A month or so ago, I asked the question as to whether to invest $600, the cost of a four hour Intro to Paddling class(for a family of four)in Phoenix, Az or to use that money towards purchasing kayaks and teach ourselves. We were looking at several “rec” type kayaks.
Here is how it turned out. My wife and I voted for lessons, more to see if we liked being in that kind of watercraft more than anything else. The kids declined and thought that they could teach themselves and weren’t sure that touring was going to be exciting enough for them. Well, she and I traveled to Lake Mead outside Las Vegas and took a class($120 per) from Robert Findlay at KayakLakeMead.Com.
The lesson was almost entirely on the water using “real” kayaks. They were an Eddyline Merlin XT, an Eddyline NightHawk and an Eddyline Tandem(model I don’t remember). The paddles were Swift Carbon Fiber. This was our first time ever in kayaks. We were very impressed with the performance of those boats and we had a great time! It also helped that the water was very warm! The wind was also quite strong and we were amazed at our ability to make way and as novices on our ability to “control” the boats. I think that we are hooked.
So my next question to the group is, would the kayaks we tried be a good investment, or are there other brands/models in the same “class” that we should also consider? I think that we might be headed to San Diego to try several out and it would be very helpful to know what to ask for!
Billions and billions and billions…
There are many, many kayaks in that “class” (actually 2 classes) that you mentioned. Many are less expensive, some are more. I think the first thing you need to decide is single or tandem. If you really loved the tandem experience and don’t feel that you will ever want to go solo, then go with it… If not, 2 singles are MUCH more versatile and I think a lot more fun.
Plenty of threads here on “best boat for a (fill in the blank)” and, although I’m not familiar with shops in San Diego, there are probably several. Do some research (there’s a buyer’s guide here), get some ideas of price and qualities in your head and go have fun demo’ing.
Now, aren’t you glad you took the lessons?
try, and try again
First, think about how you plan to use the boats. Day trips, overnight camping, week long adventures? Flat water, white water, open ocean? Singles or doubles?
This will guide you as to the type of boat you want to look at (recreational boat, day touring, touring, etc.).
Once you get the basic classification down, then start thinking of materials. Plastic (rotomolded) is the least expensive and generally stands up to abuse the best, but doesn't take heat well (if you are storing outside or on the roof of your car, the boat may take the shape of whatever straps you have). Recreational boats are almost all plastic. Touring and day touring come in other materials also.
Fiberglass does better with heat/light and is lighter, but more expensive (often $1000 more than plastic).
Carbon fiber even better, and even more expensive (often $1000 more than fiberglass).
Once this is all set, get out and demo any boats you are interested in. Find a dealer near you that caries many lines, and see if they have a rent to own or demo deal you can take advantage of (where you can apply rental fees towards purchase of boats). Then get your butts in many different boats and see what feels good to you.
Add to this any additional issues you may need to consider, such as whether you have space to store boats (and if so, what size), how many you want to buy, etc.
Best advice is…
to really try demoing some other boats too. While you had a blast in the ones you tried, it’s the only one’s you’ve tried. Before investing too much money, find a way to try out some other boats first!
Kayakers are never satisfied
If you look on the discussions section of this site, there's a link with paddlers listing all their boats. Many paddlers have many boats. If you really like the Eddylines that would be a good choice. What would be ideal is to find a kayak store that sells Eddyline that is having a demo day so you can try those again and compare them to a few others.
I think Eddyline does a nice job with the seating and bracing and makes a comfortable boat (now). Efficient hulls too. A few of them are a bit ugly. They have a new model with a big ugly bulge in it. At this stage in your paddling career, comfort and stability are very important.
Unfortunately the bottom line is what you like and feel good in. I say unfortunately because every paddler has their favorites and it's more of a personal thing for a variety of reasons.
checking out on kayak
well you can see all the answers to your question…mostly it on preference on the paddlers themself,you the one going to be in the seat all times…if going double then thats a different story…so i would try out all the yaks at rental or paddle festivals or friend to get ideas what the yak can do and not…there is no such perfect yak to have…always one butter than other,it take me a while found one i like,even some day i would like to have another one…but for now i enjoy what i have
San Diego - What to do …
The best place to learn and try out boats in San Diego is Aqua-Adventures. (www.aqua-adventures.com) You can demo any boat any time you want. Their store is right on mission bay. You can rent a kayak for an evening paddle for $15. They sell many of the boat brands you have mentioned. Give them a call, ask when you might be able to speak with Jen, tell her where you live and what you want to do and plan on coming out when you can take one of their basic classes or the beginning kayaking series and try out lots of boats.
Tell them your use
Then let the San Diego folks put you into boats. Calling ahead as above always a good idea. You may well stay with the boats you were first in, but you should dance with boats from ottoher manufacturers as well before writing the check.
The thread to which Jay refers
For some of us there’s always a next boat…
within any price range there’s a dozen different boats, the more you take lessons and demo the less important is marketing stuff.
After I’d had a few different boats I bought a boat sight unseen and kept it for 12yrs.
I second the nomination
of Aqua Adventures. Check out the website, they have all kinds of classes and opportunities to try out different boats.