Looking for the right first kayak

Hi all, I’m looking to buy my first kayak and I was hoping that I might be able to get some shopping advice from some more experienced paddlers than myself. I’ve got a list of sorts of what I’m looking for from my kayak:

-I want a kayak that i can easily get in and out of if i want to get out and explore.

-I want something that’s low maintenance and that can take a beating.

-Fast, but stable.

-And i’d mainly be kayaking rivers, lakes, and MAYBE a little bit of whitewater. (i live near the white water center)

-I’d also like a boat that i could possibly take on overnight trips or weekend excursions.

-I also have a limited budget, so I’m looking for the most boat for the least money. Any information on where i could get some great deals on used or demo kayaks would be greatly appreciated.

I’ve decided that I’m probably best off with a SOT,but I’m not sure which one would be best for me; there’s so many to choose from!

I’ve been seriously looking at the Perception Pescador 12.0, which if i understand it correctly, is just a rebadged WS Tarpon 12. I’ve actually paddled the Pescador before, and i must say, I really loved it. It has great storage for it’s size and it handles beautifully. Great tracking, very stable, and very comfortable. It’s also very cheap compared to other comparable boats.

I’ve paddled a few other SOTs, but none of them compared to the Pescador. I’ve done some research, but i’m having some trouble finding anything else that would suit my needs. I’ve considered the Ocean Kayak trident 11, but it’s more expensive than the pescador, for less boat. Any advice on where to go from here, or good first boat advice, or stories on how you bought your first kayak would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

are excellent kayaks. I’d pick the length based on your size and the water you wish to run. What is your weight/height? Stay away from the big box store kayaks.

I’m 5’ 10", give or take, and I weigh 135.

Tarpon or Pungo 12 (nm)

Tarpon 120

I think you’ll get “more boat” out of the Trident 11 even though it may be a foot shorter. The Pescador is a fine kayak but big box stores suck for service. I had a Trident 13 last year and loved it for fishing. You’ll appreciate the Rod Pod hatch on the Trident. It also should have more carrying capacity than the Pescador. It tracks very well for a sub-12 foot kayak. I usually tell people to steer clear of kayaks under 12 foot but the Trident 11 is a hit for it’s size.

Your biggest mistake, in my opinion, is your third requirement. I always tell people to forget about the stability factor, especially in sit on tops. You’ll be able to stand in the Trident 11.

Don’t rule out sit inside
…a transition type sit inside like a Necky Manitou or WS Tsunami. The ease of getting in and out is a realtive thing and also learnable – the transitional boats typically have larger cockpit entry than “sea kayaks.” Also SOT’s have more of a temperature limitation than sit insides – you get wetter – I don’t know where you live and/or how much you want to boat in spring and fall. I live where the summers are short (so I want to boat in spring and fall) and the water never warms up much – glad to have a sit inside. I think (though not certain) that sit insides are typically faster (one of your criteria). I use my Manitou 14 for the types of paddling you describe including some class IIish river sections. They have the bulkheads for camping gear In SOT’s you are above the water more – in sit insides, you are lower down and i just think that feels great. My 2 cents.

First kayak
A cheap little rec boat like those you mention will be easy to get in and out of, low maintenance, will take a beating, and will not cost much. These are designed for short little padddles on tame lakes and rivers, very casual day paddling. May be stable (on calm water only). Very cheap. These are low performance craft, they give you a chance to try out paddling.

You don’t want to be in this type of boat in rougher water like white water or surf or waves or wind. They are not good for trying to go fast or far, possibly you could carry a little camping gear a little ways. You will not be able to keep up with people who have real kayaks.

This could be your first boat. After a while, if you find you want to spring for a real boat that will be suitable for all the types of uses you list, sell the cheapo beginner boat, then buy a plastic sea kayak. You can get a good, new one for around 2000.

Add a cart and a good pfd
Start out with a good cart like that new green take apart model that stores have. Also get a real paddling life vest not one made for motor boating or water skiing.

I think you are on the right track for a first boat, but my experience is when in doubt get the longer one!

My tarpon is more comfortable than any other boat I’ve ever paddled.

first kayak
So you want a boat that can haul camping gear like an SUV, tough and low maintenance like a Toyota, comfy and stable like a Caddy, with the performance of a Ferrari, and affordability of a Kia! Well good luck with that…

So any vehicle design is a compromise in cost, materials, and hull shape. Your best bet is a used plastic rental or craigslist find. As far as design, you’ll get more practical use and not quickly outgrow a sit inside “day touring” or “transitional” boat, like a tsunami 14 or better yet, a manitou 14. In my novice days I had a plastic mainitou, which is like a scaled down sea kayak, and even took it in decent wind, waves, and even class 2 white water.

Nicky or Ocean kayak

– Last Updated: Jul-23-10 10:40 PM EST –

You know, everyone here trying to give you advice each express a good point. In my opinon, you wanting something easy to get off or out of. Well, both the Necky Manitou with its larger than average sea kayak cockpit and considering your height would actually be perfect for you. And I can't knock the Trident 11. I really like the shape of the hull. It's not full blown whitewater by any means, but would easily handle class 1 and low 2. The best thing about either of these boats is the weight. Me being a solo paddler, appreciates a boat 50 lbs or under. The choice is up to you. SOT or SI Good luck with your decision.