Novice Looking for First Kayak-I've Narrowed it Down

Hello, I’ve decided to try out kayaking as a way to stay active in the hot summer months in Dallas area. I will be mostly using lakes or areas of lakes without much powered boat traffic and calm waters. Will be 95% recreational, but wouldn’t mind fishing every once in a while.

I’m looking for a 10 foot sit on top as it’ll be lighter and easier for me to transport/store. I’d like at least 2 storage hatches and a cup holder. A stable kayak would be a plus as I’m new and not looking to spend my time in the lake :slight_smile: I’m budgeting $500 or less, but could go over if the kayak is really worth it.

My top 2 choices right now are the Perception Pescador 10 at Academy for $469. It offers 2 storage hatches, 2 rod holders, and gets good reviews on tracking and stability. I don’t plan on fishing often, but figure an entry level fishing yak would offer more storage and stability.

My other choice is a Pelican Sentry 100X EXO for $379 at REI. Can’t find any info online about this yak though and my local store doesn’t have it in stock so it would need to be ordered. It’s only got 1 storage area, but its a 24L Exo pod removable storage compartment, so that’s nice.

I’m leaning towards the Pescador though as I can find more info on it. Can ya’ll offer any other suggestions or is the Pescador a good choice?

Just did a quick peek at Craigslist for Dallas area. Tons of bargains on decent kayak for ~ 500. If I were you this would be a deal I would look at very good heritage kayak, PFD, Paddle for $450.

10Ft is going to be slow and you are going to spend a lot of effort keeping it going straight. Both of the kayaks you mention are close to being pool toys.

@SeaDart said:

10Ft is going to be slow and you are going to spend a lot of effort keeping it going straight. Both of the kayaks you mention are close to being pool toys.

Really? The Pescador gets pretty good reviews. I know it’s not top of the line, but I’m not sure i’d call it a pool toy. Thanks for the link though.

You have to take most user reviews with a grain of salt, particularly for inexpensive “entry level” kayaks. Kayaking is inherently fun, and nearly everybody is thrilled at their first experience of it, just as most of us were delighted with our first single speed bicycle from Sears or K-Mart when we were kids. The number of “10 out of 10” ratings on “close to being pool toys” kayaks is pretty high. Most of those reviews are from people that have never been in another kayak, except maybe a rental that was just as short, wide and clunky as what they just bought. You don’t know what you don’t know until you’ve known something different.

The best strategy before buying any boat is to find a way to test paddle a variety of sizes and styles so you can see what the differences are. Places like Academy Sports and other Big Box general sporting goods retailers are NOT the best source for kayaks. But if you have access to an REI, most of them offer seminars and classes and yours might have kayaking days or lessons of some kind. Take advantage of that if you can, even look to see if there are clubs in your area ( often has paddling and kayaking clubs with members who are willing to loan you boats for events with them).

Sometimes community colleges and other organizations that offer adult learning classes will have intro to kayaking lessons or outings. Getting some basic lessons will also greatly help both your enjoyment of the sport and your safety.

I don’t like the idea of “entry level” kayaks anyway. Kayaks should be chosen for the types of water you plan to explore and for your size and capabilities. People who want to start bicycling don’t buy a single or 3=speed bike as a “beginner” just because it is cheaper and simpler – no, they buy the same kind of 18 or 21 speed bike that any experienced rider would choose. As with any beginning sport, it’s best to start out with used equipment because you are not in a position starting out to know exactly what features and performance you are going to want – most of us on here will tell you that we “out grew” our first boat and upgraded it pretty quickly, just as somebody who bought a 3=speed bike will quickly learn (after their first encounter with a steep hill) that 18 speeds is probably a better bet.

I do believe I’m choosing my kayak based on the water(calm lakes and small rivers). Mostly just looking to get out on the water and chill. A 10’ seems good for my size 5’6". I don’t want anything too heavy or long based on transport and storage situations. Also, I’m ok with not spending $800+ right now as I don’t even know if this is something I’ll stick with. But then again, I don’t want to keep renting at $60 a pop either b/c at a certain point its’s more cost effective to just buy. I can always sell and upgrade later if I determine my kayak is limiting me.

I’m also now considering a Vibe Yellowfin 100 and a Vibe Skipjack 90. The skipjack is $499, but I’ve been advised to look at the Yellowfin 100, which is $650. If I order from the Vibe website, I won’t be paying tax, so that $650 isn’t too bad considering a $469 yak will run into the $500’s with tax.
Any experience with either of these? Don’t see any reviews on here, but online they seem to be favorable. Are these considered a step up from that Pescador? Also, I’ll stop considering anything by Pelican, although the one I was looking at was sold by REI.

Like I said, take reviews for cheaper (entry level) kayaks with a grain of salt. People will tend to rave about boats that many of us with more experience on the water consider no better than boat anchors.

Shorter people tend to be worse off in shorter kayaks for many reasons. This is because a kayak needs a certain amount of displacement volume to support the paddler. Therefore shorter kayaks have to be wider. At 5’ 6" you may find a 32" kayak really uncomfortable to paddle. I’m close to your height and most of my kayaks and 10" narrower than that. You are likely to find your hands banging against the gunwales (sides) when you try to paddle, even in a sit on top. Those two boats are beastly heavy too – 57 pound for the Yellowfin!! – short heavy boats are a b*tch to load because you don’t have the leverage you do with a longer boat. Unless you have a pickup bed to lash it to, you are going to be wincing trying to get a Yellowfin onto a roof rack. My 15’ plastic kayak (22" wide) weighs 3 pounds less than even that 9’ Vibe and it is my HEAVIEST boat . So keep that in mind. Look for something at least under 30" wide – even some of Dick’s cheaper sit on tops are 29’ or less. And try to keep it under 50 pounds, close to 40 if possible.

If all you want is a platform to sit in the water and fish, then maybe either of those would work for you. But if you plan on being able to comfortably cover any distance with them and have to load them on a roof rack, good luck. Just sayin’…

Let’s make this easier. For my purposes, which kayak or kayaks would you recommend if I had to buy new. Keep in mind, I’m a complete novice and I would really like several storage options. I’ll be throwing in back of F150 short bed for transporting. Also, I do have a budget.

I’m pretty new myself and I live southwest of Fort Worth. I paddle Lake Granbury and the Brazos river. There aren’t a whole lot of options for test paddling in the DFW area but I would recommend you do that if you can. Things to consider around here are wind and boats. If you think you might venture onto any of the area lakes or rivers that are big enough to support boat traffic, you are going to be exposed to wakes and/or wind. Longer waterline equals faster and keel design or rudder equals straighter tracking. For what I do, I got a 14’ footer (Eddyline Equinox, no rudder) and it works fine. We get winds 10-20mph almost constantly and a crosswind from the stern along with the accompanying wave action is going to push your boat around, literally. Unless you have a good keel or a rudder, winds will be causing you much more work trying to paddle in a straight line if you ever venture into anything other than the smallest pond or creek.

@TreeA10 said:
For what I do, I got a 14’ footer (Eddyline Equinox, no rudder) and it works fine.

That looks like a nice kayak but $1400 is out of my budget. White Rock lake is free of motor boat traffic and Ray Hubbard out by Paddle Point Park is basically a nice, calm cove without motorized boat traffic. That’s primarily where I’d put in, although I would venture out to Austin and Town Lake a lot since I’ve got family there.

Definitely want a sit on top though. I’m open to suggestions in my price range. Could go as high as $650 or so.

Here’s a good deal on a better quality sit on top fishing kayak (10’ Wilderness Tarpon) in the Dallas Craigslist (this model is $740 new so $500 is a decent price, but you could offer $400 or $450).

And here’s a good paddle for $100.

I’d like to go new. What kayaks would you recommend?

Take Willowleaf’s advice and go used. The only use to most folks on this board find for these short “entry level” inexpensive boats after they have paddled even a season is to keep around to crawl shallow creeks or let the 8 yr old kids mess around in. If you go new you will tie up funds that you will more than likely regret when you realize what kind of boat you really want. And these entry level boats are a dime a dozen when you go to resell it. Each fall a ton of these get put up for sale by people who operate waterfront businesses or camps, and you can’t sell for higher than their sacrifice price. A decent used boat, you can recoup a much higher percentage of your investment if you want something more after paddling it a while.

A longer boat is actually easier to load, but you don’t have any experience to realize that yet. The help I give people loading up 16 ft boats after a paddle is usually optional, but for these 10 ft wide, slowpoke boats it is often necessary.

And on Willowleaf’s point about “entry level” kayaks, that is a term which does real disservice to potential buyers. That should mean that it is a kayak where you can learn to do the things available in more featured kayaks. But that is a lie. ALL you can do with these things is sit in it and paddle it on calm water, in swimming distance to shore (because the most basic ones can’t be managed in an on water capsize). Compare that to what you can do in the most basic touring kayak - brace, edge to turn, handle surprise waves with a skirt on, and if you are dedicated enough even learn to roll. None of the above are possible for a new paddler in the really basic boats.

I am not saying the Loons and Swifties of the world don’t have a place. They do with my sister who went into it with enough paddle time to know she was not interested in doing more than puddling around small ponds, or another relative who has some swimming fears and will never go further than a quiet cove very near shore. Or myself when I want to crawl up a creek where I am going to be dragging the boat over berms and around beaver dams, or the 10 footers I use when in Maine to visit friends camping on the island 500 feet away when the land bridge is under water. Rather than getting a 16 foot boat off and back onto my Talic stands.

But for anything that requires real capability from the boat, or me, including keeping up with others on an evening paddle, these kinds of boats would not work. I can cite one person who makes it happen with a 10 foot boat among up to 40 paddlers out on an evening paddle. Her reason is quite personal - anything she wants to use - bike, boat etc - has to fit inside of her van that she takes to events and camps out of. Most of us do not need to live out of a vehicle anytime they want to get away.

Same advice on the paddle - go used to get lighter weight if you can. My sister got so beat up by the heavy cheapo paddles she and her husband first got that she had stopped paddling, and it made all the diff it hurt. I got both of them better ones, Aquabond Stingrays for a bit over 100 bucks each and it made all the diff.

Why new? Like with a new car, the minute you walk out of the store with it, the boat will depreciate 20% of its value. And like Celia said, the resale market for low end boats is poor – if you pay $500 for one you would be lucky to get $250 on Craigslist. if you got that Wilderness Systems used boat for $450 or even $500 you could probably sell it for $100 less if you decide you want something different. And its just a better designed boat than the ones you have been considering. In fact, I have usually sold boats I bought used for the same price or even MORE than I paid for them. Same with paddles.

If you are going to insist on a new 10’ sit on top under $700 I don’t think it matters what you buy so just pick what color you want or base it on which is the lightest. There aren’t that many differences between them. Though, as I have mentioned, at your size you really should consider beam width and try to get something under 30".