Short cheap kayaks - good or bad?

Currently I have a 13’ Advanced Elements Expedition inflatable kayak. It’s okay but ultimately a pain in the rear mainly because the deck will get wet from paddling and then when you get it home you have to take the boat back out of it’s bag and lay it out to dry for at least overnight before stowing to prevent mildew. I want to get a second kayak for my wife but we live in an apartment and there’s pretty much nowhere to store a hardshell. Well, I started looking around I found our local Dick’s Sporting Goods (formerly Galyan’s) has Pelican kayaks that are about 10’ in a few different models going from about $228 to $299. Here comes another point - money. We don’t have a lot to spend on buying new kayaks so the cheaper the better. I’m looking at the shorty boats because I think I just MIGHT be able to get a 10 footer up the back stairs and into the apartment. Our dining room is kind of our work room for our hobbies and I have space on top of a shelving unit where I could stow a couple 10 footers without too much trouble. I read the reviews on some of the Pelican boats - the short ones and most of the reviews seemed be fairly favorable. Pretty decent kayaks for basic flat water paddling at a usually unbeatable price. We would be mostly interested in using these for flat water, occasional rougher stuff, but mostly flat water paddling to observe nature and just get out for some exercise. Most outings would be just a couple hours here and there, although for exercise we’d like to be able to get out at least once or twice a week. The inflatable is a nice decent quality boat but there are several annoying factors that keep me from wanting to buy another. The main thing is having to dry them out after use and you do tend to splash water inside them which is a pain. In a hardshell you can easily sponge it out and towel dry it. The second factor is the set up. The inflatable sets up in about 10 minutes or so, probably a bit longer - more like 15 minutes. However, with a hardshell you just untie it from your rack and you’re in the water. The main thing is the storage issue. I think they’d fit in the apartment but would be a bear to get up the back steps (one flight) and into the unit. Doing that twice a week could get old fast. I’m just wondering if this is going to be worth it to investigate or if I’d end up wishing I hadn’t gone this route. I suppose the alternative is another inflatable and just deal with the idiosyncrasies, save up for folders with non-fabric skins (easier to dry), or just skip kayaking until we can move to a house. Thoughts, suggestions?

You’ve answered yourself
You’ve done a pretty good job of listing all the points to consider.

Now you just need to make a decision.

I was afraid of that
I’ve been continuing to do more research and have discovered a small handful of nice even shorter kayaks. There’s the Old Town Otter which comes in a little under 10’ - I believe 9.6’. Also, the Emotion Kayaks Comet which is only 8’ and is apparently very well designed and won an Outside Magazine Gear of the Year award for 2010. They rate it fairly high and say that even though it’s a stubby little thing it paddles fast and tracks straight. I’m certainly intrigued and REI sells them which means I can get free shipping and mucho points towards my year end dividend.

I imagine you’re not shopping used?

Swifty OK, Zydecco Better
My husband and I started paddling about 2 years ago. He got the Perception Swifty and I got an Emotion sit on top. I later decided to get a sit-in and went with the Dagger Zydecco. It was a little more expensive ($400) but I think think it’s a better boat. Both boats track well but the Zydecco turns and handles better in moving water than the Swifty - and it’s only 9 feet. I’m about 120lbs and I can carry it on my own. I saw a used Zydecco on craigslist a few weeks ago for $250.

We had Sparkys -same as swiftys
but ours also had deck rigging. I just sold mine as we just didnt use them enough and had bills to pay. They were great little starter kayaks but i see the Dagger Zydeco is a little shorter and i think narrower - those sound like a great option and REI is in Chicago so…if you wait till spring they have sales and free shipping to store - and points if you are a member. Just a thought.

Similar problem back in the day…
My first kayak was 10’ pamlico, which was the longest hardshell I could lug up three flights of stairs in a downtown Raleigh apartment. I stored it against a hallway ceiling with straps attached to the crown molding. It really sucked getting it to the car and back, but I swore the performance of an inflatable would have sucked more…

I now have a house in Portland OR with a garage and have owned several full length sea kayaks, but “IF” I were to do it all over again in my Raleigh apartment I’d:

-scan craigslist for a sectional sea kayak for cheap

-look for a used folding folbot or or

-build a folding or high performance inflatable for really cheap from these free plans:

I just can’t go back to a short cheap rec boat…

Short Boats have their place

– Last Updated: Aug-20-10 12:30 AM EST –

Nothing better for narrow twisty rivers. Not everyone agrees though. Lots of people on this site like to look down their noses at anyone that doesn't need to to own a sea kayak. Buy the kayak best suited to the type of water you intend to paddle most often.

Edit: Just re-read your original post and see you are looking at Pelican 10 footers. There are lots of good quality 10 foot kayaks on the market but none are made by Pelican.

Reviews can be misleading because many are written by first time kayak owners that have little to no experience. Try a few short boats on the water before buying anything. It may save you from making a big mistake and ending up with a pool toy.

mdloon 100, you are so right
And I bet a lot of the people who scorn short plastic rec boats have never paddled one, and have never done this:,151481

Not looking at Pelicans anymore
I did more research and I’m liking what I’m reading about the Emotion Comet, to which Outside Magazine gave a “Best Gear of the Year Award.” I know there are going to be many compromises in a boat this short but, we pretty much paddle calm flat water exclusively, and as one previous poster mentioned having a boat with some compromises that gets you out on the water is better than having no boat at all.

I considered the Yostworks
Looked long an hard at his designs, but I simply can’t justify spending a minimum of $500 per kayak to build a couple folders. As for searching Craigslist, I’ve been doing that off an on for going on a year now and I have yet to see a folder priced anywhere near what I can afford. Another poster mentioned a lot of people looking down their noses at any boat that isn’t a sea kayak - well there’s that but I think a lot of posters also mention dropping “less than a grand” on a used boat without bothering to think that maybe the original poster simply doesn’t have that kind of money to throw around. My wife and I are making sacrifices already to get by in this economy and frankly the budget won’t really allow more than about $350/boat. I’d rather spend that and deal with some compromises rather than keep searching in vain for a “cheap” sectional or folder (there is no such thing), or worse yet put off paddle sports altogether until we move which is at least a year and a half away.

Thanks for the link Sissy
I love reading stories about people challenging themselves out in nature, be it hiking the AT or doing something like this marathon trip by kayak. It’s also great to see that someone with some determination can make a trip using what many would scorn as a “rec boat.” It sure sounds to me like she probably picked the best boat for that trip. If she could’ve handled a larger boat AND been able to portage that bigger boat it would’ve meant that she would’ve carried more gear and thus probably would mean it subsequently would’ve been harder to portage. Nothing wrong with packing light. Makes life a lot more simple.