Which of these kayaks to buy?

-- Last Updated: Jul-21-12 9:43 PM EST --

Hi im about to get into kayaking seriously (have rented and done at camp for years). Im 17 5'11" and 135 pounds. I plan on paddling mostly on the potomac river which can ranger from flat to probably class 1 or 2 rapids which ive done before in a rental. Theres always a current on the river and ill also do some flatwater lake canal stuff. Ive been to several different stores in my area and have narrowed it down to these:
Perception carolina 12-

Perception prodigy 10-

Perception rhythm 11-

Perception tribute 12-

Dagger axis 12 (without skeg $750) -

Any advice would be appreciated!!

Ps my cousins getting one too and he like the rhythm and hes 5'6 weighs 150

the one gthat fggeels best
Paddle each one and buy the one that feels best.

This article from California Kayaker Magazine will give you some ideas on ways to get time in kayaks.


Thoughts on the kayaks
Out of that group I think the Carolina, Tribute, and Axis would be the better kayaks for you, probably in that order. I own the Axis 12 and very happy with it but I feel that boat is too wide for someone skinny like you. I would avoid the other ones.

All the Axis come with a skeg, if that boat is missing one you would need to get a replacement. Contact http://www.harmonygear.com/contact.php they are parts side of the company that makes Dagger for what you would need. I would figure maybe about $60 to replace.

I used to live in Springfield/Kingstowne and I think you might want to consider a 14’ foot kayak for the Potomac. The 14 foot versions of the Carolina and Tribute would be good kayaks to try out. Also add the Dagger Alchemy 14 maybe the S for you. EMS is currently having a 20% sale on Wilderness System and the Tsunami 140 is a very popular boat.

another question
if the dagger axis is the cheapest of the 12’ i can find (and my favorite color-wise) should i get it? does a little more width make a big deal? and is there a big difference between an 11’ and 12’ yak?


a 12 foot boat will be faster than 11
foot boat and harder to turn given everything else is the same. But everything else is not the same. So if you can try the boats before you buy. Maybe you can rent them first? Many dealers have demo days. Must used boats can be tried first.

New or used?

– Last Updated: Jul-22-12 12:43 PM EST –

Are these kayaks new or used? What is the story with the Axis not coming with a skeg? What is the color you like so much?

What store are you looking to buy from?

In general a longer and less wide kayak will go faster and tracks straighter then a short and wide kayak. A shorter kayak, that has been designed right, will be more agile when it comes to turning. Plus on narrow twisty streams you really would rather manage 10'/12' feet instead of 16'+ but I have seen good kayakers do just that with little problems.

The Axis with the skeg down is a great tracking boat. With the skeg up it has good maneuvering. For streams and canals it is a great boat. For the Potamac, I am not as sure -- you would at least want to add bow float bags, and probably stick to mellow calm areas near the banks without a lot of bigger boat traffic. That would be true with any of the smaller boats. As you jump up to 14+ and get some training you could do bigger water.

Kayaks are rated with a max weight capacity but the reality is they usually have an ideal weight of the paddler plus gear. It is at this weight where you displace enough water to get the kayak to sink to the water line it was designed for. This is one of the reasons why it is important to try out the kayaks, if you can.

The Axis handles well under a heavier load but some of the complaint I have read about it come from lighter paddlers who feel like it paddles way to slow.

What kayaks have you been renting? Old Town's Loons or Ocean Kayak SOTS -- these seem to be the general rental kayaks I find in most places.

thanks for the help
Thanks for all your advice I tried out a 3 and found the perception carolina the best, my cousin got the perception rhythm 11. we took them to the river today for three hours before dusk and had a great time. Dove right into class 1 (maybe 1.5 id give it) and it was great although we had to climb out on the banks and carry the yaks back.

Anyway thanks everyone yall were very helpful