Kayak Purchasing Questions

I’m looking to buy my first kayak but am lost in thousands of options. I’m looking for something for mainly recreational use, but I also want to be able to use it for light touring. Maybe a few overnight camping/paddling trips. I’m in IL, so I’ll mainly be in rivers, streams, and flat water, but I do plan to eventually venture out and paddle in other locations. I’m about 5’9" and 150 lbs, if that info helps. I recently had a great experience renting a Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120, but I’m not sure if it will be able to completely suit my needs.

I’ve also looked at the Tsunami


The Pungo


And the Riot Edge 13


Still very open to suggestions. Thanks for any help!

Isn’t all paddling recreational?
What is meant by a recreational kayak is don’t take it where you will run into trouble. They can’t be rescued and bailed on the water because they don’t have two bulkheads so they must be drug ashore and dumped. Big open cockpits mean you should not be putting a skirt on one and heading into rough water because he skirt will collapse under a wave.

The pungo 120 is a straight up rec kayak. Similar to a pamlico 120 I have and just took paddling two weekends ago. Good boat suitable for flat water paddling near shore.

The other two are crossover kayaks between rec and touring, they have two bulkheads and perimeter lines so they are a little more capable but still way shorter than a touring kayak.

All 3 are suitable for you immediate goals. I would lean towards the double bullheaded boats if you plan to haul camping gear. If you want to get into longer trips and larger waters you will want a 14’ boat minimum before long.

You can agonize over specs for weeks. The tsunami and the edge are pretty similiar and of a type and boats of the same type handle the same. Test paddle them if you can. Sit in one at the store at least then, if one doesn’t get ruled out, get the one in your favorite color because their is not enough difference worth missing another weekend paddling your own boat.

If you decide later you want to progress you are going to want a better boat but by then you will have a better idea of what you are looking for.

So there is my advice, get the tsunami or the ede and figure out your next boat while your on the water.

I now yield the floor to the demo day/rent/lessons/waitwaitwait buy used crowd

PS buy the best paddle you can afford, $130 Aquabound stingray at a minimum. Don’t waste $70 at the sports store.


read: https://www.cdkayak.com/KayakCategory.aspx?cat=1

kayaks are a lot like musical instruments. expensive instruments are easier playing.

It appears like you are comfortable with the 12’ length. It can be more difficult to turn than a 8 footer. You might debate a rudder. If you are thinking of overnight adventures, you might want to consider dry storage compartments, or room for dry bags. We own several 9 footers for day trips with friends and a tandem 16 footer that I also enjoy as a voyager since it can haul so much gear. The other aspect to consider is the hull, and how stable it rides in the water for you. I hope you enjoy whichever kayak you choose.

Rec Boats and Transitional
Better rec boats will have 2 hatches and 2 bulkheads creating big sealed compartments fore and aft to keep the boat floating high if you capsize, just inquire.

It’s not always possible, depending on where you live and what dealers are nearby, but where you can, it will help you to take candidates out for a test paddle to see how you fit, how comfortable you are with the stability - usually better in shorter/wider boats vs how easily the hull is powered - usually better in longer/narrower boats, as well as other characteristics… It’s helpful to read reviews and listen to ideas to narrow things down an extent, but other people’s preferences may not be the same as yours, so better if you at least paddle a few finalists.

If you have good balance, you may be better off starting with a 13-14 footer, and you could also look at so-called “transitional boats”.

On rec kayaks are 90% written by people who have owned one boat for two weeks and never paddled anything else. Waste of time. They will give 4 out of 5 stars too a plastic POS they just bought.

I own
9’ Swifty, 12’ pamlico, 14’ Tsunami, and assorted 16 and 17 models.

There is not much difference in turning ability in any of them except in how I do it.

The longer boats can be edged which shortens the effective hull length. Anything 9 foot loses hydronamic abilities due to archemidias requirements.

I can paddle a 14’ easily into a twisting marsh to a point where it’s too narrow to yield a kayak paddle.

Long Length =narrow and glide

Short width= wide and stable

Maneuvering and tracking is a function of skill, assuming you are using a boat for it’s designed purposes, i.e. not trying to cross a lake in a play boat.

The WS Tarpon Will Work Just Find
SOTs are user friendly and safer. You sit sideways and fish from them.

Unless you’re carrying coolers with ice, like I do, a 12’ SOT will serve you well.

Keep your decision simple. Trust your instincts.

Buy one
Don’t try to pick the perfect boat.

Buy one, even if you like it you’ll probably sell it in 2 to 3 years.

If you don’t like it or want to change. sell it sooner

get what you want for now
Personally I’d shop used. But any of those choices are fine for what you want to do now. If after time, you still want to branch out, look for a second boat that fills the requirements better.

Resist paralysis by analysis when shopping for your first kayak. Chances are one of three things will happen:

1, You’ll be content and never stretch the limits of that kayak

2, you’ll decide kayaking isn’t for you, or

3, you’ll decide after a year or two that you want something more challenging.

Just got my first yaks
That’s a loaded questions. So many different yaks our there to choose from. There are rental places all over the US. Rent a few different yaks. That’s what we did. We ended up with 2 Hobie Outbacks off of Craigslist. They are pricey, even used, but we are older and “Fluffier” than most yakers. Look up " Liquid Logic" They have a coupe and a deuce coupe. Seem to be great on flat water and up to a class 3 river. I have a friend who has both LL. Very stable and easy to paddle, drop down skeg is nice. The Hobie is not for white water so I can see a pair of LL in the future. https://www.liquidlogickayaks.com. Good luck. http://www.hobiecat.com. Not the cheapest by far, but some of the best ocean/flat water yaks out there.