What kind of Kayak to buy?


I’m looking for recommendations on what kind of kayak to buy. I would be using it at the base of the Housatanic River and along Long Island sound. I am a beginner - have been kayaking probably 10 times but have never owned a kayak before. I need something fairly light weight as I will need to get it from my garage to the river (about 150 yards) and do not have a car that could transport it.

Light weight can get expensive. Could
you use a boat cart for that distance?

What kayak to buy
If you can afford it, get a Warren Light Craft. Their line ranges from a 22-Lb 12.5-ft, to 36-Lb 18-ft. They are light, stable enough for a novice, relatively fast, and(the down side)very expensive.

Aternatively,look at Swift kayaks. Light enough and less expensive.

You need to give more info
-the approximate length?

  • Your height and approximate weight?
  • do you want a sit on top or a SINK

    -Price range?

    -Sea kayak or rec kayak, (long skinny, or short and fat) ?

    Jack L

Check out QCC
Many good choices there.

look at Pakboats
I’ve paddled the Housatonic and its gorgeous delta maze of seagrass where it reaches the Sound, also have paddled the offshore areas along that shore from Farifield and Westport to the Thimble Islands near Branford. SOme wonderful kayaking you have nearby.

Considering your budget, the type of waters you’ll be in and ypur transport situation, I recommend you look at the Pakboat folding kayaks. They are well-made, reasonably priced and probably the lightest and most portable kayaks you can get for the money, from around $600 for a 20 pound (yes, that’s right, 20 lbs.) 10 footer to $1800 for a 15 footer that is still less than 40 lbs. Not knowing your body size I could not recommend a model but take a look at their web site and at videos of these boats in use on YouTube and I think you will be impressed. Though I also have rigid boats I am a big fan of folders and was using a Feathercraft Kahuna back when I kayaked in your area. The Kahuna is also a terrific boat for those waters, 35 lbs. at just under 15’, but a new one of those would run you over $3400 and used ones are still around $2000 or so.

Unlike cheap inflatables, most skin on frame folders are very seaworthy and paddle straight and handle well in coastal waters.

I personally think a well-made folding kayak is great for a beginner. They tend to be stable and comfortable yet have the geometry of regular rigid boats so proper paddling techniques can be learned, even rolling. Should you eventually decide you want a hard boat of a different style or size as your skills and paddling preferences evolve, you can always keep the folding boat for a travel 'yak. And for someone who needs to transport them overland without a car, they can’t be beat. You could carry it in its duffel and set it up on the shore or carry it set up on your shoulder (most folders are 15 to 20 lbs lighter than the equivalent plastic or fiberglass boat.)

And, like me, you may find you prefer the feel of a skin-on-frame folding kayak in the water to that of a hard boat. One day when I was paddling my Kahuna out in the Thimbles in LIS 7 years ago, I got hit broadside by a 2 foot combined boat wake that came out of nowhere. If I had been in a hard boat it would have capsized me but the Kahuna popped up and over it like a cork with just a quick paddle brace from me.

Thanks for the responses! More info…
Thanks everyone for the responses… Yes, I could get a boat cart of some sort if necessary - or I once saw these fold up wheels that go under the kayak and then inside when you’re done…maybe something like that. I’ll check out the other suggestions here. I don’t know much about folding kayaks so will look into them.

I am female, 5’9, and about 170 lbs…will that influence the type of kayak I buy?


Oh, and cost!!
Forgot to mention my price range… I’d like to keep it under $1000… preferably under $700 if possible… have considered buying one used - is that possible? If so, where to look? I checked out Craigslist but didn’t see much.

Pnet classifieds!!
it’s your one-stop shop.

not sure if I want sit on top or not?
at first I thought I wanted a sit inside kayak…but now am not so sure… am looking for recommendations I suppose. I am full of questions!!

What the Captain sez.

Get a good Cart
Lets say that your budget was not 1000 but instead it was 4000. You could get a 35 pound kayak in that range or maybe even one that weighed 30 pounds. Add life vest, paddle, snacks, drinks, dry box for wallet and cell phone and you are at 40 to 50 pounds total weight. So do you feel like carrying that much weight 100 yards after a tough day at work?

Ah but get a cart and it becomes EASY. So for your budget I’d get a $200 kart, a $75 life vest, and a $725 kayak. If you can find a used kayak you like you can buy for half the price of a new one and sell it for about that same price when you decide you want a different kayak.

Don’t buy a new one first unless you have to, because you don’t know exactly what you want and no one else can tell you what you want.

For example, many beginners want a stable boat. Then they want a faster boat. Well if they had gotten the faster boat first they might have learned that it takes about 10 or 20 hours of boat time to make a fast boat stable.

size and a shop recommendation
Your size is ideal for finding a kayak to fit – you are at the median for many models. I would also recommend (should have thought of it when I first wrote to you) that you visit The Small Boat shop on the pier in Westport, CT. They are an EXCELLENT kayaking outfitter and not only have new boats of many types that you can demo right there in the water, but they also have a lot of used trade-in boats for sale(you’ll learn that kayakers tend to do a lot of boat collecting and exchanging). They are well experienced and equipped to fit and equip you properly.

definitely a sit in boat
I really think, given your area and the type of paddling you seem to be drawn to, that you will get more use and be more comfortable in a sit-in kayak rather than a sit-on-top. It will extend your range of use seasonally into early Spring and late Fall and will be safer in the waves and wind of the open ocean – remember that’s what Long Island Sound actually is.

But, as I said earlier – talk to the guys at The Small Boat Shop in Westport and they’ll steer you through the selection process and give you hands on experience with a variety of kayaks.

Small boat shop - Westport or Norwalk?
Thanks for the tip! I will check them out…that sounds great. Quick question though - do you mean in Westport or in Norwalk? I googled them and it appears they are in Norwalk - just making sure it’s the same place. Thanks again - Paddling.net is a great resource - glad I found it!