Kayak Selection


I was wondering if I could get some advice, I am a rank beginer at Kayaking and I am looking at purchasing a kayak but am unsure on what to look at.

I will be trialing a few before I take the plunge and buy one but thought it would be good to have an idea on what to look for/at.

I am 6’1" and about 120kg and will mainly be doing short 1/2 day to day trips initially with the aim to doing full weekend/week holidays by kayak.

If anyone could give me some advice on kayak choices I would appreciate it.



What makes are available in Tasmania?

– Last Updated: Aug-15-08 12:46 AM EST –

That correct in your profile?

Andrew, you have a few choices
but it all boils down to what realistically kayaking will become for you.

If you are just dabbing at different activities and a kayak will be something that you will seldom use then buy used, or inexpensive plastic kayaks.

However if you can see yourself dedicating some serious time and effort to paddling then consider carefully what you will purchase.

I presume that in Hobart you have serious seas (not much lake and river paddling there) and you should consider a kayak that suits rough conditions.

Popular in Tassie are Mirage and other fine kayaks however I can not recommend those.

I started with a ruddered kayak and very soon was looking for something that could take the surf.

Rudders tend to brake off and prevent you from edging a kayak and learn the proper technique for heavy seas.

It seems to be a typical process: most people buy a plastic kayak and eventually upgrade to a glass one.

I can’t explain it but that’s what seems to be happening here in Qld.

If you want to save yourself some time and you want to learn sea kayaking skills sooner then later opt for a skegged kayak.

I know that you see all the time expeditions done in ruddered kayaks but that is not necessarily what you want.

A skegged kayak allows you to play and have fun while a ruddered one will keep on track with much less effort but will limit your maneuverability.

In layman terms, think cars: automatic sedan versus manual sportscar…

You must at least try to sit in the kayak that you want to buy. The cockpit must be snug! You shuld be able to lock yourself in the kayak.

From personal experience kayaks that have cockpit too large are the Raiders.

Eco Behzig from Perception is roomy and a bit slow. The seat is average.

At your height and weight (just a bit larger then me) you don’t have a lot of choices when it comes to performance boats in Australia.

The Paddling Perfection Sea Bear will fit you but that’s a ruddered kayak. It is however an excellent rough water boat.

I paddle and love the Impex Assateague (available from Expedition Kayaks in Sydney).

I have tried so many performance kayaks and very few fit me.

Pictures of my current and past kayaks on trips (from overnighters to 2 weeks) at www.flickr.com/gnarlydog

Let me know if you need more advice on kayaks.

You never know, one day I might come your way to paddle…


??? Not advocating nor defending either, but that’s some crazy stuff.

Based on your profile/status
as a “rank beginner”, I can offer this with the disclaimer that I don’t know what’s available for boats or landscape in your area. I’ve thought about kayaking for three years, finally purchased this year, have the same interests (slow rivers, lakes, ocean/sea, eventual overnight trips) and live in an area where I have access to all three. I look at ocean/sea as the farthest off for me, preferring to gain experience and hands-on knowledge before rushing into that sphere of paddling. I decided to go with a very good “plastic” boat because it offered plenty of storage, a cockpit that fit me (6’2", 250), good seating for extended paddling, excellent tracking/speed(for the breed), and decent stability. After 3 to 4 months of slow moving rivers and local lakes, and over sixty hours of paddling, I purchased a skirt and headed for “bigger water” and rougher conditions, (In my case, the Connecticut River and some larger lakes on lousy days), to get a better feel for the boat and my capabilities. I chose weekday afternoons to minimize the amount of traffic I would encounter as the CT River can get very busy with all sorts of craft from 8’ to 80’. I’ve scheduled several more trips, alone and with local clubs that I’ve encountered, so that I can build skills and “learn as I earn”.

My next step will be the open and protected areas on the Long Island Sound. My boat does not have a skeg/rudder. I tried a ruddered boat in New Hampshire and didn’t like it. In wind, I need to work a little harder to track, but I feel better for the control and will not endanger myself (or others) by doing something stupid in open seas. My boat allows for retrofitting of a rudder system, but I doubt I would do it. Like all boaters, I have two-foot-itis, and wish I’d gone up in size a bit. Having said that, the boat has handled everything that I’ve thrown at it, and so have I. I push the envelope a bit, have dumped it in some Class III’s and learned from all the experiences. I paid well under a thousand bucks for the boat new, and when ready will upgrade to something more fitting to my comfort level in open water. Until that time, I feel I made an excellent purchase in a boat that is flexible in its capabilities, and can keep up with some bigger boats. Whatever you choose, remember, you can always sell it and move up. Better to be systematic in your approach, pick something that you can handle well from the start, and live with for a while as you gain skills/knowledge. Also, don’t underestimate the importance of meeting other paddlers, research, shopping, demos, and places like this for enhancing skills and knowledge. Of course try before you buy. Hope this helps. By the way, I have a Wilderness Systems Tsunami125. I see it as “the little boat that could” in many ways. My 14 year old daughter already has dibs on it when I upgrade. Good luck in the search and remember that life is good on the water.


– Last Updated: Aug-15-08 11:48 AM EST –

Why did you use 6'1" and then 120kg? Whatever system you use the weight conversion is easier than linear conversion.


Australia has baggage
from British colonialism and despite that it runs a metric system (which I personally find easier to deal with since it’s ALL based on the decimal system) a lot of people still use feet to express height.

Give it an other generation (or two… old habits take time to die) and finally everybody will speak the same metric language.


Thanks for the Advice

Thanks to all that provided some advice. I will definately be looking around before I buy anything but it is nice to have a bit of an idea what to look for.

For those people who dont know Tasmania I will be padding around the The D’Entrecasteaux Channel from Kettering and around Bruny Island - initially then other areas around Tasmania.

Thanks again,


My understanding of Taz
is that the seas are very changable and therefore dangerous.

Even in “protected areas” weather can make for surprises no matter what area you paddle in.

You sound as if you will ramp up to more serious efforts quite quickly.

It is always wise to get a boat that is more capable than your skills anyway so that you may grow into it and not out of it.

If I were to contemplate poking my head out into the seas around Tasmania I would want a boat of the capabilities that I needn’t worry about my gear as I learned.

Hi Gnarlydog,

Thanks for the advice… gives me a few places to start looking.

I think I found an ad of yours for the impex? you trading up to somthing new?

Would welcome a paddle if you are ever in Tassie, just remember the beginner comment in my post :slight_smile: