Suggestions for Kayaks for Great Lakes

Just wondering on Kayaks that would be good for the Great Lakes. Looking to spend less than $1000, so ones that appear on the used market I should look out for would be useful suggestions as well. I live on Lake Erie and take a yearly vacation to Lake Superior so I need something that can handle Lake Superior.
Thank you

I grew up on Lake Erie in Pa and still live in the area.

With the advent of rec-kayaks and paddle boards and the rest I’m seeing more and more people out when the conditions are perfect normally at sunset. I haven’t seen a lot of sea kayaks that would be better suited for serious use along with proper training.

What will your usage be? The Great Lakes can be friendly one minute and a real bear the next. Just the other day my sister just told me they had 10’ waves at her cottage.

If you are just going out for a paddle and staying close to shore on nice flat water anything with good capsize flotation along with a quality PFD will work. More serious stuff should really be thought through.

You need a sea kayak for the Great Lakes and especially for Lake Superior. Plus a good PFD and spray skirt.

1 Like

I like to island hop on the rivers, namely St Mary’s in Sault Ste Marie, and small lakes and would like to go on the Great Lakes and do the same. Mostly staying somewhat close to shore but also some more open water.

16’ plus

Your experience level?

Kayaking for 10ish years but only more serious for 3. Very comfortable but am aware I need more experience before I can go to farther islands on the Great Lakes. Mostly river and small lake

Just in terms of your price point $1000 on the used market should buy you a nice sea kayak. If you state your height and weight and post links to add you’re considering people can give you more specific guidance.

1 Like

5’8" 172lbs

Only lets me post 2 links

The lakes I said are huge so I guess I should be more specific on where I plan to Kayak. Lake Erie - Lost Peninsula to Turtle Island/ Lake Superior - Apostle Islands and Pictured Rocks
Goal is eventually have the skill to island hop across Lake Michigan

If you’re interested in learning sea kayaking skills like edging and bracing, and doing self rescue, then I would think both those boats are too high-volume for you. But I’m not sure what you want to do with them, beyond paddling safely in Lake Erie.

This might be a bit small for you but it’s a great deal if it’s in decent condition. It’s a full-on sea kayak; you’d definitely need to try it out to see if you fit into it comfortably.

1 Like

KInd of a general rule… The bigger the water the bigger the yak ( but it still has to fit you…not big that way). 14 and 15 are too short and 16-17 with double bulkheads are fine. We both use boats close to 18 feet and have been to the Slates and along the Ontario shore of Superior on multiday trips.

There is a bit of peril prioritizing price over fit and function when it comes to big lakes which are very ocean like.

As you have probably discovered in regards to seakayaks there are some divergent views about what is suitable for big water paddling. If you want to do moderate rough water and weekend trips, 16 ft is plenty of boat. As you get more experience you might find a more agile shorter boat is actually for you. In rough conditions and short period big waves, rocks and small target beach landings, the more boat you have, the harder you have to work against the wind and waves. The harder it is to transport and store and the less it gets used. If you attend a rough water training class you’ll probably find the instructors tending to use shorter boats. Try to find some experienced paddlers in your area who are selling boats. When you look at a kayak that is used, make sure it looks like it has been used. A 17 or 18 ft boat that is in mint condition, didn’t get used much for a reason. Also look for classes and symposium for rough water and crossings etc, and organized groups or outfitters. I know the Gales- Rough Water Symposium is popular, check out what you would need to attend that next year.

Not buying a 17 or 18 foot kayak because it looks new makes no sense to me. I bought a like new Solstice in 2010 it was a 2008. It was basically new, two faint scratches one deck one on bottom. Why would I not buy it? Guy paddled it 4 times literally.

1 Like

That one was also on local Craig’s List and I tried to arrange to see it. But seller said it’s already spoken for.

A steal it looks new.

Maybe, but seller only called it “good” condition and didn’t give any details on “couple of repairs” it had. And slider foot controls and replaced seat pan are additional questions. But it was only 65 miles away so I sure would have checked it out. No complaints, I’ve found my share of bargains.

I looked at picture.

Not surprising it’s spoken for. If you see a good composite kayak for $500 you gotta jump on it.

I agree with PaddleDog52, there are tons of people who purchase expensive kayaks, never use them, and then sell a few years later for a fraction of the cost. And I LOVE each and every one of those people! :wink:

1 Like

Going back to basics, a sea kayak book summarized the American Canoe Association guidelines of what vessel is appropriate for what conditions. I scanned a copy and have it at Dropbox - ACA-SkillLv&SeaConditions.23.jpg - Simplify your life. Only level 1 is appropriate for recreational class kayaks (a few can be used in level 2, if they have enough flotation which is the exception, not the rule). All of the Great Lakes easily can exceed these conditions, so getting a boat that can handle is probably smart. Sit on tops or sea kayaks are all that can go above level 3.

To understand what the different types off kayaks are, check out an article in issue #10 of California Kayaker Magazine readable for free at California Kayaker Magazine - South West's source for paddlesports information

1 Like