you, we’d need to know more about you, the kind of paddling you want to do, and your desire to grow your skills. Things like height, weight, paddling experience, where and what kind of water you want to explore, if you want to be able to do overnight trips, if you’re going to fish, etc. Your profile does give us a bit to start.

That being said, we’ll all say the same thing - demo, demo, demo. Most good dealers will give you an opportunity to demo a few boats you are interested in. The best way to know if a boat is right for you is to get out on the water in it.

If your budget is the number one concern in your decision making process, then you’re search is going to be very limited. This is not necessarily an inexpensive sport.

That being said, another conservatively priced starter boat is the Perception Prodigy - so far it is well regarded as an entry level rec boat. Some folks have also had good things to say about the entry level Heritage boats as cheap starters. For a bit more money you could consider the Wilderness Systems Pungo and Pamlico.

Also check the Product Reviews section on this site, lots of good info and feedback to be found there.

Good luck in your search…

newbie follow up
Thanks! Yeah, I should have given a bit more info. I am 6’ 1" 160 lbs. I am looking to do mostly lake paddling with some mild river. I’m not yet into overnight trips. I know that my budget will keep me limited and I frown on that. However, I need to keep that in the purchasing process. Should I consider a higher quality inflatable or perhaps a sit-on-top? I have also found, from the search on this site, the Pelican Pursuit 100 in my price range. I wish I knew more than I currently do now . . .:slight_smile: Thanks to all for the help.

consider used
I have bought and sold a number of kayaks. People either want to move up or lose interest. Check craigslist. Make traveling to demo a yak a fun trip - sightsee, shop, etc.


Where in Ohio?..
…I’m near Caesar’s Creek Lake about equidistant

from dayton, cinci, and columbus.

Lots of options. Lots of clubs. gotta run.

shoot me some p-net email.

For what it is worth
I think the Old town Otter would be a great boat for you to start in if that is your price range.

My wife and I started into kayaks fifteen years ago with little 9’-5" Keowees. They are the exact same as the OT Otter.

We still have them and just used them two days ago in a class I-II river.

We used them at the beach, in surf, and lakes and enjoyed every minute in them.

They are the slowest kayak on the water. They track something awful, and are like paddling a bathtub but since they have no rudders they are a ideal boat to learn all the basic strokes.

If you get hooked, which you will, at a later date you can always get a longer and more expensive boat.




– Last Updated: Jul-06-07 8:42 PM EST –

is 100% right. If budget is the driving factor behind your decision, then the Otter is certainly a great choice for a cheap starter boat. Also check out the Perception Prodigy, newer design, may have some better handling. For the type of kayaking you are looking to do, something a bit longer that will track better would be better and less frustrating to keep heading straight. But longer also means more expensive. Some of the Trekreation Liquid Logic boats like the Tuxedo and Tryon are good start boats as well. Your physical size is such that you'd fit well in any number of boats, especially if you didn't find the Otter too small. And like Jack says, you start out cheap, and if you fall in love with it, you can upgrade. Another excellent suggestion is to go used for you first boat, may help you get a bit more boat for the money.

So some recommendations to look at and test paddle if you can:

Perception Prodigy
Wilderness Systems Pungo
Wilderness Systems Pamlico
Liquid Logic Tryon
Liquid Logic Tuxedo
Necky Manitou Sport
Dagger Blackwater
Dagger Element
Heritage Featherlite

All are good entry level rec boats of varying cost and different features.

also look at
old school whitewater kayaks. A real alternative if you want something cheap,yet will actually let you develop some skills. With the otters and such, you pay for a grocery store “kayak”(really,more like a little canoe) and you get a grocery store kayak. I honestly think even the Pelicans are probably much better.

Thanks to everyone for the great help. In all the replies thus far I haven’t heard much about the Pelican Pursuit 100. It seems to be found for a little less than the OT Otter. Also, should I stay away from the inflatable and sit-on-tops?

From what I am beginning to understand, it seems that stability is very important for a beginner. However, being a beginner I don’t know what is considered stable and not. I can say that when I was in the OT Otter I found nothing to be unstable or shaky, and in fact, felt quite solid when paddling. I also found it to go in a straight line where I pointed it with each right and left stroke. Of course this is not on a moving river; only a lake. I would just like to know if there are any other in its price range that may track better or feel more stable. Hopefully I can find a dealer to test ride.

Wilderness Systems
The Pamlico or Pungo in there longer boats 12 or 14’ would give you a decent fit with good stability and condition flexibility. Used and even left-over new would be close to your price range. Once you are hooked there’s no looking back!

don’t put too much emphasis on
stability. remember, you’ll only be a “beginner” for a very short time. also, i think if you don’t have any serious issues with balance in general, you will get used to the “tippiness” of a kayak after a short time. i’ve paddled many different types of kayaks and i’ve found my initial impression of how tippy a kayak is is generally exaggerated after about 30 minutes “seat time.” after pushing the kayak to its edge, literally, in that time, you’ll find the sweet spot and settle into it just fine. the key is in that first 30 min, don’t be afraid to capsize it.

the otter is a fine kayak if that’s what you can afford! as you peruse this forum over time, you’ll hear plenty from elitists who look down on anything that’s not 20" wide, 18’ long, made of fiberglass, built by specialty shops that hand-crafts only 10 kakays a year, blah, blah, blah.

the key is know what and why you’re getting it and not look back.

I started out with an otter. Great starter boat but a barge to paddle. My second kayak was a Dagger Blackwater 11.5. This was a much better boat to paddle and very stable. I wouldnt recommend anything shorter than 12 feet. Try Craigslist and maybe look into getting a gently used boat. Do some research and good luck. Once you get hooked on kayaking you are hooked for good.