I’m brand new to Kayaking. What is a good quality kayak for me. I’m 6’0" 220lbs. I want a good blend of stability and tracking. I’m looking to spend up to $2,500
You are going to have everyone …
throw the brand that they have at you.
Your best bet is to get to some demo days, or to a outfitter that rents yaks and try a bunch out.
Another way is to see if you can find a paddling club near you, and try to hook up with them to let you try some of theirs out.
For that kind of investment…
agree with above. Go demo, rent boats and/or even get a couple of basic lessons so you can figure out what boat attributes really work for you. For that kind of initial investment you can get a very nice boat, paddle and basics especially if you go used. Or you can make a darned expensive mistake by getting into a boat that you'll find doesn't fit the bill after a little seat time.
Right off the top - it is quite usual for a new paddler to go for a level of stability that just bores the tears out of them by several weeks in. Also, at your size there are boats from every brand that could do you nicely.
Oh yeah! $2500 will get you a NICE boat
with all the goodies. Where are you and what kind of water are you planning to be in?
New vest and paddle, used boat
Personally, on that budget, I would open the wallet wide and start by buying an excellent, lightweight foam-core carbon fiber paddle and the most comfortable pfd available, then look for a good used glass boat.
Everyone’s taste seems to progress rapidly in the first few years of paddling, meaning you want to move on to different boats. A used boat can often be sold for 90% of what you paid for it, so a used boat is almost like a long-term rental, as long as you take care of it.
I’ve never regretted the money I spent on my fancy paddle and life jacket. Some boats, however, I found disappointing after only a couple of weeks. For the most part, I’ve been able to sell them and move on.
I’ve you’re set on getting a new boat and can’t demo them near you, you might consider QCC, as their boats can be returned for a full refund within the first month (the Q400 is a really nice boat, per JackL, can you guess what boat I have?).
Strongly consider your age and goals
for paddling when purchasing in that budget range. Look around your area and see what the price range is for what you want. Find a reputable outfitter in your area and establish a rapport by renting a couple of times and talking about what kind of paddling you want to do. Camping, whitewater, open water, a little of each? These will all factor heavily into the boat you finally invest in. I started paddling in my early forties and purchased a boat that would allow me to try a few different paddling experiences with a degree of safety and ability. After five years, I’m now ready to step up and get something more suited to what I now know for sure I want from paddling. As said earlier, consider QCC (visit the web site) and used as well. The more you learn, the easier a used purchase becomes. I researched for a year and rented a lot before finally purchasing. This upcoming late september early october will also get you a lot of bang for your considerable buck as end of the season sales and fleet sales pop up. Have fun, do some homework, and yes, get involved with a local paddling club or two or three. You’ll meet nice folks (and some knuckleheads probably) who will be more than happy to teach you what you need to know. You’ll also find a lot of great paddling partners.
Good luck and have fun. With that budget, you’re in the driver’s seat for sure.
What JackL Said
Try before you buy. Salem NC? Check out Get Outdoors and Great Outdoor Provision Company. Both are in Greensboro.
Instability and Maneuverability
It may seem counterintuitive, but most folks don’t really need a stable, hard tracking boat.
If you really want to get into the sport, go demo some boats and find one that feels a little bit unstable at first. This will likely be a faster and more versatile boat. A hard tracking boat likes to go in a straight line, but it is harder to turn. A more maneuverable boat turns easier and you can learn to paddle it straight. This develops better technique in the long run.
If you are just piddling around, fishing, etc, none of this matters that much. If you are wanting to race, you may want a long skinny boat that is a little shaky and tracks had. For whitewater, you probably want a short boat that doesn’t track at all.
If you are in good health, most any boat design that is over 20 inches wide is stable enough that you’ll get used to it in a couple of trips. Boats over about 18 to 20 feet are made for racing and almost pointless for anything else.
At your size, you should be able to handle a composite boat in the 15 to 18 foot range pretty well. Getting something under about 50 lbs is a good idea since you have some money to burn.
A lot really depends on your long term goals, but those will likely change once you try a few lakes, rivers, and creeks. I started out on e recreational SOT and never imagined I’d want to run Class II/III more than paddle out on the lake. Now I’m in a 7 foot playboat and really enjoying it…