kayak purchase

I am new to kayaking and am thinking about buying a new one but there is definitaly a ton to choose from.I am 6’4 and about 245 and retired.I will mainly go on central Pa.'s small to med. size lakes and in the Susquehanna River.A couple of the locals suggested something like a Old Town Dirigo in at least 12 or 14 foot ?? All help appreciated.


WS Tsunami
My husband, who is also retired, and I each a have WS TSunami 140…we love them. A friend of ours is a larger person and has the Tsunami 145 and is very happy with that too.

But before you purchase any kayak, be sure to test paddle a few!

rent and lessons
Take lessons on basics of kayaking - strokes, recoveries, etc. This gets you some seat time in kayaks, plus learn some valuable skills.

Then rent some boats. many shops have rent to own deals - you can rent a variety of boats and then use the rental fees as downpayment towards a purchase.

You will find many people have suggestions here, but you really need to get time for yourself to find out what works for you.

Demo kayaks
Not sure which is closer to you, but Blue Mountain Outfitters in Marysville, and Shanks Mare in Long Level, are two good, knowledgeable shops. Stop in, talk to them, and try out a bunch of different kayaks.

lightweight is good
Used light plastic is good,especially if it has a bulkhead to keep out water if it tips. A boat full of water is heavy as a log and can hurt your back trying to get water out. Float bags often leak. Another popular option is a very light canoe with a foam saddle to sit on. Some use a small trailer to haul it becuase on top of your car menas scratches and spots

At your size, the 14 footer is
probably your starting point.


sounds like a good candidate depending. I think you have to realistically assess how much committment you want to make - do you want to go far and fast? Take lessons, learn to roll, load it up and camp with it etc.

If your thinking strictly recreational paddling, want to be able to exit when you tip and not roll etc. Then boats like the Dirigo are good because they have large cockpits for easy in and easy out. It will be harder to empty when full of water - there’s always a tradeoff.

6’4 is pretty tall and some of the bigger guys here sometimes complain about not having room for their feet - so make sure you get to sit in whatever before you buy. Lots of review here too. The reason your friend said at least 12 or 14’ is (1) weight capacity and (2) the longer the boat the straighter forward it goes without wiggling back and forth each stroke which slows things down.

14-16 feet
agree w. jimyaker that 14 feet is your starter size.

15-16 feet might be even better. Not just length - width (beam) is important, depending on your sense of balance and how your weight is distributed.

That is why water time before purchase is pretty much essential, especially for a first boat.

Dirigo is a classic Old Town kayak. Some would say the design is dated and the kayak slow, others that it is Old Reliable. For what you want to do and where you want to do it, a Dirigo will be fine.

Take some lessons now and have fun w. some rental daytrips. You’ll figure out what you want and then when the clearance sales start, oh, about mid September, you’ve done your homework and can pounce on a prime deal for a kayak to enjoy for fall paddling and next season. You then have saved money and can get a really good PFD and paddle plus your necessary safety items.

If you have even a hint of back or shoulder probs. those OT kayaks (and the Tsumani rotos) are really heavy for length. I have personal experience w. that over the last two years, having helped average sized male friends w. their Tsunami 140s and 160. Wow they are heavy. One weighed his 160 w. rudder on a postal scale (he is a technician for the USPS) and it came it at 83 lbs! Way more than advertised. He has since returned it to the dealer.

Think about a thermoformed plastic kayak by Seaward, Eddyline or Hurricane Aquasports. Models at 14-15-16 feet. Depending on model and listed weight (and btw they all weigh more “water ready” you can 20-25%, or more of the weight.

This makes them easier to load, unload and transport -really nice at the end of the day. Very beginner friendly, track extremely well, dual bulkheads - comfortable but not squishy seats. Try them and compare to the rotos. They will cost more but, again, an end of season sale brings them right in line w. rotos and your bod may thank you.

A Sit On Top for summer and early fall use might be really nice for you. Hurricane makes their Phoenix SOT in 14 and 16 feet, in Trylon, and WS has the very popular Tarpon series in the same length in rotomould. Again, the Hurricane will be much lighter. SOTS are heavy to begin with bec. of the greater amount of material to make them. Both are very good for fishing if you also like that, and there is a whole separate forum here for fishing kayaks where you could get more tips.

welcome to paddling and let us know how it’s going.

Also check out the Wilderness Systems Pungo, which is available in 12 and 14 feet as well.

Necky Manitou 14
lots of great reviews for this kayak.

Manitou 14 is nice, but would
likely be tight for him. At 6’1" 220, it was a bit tight for me. Great feeling boat, just tight.

The Tsunami 145 would also be worth a look, but it’s more pricey that a Dirigo, Carolina, and similar rec boats. I know several big guys that also really like SOTs because they are easy on and easy off and foot size is not a factor. Most are on the heavy side, but a big guy can often carry a pretty big boat.

Again, the 14 to 17 foot range. Short and wide for stability/fishing/photography/not worrying about tipping. Long and narrow for building skills, rolling, long trips, impressing the ladies, etc.


And the Pungo 14 is definitely worth
a look. One of the better rec boat designs. Good speed and good stability. Easy to enter/exit. Had a total newbie do a 10 mile trip in one over the weekend and he had no trouble keeping up with the longer boats.


I should’ve put more “weight” into considering what boats to recommend.

For that matter, at 245 he is right at the suggested max for the Hurricane Tampico 140L, so that was not a good pick either. Should have suggested the HA Expedition Sport, rated for 400 lbs capacity. The Sport has that extra big cockpit 55"x24" that a big man might enjoy.

OP, whatever you demo, check where the seam is compared to the waterline. If the seam is completely buried by water by a couple of inches, you are prolly close to maxing out the boat’s capacity and remember you will still be adding some kind of gear, daytrips or overnights.

Being low to the water can be good for efficiency, but too low and it is destabilizing. You are looking for ‘just right’

This is why water demos are part of the fine art '-)

Pamlico 140!!!
Just kidding…see previous posts by P.netter of that moniker…

another vote for the Pungo 14
A friend in our group keeps up just fine on paddles up to 26 miles. Yet is also fits very large paddlers.

Check out where the races are on the Susque and so up yo rtake a look. You will see all kinds of boats in the different classes.

Perhaps the Riverton Race series or check the Williamsport area.

kayak reccomendation
Check out the Hobie Outback it a sit-on-top, very stable and great for fishing. The peddle mirage drive is great!