Hi all - so my wife and I just got a bunch of REI gift cards and want to get 2 solo kayaks, price range about $500 each. Because of these restrictions, I’m basically stuck between the Perception Prodigy 10.0, Wilderness Systems Pamlico 100, and the Elie Sound 100 XE. We’re looking mostly at lakes, some class I and II rivers, and the puget sound. I’m leaning towards the Pamlico, but worried about how open of a cockpit it has. The Sound is also good, but I’ve read a lot of maintenance issues about it. What are y’all’s suggestions? Thanks a bunch.
I am not sure if any of these boats are equipped with a skeg or rudder but a 10’ boat may have a tough time tracking in waves or windy conditions. I do have a freind that really likes his sound 120 on rivers and as a “quick trip” play boat. He does have to watch the screws fastening foot pegs and rigging from loosening up.
Don’t do it
NONE of those boats is safe for Puget Sound nor can it be equipped to adequately deal with Class II whitewater. They are all "recreational" boats and you will note that their manufacturer's describe their limitations. Stubby 10' boats with huge cockpits and poor secondary stability have no business in the ocean or on fast rivers. That would be like taking a child's tricycle on the Autobahn.
If you are serious about paddling those locations I suggest you look to buy some used and seaworthy touring kayaks in sizes to fit you(Craigslist is a good source) and use the $1000 in gift certificates to buy good paddles, PFD's, sprayskirts, pumps and other outfitting.
Examples you might see at REI of the minimum style of kayak you need would be the Elie Strait models, the Venture Easky models and the Wilderness System Tsunami models (the 14' and up styles).
Here's one example of a used boat in your area (assuming Seattle/Tacoma?):
Not a bad price including the paddle.
Dagger Zydeco 11
Willowleaf’s advice is good; none of the boats you listed are really appropriate. But if you still want to go the new route, I see that REI has the new Dagger Zydeco 11 available. The cockpit in this boat is smaller (38 inches vs 51), and the boat does have a rear bulkhead. I’d still stay out of the Sound with them, though.
You won’t regret it if you treat yourself to a good-fitting PFD and a lighter weight paddle.
Better way to sepnd the money…
Go used on the boats, but spend the bucks for good paddles, PFD and good clothing like at least decent quality splash wear, wetsuits or similar. Like willow says. The water never gets wildly warm up there - you won't regret having something for cooler water (because you should dress for immersion not the air because shit happens...).
As above, the boats that your budget is squeezing you into right now are not going to do what you want. And at the moment you don't know enough to know why. I just checked and REI definitely sponsors some paddling experiences, including guided trips and training, out of their Seattle store. They appear to operate out of other sites/launch areas that may be closer to you but I am not having a good day with the web. You'd get better answers by phoning the Seattle store and getting directed to their paddling folks. This kind of experience would make you better able to choose the right boat, would give you a chance to learn some basic rescue stuff so you'd be safer out there and should kill some of that gift certificate.
Don't worry about having to work hard to kill that - once you start looking at the gear you'll really want to have it'll go plenty fast without ever looking at a boat.