Newbie, what's a good lenght kayak?

I’m looking to buy a kayak and the REI Outlet has a few Riots on sale: Riot Edge 13, Riot Quest 10, Riot Edge 11. I plan on just doing flatwater kayaking. I’m 6’3" and 212, is one of these better suited to my height?

I’m wondering which one is good that’s a beginner/intermediate one so I won’t need to upgrade too soon after buying one. Kind of similar to buying a motorcycle, a 500cc was too small 1000cc was too big :slight_smile:

Any suggestions would be great!



At your weight and height, I would go
for the 13.

See if you can try a similar boat
Some tall men, especially if they have a lot of upper body mass are somewhat “top heavy” and might require an extra wide boat to feel stable.

I agree that of the choices the largest boat would likely be the best for you.

Try before you buy and take lessons
I am satisfied with my first kayak, a 10’ Emotion Glide, for flatwater. But once I took a lesson on the ocean and tried out longer kayaks at a dealer, I found the usual hard lesson: you don’t end up where you start! So best bet is: 1) take a lesson, 2) decide the limit of your next adventures, 3) try out the boats on the water if at all possible. Only then does it truly make sense to buy.

FWIW, I’m 6’ 185 lb. size 11.5 shoe and I fit fine in my recreation boat, but a larger foot size can be a serious problem!

Call REI for Kayak Demo Day
Check out

I wouldn’t drop a dime until I at least

sat in the kayak --on the water–

No demo, no sale, in my kayak world.

Rent, try, learn , then buy

Avoid rec boats
Height doesn’t matter much but shoe size and leg length does. If you have big feet you may find a higher front deck more comfortable. I’m 6’7" and 220 with size 13 feet. There are many boats I can’t fit in because of my long femurs and/or I have to point my toes too much because the deck height is too low.

Most of the ‘recreational’ boats in the 10-13 foot range are made for people to tool around the local pond and not much else. They are not good for whitewater or seaworthy for touring so they are stuck in a no man’s land.

If you are interested in gaining skills and progressing as a paddler, avoid the recreational boats and get a boat built for a purpose. If you are looking for something a little jack of all trades something like a Dagger Alchemy is a good choice.

I am going to repeat what others have said - don’t buy until you try. To many variations. Way too easy to spend the money only to find it wasn’t right, and then have to sell as a used boat at a loss.

There is an article in the most recent issue of California Kayaker Magazine (can be read online for free at called Getting Butt Time that is about this.

Anywhere from 17 to 19 feet would be good. Buy something used in fiberglass and resale value should be good if you decide it’s not for you.

No need to go long.
No need to go that long. There are plenty of big guy kayaks in the 14 to 16 foot range that will have decent performance. It really depends on what you want out of it. If you intend on doing long coastal trips, bays, ect. then I would say 16’ or longer. Beam on average is 21 to 24 inches.

Seek something used and of higher quality but try a few test paddles first.

Thanks for all of the feedback! I just went and sat in a few kayaks at And it’s been great feedback to hear about sitting in them!

I tried sitting in about 6 different ones and with my long legs I only fit in two that they had: a Kestrel 120X and a Seward Chinook. They offer classes so I think my next move it to take a class and see how it goes. If I can find a local dealer that has the Pilot Edge 13 I’ll try that one out too.


one advice
Do not purchase a boat before the class. You can invest some money in a PFD, but hold off dropping bills for a boat or a paddle.

It is extremely likely that you do not know what you do not know :slight_smile: