What is the right kayak for me

It’s been asked a thousand times, but here we go again. Yes, I am looking for a boat.

I am an athlete, many years of mtn bike racing under my belt. I am tired of borrowing friends boat and am looking to buy myself. I am looking for flat water, streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, shoreline. ( as of now not too far off the shoreline) I plan only day workouts with the possibility of racing next year. I have experience with both rowing and paddling. I prefer longer paddles.

As I understand it, used kayaks are fine to but to save money. I was hoping to spend around $1000. I also know like my bikes, you get what you pay for.

I am hoping for some suggestions or a place to go and figure it out. Thank you

Hi Woodhoke. A couple things jump out at me. athlete, workouts, racing, longer paddles. To me, these are strong modifiers of the typical answers you get for a kayak suitable for ponds and streams. For myself with your intentions and description of yourself, I immediately write off all transitional boats, < 16 footers, ocean-play designs. I would suggest looking for full length sea kayaks designed for efficient travel rather than high maneuverability and rather than things designed specifically with wave-play in mind. From there I would look to fast sea kayaks and to surf skis, or maybe fast canoes or outrigger canoes.
As a starting point, what is your friends boat? What do you like, and what might you like better?

Streams and ponds don’t scream kayak at all. They are both generally small bodies of water that even rec kayakers would pass on. So that leaves us with Lakes, Rivers, and Shoreline which I assume you mean getting into some surf either freshwater or sea water. This is the kind of paddling I prefer in a sea kayak. The exception is when I do river paddles with a paddling group. That requires transportation kayaks usually in the back of a truck. I wouldn’t bring my sea kayak on paddles like these because of the size. Now I have paddled all of these in my sea kayak but only if I’m transporting with a few friends. I’m currently looking for a transitional kayak and I’m looking for a play boat. I don’t classify 16 foot play kayaks or touring kayaks as transitional. To me transitional is something between a rec boat and a sea kayak. It fits in both purposes. You should choose the boat that suits the majority of your paddling. There’s also no rule that says you can’t have more than one kayak either.

I second Capefear’s recommendation. Skip the skirt, paddlefloat, pump rigamarole. Just get a used surfski, develop your strokes and your remounting skills:

There are few surfskiers here, Mcime, PikaBike…


MY friend has a tsunami, 14.5. It feels good, I can do the river thing well.

Can you give me a couple of models to think about?

Thanks. I have too many toys as it is. I think I am looking for one that is slightly better than I cam, that I will grow into. I don’t mind three season paddling, even here is Maine. I saw rivers, because I live right near one and it is an easy in. It heads to the bay as well.

16 foot seems big for me, but if it is what I should be looking at, can you give me a couple of suggestions to review. I currently borrow my friends 14.5 tsunami.

I don’t know much about a surfski. I only know the tsumani I have borrowed.

So, why would you say surf ski?

Tsunami is a rec/touring kayak. It fits in the transitional category. It can be pushed into duty as a sea kayak but not as efficiently.

There’s still questions to answer.
Straight tracking vs maneuverable
Rudder, skeg, or neither
Body size vs kayak fit
Polyethylene, vs ABS vs Composite and there are many composite types.
Hard chine vs oval, vs round

I will bang on the Dagger Stratos drum all day long. I love mine and it is all I need for all I do. I should mention that I do not race, compete or paddle for a workout.

Thanks if you are still participating in this.

I don’t mind a rudder, skeg, or not
I weight about 180 lbs
Not sure about composition of the body. I would like something to last and I am not easy on equipment
Chine is TBD.

Current Designs Solstice if you want a kayak. Quick, comfortable, stable. Many out there. Three season boat I’d rather have a sea kayak.

Sea Kayak is great…any one in particular you can think of?

The solsttice I see is pretty expensive. Got any cheaper ideas?

Under 1000 buy used. I have 6 CD hulls all except one under 900. My Solstice was 1800 two years old with a bunch of accessories. Nice Solstice under 900.

800 bucks.

You look you will find but deals go quick you need to pounce on them and look EVERY day.


As a person who has participated in different races and other sports throughout my life, my tendencies when it comes to paddling, running. biking have always swayed more to a more active style. I tend to push myself physically a bit harder than average. Not because it’s hard. I just enjoy it. It gets my blood pumping, heightens my senses, makes me feel alive. The forward stroke tends to evolve more in that type of person if paddling becomes a true consistent hobby. We all start where the Tsunami 14.5 feels like it’s fast. Some won’t evolve beyond that, which is all fine and great. But some will evolve to be able to jump back into that boat and feel its limitations fairly quickly. Only you can answer where you think you’ll end up. For reference, 17’ is not a long sea kayak. It’s fairly average. And it would fall in the short range for surf skis.
Things like how maneuverable a kayak should be are also very individual. This past weekend I was thoroughly enjoying maneuvering a Valley Aquanaut through a salt marsh creek. I wouldn’t have enjoyed it nearly as much in a kayak that didn’t require some skill and effort to maneuver. Not everyone enjoys those types of challenges. But the more you enjoy physical challenges, the more likely you are to enjoy such things instead of feeling frustrated by them.
Maybe try this. Kayak - boats - by owner - marine sale
And maybe try to get over the “I’m hard on things” with it. If you enjoy it as much as I think you might, you won’t regret taking a bit of extra care with it.


When it comes to kayaks, don’t get hung up on the length. There’s a tradeoff for shorter kayaks. They have to be wider to support the same weight. That makes the kayak slower. The Tsunami 14.5 is 25.5" in width. Compare that to my Tahsis which is 18’ 2" and 21.75" in width. Btw my Tahsis is 7 pounds lighter. A much easier hoist at the end of a long hack on the water. More speed, more enjoyable in the waves, more distance covered…

Something comparable to my kayak made today would potentially be a P&H Cetus. They also make plastic versions of this boat under the Scorpio name because polyethylene doesn’t perform the same as a composite hull.

Consider this Tsunami 14.5 has a 6.8 length to width ratio. Tahsis has a 10.0 length to width ratio. Length and width translate into paddling efficiency and ultimately speed.

Like you, I come from a background of racing and training, and generally pushing myself. I am not an expert, but I would suggest that you first look at your primary uses. You said rivers and streams would be one use. What are they like? Wide and slow? Narrow, fast, rocky, with challenging sweepers and other obstacles? I have a nice 12’ rec boat (Eddyline Skylark) for rivers and streams, and recently got a 14-1/2’ boat (Eddyline Sitka LT) for bigger lakes, etc. It wouldn’t be as good for some of the narrow rivers I’ve paddled, because it’s longer. But great for bigger ones. A 17 footer wouldn’t be suitable for some of that at all. I paddled my Dad’s CD Solstice ST (17-1/2’) on a small lake once, when we traded for a bit. I found it boring, likely because it wasn’t on the right water. It doesn’t turn. Like, at all. Would be terrible on a river! But it’s a quite old model, so I don’t know how a newer Solstice would behave.

I’d recommend getting something you can grow into, and assume you will also add to the quiver in the future. It’s like skis (skate skis, classic skis, beater skis, race skis, boilerplate ice skis….). Bikes (I have a mountain bike, touring bike, 3 road bikes, and a gravel bike - admittedly, 2 of those need to go). Running shoes (trail and road….eventually working their way down to dog walking, on their way down to lawn mowing…). Etc. Right now my boat quiver seems full, but who knows what the future may hold? If you try to find the one boat that will be perfect for everything, you will end up with something equivalent to a hybrid bike, which can do everything, but none of it very well.

I’m not saying whether sea kayak, rec kayak, or transitional kayak is best for you. It all depends on where you are going to use it.

I think getting rid of two bikes is a violation of Rule 12

Rule 12

The correct number of bikes to own is n+1.While the minimum number of bikes one should own is three, the correct number is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned. This equation may also be re-written as s-1, where s is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner.

Thank. I will start today

Thank you. Yes, I will build ( my wife has no idea how many bikes I have)