Need Advice on Buying a Kayak

Hello everyone-

I’m new to the forum and basically new to Kayaking. A friend of mine took me with him Kayaking recently, and now I’m hooked. I’m in the market for a Kayak of my own, and I’m looking for some advice.

When I went Kayaking for the 1st time, I used an old Kiwi brand rafting Kayak. It was about 9’ long, slow, uncomfortable, and did not track well at all. I’m looking for the opposite of this Kayak.

The kind of Kayaking I plan on doing would be in slow moving rivers. I’d like to fish out of the Kayak, I’d like to move faster without as much effort as well. We camped overnight, and that was a lot of fun, so I’m looking for something with a fair amount of storage. Maneuverability is not a major concern (or maybe it is…?).

When we went with my buddy, him and his wife were using Perception and Old Towne brand kayaks, in the 11-12’ range, with around 30" of width. He seems absolutely sure I need Kayaks just like these, but it seems I could do with something larger for this type of kayaking? I think I understand that longer Kayaks track better and are a tad faster. Is this true?

I’m in the market to buy a pair soon (for me and my fiance’). Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

A couple of basic things
First, do not go out and buy the same boat for your fiance as yourself unless you are both the same size - height and weight. A boat that is a good fit for you will feel like a barge for her if she is smaller, will be harder to paddle because of that and may just leave paddling alone. A lot. If you think that she may be interested in paddling with you, take her along on demos and that kind of thing.

As to what you need - you probably want something narrower if you want faster. You don’t need a lot of dry storage for overnight camping, but something. By the way, by “dry” I mean within an enclosed area with hatch access, not necessarily so bone dry you don’t need to pack stuff into dry bags. But you shouldn’t need a ton of storage for that.

There are some safety basics - two sealed bulkheaded area and perimeter line make for an altogether safer kayak. Those two things make self-rescue much easier in the case of a capsize.

But - how much do you want to fish? As you get into the sleeker kayaks that are not oriented towards fishing, the cockpits get smaller and their convenience for serious fishing gets less so. You may be better off looking for a kayak that is seriously oriented for fishing for yourself, and finding a light touring kayak for your fiance. There are good boats out there for fishing, with some storage, that aren’t barges. Folks here other than me can direct you to good sites to ask about those.

One other thought - especially if you want to paddle with your fiance. See if you can find a paddling club or similar near you that is giving instructions over the winter in a nice, warm pool somewhere. You can go together, learn the basics from a third party and be ready to go out in the spring without any baggage like one person feeling like they have been dragged into this.

Go shopping
Find a couple of outdoor/kayak shops in your area. Go in and talk to someone about the boats that are sold in your area. If they don’t ask a lot of questions about what you are planning on doing and show you a couple of different models that fit your needs go to a different shop. Visit a couple of different shops to find a shop that you like and then just make a choice. More than likely you won’t know exactly what you want until you’ve paddled for awhile, then sell that boat to someone else just starting out and buy a new one.

You will probably…
…want something longer and narrower. If fishing is a high priority, check out some sit-on-tops like the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 160 or offerings from Malibu kayaks. Not much internal storage in any of them but a few dry bags will take care of that. Besides, you will need dry bags no matter what you end up with.

Just take heart in knowing that whatever you buy, you will likely end up selling or trading it after you’ve put in some seat time.

I’m lucky in that I’m only on my second kayak and it still hits the spot.

And in closing, try to take a class or two before you put money on the table.

Now get out there and get to work and report back soon:)

Take a class and try out boats.
Both the best pieces of advice you can get.

When you start you have often the wrong idea of what you’ll need and eventually like best. There are no perfect kayaks, just some that fit you better and fit the task set better that you set for them.

Fishing requires stability, which tends to be the opposite of what is usually speedy. So you will probably have to decide which is most important to you.

I’m exhibit A
I bought my first kayak 6 weeks ago. I bought my second Kayak yesterday. Not good. My thought process was off base and I realized the error of my ways after a couple of paddle sessions with boat number 1.