Kayak recommendations

So here’s my situation: My wife and I are looking to buy (probably) a couple of boats for paddling, sometimes with and sometimes without our 9 year old daughter. We live in CT and like to paddle in the summer on lakes, ponds, easy class I-II whitewater, and occasionally along the coast (Long Island Sound) on calm days. My initial thoughts are 1 single and 1 tandem boat. I’m leaning towards sit-on-tops, as we 1) typically don’t haul a lot of gear, 2) generally paddle only on warm days, and 3) don’t have to worry about swamping the boat, and 4) would possibly like to bring our golden retriever, who wants to swim more than sit in a boat. If it’s just the two of us paddling, are there any tandem sit-on-tops that wouldn’t be a total barge for me to paddle solo? I’m open to any suggestions/recommendations.

Consider a canoe
Based on all of your specifications and uses, it really sounds as if you would be much better served by a good canoe. And that advice is coming from an avid kayaker (who has canoed in the past) so there is no craft bias involved. A canoe is better for dogs and for fast-growing kids, better for flexibility of number of occupants and paddlers, better for class 1 and 2 fast water without compromising flat water performance.

And for what you would pay for a moderately good tandem kayak you could buy an excellent and much lighter canoe. Tandem plastic SOT’s are the heaviest and slowest barges out there.

I would say – get a good canoe. Plus, perhaps, a solo regular cockpit (sit-in) kayak if you feel you need a second boat.

Tandem kayaks…
There’s a reason they call them “divorce boats”…that being said. I paddle the same areas of CT that you do. When I’ve paddled with my dog, I rent a Native Ultimate 14.5 tandem and configure the seat for solo paddling. This boat is a “hybrid” and while it does not haul a ton of stuff, your needs will be met. The ultimate 14.5 comes in a solo, but the tandem is so easy to transition that it’s worth choosing over the solo. If you really want to do Class II, Native offers skirts for the boat that might make the trip a little less wet. Collinsville Canoe & Kayak and North Cove Outfitters carry them. I rent mine from CC&K.

How big are you?


take a look at wilderness systems pamlico 135T …@ 13 1/2 ’ short boat , can be used solo or with child or a dog as 2nd person. rated for max weight of 400#'s …can be outfitted with a rudder… not a good boat for rough water though. tends to plow in rough water/waves IMO , due to front bow design/hull. I like the Boreal Oopik tandem design better. Maybe suitable for small rapids with 2 skilled people on the oars. i have one I use solo for fishing …nice boat for calm bays and slow moving water. ran some short class 1 rapids and boat was a handful…glad they were short, if i had to run a mile of rapids i know i would not have made it and capsized the boat.