Which Kayak?

-- Last Updated: Jun-05-11 4:09 PM EST --

Hey all,

I've been wanting to get a kayak for a few years and am now going to pull the trigger. I live in the Chicago area and want to get a kayak for a trip to traverse city michigan next month.

I'm looking for a boat I can explore rivers (perhaps somewhat fast as I find that exciting), small lakes, and perhaps play in the waves on Lake Michigan....

I'd like to spend $500 or less. I'm 6 feet, 230 lbs... anyone got any recs? I was thinking a SOT would be best, but I really have no idea what I need given what I want to do with it.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

You didn’t mention…
…how much experience you have. I’m assuming that you are new to this. If that’s the case, the first thing you should do is take an intro class and start trying out boats. Almost no one gets the “right” boat the first time (or the second time :slight_smile:

I hope that your budget also allows for the extra stuff that you’ll need, such as paddle(s), PFD, pump (for sit inside kayaks), paddle float, etc.

Sorry. Total newb.

Yak Board

Anyone have any experience with this?

All the better…
…to take a class and get wet for awhile. Also you can jaw-bone with the instructors about your goals and they can point you in the right direction for appropriate used rides…

And you probably want something used as you should be able to get a more sea-worthy craft that has already been “properly broken in”.

Plus, when you are ready for your next boat, you probably won’t take much of a financial beating… if any.

Get a PFD first
500 bones won’t by a lot of boat these days, so I think you should use the money for equipment, lessons, and rentals first. Get a really good PFD before you buy anything else. Rental/loaner PFD’s suck and since you are a big guy, rentals fit even worse than for normal-size folks (I’m a big guy too, so I speak from experience). That’ll set you back at least $50 for a good one. Even if the one that fits best is $100, its totally worth it; a bad fitting and uncomfortable PFD sucks the joy out of the sport. Then go take some lessons to learn proper paddling skills. Then go paddle in different spots and rent a kayak when you get there. That way, you’ll always have the right kind of kayak for the right kind of paddling. Its more fun that way than trying to make do with a cheapy boat that may not be suited to different situations. See what you like. When you know if you mainly like flat water or rivers, you may want to think about buying a good paddle to make sure you have one that fits you and because rental paddles also suck (though not as bad as PFDs). And if you want to paddle in the cold, get a wetsuit that fits you. You may need a helmet if you try whitewater and really dig it. Maybe a skirt. As you go, you’ll figure out what you need and you can buy it along the way. Keep renting and paddling different kinds of boats to get a good feel for the sport. Rentals are pretty cheap, especially when you already have all your own gear. You might even want to rent a SUP board or a canoe and try that out too. (Did you know you can paddle a canoe with a single paddle, a double paddle, AND a SUP or pole for the ultimate in versatility?) When you’ve been at it a while, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what sort of paddling you like best and which kayak to get. It’ll also give you chance to save up for the perfect one. And, you’ll already own the gear, so you can go ahead and splurge on the boat. Good luck and have fun.

you are talking some fast waters, flat waters, and lake michigan,unfortunately they dont make a kayak that will do it all good,u will notice most kayakers have several yaks for different waters. A sit on top would work for most of them, but u will need cold weather gear, drysuit, farmer john, ect.if u kayak in colder weather. Most good sit on tops are very stable, but u will get wet.check out Malibu kayaks, Ocean kayaks,Cobra kayaks, wilderness tarpons, native watercraft. Lot of choices, these 5 companys have good sit on tops, check web sites , reviews, good luck

Yak Board
This is pretty much a dog of a surf boat, it’s wide, slow and does not have rails to hold a wave diagonally or fins. It’s OK to play in the waves at a beginner level, but most people outgrow it after a few outings.

Better boats to look at for SOT surf boats

Cobra Strike or Wilderness System Kaos. Cobra Revision might be a good choice for great lakes.

For all around SOT for entry level look at an Ocean Kayak Scrambler.

You might want to look into taking some lessons and do some whitewater kayaking on rivers, some skills would expand your choices into dedicated surf kayaks and waveskis.

Get a canoe instead. You’ll be glad you did.

Did you even read what the poster wants the boat for? You like canoes, fine we get it but that doesn’t help anyone make an informed choice.

Looks like Sierra Trading Post has the Kaos for $385… looks like a good boat with a seat and leg straps…

In terms of my skill level, I’ve rented a few rec kayaks and canoes… nothing too extreme. I just really want something to play in the surf with…

Thoughts on this?

Not your post, but paying any attention to what mjflores says. He has one or two sentences to contribute to this board, both of which are get a canoe.

Tarpon 100

Tarpon 100’s seem pretty solid… kind of a nice mix… not the dagger Kaos, but a decent all around boat… a little more pricey than I want to go, but it looks good.

Would that suit my needs?

cold water
I’ve paddled Lake Michigan around Traverse City and the water is cold and can be rough. It ain’t Florida, an I personally would not want to do so in a sit-on-top. Nor would I care to navigate the rather polluted waters within and around Chicago without the protection of a sit-in kayak, but again, that’s my personal feelings about it.

I tend to agree with the suggestions to use your budget to outfit yourself with a good-fitting PFD, a paddling top and gloves, and then rent a boat (or maybe a couple of different ones) when you are in Traverse City. You should not get a paddle until you’ve settled on the boat since the kayak’s geometry and your placement in it will effect that fit. There are a number of outfitters up there in the northwest mitten and on the way (Holland, Grand Haven, Muskegon, Ludington) from whom you could pick up a boat for the trip. It kind of puzzles me that people who would never think of buying a car without test driving the model, will go ahead a choose a kayak (for which fit and feel are way more critical) without a test paddle.

Surf Boats on Great Lakes
I think the Kaos is now sold by Dagger, and they go for about $600 new, the Cobra Strike is a better performer in skilled hands, but he Kaos is more forgiving. They both go for about the same price new. On craigslist you can buy them used for about $350. You may have a hard time finding surf craft in your neck of the woods. A more general SOT like a Scambler used, may be easier to find. I would check out what quality boats you can find used before buying a less able performing boat at a low price new.

Used Future Beach

If I could get this for $200 do you think this would be something decent for me to get in the water with?