New Kayaker - Pondering which kayak

I’m going to be buying a kayak for myself soon and the local classifieds/craigslist seem to have dried up before I could snag one.

I’m 6’1", ~275lbs. I’ll mostly be poking around the local creek and slow river for some fishing, with some trips onto faster rivers in the area with class I and II rapids.

From what’s available around my area I’m currently looking between

Old Town Vapor 12


Emotion Envy 11

There’s also the Old Town Vapor 10 and the Emotion Glide, but they’re capacity is 275 so that doesn’t leave much room for carryons.

Does anyone have any suggestions or warnings about those two? ~$400-500 is the price range I’m looking at, if there are other better models in those two lines. I think one of the places around here also has Perception kayaks, but those seem to be a lot more expensive.

keep looking
Neither boat is one I would recommend to you. Too short and wide and lacking basic safety features like sealed bulkheads. These are both “recreational kayaks” – actually not kayak-like at all, more like a rowboat. And neither is competent for white water, even just class I and II. The cockpits are too huge for a sprayskirt and even if you could get one on, you would have to have front and rear flotation bags to safely use on fast water. Those and a good skirt would add another $150 to your bottom line. And the physical bottom line is that you are too big a guy for either boat – they would ride too low and be slow and a pain to propel. Keep checking the Craigslist postings and look for a boat from 12’ to 16’ with a more standard cockpit.

On the other hand, if you are mostly going to fish and do mild whitewater, maybe you ought to think more canoe than kayak. For about what you would pay for those little kayak-like tubs, you could get a kayak-like canoe. Take at look at the Mad River Adventure 14 canoe (lots of places, including Dick’s Sporting Goods, stock them).

It has low gunwales (sides) and is narrow enough to use a double ended kayak paddle. Plenty of volume for someone your size – you can add some ballast (like jugs of water) to the bow and paddle from the stern or use the middle seat and paddle solo from there. And you could also paddle with a buddy since it is a tandem. These often come up for sale used for under $400 but even new they are not bad ($699 at REI and of course you get 10% back on that with the member profit sharing at year’s end). The new ones have a slightly squared stern so you could add a 30 lb electric motor if you wanted. We have the longer version (the 16’) and love it for both flatwater and mild white water streams. We use it almost as much as our kayaks. It tracks well and handles much like a kayak. I would certainly rather use it for fishing than any of our 9 kayaks.

You will also find that longer boats are not that hard to load – in fact they are easier to get on the roof than shorter ones since you just lift the bow onto the back rack from the rear and then lift and shove it forward.

Are you near Vienna, MD?
Here you go, just posted for $500:

good kayak deal
Or this one, an excellent deal on a “bigger guy” 12’ kayak near Baltimore:

fishing kayak
Here’s a fishing kayak on Maryland CL that has the capacity you need:

Just missed it.

– Last Updated: Jul-17-13 1:37 PM EST –

Curses, that kayak was sold last night. Oh well, there will be others.
Edit: The Tsunami that is, not that interested in a SOT for right now. Maybe as a second string.

I've been comfortable in and with going through 1 and 2 rapids with similar kayaks to what I listed (rentals), are they really that bad?

not as long as you stay upright
Sure, you can float a moderate rapid in anything and feel OK – it’s when you capsize or take a big wave wash and the thing fills with water and sinks like a stone that you realize maybe it was not the wisest choice.

Keep your fingers crossed – I always notice an uptick in kayak for sale listings around now in the Summers. I think it’s due to people’s skills having improved halfway through the season and wanting to move up to another boat – the dealers start putting them on sale too. Plus the people who bought them in the Spring and now decided they aren’t that into kayaking will begin to sell them. In my area (southwest PA, not that far from you) the kayak for sale listings have tripled in the past couple of weeks.