New Paddler

the other considerations
with longer kayaks are loading, transporting, storing and portaging them, especially on your own. I chose a Tsunami 140 and a Manitou 13 partly because my little SUV (and maybe me too) can’t safely carry anything longer! For only 13’ the Manny glides and performs quite nicely, whether in 2-3’ chop or on a long day paddle.

Agree w. that

– Last Updated: Jan-13-09 3:35 PM EST –


the first post said that paddling longer boats (longer being over 14 feet) is harder. We can agree that's not always true.

Besides the 14 & 15 footers you listed - good choices there - there are some nice ones @ 16ft or so that are very paddler-friendly.

I agree that too long a kayak is a drag in more ways than one. What "too long" means will differ from paddler to paddler.

thanks for clarifying
all good

great advise

– Last Updated: Jan-13-09 4:45 PM EST –

Well I have taken notes on everything you all have said so far (with lots more room for plenty more notes :) ). I have looked into joining a kayaking class at the rec. center near us, joined yahoo paddle groups, and have started to look for people around to kayak with soon.

As for the lenth of one. I was confused there at first. Everyone was sending me back and forth. But... I think we have decided to try out something between 10' and 13' to start with. We are going to start trying out the rec.kayaks. Demo a few and see how they fit for us. We're not looking to start out with long all night trips. But we are going to be on the water 4-10 hours a day in them( with stops and trail walking in between). Also we will be carring them on top of our car so that has come into factor on the length we will start with also.

Now what about the paddles? I looked at some that were really heavy for me. And some that felt way to light. None really felt in between.

WS Tsunami…
I started with an OT Loon 111…boxy but good…however I now have a WS Tsunami 140 and I love it. It’s a great kayak to start out with and you won’t outgrow it as quickly as you would a pure rec boat. The Tsunami comes in so many different sizes, there is sure to be one that fits you both perfectly. Demo…demo…demo!

I also liked the OT Cayuga, but found the quality of the Tsunami to be much better, especially since Johnson Outfitters stopped using Polylink 3 and went over to their single layer poly.


– Last Updated: Jan-13-09 7:42 PM EST –

Lighter is nice but tends to be more expensive. I think around 32 ounces is reasonable to start. Anything much more than that gets heavy if you're out all day.

You'll probably want blades on the small side. Big blades add weight and make you work harder -- kind of like a high gear on a bicycle. Some companies also make small shafts for folks with small hands.

Beginners often end up with paddles that are too long. If the paddle is too long every stroke becomes a sweep, which makes it harder to go straight and is less efficient. Paddle length is a function of paddler size, boat width, and paddling style.

I find fiberglass or wood shafts to be more comfortable than metal ones.

Something like an Aquabound Sting Ray in fiberglass might be a reasonable first paddle. But do try several -- a good paddle that fits makes a huge difference.

And as for the boats -- one problem with going down to the 10' range is that everything gets pretty wide. At your weight you'll have a hard time edging a wide boat, which could be frustrating if you're trying to develop skills. Anything over 24" is probably more than you need. The narrower beam is why I'd suggest the Tsunami 135 over the 120 or 140.

If you're thinking about something simpler and less expensive the Perception Tribute might be worth a look. It doesn't have a front bulkhead, so you'd want to add a front flotation bag for safety.

Tsunami 120

– Last Updated: Jan-13-09 5:29 PM EST –

is a fantastic kayak in that size category that should fit you. stable, maneuverable, fairly fast, nice quality, more versatile than a pure rec boat so you won't outgrow it right away, and can be had at a great price. enough storage room for an overnight campout if you don't overdo it on camping gear.

don't go nuts on expensive paddles, there are several decent choices in the $100-and-under category that are around 2 lbs and will work great for the beginner. I have a Carlisle Magic Plus (fiberglass shaft) that I've been pretty happy with, and Aqua Bound and Bending Branches make a few affordable models.

ocean safety.
One of the most important safety features in a kayak is to be able to survive a capsize, and reboard the kayak. So called “deep water rescues” are a skill you should learn in your basic kayak class. However, many rec kayaks don’t allow this essential rescue, because they do not float high enough when swamped. Those boats are not safe in open water, and if want to do ocean paddling, you should pass on any boat that doesn’t have sufficient buoyancy (in the form of secured air bags or watertight compartments) in BOTH the bow and stern.

I’m not sure you’ll find many 10 foot boats with floatation suitable for ocean paddling.

As far as car-topping, I don’t know of any car with a roof that can’t easily carry an 18 foot kayak. Even a small sedan with a very short roof is just fine with a rack and bow and stern lines tied to the boat. Weight is a fair consideration, but I’ve seen a number of short rec boats that are as heavy or heavier than longer sea kayaks made of the same material.

A couple of good websites:

I think the
Aquabound Sting Ray with carbon fiber shaft and fiberglass blades is great for the price and at 31 oz. it’s plenty light. Probably want the shorter length: 220 cm may be as short as they make em.

There are a few 12 to 13 footers like the Tsunami worth a look, but unless you are just wanting to surf a bit, the shorter boats typically don’t have the features you want (i.e. bulkheads) for getting out in big water.


a helpful document

This document should help you through the process of searching for a boat. You can use this for new or used boats, at a paddling shop or not. It was originally developed and distributed by the Paddlin’ Shop in Madison, WI.

There are about 24 questions/criteria to fill out, a then a ten point system to “test paddling”, followed by a table to log your impression of each boat you test paddle based on a list of criteria. The document is just 5 pages long.

I have found this a very helpful way for newbies to begin their boat shopping experience.

You might also benefit from reading:

I put this together because I was getting so many questions like the one above about which boat a new paddler should buy.


Mainstream Kayak

– Last Updated: Jan-14-09 2:14 AM EST –

Have any of you had any experiance with Mainstreams 12' Patriot or Sound?

Also THANKS angstrom those are GREAT websites!!!

Starting out its 80% boat 20% paddler
After a short time, it the other way around. Don’t sweat the boat too much, you won’t have it very long before you trade-up.

not for the ocean.
I don’t know the Sound, but the Patriot is not an appropriate boat for what you described (ocean touring) or even for covering any distance on slow rivers. (too flat, too fat, no forward flotation, and a cockpit opening that’s much too big for good contact with the boat).

Much of this depends on what you want to learn. If you want to gain real kayak handling skills you need to look for a boat that’s narrow enough for a real forward stroke (probably less than 24") and has a cockpit opening that’s small enough for you to have good contact with your knees and hips. Any cockpit bigger than 30" is probably too big for people your size to actually learn kayaking in.

The problem with rec boats…

– Last Updated: Jan-14-09 6:05 PM EST –

1) They are more expensive than getting the sea kayak to start. That's because you will find out within a very short time of having them out in the ocean that you will need something that is more of a sea kayak, and now will be stuck with rec boats that aren't worth much of anything for resale and have to buy two more expensive boats to boot.

I get to say this - we made that mistake. We had a our handy-dandy fairly new Cypresses out in Muscongous Bay, what would now be called a transition boat and pretty good little ones at that, got caught in some weather that surprised us as well as two tour groups (it happens, forget being able to always avoid it) and spent the next 3 hours holed up on an island adding up the cost of the new boats and other gear we realized we needed to do this ocean thing. They had done us fine from November into spring on small lakes back home, it took the 4th day on vacation in Maine to realize we had the wrong boat.

We got lucky and were able to turn our used Cypresses into one new 16' sea kayak, but only because the guy who ran the shop threw us a deal that we later found out was never vetted with the owner.

2) You say you want to spend a few hours in these boats, just to start. For someone your size, you'll be buying a backache before that because of the extra work you'll have to do to reach the water (width and height of the boat) and the lack of contact to control it in that cockpit (lots of uncomfortable stretching around to reach a contact point). You guys aren't small paddlers, you are very small paddlers so have more issues of fit than most.

3) You want to go places camping - means at least two sealed bulkheads and lots of drybags to keep anything dry. That'll put you up towards the longer end of this range anyway.

4) You want bungies to to hold down things like charts and spare paddle for the ocean - again you are at the longer end of this range.

Just the last two things will put you at the longer end of the range you mention, and all of 12 inches away in length from a properly outfitted boat for ocean travel like the Mystic or the Eliza. And I haven't gotten to things like having a properly fitting boat that you are likely to be able to roll without torture, or full rigging for self-rescue.

So - why in the heck would you waste your money on a rec boat when you know you want to do a lot of ocean right off the rip. Are you that green about kayaks, or are you playing this board?

Sorry to ask
"So - why in the heck would you waste your money on a rec boat when you know you want to do a lot of ocean right off the rip. Are you that green about kayaks, or are you playing this board? "

Well this is why I was asking about the mainstreams. Some folks I met yesterday was telling me about them. Could not find any info on them. Never said thats what I was buying. Just asking.

Playing the board? Ha why? Because I have never bought a kayak so I DO NOT know what to get at first. So guess I must be that green.

I came here for help. And thanks to those who gave me great help. Maybe I should get it somewhere else? Can not help that I am a beginner.

1 Like

You’re right, I over read. I saw the above post from you as saying you were looking to buy rec boats, not start out trying them. I read it in too much of a rush.

That said, are you looking at situations where you can demo the boats suggested here like the Mystic and the Eiza as well as rec boats?

A comment with starting in rec boats to demo - they’ll probably make the sea kayaks seem what some call “tippy”. A couple of basic lessons in a nice warm pool over the winter, if a club near you is doing that, will make it much clearer why that is a good thing than you will understand as a beginner.

“beginner boats” not necessary

– Last Updated: Jan-14-09 9:56 AM EST –

I think it's a mistake to think that you need a "beginner boat". If you know you want to paddle the ocean or run whitewater you might as well start with what you want. When my wife & I decided that we wanted to paddle the Great Lakes, we took some classes in sea kayaks, demoed and rented, and bought sea kayaks as our first boats. I still have mine. We're not great athletes. The classes were a huge help in getting us comfortable in the kind of boats we wanted.

If you're comfortable in a canoe, transitioning to a touring kayak shouldn't be a problem. Your relatively light weight will make you more stable than the average adult paddler in the same boat.

There are reasons not to start with a sea kayak -- budget, storage space, etc -- but don't think they're too difficult for a motivated beginner to enjoy.

Rec boats are great for their role, and make a lot of paddlers very happy. But there's no rule saying that you have to start with one.

Sea yak vs rec kayak
I’m 5’6", 150 and agree that a smaller person can easily handle a long sea kayak. I have an 18’ and 16’ sea kayak and I know I can go much, much faster on flat water and slow rivers in either sea kayak than in my rec boats.

However, if you are going to paddle rivers with any sort of small rapids, then a shorter rec boat is great especailly when doing overnight camping trips. I wouldn’t want to paddle either sea kayak on most N. GA rivers, which are very shallow and rocky and require very quick manuevering. It can be done, but it doesn’t look like much fun. I’ve seen experienced paddlers paddle long sea kayaks and stuggle through rocky shoals. For these type rivers, I take either my rec boat or whitewater kayak.

Boat Testing and Training at ECCKF
Hi, Just a reminder of the East Coast Canoe and Kayak Festival in Charleston SC April 17-19. Bit of a drive for you but lots of boats to try, classes to take, and camping right on site for festival registrants. Very well run program. Will be our 4th year. Worth a look. Click Special events. Classes are already posted.

Don’t start with a rec boat
I was in the same position a few years ago and thought i should start with a rec boat, but if you do plan on 4-10 hour trips, you will VERY quickly outgrow it. I originally started with a loon tandem, which was fine at the time, but on any sort of longer trip you get very tired out. My second boat was a 14 foot Cayuga by old town, and i’ve tried out several in this length from 13-15’all around 23-24" wide. In this range you are more stable than really narrow sea kayak, can paddle alot farther and easier than a rec boat, and as someone said earlier, you have the hatches and bulkheads to provide floatation, not to mention less water to pump out. Another good thing for this range is that you can start to practise more advanced techniques that you would use in a longer sea kayak. I would recommend if you can finding something used as you will eventually be upgrading, but it can give you a sense of what you like and what you don’t like to look for as you upgrade