Looking for suggestions for a new kayak

Well, the end of my 2nd season is approaching. And after 2 summers on the water, I’ve learned a lot, both how to paddle (okay, so I’ll admit it, that my first few times out I was mildly terrified of not being stable in my pelican trailblazer 100… so I’ve come a long ways) and what I want to do out on the water. Despite everyone saying otherwise, I bought the pelican boat for $200 because that was really all I could afford at the time to get me out on the water, and it seemed “good enough” for what I wanted, which was a kayak to paddle about and sit in and fish from. But after 2 years, I’ve realized what i like in a kayak is different than what I wanted when I started, so in that sense, it worked out great. Now if I get out fishing twice a month that’s a busy month, usually its just once. I joined a local group and have started doing river trips and other group outings. And after being through some milder rapids, I think I’m ready to start looking at upgrading my kayak.

So, to start with, my budget is probably about $500. I’ll probably be able to get $100 out of the pelican, so lets just call it $600 (though if there’s a good reason to spend more, I guess that’s a possibility.) . Otherwise, here’s what I’m interested in:

  • Max length of 10’6" no ifs, ands, or butts about this. Its all the space I’ve got right now. Unlike saving a few more dollars, I can’t move any walls. The 10’ isn’t the easiest now, and I’d prefer to shorten it up.
  • Primary interest is river trips. But I’d also like to be able to handle some flatwater paddling. I know it won’t be fast, I know it won’t track perfect. Those are compromises I know I’ve gotta make in having 1 (short) boat. Oh well, more paddling work means more workout. I don’t see myself doing anything more than a class III in it, mostly II and less.
  • I want to be able to put a skirt on it. I don’t like getting swamped on a rapid or having sunburned legs. I also don’t like that I can’t bail the pelican without beaching it and getting out, as so much water collects in the stern. A rear bulkhead would be nice for that. I’d like to be able to use a pump and sponge to get it dry enough. Oh, I’m 6’3" 200 lbs with a 36" inseam, so I’ve gotta get my oversized, uncoordinated ass in that cockpit.
  • Suitable to haul gear for an overnight, or maybe 2 nights. I won’t ever do more than 2 nights out. I don’t like that the ass end of the pelican is basically inaccessible. Dry hatch and bulkhead would be nice, but just stuffing a dry bag back there is good enough for me.
  • As far as fishing capability… I’ll attach the anchor trolley with carabiners, and get some rod holders that clamp on the combing. That’s about all I want there. I guess if its capable enough on flatwater, its capable enough for me to fish from.

So all that said, the ones that have caught my attention to look at are the Old Town Heron 9xt and the Dagger Zydeco 9. I’m sure there are MANY more to take a look at, and I’d like to start getting a list together to oogle over on youtube all winter and take out on demo days next spring. Any thoughts or suggestions? Thanks all

I have no experience of whitewater kayaks or kayaking but I don’t think anyone here is going to recommend a boat for larger lakes that is as short as 10’6", especially given your height and weight. And unless you can limit your paddling to within easy swimming distance from shore, nobody is going to recommend a boat without two bulkheads.

Maybe some of the folks with WW experience can chime in.

Good point on being close to shore, I never am more than a short swim from shore as right now I’ve got no bulkheads and can’t fully bail water without being ashore. Really what I’m looking for flatwater wise is not being worse than the pelican. Its not where I do a ton of kayaking, but since I don’t have space for a proper 14+’ boat for that, I’ve gotta make do with a shorter boat for now.

Two sealed bulkheads, hatches. And you could probably find a skirt that would fit - if you could fit into the boat. You’re close to the limit for weight, though. There’s one listed locally for $675, but you give no info on your location.

@Rookie, that Eddyline is a nice little rec boat but he’s considering Class 3, which is defined as “Medium waves, maybe a 3–5 ft drop, but not much considerable danger. May require significant maneuvering. (Skill Level: Experienced paddling skills)”

Not sure I’d want to try it in that ittle Sky 10.

And I think that any boat that could do it would be an absolute pig on a lake or the ocean.

@kfbrady said:
@Rookie, that Eddyline is a nice little rec boat but he’s considering Class 3, which is defined as “Medium waves, maybe a 3–5 ft drop, but not much considerable danger. May require significant maneuvering. (Skill Level: Experienced paddling skills)”

Not sure I’d want to try it in that ittle Sky 10.

And I think that any boat that could do it would be an absolute pig on a lake or the ocean.

Didn’t notice the Class 3. You’re right about everything else.

You’re running Class III In a Pelican? What river?


And a ww & Rolling class.

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@Marshall said:
You’re running Class III In a Pelican? What river?

Oh gosh no, I enjoy living. I did the kokosing factory rapids which we were told at the time was about a II. Anything more than that would go real bad real fast. (and to be real, I would prefer to have a better boat with a skirt and some rolling skills before I would do that again because I did take on a lot of water) I did do a guided rafting trip in Ohio Pyle before, and that was mostly class II and under. We had a class IV that we came really close to flipping in but the guide saved our bacon on that.

But then again, the more I think about this, and stand around in my storage closet that houses my kayak now, I’m thinking that a dedicated river kayak might be a smarter option. An 8’ river runner (that’s where I’d want to start with, right? If what I’m understanding all I’ve read correctly, a creek boat is gonna be more suited to steeper white water and drops, and a river runner is gonna be more suited to shallower rapids and a more stable boat good for learning?) should fit in there too, even if it becomes a bit really tight. And aside from fishing, I think it’d do what I’m looking for, and then I can dig out the pelican when I want to fish. That fusion looks nice (along with the remix xp/katana/traverse), but if I went with a slightly smaller boat (like a burn/mamba/zen/remix) I might be giving up dry storage, tracking and speed, but I’d be setting myself up with a better boat for rivers in the long run, and later when I’ve got space for a proper sized boat I can get something that does offer the dry storage, tracking and speed.

You really need a bigger boat, 12’ or 13’ minimum, if you want to do distance and pack for overnight. Which means that you ought to consider inflatables and/or folding kayaks. You could get a longer boat that way and still store it – there are inflatables that are good for both flatwater and moderate whitewater (class 1 to 3). And some folding kayaks can be used on class 1 and 2. 10’ is just too short for what you say you want to do. Shorter boats have to be wider to give you the displacement volume, especially since you are a pretty big guy. Wide means slow and usually poor tracking. And few boats that short are going to have features that you need like bulkheads and deck rigging (a necessity if you are going to try to climb back in out in deep water.) Not to mention cargo capacity – 10’ boats are for day trips, not overnight camping.

I would advise you to look for a used Advanced Elements or Innova inflatable or a used Pakboat folder.(though the Innovas are not “sit insides”). I got my Pakboat Puffin 12 on Ebay a few years ago for $500 (new they are around $1000) and recently had seen another like it for sale for $600. It folds up into a duffel bag, weighs 23 lbs and I can set it up in 20 minutes, take it apart in less than 10. I’ve taken it on Class 1 and 2 waters and just had it out in wind and 18" waves on Lake Erie last week, where it performed beautifully. It has way more cargo space than most inflatables:

Though, as you are learning, if you want to do a range of activities, you need a range of boats. This is why many of us start out with used boats. For the price of one new touring OR whitewater kayak you can buy one of each used, So if you don’t want to consider an inflatable or folder, you will need to wait until you can get a longer storage option before investing in a boat for touring.