Recommendation for a first time kayaker

I want to purchase a kayak for my husband. He’s 5’8", 180 lbs, 60 years old (good shape). He’ll be using it on a calm lake (980 acres) in Northern Wisconsin. I don’t want to spend a fortune but want to get something that will hold up. I’ve gone to stores and have been recommended anything from $350 to $850.

Do you have a good recommendation?



If You Were My Wife…
I would like you to say: “Sweetheart, go get yourself a kayak. Get the color, style, volume, length that you want. Please keep it under X dollars. I love you so much.”

don’t forget the other accessories… a ‘good’ paddle could cost nearly that much or MORE. The sub $200 paddle catagory really aren’t much fun to use, once you learn how…oh yeah… instruction… PFD… drybags…sumthin to wear…safety gear…lessons.

don’t forget some instruction.

It never ends.

plan on a grand and you may be closer to reality.


Sounds like a flatwater boat
Is he a fitness nut?




Or is this a leisure thing?

Generally something in the 12 to 16 foot range in plastic will be fine – and plenty durable.

If he’s a fitness guy, longer and skinnier.

Fisherman or photographer – lean towards a more stable boat (24 to 28 inches wide) – maybe a SOT if he’s likely to be a fair weather paddler.

If the lake is pretty small, a 12 footer will be good and easier to manage off the water (lighter).


If he finds out
that he really likes kayaking (I did and at his age too) the first kayak and maybe the second won’t be the right one (mine and most that I know, weren’t) By the time I was hooked, I fell in love with a Romany and now with 12 kayaks in my quiver, I still love my Romany. I’m not recomending a Romany, just pointing out that the first boat won’t be right if he gets hooked on kayaking, and won’t matter if he doesn’t get hooked.

Maybe an outfitter that allows demos
Some outfitters have a lot of boats and choices you can try. An outfitter located on the water can let him try many boats and help guide his decision. Better yet, in my opinion, I might not get him a boat just yet. Buy him a weekend clinic, or beginner paddling tour. That way he can try some designs, talk to the instructor/guide and learn what his likes and dislikes might be. Also look for local club outtings. Other members are great at steering those new to the sport and let them try boats.

Hey now, don’t be talkin bad about

…my Aqua Bound Manta Ray.


Get him a WS Pungo 120 or Tsunami 125

… and sent him off with a kiss. Make sure the lipstick and boat are bright red.

What’s Going On?
“I want to purchase a kayak for my husband.”

Does your husband want a kayak? If he wants a kayak, I really think he should choose his own boat. If he doesn’t want a kayak why do you want to purchase one for him? Enquiring minds.

Ahhh… you’re planning to do him in for the insurance money, eh?


– Last Updated: Nov-22-08 5:53 PM EST –

ok I hate gift cards but in this case one might work. Get him a gift card to REI or another outdoor store. Then he can go try out kayaks on demo days and spend the gift card towards the kayak he wants. You could buy him a deck bag and put the gift card inside the bag. Buying a kayak as a gift is hard. One kayak works perfect for one person but another person may not like that kayak. Its all a matter of preference and demo days are great for checking out all types of kayaks.

Recommendation for a first time kayaker
Thanks for all your suggestions…well, almost all of them. :slight_smile:

He’s going to be a leisurely kayaker…maybe fish off of it, take pics, drink a beer. We have a house on a 980 acre lake with a lot of bays so it’s a quiet lake.

I thought the idea of having a kayak under the tree on Christmas morning would be nice. I’m the one that does all the research; he would go along with my decision. I hate to give him an IOU for something in December that he won’t be able to buy until May but the more I think about it, maybe I’ll hold off.

I’ll take your suggestions into consideration and see what happens. Maybe I’ll just buy him the paddle…

Buy a sexy nightgown for yourself and
tell him a boat of his choice goes along with it, and I guarantee you will have one happy hubby !



Recommendation for a first time kayaker
It’s amazing how your suggestions continue to get more creative as the night wears on. I can’t wait to see what you recommend later.

You’ve talked me into it. I’m going to take the money, buy a sexy nightgown, get a facial, get my hair done, have a candlelight dinner and tell him to go out and buy his own kayak. It’s too much stress! :slight_smile:

That’s a pretty big lake
Look at the Pungo 14.

Great stable boat that’s easy to get in and out of and good for fishing and other stuff like photography. It’s also long enough that he can cover a serious amount of water iff’n he gets a notion to head out.

SOTs are probably not all that popular that far north, but do make good fishing boats. A Scupper Pro (RTM Tempo) or a Native Manta Ray 14 are possibilities if the open top and tank wells are desirable. It may be too cold to use those a whole lot though.

And for leisurely paddles, he doesn’t need anything but a paddle and a PFD. I hear the kapok PFDs are catching on…


Heritage Featherlite 14

The Heritage Featherlite 14 is hard to beat.

Very seaworthy and stable, easy to paddle and is a fast boat with built in floatation.

Has a rear water tight storage compartment, plenty of room for other gear and equipment.

Excellent quality finish and very rugged.

An all round great Kayak with the right price tag.



If he is normal like the rest of us
He won’t even think about the boat, and just think how much money you will have saved…

On a more serious not: He is lucky to have a wife like you.

If I should even mention the name of a particular kayak or canoe to my “bride” her immediate response is go ahead and get one.



Try to avoid the big box stores and go find a paddleshop that will take the time to talk to you and discuss the immediate and more importantly the future plans you have for the boat. A good paddleshop will guide you and ask you lots of questions to help you get something that will actually be used instead of turning ito a planter or yard ornament seen from the lake. (I see lots of those where I paddle) Lots of things to think about.

You mentioned having a house on the lake. Will he be going out paddling on his own all the time or could he have friends and family that might want to get introduced to the sport? If there may be plans for a second boat, you need to think about that because he will outgrow a very stable short boat vey quickly if he is interested in developing any skills in the sport.

I started with a Old Town rush and within three months went to a full blown ocean kayak (Tempest 170) as the Rush was just too limiting for the exercise and the trips I wanted to take.

talk to a paddle shop. find kayaking groups in your area, suggest a rental excursion with an intro lesson


Buying hubby a boat
Everyone’s already mentioned the same things I would have said, sooo, Question??? Does your husband have an interest in actually going kayaking??? Do you kayak too??? Have you got your own boat now and will you be paddling with your hubby?? Paddling alone isn’t the greatest of ideas especially when you’re just starting the sport. I can’t direct you to which boat to buy for either of you, to many factors to deal with. I too “tried” to get my husband to paddle with me, did the search for a boat for him, had him try many different boats to find which he liked and which he actually fit into. Found the perfect boat (for him) found it used (cheaper!!) and now he decides he doesn’t like kayaking. At least the boat was used. (that was the old lead a horse to water story) That’s why I asked if your husband seems to have an interest in paddling now. Course some people just take to the sport like they were born on water. The best suggestion I can give you is to give your husband a gift of paddling instruction. Check local kayak sales stores for their classes. Sometimes they will have pool ones in the winter. I wouldn’t buy any of the accessories untill after he’s taken a few classes and demoed a few different boats. Paddle length can be different for different boats, depending on how wide the boat is & how he paddles. So hold off on buying that until he’s picked out the boat.

I live near Minocqua!
What lake are you on? I’ve got four boats he could try in the spring. A kayak is such a personal thing. It’s like buying a pair of shoes. Nobody can really buy the pair that fits best for you. I went kayaking on Trout Lake yesterday. If you know where that is? Most of the lakes are froze now, but in the spring I’d be glad to take your hubby out for a paddle so he could try a few different boats to get a feel for what he might like. I’m not saying one of my boats will be exactly right for him, but if he tries a few boats he’ll start to have his own opinion on what fits him best for his needs.

Maybe you could borrow one of my boats to put under your Christmas tree? Why don’t you email me and we can talk further. We’re on hwy 70 about 10 miles west of Minocqua.


forget him–Marry me
and you can get me one of the following three–NDK Romany–Fiberglass, NDK Explorer, or an Impex ForceCat 4–better yet all three would be nice. that way you can be sure I’ll be happy.