Totally new

My wife and I are completely new to the world of Kayaking. We attended a hands-off clinic at our local REI before going on a very short (1 hr) guided kayak trip in Alaska. That did it for us. Ever since, we have been really wanting to buy a couple of Kayaks to use for casual recreation.

Our problem is we have no idea what we should buy. Our plan is to use them mainly for fitness and just tooling around some of our local lakes. There maybe potential for a few overnight (camping-kayaking trips) so we’d like something that has some dry storage and is comfortable enough to spend a few days in.

The clinic we went to was put on by a place that sell only (what seemed to us) very high-end boats. $2500+ models. We want something that is respectable, but we’re not planning on making a career out of kayaking. I assume the $500-$600 models at REI/Cabellas/Sportsman’s Warehouse are not the greatest things in the world. We understand VALUE vs. being the cheapest. We typically don’t by the lowest end equipment when it comes to our gear, but at the same time we don’t want to spend a fortune on some professional rig that we’ll rarely use.

So I guess my question is; Can we get away with a sub-$1000 boat from a place like REI? Or should we really spend the money and get something from a “real” Kayak place?



Make sure you go to a reputable Kayak dealer. REI is what it is but I’m of the opinion that if you are looking to get great value for your dollars. Find a pro who carries many different kayaks and paddle a lot of kayaks. My advice for a boat in your case would not be shorter than 12’w/at lease one bulk head …Happy hunting…

Your choice in boats is going to be dependent on what you want to do and what are the water conditions you expect to encounter. There are many boats that are more affordable than what you describe, and many dealers (not chain stores) have used boats that are much cheaper than new ones if you don’t care about some nicks and scratches.

Where are you located
Go to a real kayak outfitter and present your desires and budget. Buy used boats as you can get great deals on superior equipment. Post your State and Town so Paddle netters can steer you to a good outfitter.


Try for used
For what you want to do i would say something between 12’ and 14’, there are some used boats, but if not stay with plastic boats, you get into fibreglass and carbon and it gets quite pricey. Check local kayak shops, you can get end of season deals, last years models and seconds/blemishes for less as well.

500-600 dollar kayaks
Not good?? REI is a real kayak place, and most kayaks >500 dollars are very well made. I’m geussing your talking about Old Town and Ocean Kayaks. These are top-notch companies.

500-600 is not so cheap that quality is compromised. Its just more bare in outfitting. Those plastic kayaks are more impact resistant to the high-end composite kayaks at 2500. This means that they can take impacts and blows countless times with minimal damage. Composite boats are lighter and stiffer, however.

To get to what I consider the “Not decent region”, you ussualy have to plummet down below 275 MSRP.

My kayak’s MSRP is 630. It’s a plastic wilderness Systems Pamlico 140. I have had it for 5 years. No damage to the hull… I store it ON its hull and its undeformed, and my cruising speed is 4mph, and the other day I hit 6mph in it.

Plastic does not mean bad. Plastic is the strongest kayak material- as in the most impact resistant.

Totally new
Sounds good. I live in Las Vegas, so it’s going to be hard to find an honest dealer. I shouldn’t have a problem finding a highend dealer and a dealer interested in selling what THEY sell.



Totally new
My wife and I are pretty much going to stay in calm lake water. the only chop we’ll see is going to be from wind and other boats probably.


Totally new
Las Vegas, NV. We travel quite a bit every month camping, hiking, biking etc… so we don’t mind visiting other cities. San diego, Phoenix, Salt Lake, etc… are all reasonable distances to travel.


+1 on used
depending on where you live you may find a “demo day” with some local shop. But as a beginner buying a used boat will let you learn technique then decide what you like then you can buy your “real” kayak. If you buy used you can often sell it later for about the same price you bought it for (almost like a long term loan of a boat until you know what you really want). Check craigs list for starters.

hit the road to San Diego this weekend

They’ll have boats to demo that will give you some idea of your options (but then consider used).

Totally new
I’ve heard that plastic isn’t a bad choice for someone like me, who may not take a good of care of my Kayak as I probably should. It’s a very forgiving material. I just don’t want to sacrifice functionality and reliability. I bike a lot. I would never buy a huffy road or mountain bike or reccomend that someone buy one if they are seriously thinking about riding regularly. They will be messing with it more then riding it, the components just aren’t built to withstand days of 50+ miles. They will always be broken and they are going to hate riding it. So I understand the benefit of good equipment. However, I wouldn’t reccomend that someone just starting out go and buy a $5000 carbon bike either though. It’s just not necessary.

Anyway, I’m just trying to find that happy medium where I can feel good about my equipment and not need to take out a loan to pay for it.


Totally new
Right on! I might just do that. Thank you!


my friends and I
have shopped around and bought a number of kayaks in your price range and we keep coming back to the WS Tsunami line, probably the most versatile sub-$1000 boat out there. I like some of the Necky models too but they seem to be made for skinny folks, the Tsu just feels more comfortable, even the 135 fits me nicely.

Totally new
Are there any brands to stay away from or ones that I should look for?


take a class
I would take a class aimed at beginning sea kayaking. preferably something that you get wet in (have to learn basic recoveries, etc.). Many of them have some basic info on types of kayaks and such, to which you can grab the instructor at some point and get more details.

Many options for many users
Most any brand and model is some sort of trade off for price what conditions it’s suited to. So first figure out by a demo what type of boat. Then when you see a boat for sale (perhaps used) then check the reviews here on as well as search the internet for other reviews. Pnet reviews seem to all say the boat is great, but still reading why it’s great will help you know if that matches you. I would suggest you not rule out boats suitable for the open ocean though in the end you may favor something more for comfort than performance. You may find your sticking to simple waters now, but if the bug bites you’ll be looking for other challenges. btw, look for local clubs too. At least one such option may be

Totally new
Yeah, we were thinking that maybe a time line like this. Take an intro-type class, then maybe go on a guided trip in rented boats. Then THAT would help us figure out what we wanted. This is just frustrating for me, I know bikes and technology. Looking at a Kayak I can’t even tell what’s good quality and what’s not, I have no name recognition, no clue what to look for. So I appreciate the help everyone has given me.



If you are in Las Vegas
I would definitely suggest you make it down to the Southwest Kayak Symposium this weekend in San Diego.

You can get info at the Aqua-Adventures Website. You can try out all kinds of kayaks and maybe negotiate a deal. Then if you don’t find something you want to buy you can go back home and look on Craigslist and check out your local dealers. When you have time you might want to sign up for introductory lesson weekend class with aqua-adventure.

I’m not sure Las Vegas is the best place to buy a used kayak but with Lake Mead nearby I bet there are often boats on craigslist. Buying used is a very good idea for your first few boats.

Sounds good
Your timeline sounds good. Definitely one I would suggest. Don’t rush into buying.

Some shops do a rent to own type think, letting you apply rental costs and such towards the purchase of a new boat. May not help you if you went for a used boat (which is also a good suggestion).