Ready to buy my first kayak ... Help!

So… I’ve been wanting one for years and years … I’m finally convinced that this isn’t something I’ll lose interest in so I’m ready :slight_smile:

Read someone saying a “pelican” is a good beginner kayak… Any other suggestions? Went to dicks sporting goods this afternoon and was overwhelmed by the options…

Also, how to haul it? My car doesn’t have a roof rack…

And is it safe for a woman to go alone?

Bayous - OK ; ocean - no way.

– Last Updated: Sep-26-10 7:41 PM EST –

Safe - not for any beginner.You need instruction and back up.Find the local paddling group. Check Yahoo meet-up. Go to a good outfitter and get good advice.Dick's ain't it.You may buy at Dick's after you research but those kids typically don't know a kayak from a canoe.

Welcome …
First time poster here and somewhat beginner myself, as of 2 years ago, so I recall what it’s like to be overwhelmed. I’ve learned a lot since then. When I was looking for my first boat I had to ask myself what exactly I was interested in doing, what type of kayaking I saw myself participating in on a regular basis. For example, I determined that it was for fitness, general recreation and possibly camping. I figured I’d like it enough to push the season a little (chilly air/water).

With that criteria in mind, and being a beginner, I decided on a Sit-On-Top style (faster to get back into in chilly water, less experience necessary to start, and for fitness … paddling a slow vs fast boat really doesn’t matter).

I bought the best boat I could affort, and (this is important) the best paddle and PFD I could afford. Ended up with a Wilderness Tarpon 120, Aquabound MantaRay carbon paddle and Stohlquist PFD.

I would ask yourself those same questions and narrow your search. If you’re concerned about buying right the first time, or resale then I might say go to higher end sporting goods store and not Dicks/Sports Authority or the like. They tend to carry the lower end of things.

I see people kayaking alone (men and women) frequently where I’m at. As with anywhere, just use good judgment. You might want to scout the area you’re considering before your first “trip”.

I would also make sure that you’re able to handle the boat before venturing too far from your launch point, and don’t forget to consider wind and currents (if any) on your trip. I once paddled out about 7 miles with a nice easy tail wind, which turned into a good gail on the return trip. I really struggled to get back. Another mile or two and I would have had to consider landing short of my launch point and calling for a ride.

My $.02:

  • ALWAYS wear your PFD!
  • The paddle can make all the difference so don’t go cheap on that.
  • The boat will last until the next one, and consider this one a trainer. That said, I’d get one with a good resale value because you’ll likely want a new one in a year or two.
  • You can find a rack for almost any car for a reasonable sized kayak.
  • Use bow/stern tie downs when transporting your new toy, for the safety of all!
  • Enjoy, it’s a great way to unwind.


Your best bet is to get to a place
where they rent kayaks and try a few different styles and makes out.

When you find one that you like, try to get one that matches it as close as you can.

Many of us started with big box store kayaks and then when we realized that we were hooked on the sport up graded to longer and better kayaks.

I wouldn’t haul a kayak or canoe on a vehicle roof with out a good quality roof rack even though others will tell you that foam blocks are Ok.

My daughter goes alone lots of times.

Until you know how to do a self rescue, stay close enough to shore that if you have a mishap, you can swim to the beach or bank.

Along with a PFD, you will also need a pump, and a whistle

Jack L

Thanks for the replies. :slight_smile:

There is a place here in my city that has canoes and kayaks and such and I’m sure that there is someone there who can help me find everything I need.

What I am wanting to do is just go through the bayous and swamps… Maybe Lake Maurepas if I get the guts up…

There is a put-in not far from where I live (like 5 miles) on Alligator Bayou… Water is shallow and slow so I’m not afraid of falling out…

Have had some canoeing / pirogue experience as well as once on an ocean kayak…

Am looking for something I can eventually just be by myself with. Something I can get on top of my car without any help. Also, a roof rack is not an option for me, not putting one on my car. I saw some inflatable ones online as well as a roller thingie to get it up on my car…

Anything else??? Advice is welcome!

There are ways …
to get a small boat on top of almost any car. This usually involves foam pieces on the roof and straps that go from window to window inside the car. Rental shops often provide such stuff. It works just fine for short distances at slow to moderate car speeds.

Great Timing!
Wow! There is a wealth of knowledge on this thread. I was just about to write a very similar OP myself when I came across this one.

Questions and links

– Last Updated: Sep-27-10 7:50 AM EST –

First, you filled out your profile to list ocean as a kayaking venue. The rec boat you are looking at is not suited for that. If you are thinking of eventually moving to bigger water, you need to factor in picking up a more suitable boat down the road, as well as more gear than you are probably considering. Or you could spend a little time this fall learning more so you could choose a more capable boat to start.

As to paddling alone, being able to do a self-rescue (from being in the water) should you fall out is more of a safety factor than nasty people with guns are likely to be - though you know your own area best. If the latter is a risk it's probably not a great place to paddle. The boat you are looking at is going to be a bear for you to re-enter - no rigging and lotta water even if you do get float bags (highly recommended if paddling alone) for it. So if you are serious about staying near shore you are in good stead. But like the ocean, if you really want to go further I'd spend more time looking and learning before buying a boat.

And that should be quite doable from where you are - I did a quick Google search on "baton rouge kayaking" and easily hit the following links for an outfitter (not Dick's) who may have used boats for sale and/or do lessons in basics, as well as a couple of clubs that might have trips in your area as well as be a source of used boats. Here is what I found right off the top that may be relevant:

Masey's Outfitters

Lafayette Paddle Club

Bayou Haystackers Paddling Club

Bump NM