I have never kayaked before but would like to get one with a friend.
I will be using it to fish a little and putz around local ponds and streams. I would also go to the farmington river which is decent size and has lots of flat water and some decent white water. I would stay away from anything crazy(class 4 + 5??).
The local kayak shop has a Venture Kayaks Flex 11, which stood out to me. It is 11 feet, has a skeg, and when I got in it was comfortable and had nice feeling foot pegs and knee braces. Also the dry storage will be useful. Price=700-100 because it is last year’s model.
Does this kayak look alright for my purposes? I wonder if it will hold up in rapids…
NO class anything
At least with a number. Class 2 is plenty to get into trouble with for a newbie. You should be considering some instruction or keeping it to flat, unrated no-white-stuff water. If you must do class 2 before learning some skills, do it in a raft or on an inner tube. Both are safer than in a kayak, especially one with a big arse cockpit opening and an open bow area like the Flex.
That all off my chest, it is a rec boat like many others and if you take it where it is intended to be - that is not rated whitewater - it’ll get you there and back and be comfortable doing it.
If you have some specific skills in mind, or you plan on going out with a local paddling group, you may need more boat and would be economically ahead looking for a used boat to start out.
Good Advice From Celia…
…especially about the white water. If, as you say, your focus will be on fishing and just messing around, you might want to consider a Sit-On-Top.
While I heartily agree with both Celia and Jen on their warnings about Classified whitewater, I am also a big fan of Venture kayaks and think they are well-designed and offer nice features for a reasonable price. However, I don’t recommend that model for you as an “entry level.” It really is just a “lily dipper” recreational boat and something you will quickly outgrow and probably be frustrated by. As the others mentioned, that oversized cockpit is a drawback and the boat is too short to paddle fast or track straight on big rivers and lakes.
Depending on your physical size and budget, why don’t you consider the Venture Easky’s, either the 13 or the 15 and 15LV (the LV low volume is for people under 5’ 10" and/or under 180 lbs? These models have standard size cockpits and are long enough to track nicely but still light enough to transport easily.
I paddle a lot and have a small fleet of kayaks, including a couple of high-end boats, but since picking up an Easky 15LV last summer it has become my favorite versatile “go to” boat for local flatwater and stream paddling. It is a quick and nicely tracking kayak that surfs waves and boat wakes nicely. I have also used it in Class C fast water (it is a lot of fun for that with the thigh hooks) and moderate Class 1 whitewater but would not recommend the boats for anything above that as the plastic is a bit thinner than what you want for rock bashing. Also, touring boats (12’ long and up) are not as maneuverable as you want for rock gardens and rapids.
That said, the longer Easky’s are great entry boats that allow you to develop skills for most any paddling. Frankly, I have not felt the need for a skeg or rudder, though they come with all the mounting positions built in to easily add the rudder if you want it later. Unless you plan to paddle in the ocean or in very windy conditions a lot, I don’t think you need to buy the rudder right away. That will save you some up-front money buying the boat.
Once you have gotten some experience and instruction on white water paddling with someone qualified to teach you safely (either in rafts or in rental boats), you can always pick up a used whitewater boat (shorter, fatter, heavier plastic and flatter bottomed) to use for that kind of trip.
reviewed under "P & H"
By the way, if you are interested in reading user reviews of the Venture kayaks, they are posted in that section of P.net under “P & H” which is the parent company of Venture. No reviews on the 11 foot boat yet but several on the Easky models.
Another vote for Easky
The Easky line is a very good entry level boat. They are stable enough for a beginner, and have the features that will enable your skill set to grow. For whitewater, you’ll want a WW specific boat - something much more maneuverable than the good tracking boat that you’ll prefer on flat water. Do take a lesson or two - especially for the whitewater; it will make your paddling experience much more enjoyable.
I’ve paddled it a couple times and i think the flex is a fun little boat. I’d love to take it on some rivers that combine flatwater sections and class II. I would put flotation up front for that type of paddling.
There aren’t too many other kayaks that size that have adjustable thigh braces, a cockpit that will fit a normal size sprayskirt, and a retractable skeg. The Dagger Axis comes to mind.
I’m a big fan of longer narrower boats, but if you are looking for that newer type of performancy rec kayak then the flex is great.
Also 100% agree that you should seek qualified instruction. For whitewater or flat. The classes are fun and you’ll paddle better, safer, and more confidently afterwards.
is actually the recreational cousin of the more whitewater-oriented Pyranha Fusion; I'd bet the Flex would do just fine in Class I-II (after obtaining the appropriate paddling skills), and would be a great pond/river/twisty stream daytripping boat. I use a 12' Tsunami for the same thing.
I'd love to try one myself! supposedly the Flex will take a size 1.7 sprayskirt, which would make it easy to outfit it with a whitewater or touring skirt if needed.
Necky Looksha 14
I found an awesome deal. Used, good condition Necky Looksha 14 for $350. Its a one day deal. Should I look into this? Is this 14 foot kayak simply way too big for pretty small rivers/ streams.
Reason I ask is because it is a steal of a price.
^sorry, it is actually, a Looksha SPORT LV which is 13' 9".
Edit: FYI I am 5' 8" 145. Will this boat work for learning in and fishing, small streams etc.
Go for it
The 14 should give you nice speed for the flats and is not terribly long for mild white water, especially if all you do is go downriver without too much of a need for critical maneuvering.
I paddle both WW and flat water and I use either a WW kayak or a sea kayak in the WW (up to class III). The sea kayak is actually less demanding in some aspects and more demanding in others when in fast rapids.
But from your description I get the feeling that rapids would be the minority of your paddling. So getting a 14 footer vs. an 11 footer will make you 3 feet happier most of the time -;)
If you get the Looksha for $350 and don't like it - you sell it for that or more. If you get the Flex for $850 and you don't like it, I think you would need to be really lucky to sell it used for more than $450 even if it still looks new...
Just to give you an idea of what class I/II with some short II+ looks like from the cockpit of a 15.5 foot long sea kayak, watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTp4TqqqHIA ; it took me probably three years of somewhat regular (say weekly on the average) paddling to get to a level where I enjoy this stuff, so don't plan on doing it before you are comfortable with the conditions - it really can be dangerous... But I think either of the two kayaks you mention should be capable of doing waters like these in my video above.
dang, just called and it was sold, oh well.
yeah the looksha is great beginner boat at a fantastic price. (As long as it’s in good shape) I wouldn’t bother buying a new plastic boat, since it’s gonna get all scratched up anyways and it’s not like a new boat will retain a lot of it’s resale value… If you like the sport YOU WILL probably upgrade your boat several times, as your tastes and skills improve, before settling on a longer term boat.
Looks fun! Aside from stopping to play at that one really tempting spillover up and back… did you clock your average speed going downstream? Nice view of the bottom on that roll too.
Don't know what the average speed was. That day the current was not particularly strong. Still in some sections it was probably up to about 10 mph. I can get up to about 6.5 mph or a little faster with that boat for short distances and that is still way too slow to attain even in the moderately fast sections, so a 10mph is probably a good estimate for most of the rapids on that day.
I've measured the speed on some of the sections shown in that video in slightly faster water and my GPS said about 12mph (just floating down through the rapid without paddling).
Looks like a nice rec boat. Start with the slow rivers and flat water lakes. You’ll have a blast.