picking the right kayak

I am just getting started with paddling. Is there a kayak that can be used in the ocean as well a lake and river? I will mostly be dong class 1 and 2 river but maywant to use the same boat when I visit the Fla Keys. Thanks.

Ocean Kayak Prowler 13
Try an Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 sit-on-top, good for rivers and the ocean.

kayak for rivers and oceans
Hi there,

Typically kayaks that are better suited for big open water are going to be longer and have a more narrow beam (not as wide). They will be designed to cover distance more efficiently, and so they will track straight very well, and will be designed to handle big water. Typically a “sea kayak” will be 16’-18’ long.

Depending on your rivers, a sea kayak MAY be okay, but if they are small, twisting or require quick maneuvers (as some class II rapids would), then it would be difficult to turn the kayak quickly enough to maneuver.

You might find a compromise with a 14’ or so kayak that would be sea worthy enough for the ocean, but still maneuverable enough for rivers, but you start getting compromise in both conditions.

The other option listed above is rather than a SINK (sit inside kayak), you might go with a sit on top. If you are in the southern climes, this might be more appealing than if you are up north and will be traveling south (although there are folks who use SOT’s year round even in colder areas). It will depend on what type of kayak you are interested in.

To start getting more specific boat recommendations, it might help if you described the local conditions where you would typically be paddling (are you elsewhere in Florida, or somewhere else?). It may be best to buy a kayak for the local conditions you would be paddling most, and then rent when visiting the keys. The best boat for you will also depend on your size - height and weight, as well as how “involved” with paddling you think you might want to get. What I mean by this is that certain boats would give you more room to “grow into” as you develop more skills. In other words, some boats are going to be more beginner friendly, and others more a boat you can grow with, but might be a bit harder to paddle at the start (might feel “tippy”). I don’t think there is a “right” type of boat for everyone: it depends on you and what you want to do.

Finally, it can be frustrating advice when you’d like to just narrow down a list to go buy, but when POSSIBLE (it’s not always), it would great to take some lessons where you typically would also have the opportunity to try a couple different styles of boats and learn some basics about paddling. Again, if you specify your location, we might be able to point you to a local club or outfitter.

I hope this doesn’t seem like I’ve overcomplicated your straightforward question. In fact, I’ve given some pretty gross generalizations, but I just want to give you some ideas about things to start considering. Come back with more questions and information and we’ll see if other folks here can start giving you other specific ideas.

Paddling is a WONDERFUL endeavor, so I hope we can help you find the best boat for you and you’ll be as swept away with paddling as so many of us are!

Happy paddling!

Excellent post
What might help people help the beginners in answering a general question like that is answering this (wow, that was an awkward statement, better read it again slowly and carefully, sorry…);

Where do you want your kayak to excel, and where are you willing to accept its comprimises.

Do you want it to excel in the rivers and comprimise its performance in the Fla. Keys?

I didn’t say its an easy question to answer.

Even though the majority of my sea kayaking is day paddling, I want my boat to excell at camping in rough water conditions, able to be confident taking my hands off the paddle in clapotis etc. to perform rescues. For me, out off all the boats that i truly love and appreciate, that narrows it down to one, the NDK Explorer HV. I am willing to accept the comprimise that its not the fastest, not the sleekest, not the absolute most responsive, not the sexiest, but it does all that well enough and comes through like a trusted stead where I really need it to, given my physical size and ability.

In the meantime, buy a used Prijon SeaYak for $600 and paddle while you shop for your perfect boat.

The SeaYak is good enough at both rivers and ocean, and you will be able to sell it for $600 two years from now should you so desire.