New kayaker and New buyer

Hello everyone, I’m new and happy to join this community and hopefully I won’t make too big of an idiot of myself while I’m here.

I’ll give you a rundown on my situation.

I became interested in kayaking shortly after I bought a recreational 10’ Pelican off of craigslist (however I spent a lot of time canoeing at camp as a kid). So now I’m looking to get a kayak + instruction.

I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth Region but I’ve been looking at touring kayaks. Everything from the Perception Carolinas/Expression, Necky, Jackson Journeys, and Wilderness Systems. All of what I’m looking at is 14’+. My issue is that almost all of the stores I have gone to try to convince me to buy a recreational kayak instead. Now I understand that the big selling points are stability and the ability to fish from these but I feel like I don’t just want to spend my entire time only 20 yds from shore on only the sunniest and no-wind days.

Is it unreasonable to want to buy a touring/sea style kayak? My goal is to also be able to take it to the gulf. It seems to me that if I buy a rec kayak, I can’t practice rolls, self-rescue, navigation, etc. As far as not being able to take it down a small stream or river, it would also seem to me like it would be difficult but not impossible. It would just require an expanded skill set. Or is the rec kayak the best way to go until I gain experience?

The kayaks I am currently looking at are

Expression 15

Tempest 14.5

Dagger Alchemy 14.0L

Jackson Journey

not unreasonable, but…
Not unreasonable to want a touring kayak, but in your area the summer heat might make using a spray skirt less comfortable.

What is your height and weight? That might guide us toward a boat that would fit.

I am 215 pounds and 6’ I use a Journey 14 when leading tours for one outfit, but don’t fit the 13.5. I have an Alchemy 14.0L as a personal boat and love it. Not familiar with the Perception, but Perception, Wilderness Systems and Dagger are all the same parent company. In general, Dagger targets moving water (but not so much white water - they have another brand for that). WS and Perception are both flat water boats, but WS has more options/better seats and the like, where Perception is meant for people who price is most important.

Height and Weight
5’8" - 180-185lb (depending on how close to a food related holiday we are). Additionally, I would like to be able to learn rolls.

I can do without a spray skirt but I’d like to be able to go at some of our lakes during the colder months. Although cold in Texas may be 40°F-50°F. I have friends that paddle in Arkansas quite a bit. Again they do the rec kayaks.

I’ve asked a few places as far as rentals go but most here rent Sit-on-top Ocean Kayaks or Stand Up Paddleboards. So this leaves me scouring the Internet for research.


– Last Updated: Apr-12-16 7:15 PM EST –

Most rentals are sit on top, rec boats or SUPs. there is some education required for paddling a touring kayak safely (basically, what to do if you flip over). On that, might be good to find a place that teaches an intro to sea kayaking class and take it. You'll also learn a whole bunch that will help you toward a buying decision.

Oh, I am not familiar with a Tempest 14.5 I thought thy just had 165 (16.5') and longer. The 165 is a very playful boat.

Oops…I meant Tsunami 140
I have emailed a kayak instruction outfitter(?) and they will start classes once it gets warmer. They teach on Sit-in, Sit-ons, Canoes, and Touring Kayaks.

You are correct about the Tempest, I meant the Tsunami 140. I’ve looked at about 50 kayaks today and I think they are starting to blend in. Haha.

You are on the right track
The guys in the stores are just trying to score a sale, and rec boats are cheaper hence easier to move. Ignore them. I suspect you will find more kindred souls when you get into those classes.

Your on he right track
If by “guys in stores” you mean academy sports, Dick’s, gander mountain, bass pro etc etc forget them , they are not kayakers.

I paddle a Tsunami 145 in streams I can piss across and don’t have any problems and I take it out in the Mississippi Sound also. Yes you do not want to wear a skirt during the day in August on the Gulf but paddling up to December without my dry suit makes up for it.

If you find an ACA instructor the Level 1 class teaches all the basics in one session. I learned by trial and error and you tube videos and did not take the class until I had been paddling for about two years, wish I had not waited. Actually they just weren’t available at the time. The level 2 class taught wet exiting, cowboy scramble, T-rescue, and Hand of God. There all on you tube but the class is worth it.

What you wanna do is jump on the 10 and come over to Biloxi, get a room at the Beau Rivage, Pick up a boat from Everything Kayak after demoing in their pool and tell them before you come you want to take ACA classes from Hank.

Have you considered kayaks that are a mix of recreational and touring designs?

Of course all kayak designs are compromises but hybrid/transitional ones give you a little more stability and maneuverability than true touring models, while still offering decent performance and the outfitting of touring boats. They have larger, more open cockpits but still allow the use of a spray skirt.

Look for boats in the 14’ x 24" range from companies like Hurricane and Current Designs.

Note on a boat to roll in
A boat that makes a roll less of a trial is usually one with a much tighter cockpit than most rec boaters are accustomed to. IF that is a serious goal, you want to stay away from the larger cockpit of some of the transitional boats. Some are tight enough, some leave a rather large cockpit opening, because they are inbetween boats in terms of their intended use.

The Alchemy is a great little boat for all of that.

FWIW only been kayaking for 3 years so my comments may not be as useful as those with more experience and knowledge.

I’m 78 years old; 6’0" and 180 lbs. and experience limited to the following kayaks:

14’ pungo new 2013

15’ expression new 2014

17’ tempest used 2015

So far the expression has been my favorite. It has more rocker than the other two so easier to turn in confined conditions… It has a skeg which I prefer over a rudder. However if you want to roll you will need to replace the high back seat with a back band which is easy to do.

For me the speed of the expression and tempest are about equal (for this worn out 78 year old motor). They both average 4.5 mph at a constant 60 strokes/minute under the same conditions- flat water, no wind or Riffles.

My pungo is not much slower, about 4.2 mph, however I don’t think my 14’ rec’ pungo and your pelican are comparable.

I also bought a used 14’5’ Carolina for my grandson which I paddled a couple of times, and for me it “plowed” through the water and was slower than the expression & tempest. It didn’t plow for my grandson who weighs about 140-150lbs.

Demo as many kayaks as you can and enjoy your search.

Go for it.
It sounds to me like you would really like to jump right in with both feet, so why not look at real sea kayaks. I would strongly recommend looking at Current Designs and I’ll be very specific. Try the Squamish and the Sirocco, or if your budget allows it, try the Caribou.

I can personally vouch for the Sirocco as a superb sea kayak that can do it all and then some. This boat will roll, or brace up by itself and all you have to do is not get in the way.

My other suggestion is that you can learn a lot from watching videos on YouTube. After that, it’s going to take a lot of on the water cockpit time to get comfortable with the boat and get your body conditioned to the drill. There is no shortcut to being able to paddle all day long without wearing yourself completely out.

Do not skimp on the pfd and the paddle. The pfd must be a paddling style and the paddle should be at least all glass and here I would highly recommend the Carlisle Expedition for a great paddle at a very reasonable price.

I have looked at a couple
I’ve looked at some of the transition style and light touring kayaks. The compromises don’t seem too bad. What does confuse me is the price. Some are comparable to a 17’ polymer touring kayak price wise! Additionally, some seem to push for luxury (3 cup holders and a USB plug).

As far as extra stability, I feel that a touring yak will feel unstable…at first. Just like when I first got on a snowboard, it felt 180° different from skis…until I got used to it. Now it’s my preferred method of going down a snow covered slope (okay, maybe Speed riding would be my preferred method but I haven’t tried it yet).

To respond to a Pirateoverfourty’s comment:

You hit it right on the nail! I’ve been to Dick’s, Gander Mountain, Academy Sports. They aren’t being rude or anything but the conversation always boomerangs back to, “Oh, you’ll be happy with a 10 footer! Most people here own this [insert brand here].”

Again, it’s not that I think they are bad boats. Just that they don’t feel like they aren’t in line with my goal. Also, the idea that water needs to be perfect and avoiding everything from slight wind and require absolutely flat water makes me think I’ll kayak in only the most sheltered and smallest of rivers and ponds.

I was just commenting on…

– Last Updated: Apr-12-16 9:50 AM EST –

part of the OPer's post. They specifically mention rolling and navigation, both of which really get someone into a sea kayak with a tighter cockpit due either to necessity (better fit for rolling) or likely use (being far enough offshore to need to navigate).

Some of the transition boats out there, like the Carolina and definitely the Pungo, are designed with very large cockpits to accommodate people who would rather not feel too tucked into their boat. They are great boats for their intended use, it is just not a match for what the OPer describes as their goals.

If the boat is a good fit, you get used to the skinnier ones real fast. It appears you are pretty athletic, wouldn’t worry about that.

Cup holders and USB plugs generally go with boats that are not meant to roll or do a deep edge. That stuff can’t get wet and of course it is hard to get to the cup holder if it is late in the season and you are using a skirt… get a hydration pack for your PFD, gets most of that out of the way.

Given your more aggressive goals, it may be a plan for you to wait to purchase until after you have gotten into a variety of boats from taking basic lessons. Really can’t adequately describe much of this online.

As to where to paddle, I happen to be a huge fan of safety and if paddling solo go easy on the risks. But stuff can happen. I am sure the young woman in this story never intended to be three miles offshore separated from her mother. Happily she stayed in the boat and could be found OK, but many or most of the stories like this have a less good outcome.

shop used

A couple of major manufacturers like Necky and WS are promoting some confused outfitting in their "light touring " line for sales results and not a kayak for it’s intended use where rolls and rescue practice is anticipated. So if you find a kayak that meets your handling preferences but it has a big recreational style seat back on a low aft deck boat don’t discount it as the seat back can be replaced with a back band.

The Dagger Alchemy is a good choice. I’d like to recommend the Necky Manitou 14 but their new ACS seat has a few significant negatives for a not cheap kayak. I like the hull a lot but the very high seat back and ratcheting seat are problematic for rescues. If you can get a used one from 2012-2015 with the old seat and thigh braces get it.

Too many manufacturers have followed WS Phase 3 seat back silliness in light touring boats. The Tsunamis are popular but I’m not a fan of their quality control or design. Too much of their “features” is for show room performance than actual use.

I understand the risks and the way that risky behavior can affect how the sport is perceived in media or by the general public. I don’t plan on going out and putting myself in a situation that can be dangerous, however my aim is to grow and improve as a paddler. Again, not bashing the recreational paddlers, to each his own.

I am willing to wait to buy a kayak until I get sufficient training. I may keep my Pelican to enjoy going up and down the lake or slow streams. I just wanted to get some advice from experienced folks that weren’t trying to sell me the Max Angler Sit-on-top Supreme with 15 rod and cup holders and make sure I wasn’t crazy. :slight_smile:

Seat backs
I’ve seen several that have a high seat that most paddlers switch to a back band system. The complaint that most folks had was getting back inside with such a high backrest and rolling issues. I guess that manufacturers are trying to appeal to a different crowd. It happens. :confused:

That was not really risky behavior

– Last Updated: Apr-12-16 10:29 AM EST –

At least per se. It appears that both of the paddlers in that case intended to stay relatively near shore. One got separated and was out of control, due likely to wind or current. But it was a very easy mistake to make for someone without seat time in bigger water.

Honestly, if people on this site said how many times they had been slapped similarly very few would say zero. I have at least two lessons under my belt. It is just that I got out of it without involving the Coast Guard. One was damn close though.

There is a lot to account paddling solo, including learning to pay a high degree of respect to the weather and knowing how and when to get out of dutch. New paddlers don't know what they don't know, and stuff like this happens.

So what I was really trying to say is that you might as well anticipate something going off the rails. It is probably more realistic than figuring you will always stay inside the margins.

High seat backs

– Last Updated: Apr-12-16 10:32 AM EST –

Don't support the best paddling form because people tend to lean against them. Despite the best intentions, after a couple of hours on the water it is tempting. And they are a PITA for re-entry on the water, pretty much useless for rolling.

Back bands do both better.