Super beginner..But I need back on the water

I kayaked 15 miles down to lees ferry on the Colorado as my first kayak “trip” and I fear it ruined me for anywhere else (thats a joke…sort of… but it was beyond life changing). I did fall in love with kayaking and need to get myself back out there on my own kayak. Ive been doing some research on kayaks and have gone to a couple local sporting stores to look at anything and everything they might have… but I honestly don’t know where to start when it comes to picking out my own kayak and I dont want to hate the one I buy…for what I feel are obvious reasons. Any insight on good brands to start looking at, why you like them, etc, all and any info/opinions would be helpful and awesome! Thank you!

Basic info needed to respond:
What type of paddling? Flat water (lake, mild river) , white water?
Your weight and height.
Can you rent boats to try?
As far as brands there are many excellent manufacturers.
That’s the reason for the budget question. I have 2 thousand $ kayaks and one 3K$.
It will become more clear Grasshopper with research and trials.

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Are you by any chance from Southwest Pennsylvania?

Willow, we need a life at least at 10pm.

If you find something that looks like what you want, look to buy a similar used boat. You can almost always sell a used boat for about what you paid for it. After paddling your first boat for a while you might end up refining your choice. Few people stay with their first boat over the long run. With reasonable care most canoes and kayaks can be perfectly fine for decades.

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In addition to the questions above, how do you plan on transporting the kayak? Do you have a place to store a longer boat? What area are you located in?

String: The phrasing “I need back on the water” is rather distinctive of SW Pennsylvania, hence my query. Our Pittsburgh area “yinzer” dialect tends to drop “to be”, as in “my car needs washed” or “I need advised”. If the OP is local I can steer him to resources nearby.

I am having to paddle vicariously only for a couple of weeks so I may have posts on here at odd hours out of boredom (and a recent habit of taking afternoon naps that leave me awake in the wee hours.) Just had both cataracts removed this week and fancy high tech lenses plastered into my eyeballs. Doc says “no swimming or other dirty water exposure” or lifting heavy boats for at least two weeks. Bumming me out because we have had great weather for being out but I have to lay low. New eyesight is amazing so far so it is worth it in the long run. Going to Greenland skills camp in Michigan mid August and I will be able to practice rolling without foggy or wet glasses in the way, woohoo!


I am a fan of the occasional afternoon nap but it is guaranteed to keep me up later than normal.
Good to hear about your vision correction. I have always been one to push the doc’s instructions but vision isn’t the place to experiment.

To start, just flat water, but i REALLY wanna get into some light rapids once i get a little more experienced. Im 5’5" and about 150. Yeah theres a couple places near me that i was gunna check out to see how their kayaks are. This grasshopper is itchin to get out there, but i know i need to trial some yaks for sure. Ive only been in a liquid logic coupe. It was great! Know of any similar boats to that? What kinds do you have? Im ready and expect to put $1k into one.

The Coupe looks like a WS Tarpon.

We can be more help to you if you read throughthe responses so far and answer our questions anout your location and what areas you may be wanting to paddle. There are hundreds of kayak models and what you start with will depend on many factors including your budget (and you need to account fir how you will transport a boat so that may add expense.)

I read through em but the past few days have been crazy busy for me so here goes. Im in NE Ohio. (Not from PA but most of my family is from monroeville so im sure some lingos been passed down to me lol) as for where i wanna paddle… everywhere. I prefer rivers to lakes though. I wanna go up to lake erie though. I feel like that would be an awesome little adventure. I plan to get a rack for my car and i have storage thatll fit a yak up to 13 feet. Budget-wise, definitely not looking for a $3k boat, but i also wanna get something more than a $300 one from a sporting goods place. In my experience, ya get what ya pay for so im starting my looking at around $1k.

What type of rivers? Slow and lazy, shallow and rocky, narrow and fast with significant rapids?

13’ might be a little tough for big water; can you hang it diagonally and move up to a 14’ or longer boat?

OP, you have multiple choices of good kayaks. Go get one and you can answer most of your own questions. And stay off any Great Lake in a 13’ whatever.
Stop planning and Just Do It as my boss and Nike used to say.

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I’ll echo what String says: if you can only accommodate a 13’ kayak there are few that short that would be safe on Lake Erie. The Great Lakes are inland seas and have the same dangers as the ocean. To venture out on them you need a sit inside kayak with bulkheads in both the bow and stern and a cockpit coaming (the rim) that can support a sprayskirt. You also should not venture out on Lake Erie or any other large lake with wind and waves alone and without some prior instruction and experience. If you are serious about kayaking on the big lakes you need to be looking at 14’ and up length touring kayaks. The shorter recreational and day touring boats are meant for inland waters.

There are a few open water worthy shorter boats, like the Eddyline Sitka ST (13’ 9") and the Stellar 14LV but these are between $2000 and over $3000 new. And you need to allow at least $400 over the cost of a kayak for a good PFD, paddle, sprayskirt and minimal roof rack.

We usually recommend that newbies to the sport start with a used boat, If you could find a used Venture Easky 15 LV , Venture Islay 14 LV, Wilderness Systems Tsunami 140, Necky Eliza or Perception Carolina 14, they can usually be had for under $1000. And buying a used boat often means the seller throws in a paddle and skirt, even a PFD (though I prefer to stick to new with that bit of gear.) I’ve had an Easky 15LV for 12 years and have used it in the coastal Atlantic, 2 of the Great Lakes and even some Class 2 whitewater. Very solid boat and lighter than most its size. Best for paddlers under 5’10" and less than 180 pounds. Fits most average sized women well. Stable enough for a beginner but the hull shape and length mean it can handle waves and rougher water and achieve decent speed with modest effort so the user can progress in skills with training and experience.

By the way, I live 5 minutes west of Monroeville – know it well.

We have an excellent independent outfitter here in Pittsburgh who sells used kayaks and gear on consignment. if you ever get down this way you should check them out – 3 Rivers Outdoor Company, right off the Parkway East, 3 exits before Monroeville if coming from Downtown Pittsburgh.


I second the recommendations for a boat in the 14 foot range… and not too much volume. Lower volume makes you feel like a part of the boat. Too much volume makes you feel like a bobber.