New to Kayaking - Advice on models.

Hello everyone,

Hoping to get into Kayaking for spring next year and i have been doing a lot of research in what i want.

I am 5’10" and weigh 215lbs. I know that matters as i have tried a few kayaks that are too small, like the Old Town Castine. And then got into the Necky Manitou and it felt perfect.

What i am looking for is something that is a good starter boat that can do a little bit of everything. I really want to use it for cruising the lakes and rivers around me. I also want the option to be able to pack gear into it for a night or two of camping, as well as to be able to fish from it.
I know that is asking for a lot out of a single boat but i have seen a few out there so far.

I almost settled on the Old Town Next - Hybrid canoe/kayak but i am unsure about the canoe aspect of this. Storage wise it is fantastic, can add rod holders if i need to. And its a reasonable weight. I have not been able to find anyone who has used this boat who has been able to offer me advice on how this unit is out on the water.

I also looked at the Old Town Loon 126 Angler. Now this was looking more reasonable to me, kayak hull, rod holders and decent storage as well as in the 12-14’ range that i am aiming for.

This got me thinking a bit further and i went out and tested a few kayaks. I learned quickly that i do not want a short kayak, and that ones that have a rudder just add up in price too quickly. So i was looking more at a 12-14’ with skeg, like the MEC Explorer/EV1 125 Kayak with Skeg. Pricing at $899 sounded almost too good to me, tracks well, has sufficient storage, but no rod holders and i was informed it would be too narrow/unstable to fish from.

I am hoping by coming here i can find the right kayak for me that is capable of all that i am looking for, within a reasonable price range. I know that if i am trying for a kayak that does everything, it wont be great at anything in particular but that is ok with me as i am mostly just trying to get out on the water and enjoy myself. And as i am able to do more of that i can then decide which direction i want to go in order to select my next boat.

Also if it makes a difference i am from BC Canada as well.

Looking forward to any responses and am excited to get out on the water.

Venture is a British made line of kayaks, a subdivision of the renowned P & H sea kayak makers. Venture is a more budget friendly line but still uses the seaworthy designs of the parent company. You might want to see if there is a dealer in your part of BC – the 14’ Venture Islay model could be a good option and this is the time of year that you can sometimes get a discount. It might be more than you are thinking of spending, but I think you ought to give the model a try if you can find a shop that will allow a test paddle.

For the colder coastal waters of BC you probably want to stick with a sit in touring kayak. I have the model that preceded the Islay, the 15’ Venture Easky, and it is one of my favorite kayaks, very versatile for rivers, lakes and coastal toruing. It has good storage for gear, very comfortable with good performance for an experienced paddler but secure for beginners (i often loan it to friends who are new to the sport).

The MEC shops in North Vancouver and Vancouver and Big Wave in Kelowna are Venture dealers. The North Vancouver shop shows that they have one in stock.

If you would prefer to stay with the lower budget MEC house brand kayaks, I think the 125 is too small for your purposes. For $100 more you could go with the 140. It is the same width (26") as the 125. Neither one is “too narrow” for fishing, whoever told you that was not very informed. My Easky is an narrower (LV low volume) model (I am smaller than you) but it is plenty stable even at 22".

IF you mostly want to fish, a canoe (like the NEXT) or a wider kayak would suffice, but you will find that wider kayaks have limited performance if you decide you want versatility. I find a 14’ to 15’ sit inside kayak with a skeg to be the most versatile for a range of uses. The Islay hull design would be faster and more agile than the MEC models – think sports car versus commuter sedan.

Can you describe the lakes and rivers in your area? In particular - how large the lakes can be and whether the rivers have moving water (and if so, is it classified whitewater)? For small lakes and slow flowing river (no white water), any of the boats your list would work.

You might want to read an article in California Kayaker Magazine on types of boats. Issue #10, starts on page 6.

The Castine and Manitou are day touring type kayaks (though edging a bit on the recreational side, with cockpit openings on the larger side of day touring boats). The Castine, and the Manitous with front and rear bulkheads, are recoverable in open water, so are better for larger lakes and such.

Loon is full on recreational class kayak (and the Manitous without front bulkheads/hatches should count in this class also) - and as such, should only be used within swimming distance of shore (and keep in mind, if water is cold and you didn’t dress for water temps, your swim distances will be rather short). If you flip it, you likely would not be able to self-recover in open water.

If fishing is important, you may want to consider a sit on top kayak. You can carry camping gear on them, but they would be on top of deck, not in (semi-)water tight hatches of a touring kayak. If it is just tossing a line from time to time, then no need to go all the way that route.

@willowleaf : Thank you very much for your advice. I am not prepared for the coastal side of the kayaking as i live in the okanagan, so i have 2 larger lakes and a handful of smaller ones all around me that i plan on getting into. That and i want to make sure i am comfortable enough in a kayak before venturing our into coastal waters.

Its funny that you mention the Islay as that was the other one that caught my eye, both the 14 w/ skeg, and the 12 w/ skudder (Skeg and rudder combined in one) . From what i have read the 12 actually handles really well for being a 12’ kayak, and with the ‘Skudder’ it means i wouldn’t have to dish out extra for a rudder. But without testing it or reading more i would not go for something like that. I have been trying to find more reviews on this kayak as when i went into MEC they did now have much knowledge regarding anything other than their own in house brands. Also they only rent out their own brand and not any others so i would only be able to try the MEC brands and not the Islay, which i believe they have the 14’ Red/white one that i was already looking at.

I know there is allot of debate in regards to skeg vs. rudder. Now from what i have been told by someone who has been kayaking for 30+ years was that a rudder takes away the locked in feeling of the kayak. Meaning because of the toe controls you don’t feel as planted into the kayak. This gentleman told me to stay away from them and go with a skeg instead, both due to being cheaper, as well as you are able to really lock yourself into the kayak and become more part of it.

Lastly i know this may be an odd request, but is it possible, or even worth putting a flush mount rod holder onto a touring kayak like the islay.

Lastly with the idea of the Islay being a better overal unit than the MEC brand for speed and agility, are there any other brands worth looking into? Such as the Necky Manitou or the Old Town Castine lines. I do not know many others these are just the ones i have looked at so far that are more local to myself in the Kelowna and Vernon area.

If there is a location that does an Intro to Sea Kayaking class near you (normally a day long class), I’d suggest taking that before buying anything. Along with paddling and safety fundamentals, the class should also answer a lot of questions on boats and gear that you have.

@Peter-CA So primarily i will be in Okanagan and Kalamalka lakes ( , I live basically on okanagan lake and Kal is only a short drive away. They are for the most part i would say fairly calm lakes, at most you have boats and a bit of wind but nothing too significant.

As for the rivers to be honest i have not had much of a chance to go explore the rivers in the areas, but i would be avoiding anything too strong. Im very casual and dont want to risk anything, just looking to have a good time. I looked at the surrounding maps and for the most part it is mostly all lakes. Not much in the way of rivers, so i will be more than likely be lakes the majority of the time.

I think the fishing is more of an option i would like to have, not something that i will focus on when it comes to what i will and will not buy. Just trying to cover as much of what i will use it for as i can.

If you want to fish you ave an access-to-gear thing. The smaller stuff than the rod. Storage locations will matter for that if you want to decide to fish on the water rather than going to shore to get set up.