what do you get for your money

I want to kayak the Mississippi River as well as some local week long trips. I need some help trying to decide what kayak I need. I am trying to decide if the trip is long enough to warrant spending 2000 to 3000 or if a 1500 dollar kayak will be sufficient. i know if you spent to little your are wasting your money but there is also a point where your spending a lot for something that will not even benefit you because it is beyond your current skill level.

Maybe the question should be…
What do you need and then buy that boat. A little experience on short trips will teach you a lot.

Given the price range you are talking, I am assuming you are looking at touring kayaks (often also called sea kayaks).

What it often comes down to is how they handle out of the water and how hard you treat them. The composite boats (the $3k ones) are lighter, so easier to carry out of the water. They are very slightly more efficient in the water (I can’t feel the difference). They are a little more fragile (but not fragile), so best to be easier on them (especially landings and launches), but they can be fixed relatively easily (even in the middle of an expedition).

The other major type is rotomolded plastic, which are the $1500 ones. They are heavier, so harder to deal with out of the water (putting on roof of the car and the like). Slightly less efficient in the water (but likely you wouldn’t notice). They are more durable, but if you do find a way to damage one, they are harder to fix.

Oh, I would consider cutting the price in half and buy used. Then spend the difference on a PFD that fits real well (so well you don’t even notice you are wearing it), a paddle that is decently light, paddle clothing that provides appropriate in water thermal protection, and a class on how to self-rescue (T and paddle float rescues).

Contact those directly who have done the entire Miss. There were 50 who paddled the whole river this past year and 6 currently paddling UP it.

Sign up with the two Facebook Groups associated with paddling the entire river. There is all the info you will ever need and better than any guide book

FB groups" “Mississippi River Paddlers” and “Lower Mississippi River Paddlers” fyi there were about 4 people that used 200 dollar grumman canoes this year.

good advice
composite long distance toring kayaks outrun 1500 plastic kayak but plastics take dragging abuse. I use a cart for my fully loaded Titan.

The 200 Grumman is a bitch in a wind.

I would get an Epic or Solstice Titan. Or smaller if ura midget.

The equipment here costs hmmmm 2000 with a EPIRB/VHF/Garmin with marine and topo charts, Goretex, sunhats, semi drysuit, wet suits, socks, booties, cookware, water filter, pelican boxes, dry bags, polyester n nylon clothing, eg poly long sleeve crews, first aid. For a sea kayak not down river touring …but the electronics are useful. Mace. Cart. Credit cards.

Add then the kayak. Expenses. I should look at the blogs see what they incurred. Double the estimate plus 10% ?

An Epic is epic but more likely to lose than a 1500 plastic yak…or maybe not. I do not understand how people write they walk away from the yak n go into town for supplies.

I have driven down. Going all the way ? gets ugly down there. Lot uglier in a Grumman.


– Last Updated: Feb-04-15 12:04 AM EST –

Yes i am looking for a sea kayak i should have clarified that. thank you paddletothesea i will do that.datakoll i have most of the gear my budget was 6000 $ for gear and trip. Do you think that would cover it? do i need a semi dry suit if water temp is 70 to 82F?

If you have to ask that question…
You are not ready for that paddle yet.

I am not trying to be sarcastic. Just telling it like it is.

You’ll know exactly what you want in a kayak when the time comes.

Jack L


– Last Updated: Feb-04-15 7:46 AM EST –

Am I reading the latest reply correctly to imply you are really trying for a long distance trip? That is not clear in the original post.

If the longer, significant distance trip is the real goal, the paddler is a heck of a lot more important than the boat. You need to fix that part before you expend four digits on boat and gear.

Eddyline Shasta
I seem to be seeing these boats being used by long distance paddlers. http://www.eddyline.com/kayak-models/shasta

Look at the testimonials. But, they do retail at $2750.

I’m not terribly
fond of these huge cockpit boats. There are canoes that already perform this function and all that open space is just waiting for water.

I’ve only paddled a few of these, and all of them were easily swamped by relatively small waves (3-4 feet), especially when in places like SF Bay where the space between waves was really small. Closed boats shrug off this type of wave action easily and open boats have scuppers, but these craft have neither. The worst was a situation where, at Coyote Point, where a single wave swept and filled the boat. Even though I hit the wave bow on, the stern was still descending the previous (smaller) wave.

Yes, you can buy a cover for these oversize cockpits, but then you have no access to the storage without compromising seaworthiness (and putting something like that back on while still on the water seems challenging, but that is probably because I’ve never tried that). Some provide you with tie points so that you can fill the space with gear and ensure the boat can displace some of the water it may take on, but for a long trip, you are better off with a more seaworthy design - such as a classic canoe.


Water temps
You can paddle in boardshorts in those temps.

but … you will want something to protect you from the weather when it is stormy. For warm water paddling a lot of people like NRS hydroskin to keep the chill off, and a good paddling jacket.

I think you need to clarify where you will be paddling. I’ve been on the upper Mississippi and it certainly wasn’t 70 F.


– Last Updated: Feb-04-15 12:31 PM EST –

I really had a low volume (as possible) sea/touring kayak in mind. What i really wanted to know is what do you gain when paying more for a kayak.Does it just come down to materials? Do you gain a level of comfort as the price goes up?

jackL do you mean i'm not ready on a physical level or a mental( lacking knowledge) level?

Where are you located?
Some people on this board may have some boats that you could try out.


– Last Updated: Feb-04-15 1:46 PM EST –

...just want to add my 2cents worth ....the kevlar and carbon fiber kayaks are pricey and light ...but they are not as durable as the poly boats. That said ...i'd vote for a poly boat ...they are much more abuse resistant. I have a 2 boats ..1 fiberglass..1 poly ...the fiberglass boat definitely glides thru the water better, and paddling effort is less than the poly ....but i would not like to bounce it off rocks or run aground with it very often. Scan Craigslist for a good used poly sea kayak, your gonna beat the crap out of it anyways on a long trip. spend the extra money on supplies u'll need. waterproof bags/deck bags/ PFD's / good carbon paddle and a SPARE paddle!/ spray skirt,etc etc etc. I also would not put to much trust in testimonials, U never know who wrote them. u get lightness with the high $$$$ kevlar/carbon boats.price doesn't guarantee comfort....comfort is relative....u can make any boat comfortable....gel pads..hip pads/ thigh supports/ different backband /etc.

I’ve watched this thread and didn’t expect there’d be anything worth mentioning which I’d know about the topic, until the topic of comfort was mentioned.

For doing this trip with a kayak, there might be no more important single attribute of the right boat than comfort. In a kayak, you have rather limited ability to change the position of your body while underway, and on a trip like this, the importance of making sure you can spend long days in the boat, day after day, can’t be overstated. It’s also one of those things you should figure out during some shorter shake-down cruises prior to the big trip. It would be a shame to set out on your great adventure only to realize by the third or fourth day that you just won’t be able to keep going. A cheap boat in which you can be comfortable will be far better than a top-of-the-line model which makes you hurt.

Of course, if you want the ultimate

Yes it comes down to materials …
as well as design.

As far as comfort goes, you can get used to paddling a tub and paddle in one all day long, but you might get into a high end eighteen foot long one and end up with a sore butt after just a few miles.

On the other hand a high end one out of composite materials will be much lighter than an el cheapo plastic one, and the lighter one will translate to a lot less fatigue.

For the paddle you are wanting to do, you will need seat time, and plenty of it.

If you reread my previous response and just think about it, you should be able to answer your own question.

Jack L

train !
train train train…in cycling, training for 50miles needs 75 milers, 100 milers 125 milers. A sound general experience.

I have a rote in Trips here: Flamingo to Long Key at 25 miles with tide and wind with me. I’m 69 post construction. Train every day, arm paddle swinging with wrist weights, grips, wrist roller, run and stretch. Been stretching for 30 years. Stretching prevents cramps. Nutrition, no red meat eg, prevents cramps.

My butt’s hardend from cycling. I’ve lived mainly outside since 1976. I sail small boats well.

When you start out on the 25 miles, and this was a first for me with no way stops inbetween. I didn’t know so I paddled my gleno off and arrived at Johnsons in late afternoon.

I have no idea if this state of being is found over the participants or if you can evaluate this from Blogish but granted the Mississippi is a LONG TRIP.

On the composite, expedition kevlar should be enough carrying a repair kit. Whaddya gonna do ? ram riprap at 15 knots ?

Maybe. There are stories.

On position, inflatable pillows and days off, stretching every morning, noon, night esp night.

drink a gallon of water a day.

to which may I ad why is this not referred to on the current survey ?

I’d do the upper and the Missouri n forget the bottom.

The VHF is necessary for barge traffic ?

I have the sun hat from the excrebally named company Sunday Afternoons. No Gore but very shady, wind capable. For rain there’s the standard OR lid. or a IYD Gore Northeaster.

Serious sunglasses. See an opthamologist. Get a retaining band that floats DIY

Cyclists do this all the time then I read Foster’s book where the group goes to Sitka for the weekend…

café Visa kayaking/cycling. No bull !

on comfort again
I’ve experienced uncomfortable seat backs several times. I have an injury-compromised lower back, but even those with good backs can suffer. However, it is not difficult to modify or replace a seat back; so that’s often my first modification of a kayak.

Others I know have found that a cushion under the thighs is necessary, but not in my case.

Stretching/yoga are potentially important.

Unrelated to comfort:

I have had good luck finding good used composite and kevlar kayaks on Craigslist, but time and patience are required. I’ve also made some decent trades. That said, butt time in kayaks is most useful before making purchase decisions. Your asking questions on forums is a smart start.

S&T !
with Streets and Trips. Microsoft’s road guide system. entering the river road route then asking for motels within 1 mile of the entire route or segments thereof would get a start on that problem for layouts.

When doing this, one needs call to be sure. Lake Berrassa !