Need help! Trying to buy my wife a kayak for her birthday

Hello all,

I’ll start by saying that I am novice. I’ve been in a kayak 5 or 6 times (never flipped, which was a surprise to me) but that would constitute all I know about kayaks. Now, my wife’s 40th is coming up (soon!) and she’s made it clear that she’d love to get a kayak for the cottage. She has 1 or 2 more trips in the kayak than I do, but still a novice.

So, I need help/insight with the two that I’ve narrowed it down to. Both of these can be picked up (key element here as I fear delivery wouldn’t make it in time) and are in the price range I need. I’ve done some research and these both seem to review well. I know she’ll need something wider, not as long (all her trips would be very slow, casual trips along the shoreline of the lake, so tracking won’t be a terribly big concern) and sit-in. Here’s where I’m at:

I wonder if the MEC model is made better (as outdoor life is kind of their thing). It doesn’t come with a paddle (the Pelican one does if you get it from Costco), but I’m willing to pay the extra if the build quality (or features) are worth it. Then I have to figure out how much to spend on a paddle :frowning:

Anyhow, really appreciate any help or guidance you find folks could provide!

Let her pick out her kayak with knowledgeable guidance and seeing and sitting in It herself before purchase.

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In addition to rnsparky’s good advice, here’s some information about choosing a kayak you both can read:

There’s also a ton of other good info relating to paddling.

Appreciate the quick responses!

I’d really like for her present to be a surprise, so I can’t really have her sit in it before hand. I do agree with your logic, however.

Thanks for the link Rookie, I’ll be sure to read through.

The Pelican looks by far the best to me; the MEC looks like a pool toy.

But I agree with the two posters above. Let her pick herself. Instead of presenting her with s new kayak, arrange a lesson or two at a local kayak shop where she can learn and have a better idea of what would be good for her.

+1 on the lessons idea. Blindfold her and take her to the launch, if you want to surprise her. Lessons are super-fun (!!!) and that’ll give her more ability to pick a good boat for her down the line. Plus experiences are the new “things.” (Christmas??)

(Christmas for the kayak itself, I mean.)

Take her to a place to try different kayaks (like white squall or the complete paddler, or otter valley paddle sports). My 2 cents, I started with a cheap kayak, and within 6 mo this upgraded. The pelicans have zero floatation. Great for beginners for flat water, but if it rolls, it sinks.
I still have my first yak for friends to use when we go out, but find one with at least one bulkhead, if not two. Within the next month, half of the yaks our there will be on sale.
My current design kayak I got on sale at an end of year sale from $1,049 to $649.

It would be like your mother surprising you with a new motorcycle that she picked out…


Thanks for the feedback everyone (seriously - very helpful). It seems the value of surprising her with something that ultimately might not be right for her (the motorcycle comment hit home), takes a back seat to just getting her the right kayak.

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The other thing is that if she gets into it, she may well want a better, costlier boat, and that is where buying used will really be the ticket. Many people on a budget, me included, have discovered that Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are full of great deals on used kayaks, and you can really get much more bang for your buck.

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Fit and feel can be a very personal thing.
As a former guide I would guess that if you placed five very similar kayaks on the beach to try out maybe two would be hated, two would be OK and one would far outshine the others with no rhyme or reason in my mind.
Best of luck to you.

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I remember many years ago, when I used to surf my little nine foot Keowee kayak at the beach and my wife surprised me on my birthday with a Ocean kayak “Yak board”.
At the time we needed every penney we had to pay bills etc. I ranted and raved and told her to take it back and get our money back.
Later that evening I caught her with tears in her eyes and it made me realize what a SOB I was, and told her to forget what I said and we would keep it.
Now thirty years later, all of our kids and many of our fifteen grandchildren have used it and it is still going strong.

So if she is happy, that’s good, but if she rants and raves, tell her to wait till tomorrow and she might change her mind

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Jack, reading your post has caused me a bit of an eye problem. Everything got blurry and kind of watery. It reminded me of how my wife has been so supportive of everything I do.

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Hello! I had a suggestion on choosing a watercraft as a birthday gift. I’d like to tell you to go for an iconic model of inflatable float tube. But as your wife made clear that she would love to get a kayak, I’m shutting my advice down here. I’ve checked the kayak she used before and no doubt she deserves an overall best kayak on her birthday. As money is no problem, my advice is to go for the Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100.