My First Kayak - What should I get?

I have just started my search for a kayak to buy and there is so much information on the net that I just can’t figure out what to get. I’m looking for a kayak that has a nice mix between stability, tracking and speed. Yeah, I know…you can’t have it all…but, I’m just trying to get something that will give me close to what I’m looking for. I can’t really figure out the difference between the Walmart kayak and the ones I see at Dicks Sporting Goods…and maybe I’m looking in the wrong place to start with. I also know really know what the difference would be between an open and closed kayak as far as performance. I’m 6ft. 190lbs.

You should get a…
RTM Disco for your first kayak

Thanks for the reply. I’m checking it out now and the reviews sound promising. Just trying to figure out where to get one since it looks like Austin, Texas is the closest to me but I think they might be out of business because their website is down. :frowning:

I just posted

– Last Updated: Aug-13-12 2:16 PM EST –

about this, and am waiting to hear back, but Dick's is not a verry bad place to start unless you want something in the $1000 price range. You also should tell us what you plan to do with the kayak (day trips, small lakes, slow rivers, the ocean, fishing) and how much you want to pay for it.

what I want to do with it
About 5 years ago I was in training to do the Texas Water Safari in the Aluminum canoe category. We did the Texas Water Marathon and quickly realized the Aluminum canoe was just too slow. Kayaks were flying past us and we paddled very hard to finish almost last. That was also where I learned I didn’t want to rely on a partner ( he ended up having to cancel at the last minute so we missed out on the Safari ). Fast forward to today and I’m looking to start training for the 2013 TWS and I just don’t want to buy something that is going to be terribly cumbersome and/or slow and difficult to steer/track but that also won’t throw me in the water at the first set of ripples. :). I’d like to take it the coast but I would never be in heavy surf. I was thinking of buying used and staying around $500-$1000. I really liked the Disco mentioned earlier in this thread and read up alot on it but I’m in Dallas and I haven’t been able to source one of those either new or used. I have Dicks in my backyard so I was thinking maybe I could get one of those. Several are for sale on Craigslist used from Dicks but thought I better check with the experts here on before I end up buying a boat anchor. :slight_smile:

to be blunt

– Last Updated: Aug-13-12 2:51 PM EST –

Nothing at Dicks or Walmart would be faster than a canoe in the TWS.

For a true fast racing kayak, you'd want a long sea/touring kayak (17' or longer), or better yet, a surf ski.

Tracking and speed generally go together. And there are other factors, but longer kayak length generally gives you both.

Stability matters with hull shape, but even more so, with kayaker balance and experience. It is all too common for new kayakers to buy a wide kayak at first, and quickly outgrow it (and wish they bought a narrower kayak). narrower boats generally are faster, but also can be more challenging for a beginner to deal with (but as I said, the learning curve for many people on getting comfortable with narrow boats can be quite steep - but learn before the race).

My first stop would be to go to a local kayak shop (a specialty dealer, not a general sports store) and take a basic sea kayaking class. This will give you all sorts of basics that you can start with, whether you get a touring kayak or a surf ski (or something else).

try before buy
Is there somewhere you can rent/borrow/demo a couple of boats before you buy?

There is no “best” beginner kayak. Everyone has different skills, situations, and wants. My first kayak was a 22" wide sea kayak, and I was very happy with it, but that certainly won’t work for everyone.

Sit-on-tops are great for hot weather because it’s easy to go for a dip, jump back on, and keep paddling.

Don’t buy too quickly. Find a shop, establish a relationship (let them know you want to test several kayaks before you buy - they’ll generally work with you from their demo/rental fleet or tell you when they have a demo day coming up).

Yeah, it costs a few bucks to rent a boat, but it is better to buy what you want than to compromise on something you’ll quickly outgrow. You may also consider taking a class or classes on stroke mechanics, rescues, etc. which will get you both into a boat and improve your skills.


Where do you plan to paddle?

– Last Updated: Aug-13-12 3:04 PM EST –

Small lakes and flatwater rivers, drive down to the ocean...? It'd help to know.

not surf / light rapids
I live next to a lake so most of my paddling will be there. I’m leaning toward a sit-on-top and as long as I can afford as I’m reading that might be the best for me to start with. I want something fast, sturdy and tracks well. Long distances and not to heavy as I expect to have to drag it over log dams and such. The Disco looks awesome: but I can’t find it near me.

What are your objectives?
Do you want to be competitive in the kayak category? Or do you just want to finish? If you want to be competitive then you should get a kayak like the ones you see others racing with and doing well. If you just want to finish the race but don’t care about your time then buy a boat that works well for the other things you have in mind doing. Don’t be taken in by the hype on the website. The Disco+ may be fast compared to other sit-on-tops but it will be slow compared to racing style kayaks. This may not be relevant if the drought continues but at high water, according to the race website, the water runs quite fast and you will need a boat that works for that.

Texas Water Safari
In a prior response, the original poster said that one of this goals for the boat was to be able to do the Taxes Water Safari solo. He has done it prior in a canoe, but wants something faster.

How serious are you?
and what is your budget?

If you are serious about being fast in the race I would recommend either one of the more stable surf skis or multisport kayaks however they are not cheap and probably not very common where you are. They will feel very unstable initially but with practice you soon get used to it.

The other thing you need is a good wing paddle, preferably adjustable as you won’t know what size you prefer yet.

OHO! Fellow Dallas kayak purchaser!
You are in basically the same boat as I am (pun intended.) I’ve just begun to look at kayaks, I’m in the Dallas area and live right next to Lake Lavon and about 10 minutes from Lake Ray Hubbard.

I would suggest looking up Kayak Instructions:

I just bought a living social deal with them for a ‘paddle day’ with instructions and nature tour. They rent yaks every Saturday on Ray Hubbard. I believe they mostly deal with Jackson brand boats, but will probably have others there. You might still be able to see some other brands there. I haven’t gone yet, but I’m booking it for this weekend.

I believe you can find similar organizations on White Rock Lake and Lake Grapevine.

I have never heard about this Texas Water Safari… tell me more.

Joe Pool Lake

– Last Updated: Aug-14-12 7:19 PM EST –

Years when I worked as a auto contractor for GM
I spent big chunks of time in the Arlington area.
Attempted to "rent" a kayak for Joe Pool Lake
and just got the oddest looks from stores/outfitters

Good memories even without the kayaking on water

Considering everything …
I’d suggest you go with a red one.

LOL…i went with a “blue” one. :stuck_out_tongue:

what I bought
OK, well…I bought my first Kayak. I bought a Ocean Kayak Prowler 15 for $450 on craigslist. It came with the paddle, some upgraded “air seat” and a Fat Boy Kayak cart. I took it out to a small pond yesterday and it seems pretty easy to paddle for me. Of course I have zero paddling technique and I’m super out-of-shape so I have no idea if it’s the boat or me…lol.

I saw the same boat for sale new at $850 so I figured if I didn’t like it I could just resell it.

Now, I gotta find the wife and the kid something.

good deal!
You got a good deal on that Prowler – smart move for a beginner investment and you should be able to get back what you paid for it if you decide you want something else. But it may prove to be exactly what you want long term anyway. Definitely better than anything you would have gotten for that much in a new kayak.

This is a good time of year to pick up used boats – I have been watching the ad prices fall lately. Hope you have as good luck outfitting the rest of the family (in any color!)

of all the kayaks at Dick’s are worthless for racing. The Perception Sport Conduit 13 and Rythm 14 are touring kayaks, though. I have no experience with the Rythm, but I own the Conduit. I am sure that there are faster yaks out there, but this one is really speedy! You also said that you would not take it in surf, which is exactly the condition that other on p-net have said it wouldn’t work in. I am not quite sure what type of chine it has, but ridges on the bottom appear to be multi-chined, which, according to Pygmy Boats, is the fastest type of chine.

Bottom line, this is a stable, quick kayak that turns very easily, tracks very straight (very straight) and though it may not be as fast as other, more expensive kayaks, this thing moves.