Need kayaks for the family - suggestions

-- Last Updated: Sep-22-14 3:51 PM EST --

We're moving to a place on the water on a bay off of the Chesapeake Bay. Lots of open water off the dock (about a mile to the nearest shore). Have a small 8 yo girl and a skinny 10 yo boy. I'm thinking of picking up a used ~16' canoe for the whole family, but what I really need advice on is I want to get some kayaks.
I'm the only one with any paddling experience (mostly canoes). I foresee the kids sticking close to the dock and paddling around with their friends, but it'd be nice to reach that far shore if we wanted to go as a family. I DO NOT want to spend more than $300 (new or used) per kayak, preferrably including paddles. I had been thinking of getting 2 kayaks that would work for any of us, but as a twist, I discovered the "Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak Combo" at Dick's, which almost seems too good to pass up. $119 including a paddle. So I'm looking for feedback on that option.
Also, if I got those for the kids and something else for the missus and me - I'm having trouble picking something. All these under $300 sit-in-kayaks look roughly the same, and it seems each one has someone complaining about how they don't track, or they turn as soon as you stop paddling, or they leak and you'll die. Is that just a function of


Let me simplify
Any new Kayak under $300 is exactly the same as any other new kayak under $300

Can you see my entire first post, or does it look like it was cut off? Thanks by the way. Any comment on the youth wave kayak? Do you think I’m wasting $300 to buy a cheapo?

Wasted money would be a personal
opinion. If you and your family paddle together it could possibly be the best money you ever spent. My point was all cheapo kayaks are the same, don’t get wrapped up in the reviews. Most of the good reviews are by people who have never paddled anything but the cheapo kayak they bought three days ago.

Should you decide in the future you want to expand your horizons, do some more adventurous paddling then you are going to need better boats and in that case an argument could be made for just starting out with the $2,000 kayak in the first place.

On the other hand $300 is equivalent to maybe 6 rentals and you can always sell them fast for $150.

I have no experience with the kiddie boats but others here have discussed them, they’ll weigh in. A child could have difficulties with the ergonomics have paddling a larger boat though. Remember though that no boat combination in the world is going to enable your daughter to keep up with you. I kinda burned my daughter on kayaking by taking her on trips that were just beyond her physical capabilities. Keep it fun or get used to paddling alone. On the same principal, buy your wife a nice paddle like an aquabound stingray.

Yes your original post got chopped. It ends with “of”

All the $300 boats…

– Last Updated: Sep-22-14 5:50 PM EST –

are rec boats. Which means not double bulkheads and horrid rescuability (OK, I made that up) if a capsize happens that you have to solve on the water. Unlike canoes, if those things capsize they are enclosing way more gallons of water than you are going to be able to empty. With a couple of adults who know what they are doing and float bags, canoes are much easier to recover in that situation then rec kayaks.

If you look at the manufacturer's own specs for these boats, they will say to be used on calm, flat water or something like ponds and lakes and slow rivers.

Note that none of these descriptions match the Chesapeake Bay - an ocean environment even if there are protected spots.

So, I agree not to get wrapped up in finding a "good" $300 boat unless you are willing to look around used. Then you can get more boat for your money. For now, stay close to shore and spend some time learning how to handle [problems on the water. When you and your wife have that down it'll be time for more adventurous stuff on open water.

Thanks guys. Considering none of us have really done any kayaking, and we won’t really know how much we want to do, or how far we want to go in whatever type of weather/conditions, it seems like the right way to go at the moment is to spend as little as possible (except for the good paddle for my wife, which would be what?) and see where our interests take us. Let me ask this though, considering the area we’re operating (basically open water) do you think I’d be better off with sit on tops for me and my wife than cheapo sit ins? Is the concern with the sit-ins that they’ll get swamped in waves or roll over? And what makes a $2000 sit-in less likely to swamp or roll than a $300 sit-in? Thanks!

An aquabound stingray around $130
and can be kept when you upgrade boats. If you get a paddle from Dick’s and get her a good one from a paddle shop it will all become obvious the first time you paddle.

A better touring kayak will be split Into three compartments. If the cockpit swamps it will float with the coaming above the water so you can sit in it and bail it out. If the cheapo kayak swamps you need to drag it to shore and dump it. A better kayak has perimeter lines which are needed for T-rescue(google it) or just to flip it right side up and Cowboy Scramble. Perimeter lines are rope, not bungee.

A better kayak has a smaller cockpit opening so you can wear a skirt. Put a skirt on a big rec kayak and the wave coming over the bow is going to pop it off the coaming and dump in your lap.Hull shape of a good kayak will provide handling and secondary stability. A lower end kayak is stable until it isn’t, then it tips.

Sit on tops might be a good option for you. I’m not a fan of them myself but they are an option for open water. My craigslist is flooded with used SOT fishing kayaks, I would think you could work a better deal than buying new ones.

Ok then,
I think I’ll go with the youth kayaks from Dick’s, and either get a couple of SOTs or one SOT and one SIK, and a good paddle, whatever that looks like. :o) Thanks!

I was kind of hoping
you wouldn’t reach that conclusion.

Seriously, those ridiculous little plastic bathtubs will not advance your or your family’s interest in the sport. They’re pathetic.

Your kids are old enough to paddle at least a half-decent SOT. If Dick’s is your local easy store, the Pelican Apex 100 is a better bet at $229. My kids started on Emotion Spitfires (but they were 4 and 6 at the time).

There’s so many nice boats out there, please don’t buy one of those boat shaped objects. Do you have an LL Bean or REI or EMS nearby? Get something at least 8 feet long and less than 8 feet wide.

Just my 2 cents…


NOT waves and rec boats

– Last Updated: Sep-22-14 11:17 PM EST –

As I said above - rec boats are intended for use in calm flat water. Even the makers agree.

Rec boat hulls are designed to be stable in flat water - not in waves. What makes a $2000 sea kayak safer in waves are two major items. One is two sealed bulkheads and attributes like perimeter lines. If the advantages of these things are unclear to you, you should not be in waves.

The second is that the sea kayak hulls - skinny and all - are significantly better designed for being pitched sideways by a wave without capsizing than a barge of a rec boat. A decent sea kayak will heel a long way before capsizing as long as the paddler stays out of its way. A rec boat is not designed to be so cooperative.

A skinnier kayak is also easier to control in wind than a shirt, high beamy rec boat. I have paddled in the Chesapeake area - this is not an insignificant concern if you get near the really open water.

Your original post talked abut staying near the dock/shore. It now sounds like you are talking about something more aggressive. With more aggressive paddling comes more responsibility for learning about kayaks and skills.

There are a bunch of used boats out there. I got a sea kayak and a touring kayak used near DC for 700, total this spring. They are not real pretty but the son and I have close to a hundred miles in them and will be well over after our last planned trip in Oct.

a few words
Shop used.

Get one or two good kayaks - a larger and a smaller - andsee how you like it before investing. THEN come back.

You can paddle active water with a sit on top depending on your choice, you don’t have to paddle an expedition sit-inside kayak. But getting new cheap sit-ins could be the worst decision possible if you really want to get your kids interested in kayaking.

Ok, here’s my logic…

– Last Updated: Sep-23-14 3:56 PM EST –

for thinking of the $120 ones. I'm not so worried about my 10 year old, but my daughter is a tiny little stick. I'm concerned (maybe wrongly?) that she'll have trouble propelling an 8' SOT. I think I'm now convinced (thanks) that a cheapo sit in is NOT the way to go. For the next year they'll be staying pretty close to the dock (unless we're all out together)so I can keep an eye on them and they're not going to be going out in any kind of serious wind or waves because I won't let them. I sympathize with the "Don't buy crap" argument, but I would rather have some crap thing they can get some (however limited) fun out of, than something that's just going to frustrate them (mainly her). Maybe I'll look at getting her the little one and him a Pelican 100 or similar. For $120 if she really hates it I won't feel bad about sticking it in the shed and saving for when kid friends come over and then get her something better. More than a couple of hundred feet from the dock we'll probably be towing one or both of them anyway... Our closing just got moved back a month, so I now have a little more time to decide anyway. Thanks again for all the input, it's very helpful, even if I'm not leaning in your particular direction. :o)

Before you buy
The least you should do is visit a real kayak/canoe store and get familiar with what constitutes a real boat. If you really just want some pool toys, then you’re going to need a pool too. The Chesapeake is real water for real boats. You probably wouldn’t put your kids on a freeway in a peddle car–so …

Actually I already did
and he showed me the Perception 9.5 and something similar, which seem to be the “recreational” boats everyone keeps harping on. Maybe I’ll see if I can find someplace we can try some out this weekend and take the kids and see what they think. Probably learn more that way than anything else. Thanks.

You asked for advice, and people gave it to you. If you choose to do otherwise, obviously that’s your right. But it’s kind of a shame…


You’re Dreaming
If you think kids 8 & 10 will stick near to the docks. Heck no! They want to get way out on the water and the further away from parents, the better. Don’t underestimate kids abilities. Your kids are ripe for professional instruction and that’s where the money should be spent. $120.00 should get both kids an hour of instruction. Figure on spending at least $600 per kid for a minimum of 10 hours of on/off water instruction. By then, they should be able to tell you what they desire or need. The bonus is they’ll teach you all about paddling.

He asked forthe difference in $300 boats

Options on where to paddle
Sorry, but no one worth their salt should have showed you those boats for a possible excursion on open water in the Chesapeake Bay. Either you told them of a usage differently than mentioned here, or you just got a shop looking for a fast sale to someone who didn’t know the goods.

There are protected waterways available in the Bay area. While they are probably buggier on a hot day than open water, they are also likely shallow and protected from the wind. This environment would be a much better idea until you learn what you are doing. There are also paddling groups down there of varying levels.

Here is the link to to site about the water trails in that area.