never been in a kayak, mhere to start?

Would like to get into kayaking, don’t know where to start. I’d like to do lakes and calm rivers, some camping but not really interested in whitewater. I live in SW WY where there aren’t any dealers or clubs that I’ve found. 5’ 11" 175 mens 12. I run, climb and mtn bike. Growing up in VT we had canoes and I spent a lot of time on the lakes and rivers there.

Any suggestions would be appreciated. I’m not opposed to buying a kayak used. Thanks, Matt.

There are many demo days in
the spring. Check with your local outfitter. You can paddle a variety of boats in one day.

I was where you are 5 years ago.
A good place to start is right here on pnet under the Articles tab click on Guidelines. Next, click the Kayaking tab and read just about everything there. You can even shop for your first boat in Classified Ads. The Gear Guide tab has many, many reviews for both boat and other gear.

The boat needs to be one that is comfortable to sit in. The paddle needs to be long enough for the blade to dip fully in the water. The PFD needs to fit well enough so it doesn’t pop off when you jump in the water.

Read up on safety and boat control before heading for moving water and practice, practice, practice.

It is a bit away from you…
But check out Rocky Mountian Adventures in Ft. Collins Co. I know they do rentals, and I think they have demo days. They are also good, knowledgeable people.


At your weight and height
you have a ton of options from 12 footers to … and from a $400 used boats to whatever you’d like to spend. For small trips < 8 miles or so, almost any boat will be fine. For longer trips you want a longer boat. If you are doing it for fitness, the narrower boats (e.g. 22 inches) will be fun for you. If you want to relax, fish, photograph, etc, then something in the 24 inch width range or wider would be better (more stable).

Again, tons of options, SOTs, composites, touring boats, sea kayaks, rec boats, used, etc. Best thing it to find a dealer or club where you can try several out for fit. There are some where a big shoe simply won’t fit.


Start slightly above your level.
Don’t start with one of the wide “rec” boas unless it’s what you actually want to use it for. If youwant to fish, relax on the lake, maybe go camping, some rec boats are great, but if you want to go on day trips, increase your skills, cover some ground, try and stay in the 12-14 foot range and narrower than the rec boats. Typically this middle of the road boats are around 23-24 inches wide. If you want to get into longer camping trips, playing in the ocean, etc, then typically you’ll want to go over 16 feet.

For starting out i recommend the middle group, the 12-14 foot ones. Some ones to look at are the Cayuga by old town, Necky’s Manitou or Looksha, Boreal design has the ookpik or kasko, or any number of boats in this range.

Remember that even if you have no
interest in serious whitewater, there are long stretches of easy, scenic whitewater for cruising and camping. You might want to gently bias your kayak choice in the direction of kayaks you could still use in easy, non-technical whitewater.

Watch for Eric Nyre on this board, who sells kayaks in CO. He and others use touring kayaks on easy CO whitewater very successfully.

To add to dand883…
12-14 feet is a good starting place for what you’ve described. Make sure you also check out Wilderness Systems Tsunami line. Excellent transitional touring boats in medium and high volume. Higher volume indicated by “5” models. I have size 12’s and the 125 has plenty of toe, body, and cargo room. They range from 12 to 17.5 feet. You might want to try the 140. Tsunami’s are very stable for new paddlers, can be rolled, and maneuvered relatively well, and track very straight, paddle pretty quick. I can keep up with longer boats when I join groups, although I’m stronger than the average paddler. It’s also a boat you won’t have to jump out of quickly if you get the fever. Necky, Dagger, Liquid Logic, Perception also make nice plastic boats in that size range. Try before you buy.

in lakes and calm rivers
it totally depends upon what lights you up. As a beginner without ever having kayaked, a 17+ foot sea kayak was absolutely right for me for calm rivers and lakes. But I don’t know if that’s a good starting point for you any more than I know if 12 - 14 foot is a good starting point. I was a runner, in good shape, and when the outfitter asked what I wanted to do, I said I want to be able to do anything people do in a sea kayak, and I don’t want the kayak to limit me. Rather than selling me the transitional kayaks I was asking about, they recommended I rule them out for some demo sea kayaks in the same price range. I have no idea if you will get into kayaking to the point of truly, purposefully using edging to turn, or rolling and bracing just for fun, or if you’ll even enjoy the feeling of strong paddling in a long slender kayak and the cruising speed that goes along with that. I also have no idea if you would prefer a shorter, stabler kayak that turns fairly well without edging and lets you enjoy your time on the water more without stronger developed skills. But if you have a pretty good idea about yourself and where you’ll likely end up in terms of being self-driven to becoming skilled at the sport or being turned on by a sleeker, faster, boat, or being more into lower bother with skill development, casual days without feeling the immediate need to practice a bunch of junk, that may begin to give an idea of what may actually prove better for you. Don’t rule anything out without first deciding what you’re likely to enjoy the most. Most belong in rec boats. But I’ve found the more athletic a person is, the more often times they appreciate the characteristics of more performance oriented kayaks. Certainly not all-inclusive. I just don’t like the idea of pointing your focus too strongly towards rec boats based on the given information. There’s no right or wrong, but most find they personally enjoy certain types of boats much more than others, and that all depends upon the person.

how far are you from Jackson
Rendezvous River Sports -

they had a couple used Tsunami’s for sale last I checked.

For skills development, it would be
worth it to drive 4 hours each way to take a class from a good experienced instructor. You would learn more in a good half day class than years of trying to teach yourself from books and videos. And if you can find a local buddy to take the class with you so you can coach and help each other with technique and skills, that’s way better. If you go to an independent retailer to buy your boat, they’ll be able to help you find local instruction.

Also, most independents will have some kind of demo or rental program. It’s just part of the deal that your first boat is unlikely to be your last and you won’t really know what you want/like until you have some quality time in the seat.

where to start …

– Last Updated: Mar-30-09 10:51 PM EST –

In shallow water!

Serious, welcome to the site, you picked a great sport. If you're really that far from a dealer, here are my thoughts: 1) Maybe plan a mini-vacation around an outfitter, a trip, a sea kayak symposium, or something like that. The West Coast Sea Kayak Symposium comes up in September--the grand daddy of em all. Maybe fly into Seatac and rent a car? 2) Fill your fix with DVDs, or as we like to call them, 'kayak porn'! ;-) "Sea Kayaking: The Ultimate Guide" is a nice overview. "This is the Sea" will awe you and show what can be done. 3) Get a cheap boat and paddle the heck out of it. No one said it has to be your final boat.

Good luck and enjoy!

Watch Craigs List Salt Lake City
You might be able to get a used boat. I’m from Utah originally and paddle at Bear Lake a lot. Nice places by you include Bear Lake, Fremont, Jackson,Snakae and Green River and Flaming Gorge, I don’t know if you can paddle on the resevoirs on Hamm’s fork.

You put your left foot in and …