Perhaps a difficult question about kayak retail in Florida

Hi! New to this forum. I am in CA. I recently was forced to evacuate and I took a vacay up in Mt. Shasta so I could swim in their still warmish lake. It was so nice that everyone lives close to this clean lake and enjoy it regularly.
I saw many many kayakers as well as paddleboarders…both I’ve never done. I have a tiny car (may be getting a new car in the next year) so intimidated by loading…irregardless I decided to buy a inflatable kayak after meeting some guys there taking the air out of their kayaks. Their particular kayak they say they love (the difficulty is I cannot recall the name of the kayak or the store in FLA they bought it from).
They said with an electric pump its easy…not heavy (important), the little blade on the bottom actually is detachabe to so damage possible there…and they got it from **** store in FL online.

Sorry so weak here…kinda traumatized lately afffects my thinking. Anyone have ANY ideas on good stores there in FL to look up for above product? Plus kayak was only around $300 some dollars.

Thank you in advance for your help!

Now I need to figure out how to turn on notificications for responses.

While I can’t help you with your question about inflatable kayaks, I can certainly roll out the welcome mat!

Feel free to ask all sorts of questions. Every single one of us was a beginner at some point, and many of us were too embarrassed to ask some of the questions for which we wanted/needed answers.

If you’re in California, you may be better off finding a local store which can outfit you with a suitable kayak (inflatable or otherwise), along with paddle, life vest (PFD) and other necessities.

And even though you have a “tiny car”, there are racks available that should allow you to carry a manageable 12 or 14’ (hard) kayak. You may find this kind of kayak to be more enjoyable and will serve you longer. Or the inflatable may be perfect for you. This is not for me to judge. :slight_smile:

Anyway, welcome aboard!

Can’t point you to the store in Florida, but inflatable kayaks are generally available, including from retailers in CA and online. If you are still in Shasta area, you could try Headwaters Adventure Company in Redding. I am assuming you evacuated from fires, so are in NorCal. California Canoe and Kayak is the largest paddle sports specialty retailer in NorCal, and has stores in Oakland, Redwood City, and Sacramento.

Some background info related to inflatables you may want to check out:

  • there is an article in California Kayaker Magazine on “kayaking and small living spaces”, which also covers info of interest to folks who have transport concerns. Issue #9 at

  • A video from an inflatable kayak enthusiast on the different types of inflatables:

My thoughts - that fin in the back is called a skeg, and is very important in inflatable kayaks. That said, most I have seen are flexible enough that they don’t need to be removable they just bend when you hit something. I’d put removable as nice to have not required.

Inflatables are very much impacted by winds, and much slower than a hard shell kayak. Keep this in mind when you choose when and where to paddle. Inflatables are generally not appropriate for paddling very large bodies of water (oceans, great lakes, etc.) nor far from shore.

@willowleaf will likely chime in here as she has considerable experience with both inflatable & folding kayaks.

Note: $300 is likely to only buy you something that is only appropriate for small lakes and calm rivers.

Yes, as Rival51 mentions, I usually weigh in on collapsible boats since I have been using them for 18 plus years.

But mine are all folding kayaks (which do have some inflatable components) that have rigid frames inside. Also mine are suitable for any types of waters including the ocean, which is why the boats I have owned cost from $600 (smallest one bought used) to nearly $5,000.

You do get what you paid for in kayaks. And any inflatable that is $300 new is little more than a pool toy. Yes it will float, but should never be taken farther from shore than you could swim back or out in cold, fast, deep or rough water or windy conditions, nor into currents or tidal situations.

My guess would be that you encountered people using either Sevylor kayaks (complete junk – were they yellow?) or the cheapest lines of Sea Eagle brand (usually white and blue) or Advanced Elements brand (various colors) these two brands are a little better-made but still pretty much pool toys or pond floats. Both those latter companies make better quality and more competent models but you will pay closer to $1000 and up for those.

Even with the skeg (the tracking fin in the bottom) that these cheap models provide, they are still more raft than kayak, being wide, having little structural rigidity and being vulnerable to being blown around by wind and water due the fat walls and floppy hulls. They are not fast to paddle nor easy to control. They can be fun to splash around a calm shallow pond or slow narrow river but you will not gain a lot of paddling skills from them nor be able to venture into other kinds of waters.

Also, and you will learn this from watching the videos that were suggested, the cheaper ones are not very durable.

As others have pointed out, you can haul a hardshell boat on even the tiniest car with a proper roof rack. A friend of mine used to transport her daughter’s 20’ long surf ski (a long skinny racing style fiberglass kayak) on the roof of her tiny SmartCar. I regularly haul two kayaks, 15’ and 18’ long on the roof of a small Mazda CX5 hatchback, in some cases across several states for thousands of miles on highways.

Honestly, I suspect you are nowhere near knowing enough about how and where you might want to paddle to make a choice right now to buy a boat. Watch the videos so you get the feel for the features and performance of these kinds of kayaks. You might also want to check out videos about cheap hardshell kayaks like this one where he buys and actually demos them on the water, making some good comments on how fit and performance is important in lower end boats.

You are going to be limited in choices right now anyway, since so many vendors are sold out on boats and production and imports are still slowed by the pandemic. Take the time to be patient and learn a little more about products and what kind of paddling you intend to do. Rent for a while and take some lessons.

By the way, everybody “loves” their first boat, but remember that they probably have nothing to compare it against. Like if a person who has been barefoot their whole life gets a pair of plastic flip-flops. They will think these are the greatest shoes in the world since they have never known anything else. So take recommendations from other people – and most on line reviews – with a grain of salt. Especially if you did not actually try their boat and have little experience yourself.

And be prepared to up your budget. A good paddle is important to comfortable and enjoyable kayaking and a $39.95 four pound discount store metal and plastic battle axe (like they throw in “free” with cheapo kayaks) is going to be unpleasant. Figure at least $60 to $80 for a decent PFD (life vest, required in virtually every state) and $120 for a decent fiberglass shaft paddle. Maybe spend $200 on those and then watch your local Craigslist to find a cheap used inflatable kayak as your first one so you don’t waste a lot of cash on that. At least if you decide that it isn’t suitable after using it a bit, you will have good gear already to accessorize a better model when you can afford it.

You won’t really know what you want from a boat until you have been out there on the water a few times.

JUst thought of another resource: this company, AirKayaks, is in California and specializes in all types of inflatables.

No advice to add, just a warm welcome to the community and am so sorry you’ve had to evacuate your home.

FWIW, I drive a Honda Fit and carry a 17-foot kayak on its roof. There are loading devices that make that easy. First things first, though - do try paddling to see how you like it.

As others have mentioned, one of the first things you want to determine before buying a kayak is what you want to do with it. If you want to paddle in small protected lakes, creeks, and rivers, then an inexpensive inflatable might work for you, especially if you are going to paddle solo or only with people that have similar boats. They are fine for short distance exploring, fishing, photography, or just messing about in a boat.

However, a $300 inflatable is going to be slow and greatly affected by wind. They are not good for covering any distance. They aren’t designed for big open water or rougher conditions. For this reason. in our sea kayaking Club and in three other local kayak Meetup groups they are generally prohibited on most organized outings. They usually end up being towed when they can’t keep up or maintain a straight course.

If cost is a major factor keep in mind that other required equipment can easily exceed $300. A decent PFD and whistle, a USCG and almost all states requirement will cost about $75 and up and a decent fiberglass paddle about $125. For top of the line versions these can exceed $250 and $450 respectively. You will probably also want appropriate clothing and footwear.

For more advanced boats you are talking about a lot more money. When starting out I always suggest buying used. Even in excellent shape many boats can often be had for half price. I have a feeling that as winter approaches or next year many people that bought boats on impulse during the pandemic are going to decide that kayaking is not for them. More work than it seems. Very few people stay with their first boat or they start to build a fleet. You can generally sell a used boat for about what you paid for it.

At this point I would strongly suggest looking for an outfitter that rents and sells a variety of boats, not just some place that rents a Tupperware fleet. If they offer guided trips, take some of these and ask the leaders questions and opinions. That’s how I started out. I don’t know too many kayakers that don’t love to talk about kayaking. Hopefully, when things get more back to normal, outfitters will resume demo days where you can try a range of boats.

Finally, although it’s hard with the pandemic, try to take an introductory lesson. There’s more to kayaking than it seems, especially in terms of safety. Always wear your PFD, not just have it with you.

For information on transporting and storing a kayak check out the links under Kayak Racks and Loading. I doubt that your can won’t carry a kayak. With a bit of ingenuity a friend of mine carries a 16’ boat on an MG convertible.

Love it! I thought I was the only one who strapped a kayak to a MG!

I have a Saturn tandem inflatable I bought online from Boats to Go in Florida. Great yak, and great folks to deal with