Edit: I will be looking at 12-foot boats based upon feedback below. Suggestions for those would be good.
Hello Community! This is my first time here. As warm weather approaches in the Grand Rapids Michigan area I am getting the bug for a new kayak. I will try to give you as much info as I can.
Currently I have a Sun Dolphin Aruba 10, which was given to me for free. I got to use it once last summer and I loved the experience. It was fun being on the water. I know this is a big box store kayak and is probably frowned upon, but I am ignorant as to what is good, and hey…it was free. I have decided the best way to get people to do things with you is to have duplicates of your toys, so I will use this one for friends to go out on and I am in the market for another one.
The situation now is I can get another one of these for $170 brand new, or I can step up to something around the $500 range with some flexibility. This is where I need your help. What brands and models should I be exploring that would truly be a step up and have more benefit? I will use it primarily for slow moving lakes, and perhaps some slow rivers. I don’t think the rivers around me in Grand Rapids are very fast at all, despite the name of the city. I think it would certainly be fun to explore the rivers as opposed to just lakes. I won’t be using it fish, so no pure angling kayaks. A storage area for a dry bag could be cool, and perhaps a cup holder area, but I find the cup holder areas are usually ridiculously small for a tall Camelback Eddy anyway so perhaps that is not the best seller. Obviously I am looking for something that would be a good blend of the usages and not break the bank. For reference, I am 6 foot 2 and weigh 200 lbs. Is there a certain length I need for my height or is the length mainly for performance/tracking? I will use this some after work and on weekends. I like the chill aspect to paddling, but I also love physical exercise.
In summary, based on my information and stats above, what are some Kayaks I should be checking out? I would love to hear your opinions on what brand, model, and place to purchase…feel free to shoot any killer deals my way. Thank you all!