new kayaker, need advice what yak to buy

I’m guessing this is the kind of post everyone loves to respond to.

I got in a kayak for the first time this summer, and within ten seconds I wanted one of my own. I’ve been doing a lot of research on the internet, but still can’t decide which boat to buy. So I’m turning it over to you experts.

I’m about 170 lbs and 6’. I’m reasonably fit and as long as the thing’s not made of lead I’m not too worried about being able to load it onto my car, but still I guess I’d rather go light than heavy. I’m a novice but not especially worried about “tippiness” or small cockpits. I would like at least one hatch to stuff things in. A relatively comfy seat would be nice too.

I expect to be doing slow rivers and lakes. Not interested in rapids or oceans right now. One thing I loved about the kayak I used was the maneuverability, zipping around fallen trees, feeling like I was riding a motorcycle when I was used to driving a van. I don’t want to lose that feeling, but at the same time I’d like something that can track and get a good cruise on going across a lake. Maybe a skeg, so I can switch between “rocky creek” mode and “placid lake” mode.

I’m thinking in the range of $500 to $1000. If it’s going to be on the upper end of the scale it has to be worth it, lots of fun for the buck.

Oh, and finally, what do you folk think about these half inflatable/half rigid shell contraptions? How do they perform compared to a one-piece yak?

Many thanks to all who lend assistance.

for yak advice call my Mongolian friends
for kayak advice I might be able to help you.

I would stick with a 12-14 foot model. If you are considering a skeg you should also consider a rudder.

If you really liked the kayak you paddled this summer why not buy the same model?

Wilderness Systems makes really comfortable seating, so check out their Tsunami line. For your size I would try a 125 or a 140.

How many different boats have you tried?
Welcome to our wonderful obsession! :slight_smile:

Your height, weight, and fitness will make it easy for you to have the pick of many different boats. How many have you tried so far? If you can tell us what you’ve already tried, and how you feel about each one, perhaps we’ll have a better idea of which direction your preferences are moving, and we can recommend others for you to try.

If you haven’t paddled many different boats to date, I’d recommend that you spend some time paddling as many as you can find. During this trial period, you’ll also begin to develop some basic skills, which will, in turn, help you begin to know your own preferences. If you’re patient in this process, your first boat will find you, and you’ll know just when that happens.

With regards to cost, you’ll get the most boat for your buck if you look for a used one. So, figure out what you want, then look for a used one.

Since you haven’t yet mentioned any of the boats you’ve actually tried, and how you felt about them, I’m a bit reluctant to start recommending specific boats for your short list. A bit more information from you, and the fun here will begin! :slight_smile:


Well, the kayak that got me hooked was a Riot Endeavor owned by my sister. 12 feet, pretty wide, a couple of hatches for storage, retractable skeg. What I really liked was how easy it was to change direction or speed, it felt very maneuverable and free.

The same day I tried a 16’ something or other with a rudder. I didn’t like this as much because it didn’t have the free feeling of the shorter boat, although it was faster on the straightaways.

The thing is, I don’t know how much of this preference is due to the fact that we were paddling a shallow, rock-and-log-strewn creek, which the shorter yak was obviously better suited to. Where I live, there are rivers as well as a couple good sized lakes, which I would probably want to explore. And on a lake a longer kayak would perform better, and even the rudder, which I didn’t care for when I used it, would probably be helpful on open water during a windy day.

So I guess what I’m seeing is, I have to do more paddling on the actual water I live near to know what I should get.

Oh no! Do I need 2 different boats? Am I going to end up like you all, with a half-dozen kayaks in my garage, all for different purposes. What have you people gotten me into?

Ditto the Tsunami boats.
The 125 is a good boat for the money.

try a manitou
Neck makes a couple models that are really nice for shorter boats.

new yak
I agree with the other posters as well, try as many as you can but the Wilderness Systems Tsunami 140 or 145 are a great start, very comfortable seating, stable and will do everything you mentioned and more. They are also pretty popular so finding a used one shold be too hard. Also check with your local outfitters for demos models and rental fleet sales.

Tsunami is nice, Manitou is nice,
but I do have a weak spot for the Riots. Nice boats!

How about the Sprint?

possible winner
The Wilderness Systems Tsunami 125 looks like a contender, and the reviews on it are very very positive.

One question - The description of the 125 says it’s designed for larger users, with a more roomy cockpit. At six foot with a build on the lighter side for my height, would the 120, geared toward lighter paddlers, fit me better? I guess I don’t know what “big” or “small” is for a kayaker. I imagine the two boats are similar in handling.

Thanks to all of you for your help. I mean it.

Kayaks are Like Golf Clubs…
Sure you could play a round with say just a five iron. Add a driver and a putter and it’s easier and more efficient. Then a seven iron and a sand wedge and you’re starting to have fun.

At least this is what I tell my neighbors when I get funny looks…

It has been my experience

– Last Updated: Oct-22-07 7:20 AM EST –

that in the kayak world "smaller paddler" has more to do with leg length and shoe size than waist size or weight. Sometimes a shorter, heavier person will fit in a kayak that a tall slender one cannot because his/her feet are too big.

However, you might try the 120 or 140, or at least sit in them. The decks are not terribly low and you might be fine in them.

Size in kayaks
For touring and rec boats, small average and large are still usually referring to guys. So it’s only relatively recently that there has been much of a choice in sea kayaks that are really tuned for an average weight and size woman, for example. WW boats have tended to run in the other direction, with really tall and long guys having a very short list when you get into things like planing hull river runners or playboats.

And if you like WW, yeah at some point you’ll want/need a planing hull boat to have the most fun in it. But don’t worry about that - easy to get a really great used boat like that for all of $300.