Thinking about kayaking

My wife and I are thinking about getting involved in kayaking. We are both in our early 40’s and very overweight and looking at this as something fun to do together and hopefully to help us both get in shape and lose some weight.

I am 6’ 265lb and she is about 5’7" and 225.

We are looking for kayaks for slow rivers and lakes. If you know anything about the Nashville area, we have lots of rivers and lakes. We would most likely be using the Harpeth river and Old Hickory lake.

So some questions.

  1. I see kayaks in all price ranges but what are we going to need to spend to not buy junk? While I do not want to spend a ton of money on something that we may or may not end up spending a lot of time doing, I do not want the equipment to be the reason that we don’t like it.

  2. What size kayak’s should we be looking at?

  3. Any suggestions for us as far as kayaks to try?

  4. We have a 2013 Subaru Outback that I have ordered a Thule 830 stacker for. From looking at other threads I see that there are some concerns with the Outback, but we are pretty much stuck with what we have. What is the longest kayaks we should be looking at to fit this arrangement?

  5. Other than the kayaks themselves, I know we will need paddles and life vest. What should we be looking for as far as price range for these items?

  6. If there is anything else you can think of that would be helpful for our situation, please let me know.



Is there anyplace you can rent some ?
… to try them out, even if that would involve a day trip ? Fit is a very individual thing. You both have height so that means you will need adequate foot and leg room in a kayak. Plus, from my experience, your wife may have to really shop for a pfd vest that fits, and yet does not drive her crazy riding up or chafing when she sits in a kayak seat- they’re out there, but they are not going to be that common. Plus, depending on what kind of kayak you get, how tall you’re sitting, and your shoulder width and arm length, you may need a paddle that is longer or shorter than what someone else in on of those little sea kayaks thinks you need. The thing that made me happiest about my own kayak was finally being able to use the “wrong” paddle that works with my shoulders and where I have strength, since I can’t twist my lower back around, and I stopped whacking my fingers all the time on the sides…ahhhh !

  1. used is cheaper. prices really vary. try to avoid Big Box Store under $400 type things.

  2. whatever fits and whatever has the weight capacity for you and your gear (you can look up this on each model on the internet).

  3. since you are in the South, and are going for flatwater, you may like sit-on-tops and fishing kayaks. Advantages: stable, high capacity, you fall out you just get back in, no learning to “roll” necessary. Disadvantages: some shorter ones under 12’ long can be rather slow. Some are heavy.

  4. can’t comment, see the Subaru thread. If Thule can make something that goes on the Outback, good luck. This is why some of us will always love our trucks. Important part is to always SECURE the front and back with tie downs, as well as the sides, on smaller car tops.

  5. really varies. I have a really cheap vest that fits and an expensive one that fits… there were a lot in the middle range that didn’t.

  6. if you have to portage a long way, you may want one of those little carts with wheels

Wilderness systems Pungo. They can hold large people and are of good quality. There are a few sizes to choose from. Iam sure there are others but thats what I have seen for people your size.

maybe a Pungo 140

I am pretty much a beginner also. I started in the fall of 2013. Maybe some of my choices & results can help you and your wife.

*My first kayak was purchased from LL Bean. 10 foot sit-in, Manatee. On sale with paddle & cockpit cover for around $375. I love it and will always keep it. It weights about 40 lbs. Nice large cockpit. (female,55 yrs old, 175lbs, both knees replaced–reason for large cockpit–lol)

*Second kayak I bought for an extra one so friends could go with me. 8 foot Pelican, sit on top. Yuck, flop, sold it within a month.

*Third kayak (for an extra one) Wilderness Aspire 105 sit in kayak (10 foot 5 inches long) Bought it used for $450 (retails new for about $700 to $800). Pros: Very nice, large cockpit,well built kayak but heavy. Con: When it is windy it is like paddling a tank. But the Wilderness kayaks sure seem to be good strong kayaks.

*I bought an NRS Chinook Fishing PFD from Amazon for about $90. Well made life vest, lots of pockets. Have found that it is rather bulky. Maybe I should have spent extra money and bought one that is not so thick.

What ever kind that you purchase I would make sure that it is a life vest made special for kayaking.

****I am already thinking about upgrading to a longer kayak. The shorter kayaks that I have do not seem to be easy to paddle in windy conditions. Not sure what to tell you about what length to start with since I am pretty much a beginner like you & your wife. Maybe some of my choices can help you make the right choices.

used in your area
I scoped out the Craigslist kayaks for sale around Nashville and you may have trouble finding boats that suit you used. The majority were, as I suspected, either whitewater kayaks, very cheapo model rec boats (which, as others have already explained, tend to be heavy, slow and subject to difficulty paddling in windy conditions) or they are selling over-accessorized fishing kayaks.

There was one, an Old Town Vapor 12XT for $550:

A new one is only $599 so it isn’t a great price, but they are throwing in a paddle (though it looks like a crappy one – always better to invest at least $125 in a good lightweight fiberglass shaft paddle.) The Vapors are kind of wide and a bit heavy though not as heavy as a full sit on top. They have an oversized cockpit so plenty of room for comfort. There are some user reviews on here that speak well of them – though you do have to take newbie user reviews kind of with a grain of salt. Most everybody loves their first kayak and gives it a 9 or 10 out of 10 rating. That is until they get a chance to try better (usually longer and faster) kayaks.

Som as suggested, you best bet if you have the option is to find an outfitter that allows demos on the water or rents a range of kayak models. Unfortunately most commercial rental operations only rent “one size fits nobody” plastic bathtubs so it’s hard for newcomers to the sport to get a feel for what might suit them.

Others have mentioned the longer Pungos – for your sizes the longer boats (12’ to 14’) will be more pleasant to paddle since the weight will be distributed over a longer area and the boat will track better – longer boats are also simpler to load on high cars like the Subaru, since you can lever them up from the ground from the side or directly from the rear and shove forward. Short fat boats are a pain to load on SUV’s and tall wagons.

Doesn’t look like you have a lot of dealers but you might try the REI in Brentwood. Remember that you get 10% back on purchases there every year, plus they have a generous return policy if the kayaks turn out not to work for you. Might be worth a trip down there since many outfitters have good sales on kayaks this time of year, not wanting to carry stock over into the next year for tax purposes.

Subaru rack - Thule 532
I am a long-time Subaru fan, and a huge hater of the rack on the 2010+ Outbacks.

The only way I can find to mount wider racks on top of your factory racks is to buy the Thule 532 adapters. This will give you a bi-level crossbar, but will enable 50" wide square Thule bars and a decent spread since I believe your 2013 Outback has a second position for the rear bar to give you more spread.

With 50" bars you can mount two kayaks side-by-side in cradles.

Good luck and enjoy paddling

best advice is to…
…demo as many different models as you can before making your purchase. Treat it like buying a car, you want to drive it first right?

as for the types of boats, the longer the boat the better it tracks (i.e. paddle 10 times straight ahead and the boat will stay on course). The shorter the boat, the more maneuverability but not necessarily conducive for longer paddling trips. Longer boats will have a higher weight capacity so this is better for larger paddlers. As mentioned in some of the other responses, as a larger paddler you may want to lean towards the sit-on-top style. I am 5’10" 265 and i purchased a 14.5 foot sit-in touring kayak and I absolutely love it. However, I am not exactly graceful getting in and out…

If you are willing to drop an extra few dollars, purchase a lighter weighted paddle. Your hands, wrists and arms will thank you.

PFDs are difficult to recommend - you just need to find what fits. However, 1 note of warning…if you get a sit-in kayak, try the PFD on and sit inside the boat. Most PFDs will have a higher back so as not to interfere with your seat back but you want to make sure.

Start with your 3 basics and go from there. After a few paddling trips, you will figure out what accessories you want/need and which ones you can live without. Most of us have, at one point or another, looked back on a purchase made in the moment and thought “what was I thinking?”

Happy Paddling!

Lose some weight?
If you think that paddling a kayak is going to take some weight off, you’re probably wrong. You would have to paddle a lot and miss a lot of meals for that to happen. Paddling might add some strength all over your body, but again you would have to paddle a lot and at a fairly high rate. Plunking around in a pond, or floating with the current in a river won’t have any noticeable affect.

However, if like a lot of us, you get bitten by the bug and turn into a rabid kayaking hard case, then that’s a whole nuther story. You still might not lose any weight to speak of unless you change your eating habits. Not to be discouraging–just realistic.

As for picking the right boat; I am a believer that the right first boat should be one that can perform and stimulate an interest in developing the skills it takes to bring yourself up to the boat’s capabilities.

You might get lucky and find some used boats that meet that standard, but …

New boats that are suitable are probably going to be somewhat over a thousand bucks each. You can buy some very decent paddles for around $150 each. Suitable paddling pfd’s are going to be around $60 and up–each.

If you’re going to be year round paddlers, you are also going to need some proper footwear (neoprene boots and socks–$100 each), wetsuits, or drysuits ($125 to $500 up–each), and various other accessories.

Just being realistic. Now go for it with your eyes wide open. The fact is, it might be one of the healthiest things you’ve ever done; it was for me.

look at pack canoes too
Another option that new paddlers often are not aware of is pack canoes. These are 12’ solo canoes where you sit down inside the hull rather than high up like in a regular canoe, and you typically paddle with a double ended kayak paddle. These offer the comfort and accessibility of a sit on top kayak but are considerably lighter, plus they are a dryer ride than the average sit on top. There are some that are as light as 25 lbs but they tend to be expensive, like $1500 and up.

But you might find used ones. And Old Town has come out with what they are calling a “hybrid” but it really is just a less expensive but somewhat heavier pack canoe, called the Next. Here’s the link to their jazzy intron(cost is $999). I admit the boat appeals to me, and several of my hard core sea kayaking friends have recently started using pack canoes for fitness paddling and day trips:

Having owned a number of PFD’s I can report that the Astral models, particularly their V-8, are very comfortable for kayak use and are generously proportioned for we more buxom ladies. My V-8 is so comfortable, even in hot weather, that I often forget to take it off until I get in the car to drive home after paddling. They run about $90 to $105 but sometimes you can find them on sale for less.

Thanks for the advice.

Right now, we are looking at the Jackson Ibis for my wife and the Jackson Cuda for me.

She has no interest in fishing, but I do.

Any thoughts on these two kayaks?

Lose weight

– Last Updated: Sep-02-14 3:38 PM EST –

You are guaranteed to lose weight if you go kayaking at least 10 times a week.

Although the weight loss will be from repeated loading and unloading your boats on your car, not from paddling.

magooch said I wouldn’t lose weight!
You two need to get with the same exercise physician!

(I happen to agree with you - or at least can’t say I agree with magooch in this case)

If I
would go kayaking 10 times a week, I wouldnt have time to eat, thus, I would lose weight. Wouldnt sleep either for that matter, so I guess after I croaked and I dehydrate, I could be said to be losing weight.

ANY exersize will help you lose weight. NO exersize will take weight off. Diet does that, exersize is just a part of the plan. Post 40yo.

I started last year at 6’ 265ish. I have cut weight, due to push aways eating better, and adding the kayak which means instead of sitting on a day that I am caught up on stuff, I can go float a bit.

Look at what you want to do, size the boat that will do it to your butt, then ask these people who have more time in than me.

good quality
Jackson makes quality boats. If these fit you, I doubt you would regret investing in them and they suit your stated purpose. I think you’ve made a good choice.

And even if you decided after a while that you want something different, these would have good resale value.

Try it

– Last Updated: Sep-03-14 6:36 PM EST –

As for losing weight, dietary changes did it for me more than paddling. Less junk food, portion control and cutting out refined sugar. I replaced everything with better quality food. My paddle partner lost an amazing amount of weight too following the same formula.

If you were ever get into it hardcore, it becomes a very expensive sport to do it safely and properly though worth every penny IMHO. Even the money I wasted learning about various kayaks and immersion wear over the years was money well spent.

Personally, I'd evaluate myself and my relationship to water for what type of kayak. Of course, I would not advise you to purchase a $5000 skinny touring class kayak as your first one. As a child, I was paddling anything that I could paddle and loving being both on and in the water so I took to kayaking like a duck to water. Now, I'm obsessed with kayaking.

I'd try as many kayaks as possible and maybe take a guided tour a few times. I'd also think about what I want to do on the water(i.e. Casual paddling, photography, fishing, etc...) and pick an appropriate kayak. It's really all about you, so pick the right kayak and ask a lot of questions before you purchase one. If you're lucky enough to have a knowledgeable paddle shop near you, I'd patronize them over a big box store as you will get better advice and maybe a chance to demo some. One kayak will always speak to you over the others.

Even with all the kayaks and associated gear that I've acquired over the years, I've still spent less than a modest powerboat.

Also, if you can find some used gear you'd be able to see if this is something you can enjoy long term without spending extra money. My last word to you is to always respect the water never fear it just respect it.

Bought our kayaks
Well, my wife and I are the proud owners of two new Jackson Kayaks. My wife got the Ibis and I got the Coosa.

We will be trying them out this weekend at the Narrows of the Harpeth, which is a pretty tame part of the river and is only 4.5 miles. I will make a separate post and let you know how it goes.

Thanks for the help everyone.

What kind of rack for your '13 Outback?
Man the Coosa is a big mother. Interested to hear how this works with the 2013 Outback.

Be very aware of driving with that boat on J Cradles, it’s very easy to forget and drive into parking structures or into signs at businesses.

I have a 2013 and use Yakima Landing pads and control towers and a 56" cross bar.

Narrows of the Harpeth…
How I miss that little stretch… get out and enjoy it as much as you can. Coosa is a great boat for that river, especially if you want to rig it up for fishing.

Enjoy those new kayaks
I was about your age and size when I caught the paddling bug about 10 years ago. While paddling was definitely the inspiration for me to lose weight, it was better eating and regular exercise that were responsible for the weight loss. Once I got into shape I found that I had the energy to take on longer and more challenging trips, and the ability to do those types of trips is the inspiration that I need to stay in shape. It’s a vicious circle that works in a good way. Hope things go the same for you.

For now – hope you enjoy those new kayaks.