Recommendations for a newbie?

I’m looking to get into kayaking and would like some boat recommendations. I will be primarily using it on inland lakes with only the ocassional river use thrown in, but the river is small and relatively straight, slow and shallow. Keeping it low budget would be a big plus. Thanks.

Just About Any Rec Boat
from 9’ and up will do you well. Can find 'em anywhere from $300-500 in the used market. Put aside about $200 for assessories like PFD, paddle, float bags, etc.


A Rec Kayak…
…is a type of kayak, as are whitewater, touring, and sea kayaks. Sing is correct in his comments. Buying used is good, but try to visit a good paddle shop first to actually see what a “rec kayak” is so if you do buy used you’ll know what you’re looking for.

Two major “rec” kayaks are made by Wilderness Systems ( Pungo’s and Pamlico’s ) and Perception ( Sundance, Sparky, Swifty )

Rec kayaks generally have wider beams and much larger cockpits than other types of kayaks. This makes the kayak more stable and much easier to get into and out of.

Hope this helps.

Rec boats are fun
Yes the recreational boat is just plain fun. They work well for about any basic use. They let you learn and grow (as a paddler) so that later you can make better and more informed choices. I would agree with Sing on the $200 for PFD (buy a nice one it is worth it) and the paddle and the car-carrier. As far as a boat…find a price range you like, then add $100, then see what there is. I have been looking at picking up an Old Town Voyager…nice looking little basic boat, got a few extras on it, so you can adapt it more to whatever you are doing. The Otter is great if you are a livery, but since you are not, just skip over it. You may want to keep your eyes on the 12 foot range. they are great in the lakes, and fun in the river. They hold alot of stuff if you want to camp, or fish, but don’t feel like a solo canoe if it is just you in the boat.

I have a 9’ 6" boat now, I had a 12’. I miss the 12’!

Happy hunting,


Thanks for the replies. I am glad to hear that the less expensive boats I have been looking at will be ok. I have been looking at the old town kayaks since they are locally available, and thought the loon 111 looked promising. (Though I am definitelly open to other brands.) It is in my price range, and looks a little more sleak than something like the otter. I assume this means it would work a little better on the open water. Comments?

It wasn’t my first boat
. . . but I wish it would have been. I purchased a Necky Manitou as an intro boat for my daughter and found it to be an exceptional introductory kayak at a reasonable price. It is more a beginning sea kayak than a recreational boat and we have all enjoyed paddling it even as our skills have developed. Check out the product reviews tab to the left.

I got to know it by taking a beginning sea kayaking lesson which was taught with Manitous. I highly recommend taking a lesson and test paddles before you buy.

Welcome! Kayaking is very addictive - researching and thinking about your next kayak is as well.

you ain’t kiddin’
I spend my non-water free time on here, reading about how to improve, and what boats people talk about. I am always looking for what my next boat will be.


The Loon Is Much Stiffer
than the Otter. The “foam” core helps keep the hull shape better and stiffer than the just the poly (plastic) alone in the the otter. Splurge a little, if you can afford it and get the Loon.


The Loon 111
wouldn’t be a bad first choice at all… almost bought that as my first boat and I don’t think I’d have regretted it.

The Manitou would be good also, and a bit faster than the Loon.

Personally, I think if you get one of those little 9’ boats, you’ll tire of it quickly.


Loons are
good. How big of person are you? Some boats will be much roomier for ya if you are taller/weigh more. if ya are smaller/lighter a larger volume boat might be too much for ya. Paddle as many kinds as possible before buying if possible.

I’m a small guy
I stand about 5’8" and weigh 135-140 lbs. Would you consider the loon a large or small volume boat?

I would think a loon 111
or similar would work. Even a Otter would considering your size. Maybe stay away from larger volume long yaks and look for sleeker, lower volume?

a good class is always the best first step. After a 4-8 hr novice course with a good instructor, your decision on which boat style to choose is many times obvious.


Loon 138
We have one. 5 1/2 years now. Great boat. You will like it if you get a chance to try one out. You should try to demo a few either at demo days or take a few lessons and try out the boats they have where you find lessons offered.

Good luck!

watch the weight!!
When I worked at a shop we hid whenever the truck pulled in with Loons. They were so heavy. I’d really suggest trying to carry one around in the shop and “test load” it onto your vehicle. There are lighter boats that paddle better in the same price range. I think of the Loon as a good boat in durabliity but not a great boat in other respects. If you’re a young whippersnapper you’ll laugh at my advice about weight since even 60 lbs sounds managable. But every pound adds up both on and off the water. At your size you’ve got some great options providing you have places near you to sell them.

Like what?
You said I have a lot of great options at my size. Please let me know what you think good options for me would be. I am in no way married to the Loon. I just saw it as a starting point.

Thanks for all of the replies.

ok perception,dagger

– Last Updated: May-20-05 11:49 AM EST –

old town,walden(if ya can find 1) any other flatter bottomed kayak. The wilderness seems to have a deeper v hull, which will be a hinderance on shallow rivers. maybe a 9-14 ft. lengh . The longer(rec boat) the faster, or easier to paddle ,but turns will be wider, and more difficult. Check prices and demo em if possible. yz_387, where ya at in MI? If ya want I could meet ya and let ya try a loon ans a Perct. Sundance. I'm near Gaylord.

Thanks for the offer
but I am in the Lansing area so Gaylord is a bit of a ride. You wouldn’t happen to know of any places where I could demo kayaks in the Lansing or Grand Rapids areas would you? Or even the Cadillac area, my parrents have a place there which I visit regularly.

Michigan Kayaking

– Last Updated: May-23-05 1:24 PM EST –

You may want to check out Wes Boyd's Kayaking site for information and people connections near you in Michigan. Oh, how we miss the Upper Peninsula, Lake Superior the birch beaches and beautiful waves. What a fantastic place to paddle. We prefer Perception's Carolina size and longer and Current Design's Whistler and Sirrocco kayaks, ourselves. These meet our needs on the Big Lakes, the ocean, small lakes, large and small rivers and streams. Remember, your water up there is still pretty cold this time of year. Dress and prepare for safety.

You may want to try Gander Mountain in Lansing. Some Gander Mountain stores even have a kayak pool to try out the kayak. We saved $400+ off the list price on a Perception Carolina last summer at Gander Mountain. They will match and even beat other vendors if you have the competitive info. and work with the store manager. They even transported the kayak from a store in another state for us free of charge. They also carry the hard to maneuver Old Towns.

Don’t know of any
shops downststae. yz_387, ya might wannna elaborate on your location, I figure I am near mid MI. :wink: