looking for 1st kayak

my first time out on a kayak, recently i rented a necky 10 and a wilderness 13.5. i did not enjoy the 10, the 13.5 was fine. i have searched cl and found 4 in the $400 neighbourhood. chinook nw 16, perception spectrum, necky chelan and an old town 13.5, no model given. all i found for specs on the chelan was 13’7" and 55lbs anyone know the cockpit specs and width? i am leaning towards the chinook. please advise if i am on course.

need some stats
It would be helpful if you would post your size (height and weight plus any exceptional physical traits that might affect fit like shoe size over 12, heavy muscular thighs, etc.) The Chinook is a nice boat, though some of the very earlier models lack sealed bulkheads – if it is a later one it should have stern and bow compartments, But the Chinook is kind of a big guy higher volume boat (we have an older one.)

Also what might be helpful (though you may not be able to answer this completely yet if you are just starting out) but what types of waters are you expecting to paddle in eventually. Smaller rocky rivers? Wide slow rivers? Big windy lakes? Coastal sea or Great Lakes? Are you planning to fish or do photography? What geographic area are you going to be paddling in? The more information you can provide, the better the advice you’ll get here.

But then that’s a decent price range for used touring boats anyway and even if you buy one and are not all that thrilled with it, you should be easily able to sell it for not a lot less than you paid for it. Unless there are serious fit factors, it would be hard to lose with any of them. Though I would forget the Old Town unless you mostly want to fish. Old Towns are kind of sluggish barges.

i am 70yrs, 175lbs, 5’9" and the shoe size is 10. just looking to due laps around small lakes and ponds. maybe drag a lure behind the boat if i can set it up for trolling. i would like to offset my bicycle riding 10-15 miles 3 time a week.


– Last Updated: Jul-30-14 9:16 AM EST –

The Spectrum would probably be better than the Chinook for what you have in mind. The Chinook NW is a touring boat, made for big water (ocean, Great lakes, etc.) and hauling cargo. And it is a barge at 68 lbs. I'm 64 and am have recently divested myself of any of the kayaks in my fleet that were over 50 lbs, because hauling and loading them is just too much suffering. The Spectrum is not light at 58 lbs but it's manageable. Close to the 55 lb Chelan. The Spectrum is also more maneuverable than the Chinook and can even be used in moderate whitewater, thus more versatile. Here's the old catalog with specs on both (you may have already found this):


I've never seen the Chelan, but based on comments in the reviews it sounds like a fun boat. Given the choice (your parameters may be different from mine) I would choose the lightest boat with the best performance characteristics and that would be the Necky.

Of course, you need to inspect the boats too -- there are the issues of oilcanning and UV damage (dry, crackled texture on the plastic) that can be significant in boats of these vintages. And even if you can't test paddle them, you need to see if the cockpit is comfortable for you. I have heard that the Chelan is a fairly low volume boat but you are average size so that should not be a problem.

i queried the chelan person about the cockpit size, came back with 30“, which i regard as to small for me. i agree 100% on the weight, very important. meanwhile cl moves on and a couple carolina 14‘s have shown up for a bit more $. they get closer to 50lbs and have a longer cockpit, which would offer ease of entry and exit. i plan to make an offer on the carolina 14.

good choice
if you can find one in good shape.

carolina 14
ok, i got one, it is hanging in the the garage today, tomorrow rain. thanks for all the good advise, came down to a carolina 14.5 @ 60lbs or the 14 @ 53. for a few dollars i went for the 14.