I am looking to buy a kayak for slow relaxing lake use. I don’t know where to start on the kind of kayak. And price ranges. Will be used by seniors and children. Can you help?
resources on this site
There are many excellent articles and videos on this site that will help get you started on this. Here is a link to lists of them:
Also, the age of paddlers has far less bearing on boat selection than their size (height and weight and any special needs or restrictions), budget and performance expectations, even transport and storage options. Quality and safety features vary widely even in boats that may look the same to the unfamiliar observer.
Reading the intro articles will help you dial in what you should look for and you will find additional help here on the forums once you have some of the basics.
You need first to decide if you want.
Sit in kayaks (SINKS) or sit on ones (SOTS)
Then your best bet is to rent some at a local lake or livery.
Then after you have rented a few different type and styles come back and mention the brands and styles, and your price range, and you will probably get a lot of help here.
Things to think about
Will it have to be carried? Or can it be dragged up a beach? Lighter weight is always nice, but can be expensive. If it doesn’t have to be carried the weight of the kayak is less important.
Kayaks should fit the paddler. A small child will have a difficult time trying to use the kayak and paddle that fits a 200-pound adult. A large paddler will be unstable in a kayak that’s too small.
How warm is the water? Will the paddlers think that getting wet is a problem or just part of the fun? That may help decide between a sit-inside or sit-on-top.
article to start
There is an article published in California Kayaker Magazine that tells you about the basic types of kayaks (recreational class vs touring;/sea kayak vs sit on top vs white water, etc.), which may be a good starting point. Can be read online for free at http://www.calkayakermag.com/magazine.html. Issue #10/Spring 2013
Maybe just sending you to references was not altogether helpful of us.
But we don't have a lot of information from you. I would say if this is a small lake (not a lot of wind and waves or heavy powerboat traffic), with warm water when you will be using it, and you have easy access from shallow sandy or grassy shoreline or a dock, and none of the adults is over 200 lbs, you could probably all use inexpensive sit on top kayaks around 8 to 12 feet long. Sit on tops are easy to climb into for the adults and the kids will have fun jumping off them and climbing back in out on the water. The downside is that they will not be very fast or easy to paddle long distances so older kids may be a little frustrated with them if they want to cross a larger lake or like to race around. Very small kids can struggle paddling a wide short kayak, but kids have fun with any kind of boat (or anything at all that floats, for that matter.)
These types of small sit on tops are common and you get what you pay for. Ultra cheap big box store versions are flimsy (rough use by kids will result in any fittings being ripped out of the hull) and usually ultra slow and hard to paddle in a straight line. paying a bit more will get you a more solid craft, with a separate more comfortable seat and better performance. All that depends on your budget and preferences.
If we are talking about a larger lake, like (Lake George in NY or Pontchartrain in Louisiana) where you might encounter windy conditions and long distances you wanted to cover, you might want something more sophisticated. And if the water is regularly below 70 degrees when you are apt to be paddling, sit inside kayaks might be a better option -- you can expect to be wet any time you use a sit on top.
Do make sure that everybody paddles safely, is a strong swimmer, always wears a PFD (most states require them, at least for kids) and practices capsizing the kayak and getting back in while in shallow water. Also make sure they know to keep out of the way of power boats if they are permitted on your lake. And that the kids never go out in the boats without telling an adult what they are up to. (Most of this is common sense, that I probably don't need to tell you.)