Thinking of buying a kayak. Need help.

I have been kayaking multiple times now in both calm slough water as well as the rocky ocean waters, and have really enjoyed myself, and have found it to be great exercise. So therefore I am thinking of buying one, instead of having to rent a yak each time. From what I have read, I would be looking at a touring kayak, and it would need a decent amount of cargo space for camping trips. I would want to be able to be out in the ocean with this kayak as well as in calm lake waters, so that has made my decision a bit more confusing for myself. I know that I prefer the sit in kayaks rather then sit on top kayaks. I would be in the kayak for more then a couple hours easily, so it needs to be comfortable. Another issue I am having is the fact that I like the smaller yaks for the maneuverability but obviously the longer yaks would be nice for speed, so maybe a medium kayak would be best for me. I have heard that a yak can depend on the paddlers height and weight, so if that helps at all I am 5’8 and 140-145 pounds.

I don’t mean to ramble, I just don’t know much about the topic of buying a yak, and figured I would just throw out as much as I knew about what I wanted. Id be really appreciative of anyone that could point me in the right direction.

Thanks ahead of time, for any help you guys have to offer. Let me know if you need more info.

Conduit 13
I really like the Conduit 13 from Perception Sport. Being 13 feet long, it is a long rec or a short touring kayak, and even though it turns as tightly as a rec kayak, it still tracks amazingly. It also has two watertight bulkheads (walls in the kayak separating it into sections) with hatches for maximum storage space, and a lot of bungees on deck!! Also, it comes rudder-ready, so if you need more control, add a rudder!!

Only $550 (reg. price) at Dick’s (Of course try to try before you buy)

the good news
is that you did a fine job of describing where you want to kayak and what you want to do.

at your size and weight you are considered a bit smaller than the average kayaker, but happily not so small or light that your selection is very limited.

If the weight you heft is a concern, remember that there is light and there is inexpensive, but rarely is a boat both :slight_smile: There are great designs in plastic and in composite, you will just have to sit in some and paddle them, and see what it’s like to lift them up on a vehicle, to get your own priorities.

Just for starters consider a kayak w. these features:

between 15 and 16.5 feet long - long enough to get up to and maintain a good touring pace, long enough to span ocean waves and ride them out better from the beam (side) than shorter more recreational boats.

Enough cargo space to pack easily for 5-7 days or more if you think like a backpacker. Some boats have higher decks and are wider, and so can carry even more, but take care you don’t go w. a boat that’s so big that it only shines when loaded down and is a PITA to paddle into wind on daytrips. You are aiming for the boat that paddles well loaded, and is damn fun to paddle empty.

Features of such a boat: two sealed bulkheads (two compartments for floatation) with two well sealing entry hatches (some models will have a third, even a fourth, hatch for small items at the ready), full perimeter deck lining, two end toggles (these last two features good for rescues), a smallish cockpit say 30x18 or roundabout there,that will not implode under waves and which also will lead you to a good contact fit in your boat… adjustable footpegs, thigh braces (to give you good side to side control and aid in skill development). In some models the thigh braces are adjustable, too.

A seat which is comfortable but not squishy. You want some performance. A low backband is conducive to good posture, good paddling technique w. torso rotation, and also stays out of the way during entry and re-entry (more rescue stuff). Some seats have various adjustments too.

A rudder or a skeg is good, although not necessary, it’s good to start out w. one or the other. Just learn to paddle as if it wasn’t there, then add it in when you really need it and no shame when you do.

Most likely the boat will be 20-22 inches in width. Also remember there is overall beam (stated above) and waterline beam which is narrower. Don’t get too much caught up in that. Just know that a good boat feels a bit tippy at first then you paddle the tippyness out.

Boats with more rocker tend to turn better. Boats w. less rocker tend to track better. Everybody finds their perfect blend sooner or later. Not to say this is all there is to turning or tracking as there is much more to boat design and boat control.

Allow some $$ for a very good paddle. Need not be top of the line but not the cheapest either. A good paddle won’t fatigue you and is really a prime connection to your boat.

If you will give your location we can suggest where there are some good paddle shops or outfitters where you can try boats on the water. A water demo is pretty essential esp. for a first boat. Also, it’s getting to be that time when demo boats and floor models go on sale, and if you try them beforehand you will be ready to pounce on a good deal either there or on craisglist, eBay, garage sales, kayak club sales, etc.

Buying a nice used boat put you way ahead of the game in resale, and leaves you more funds for a paddle, pfd, and roof rack system.

Other ppl will toss out boat models, which is good. Google them and see if what looks promising and what can be demo’d in your area or at some reasonable distance… just don’t let internet research supercede butt time in a boat.

I tend to agree with the above poster
My girlfriend is about your size, at least your weight. She has enjoyed several different kayaks, and now owns two.

Both of these were purchased after some extensive test paddling, out in the ocean ,and in back-to-back testing against competing boats at paddlefest events. I think this is a good way to choose a new boat to buy.

Buying used is ideal, but it may be harder to test out the boat before you buy. A good used boat, properly priced upon purchase, can often be sold for nearly the same amount later if you grow out of it or your needs change. We sold her first sea kayak for the original purchase price after a couple good years of use. Folks skills sometime advance and their desired boat changes, so getting a popular boat up front might help reduce the risk of a sale later on.

touring kayak
You describe a touring or day touring kayak (sit inside, able to carry gear, etc.).

Where in Central California are you? If closer to San Luis Obispo, check out the shop Pedals and Paddles in Morro Bay. Central Coast Kayaks in Seal Beach is second in my mind.

If closer to Monterey, MBK is probably the best.

If south of SLO, then the shop in Santa Barbara would be the one.

You may want to poke through California Kayaker Magazine to get ideas on places to paddle around the State and gar info and such. Issue 8 had an article on getting butt time, which you may want to take note of.

That looks to be what I am looking for
Thanks for the suggestion. I will definitely look back at it after looking at what other people have said. Thanks!

I live in Fresno, CA
I have been looking on craigslist already for used boats, just to see whats out there. Thanks for all the info I really really appreciate it, and it has definitely helped me narrow down what I am looking for, or at least have a general clue. I live in Fresno, CA, so any hints on where the best places to buy from/rent from would be great. I know I have a couple lakes surrounding me so that would be the places I would probably look at first, but I do visit the bay area often so I go kayak in the bay and slough often as well.

I’ll check out that mag.
I will definitely check out that mag, thanks. I live in Fresno, CA so kinda in the middle of everything especially various lakes, and not too far from Monterey, which I visit pretty frequently. I have been to MBK a couple times so I could rent and test from their but money wise, I would try and buy second hand.

Are there any brands that are suggested above the rest here, that I should look at first, or any brands I should avoid when trying to meet the suggestions that have been given to me?

2 more shops
2 more shops that carry a decent selection of touring kayaks

Headwaters in Lodi

Sunrise Mountain Sports in Livermore

Used is definitely good. Gives you a way to test a boat long term, and if it doesn’t work, usually resell it for close to what you bought it for. For buying used, I would just not get anything more than 10 years old. It should have bulkheads, not requiring you to use something called a sea sock.

good and bad
The most common brands of good quality rotomold plastic sea kayaks you are going to find are Wilderness Systems, Necky and Venture. Also Perception (the regular line, not the discount Perception Sport line which is recreational and fishing boats). To start with for your size (a tad slimmer and a tad taller than me) you would want to check out the WS Tsunami 140, the Necky Manitou and Eskia, the Venture Easky 15LV (I have one of these and love it) and the Perception Carolina 140.

These are all around 14’ to 15’, similar hull design and features and have list prices around $1000, give or take $100 (or less with end of season sales and specials). These are also models you will commonly find for rent in good outfitter liveries. Any good outfitter/kayak dealer will have demos and a way to get you on the water in them. This is a very worthwhile exercise when you are considering this kind of a purchase.

My concern about the recommended Conduit 13 is that it will be a rough ride in choppy water due to being so wide (26.5" is kind of barge-like – that and its flat bottom will make it noticeably unpleasant in steep waves).

Brands to avoid (they don’t make boats this long anyway) are Future Beach, Pelican, Old Town, KL Industries and Lifetime. All pretty much discount lake toys.

used boats in your region
a few used kayaks in that class range noted on your regional Craigslist:

These are thermoformed Eddylines (not so common around where I live) – nice boats and a bit lighter than rotomold plastic.

One thing for certain…
…is that two boats can appear similar but feel very different once you get out on the water. You just never know what will work for you until you’ve put in some seat time.

I bet that most folks here didn’t hit the mark on their first kayak:) but that’s why it doesn’t hurt to go for a used boat initially.

Hope you enjoy your hunt.

Thanks for all the suggestions
Would something like this be okay, it seems similar to what you guys are suggesting to me and is closer to my price range.

I will look around for what you guys have suggested, at local shops or places I can rent them and try them out if at all possible. Thanks again guys.

good deal
If that LL Pisgah is in at all good shape and the fit feels OK, I’d jump on that one. New it is $1,000.

Granted, Old Town specializes in canoes, and they mostly only make rec kayaks, and I wouldn’t buy a touring kayak from them, but I had a Vapor, and it is a very nice rec kayak. Not the same class as a touring, but it shouldn’t be classified with KL, Pelican, Future Beach, and Lifetime.

I have been anxiously reading teganv’s post. I am in exact situation; been renting for years and ready to buy my own and want to go with a touring boat. A “BIG” difference is that I’m 6’4 and 240 so maybe a longer boat?

Y’all gave a ton of great advice, ideas and information. Very appreciative of those that actually took their time to look up used boats on craigslist.

That just proves that this is a great community that I’m happy to be part of now.