need 10' - 11' rec kayak. My criteria...

My wife and I are pretty active and are looking to add kayaking to the mix.

We don’t have a lot of room nor a lot of money. We want something smaller, that we can pass on to our kids as they get older and we advance to nicer kayaks.

We are looking at:

-Dagger Approach 10.0

-Pelican Sound 100 XE (a nicer pelican than the ones at Sports Authority)

-Future Beach 126 (it’s 10’6" -seems like they would call it the “106”)

-Old Town Dirigo 106

-Old Town Cayuga 110

The dagger has a skeg, but is a shallower boat.

How important is a skeg?

Extra points if there is room in the cockpit for a child or dog.

Any other boats around 10- 11’ you might recommend?

Will use for rivers, small lakes. We do like Vermont (so big old Lake Champlain is a possibility) as well as paddling around the sound down at Hilton Head.

Thanks a lot

And tall are you and your wife? If one of you is taller and/or heavier a 10 or 11 ft boat may not do.

My wife and I are recreational and camping kayakers. I purchased her a 10ft Perception Prodigy and I got a 12ft one. They fit out budget and needs. My 12ft has a larger cockpit and room for my length (6’2"). I tried out a 10ft boat and found it too unstable.

Considered SOTs?
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100.

I’m 5’11’ and 180 lbs - she’s 5’8".

Take a look
at the Wilderness Systems Pungo line, and the Necky Manitou Sport.

Best advice any of us will give is to go to a dealer, and test paddle to see what fits you well.

Lake Champlain?

– Last Updated: Aug-19-09 7:19 PM EST –

I'm not trying to rain on your parade, but we paddle Champlain periodically when we are up for the drive, and I've sailed it in a friend's boat. They tend to be foolish enough to give me the wheel for the cross lake runs and last time darned closer into the marina than I expected.

That lake gets wind from the north or south that runs a huge distance (fetch). It'll come up in the morning and blow until late afternoon, and even in short passages like the one to Valcour Island from Peru you can regularly find yourself bouncing thru 3 ft (or so) stuff.

I don't know the sound around Hilton Head at all, but in general an ocean sound can get a whole lot more interesting than new paddlers expect.

So - for those venues - I would recommend that you go used to keep the prices down and look for boats with two sealed bulkheads, full perimeter rigging and a smaller sized cockpit where the skirt won't implode under waves as easily as a bigger one. (A swamped kayak tends to be an upside down kayak pretty quickly.)

I'd also recommend that you take advantage of the warm water right now to get some help with rescues and some other safety basics so you are able to help each other if one (or both) of you capsizes. That'll get you safer as well as be a crash course in why I have mentioned the above boat features.

If you can find these attributes in the category of boats you are considering, that'd be fine. However, I suspect they will all fall short on one point or another.

Someone will probably start talking about length and speed and all that jazz. There are points to be made there, but I am really only talking about basic safety. I don't see the boats you are talking about as being safe for those paddling venues, unless you really hug the shore and watch conditions very carefully. And frankly, you won't want to do that. You will want to explore places like the islands in Champlain etc. So set yourself up now with boats and a little practice time that'll make that more possible.

And no - if you love your dog you do not put them in the cockpit of a kayak out on Lake Champlain. Get a canoe and do inland stuff.

New “Flex” from Venture Kayaks
new Flex 11’ from venture kayaks - may be what you are looking for. its a bit “sportier” than most recreational boats in this category. optional skeg - or rudder. base price is $649

A little 10-11 boat even in a 1’ chop can get pretty bouncy.

If it’s a rec boat model, it will tend to not have features that would help you if, for example, a power boater passes say, 50 yards away (plenty of room, BTW), and his/her even lessening wake combines with that little 1’ chop to produce a 2-3’ wave that give you the tips, then you’ll want a boat that REALLY floats, and doesn’t get filled and waterlogged (even tho’ it might not sink).

Rec boats tend to be wide -good for initial, static stability, but not so good in a chop, where they want to ride the sides of the waves and not let the waves roll under. They’ll ted to pitch with the waves. A better design for a boat allows it to remain more or less vertical as waves go under because they can roll from side-to-side more easily, called secondary stability.

The length is also something to consider: a shorter boat can get bow- or stern-tossed more easily than a longer one.

If you’ll keep to small lakes, and streams or canals and such, perhaps a rec boat won’t be such a bad choice. But if you really are considering open water like the Sound or the Lake where winds and wakes can induce newbie (and old salt! mistakes, you might want to consider used, but in a boat design upgrade.

Also -you’re not just getting a boat or two: you’re getting a “non-motorized water recreation system”:

Boat; paddle(s); PFDs; transport system.

Get decent paddles -even starter paddles should be well-designed to provide decent thrust and not weigh ‘a lot’; even if they’re no the latest carbon-fiber Kevlar models, you can still get good plastic ones that will work well for you.

PFDs: get as good a PFD for you and your wife as possible. A good PFD is comfortable for wearing for an hour or two, minimum -and you will wear comfortable clothes, so get a good, and comfortable, PFD.

Tranport System: A permanent rack is solid, secure, and the best way to go, and they last indefinitely. You CAN make do with quickie foam block systems, but it’s a long way from Champlain to Hilton Head, give the boats a secure ride -and do the other cars on the road the favor as well…

At any rate, food for thought. Here’s to getting your boats and gear, and then learning the ropes, on your way to many, many moons where you two happily


-Frank in Miami