Which starter kayak to get?

Summertime greetings, my fellow paddlers!

I’ve been doing kayaking on and off for the past 10 years – always renting. I have finally gotten to the point that I’d want to have my own kayak in order to explore more places, be more independent, save some money in the long run etc…

I’ve been researching into starter level kayaks and narrowed it down to Emotion Glide or Old Town Vapor 10.(based on reviews)

I have found this comparison of the two: http://kayak.pikimal.com/emotion-kayaks-glide-kayak/vs/old-town-vapor-10-kayak

I’d be interested to find out what you guys think of these. I see that Old Town Vapor is heavier and a bit more expensive. I also saw someone offering a used Dagger Zydeco 9 on craigslist for almost the same price as new Emotion Glide. I wish, I knew a bit more about kayaks in order to make a decision…:slight_smile:

Thanks in advance for any input you can make on this!

helll hope all is well with you

– Last Updated: Jun-20-11 2:38 PM EST –

i have the pelican pursuit 100 i love it for what it is a beginners kayak. but i realy wish i skiped this kayak and moved right on to a touring kayak..if i was you id look into touring kayaks. .opps i meant hello not helll lol

a used one

check this site

Need more info
I do not know enough about boats to advise you but those who do on here would want to know your age, physique, height, weight, type of kayaking you want to do.

Without knowing this I would suggest you find a range of boats to meet your need and searching for a good deal on a used one. Paddle it all as much as you can then demo some boats at the end of the season to find your perfect next boat.

Since you are still learning having access to your own boat will be your best tool. If you get a boat at the right price you should be able to sell it for what you paid for it or a $100 less and paddle all year for next to nothing.

consider a change in perspective
Just my opinion (and others would no doubt have differing ones) but I don’t agree with the notion that one should start out thinking they have to buy a small, cheap and bulky boat as a “beginner” – especially someone like you who has been paddling often enough that you are certain you want to buy your own and use it a lot. I dislike this idea of “starter boats”. Those two models are rather slow and low performance (no doubt like most of the rentals you’ve used) – based on your stated desire to explore and be more adventurous I think you might outgrow their limited capabilities almost immediately.

When you learned to drive, did you want the cheapest smallest slowest car? If you were going to take up mountain biking would you buy a $60 bike from a discount store? Or buy a 100cc motorcycle if you planned to ride coast to coast on the interstate? You should determine what you want to achieve in kayaking and then look for the best boat you can find within your budget that will make that possible.

As was mentioned before, nobody can really recommend models for you without knowing your height and weight and the types of waters you plan to paddle and how extended and what sort your trips will be.

Instead of looking at ads and reading reviews (which are often written by people who have never paddled any other kayak than the one they are reviewing and therefore have no basis for comparison) you should be looking into dealer “demo days” or regattas nearby where you can test paddle a variety of boats and find what feels right for you, as well as talking to informed outfitter personnel who can help you find a boat tailored to your size, usage and budget. Even just a few hundred dollars is too much to waste on a boat you may well be frustrated with in short order.

Better designed and outfitted boats are not more difficult to paddle for a beginner, just different, and they will enable you to develop more skills more quickly and expand the range you can explore. I practice what I preach – I was a complete newbie to kayaks 10 years ago when I bought my first one (other than doing a bit of whitewater 25 years earlier) but I got good advice, tested a bunch of boats and bought a 15’ x 24" high end folding sea kayak for my first boat. I learned to paddle with that, was able to take it almost anywhere I had dreamed of going for 5 years and never regretted the decision. And when I decided I wanted something even better performing I sold it for a very good price.

Not saying that is exactly what you would need to do, but I think you should consider looking outside the bx of this limiting notion of having to begin with a cheap “starter boat.”

Second the opinion
A 10 foot boat is not a good starter boat. They will be slow awkward and limited in abilities. While maybe fun to paddle the first day out not much to grow with as your skills improve. The previous poster suggestion of a 15’ x 25" is a good starter that will allow you to do about anything. Well not the fastest, it will handle most conditions. Buy a used one and paddle for a while then upgrade when you are ready.

There are no “starter” kayaks

– Last Updated: Jun-21-11 2:42 PM EST –

There are starter paddlers - not starter kayaks. This is an important point if you plan to lay out money for boat and gear. I read that you put Intermediate in your profile, but with all due respect I'd guess that if we ran a list of kayaking skills that tend to be important for solo paddling we'd find that you haven't spent time on most of them. It's just not the kind of work you would be likely to do in a rental situation.

Seriously, the 10 footers like you are considering, as well as many of the 12 footers, are designed to be rec kayaks for use in protected, flat water by paddlers with limited ambition as far as where they plan to paddle or their own skills. Yes a lot of first time paddlers get them, but it is because they are relatively inexpensive and wide. If you look at the manufacturers' own descriptions, you'll see that the one universal is the tameness of the venue in which they are to be used.

I reread your post, and it indicates that you want a boat so that you can explore, and that your paddling area is the New Jersey Pine Barrens. That puts you within decent range of the ocean as well as the area down around the Delaware water gap. I think you should get out and demo some more robustly equipped boats - up to two sealed bulkheads and some perimeter rigging - and something longer that will be more helpful for your goal of exploring.

Later add - I am NOT saying that these 10 footers don't hav a good place in the world - they are perfect for many including my sister and her husband. But I doubt they are a good match for your ambitions.

RTM Disco
my recommended started boat of the week.

Whopps! Forgot that option
Yup - SOT resolves the lack-of-bulkhead thing.

To the OPer - how long a season do you want? NJ is warmer than up here so a little more air blowing over your lower torso could be less of an issue than I tend to think about.

Emotion Glide
FWIW, I’m enjoying my first kayak, an Emotion Glide. Have not done the comparisons on the water, but did at least do some web research and this one seemed to come up as a good first boat. So I’m anything but an expert.

The Glide is a complete boat for playing around out of the box. The only thing I really felt I needed to add for safety was one more float bag in the bow (the stern one is included). Would be the same with any new boat you buy that doesn’t have enclosed bulkheads.

I bought mine intending to see if I like this hobby and would stick with it. The cost was reasonable to start with the Glide. I kayak on flatwater in the sloughs of SF Bay. Didn’t know if I’d graduate to true ocean kayaking, though it’s a romantic idea and I’ll try it soon.

Meantime, unless you KNOW you’re headed for the ocean or for camping, I don’t see the wisdom in advice that pushes you toward a true touring kayak. You won’t lose by buying one, I’m sure. But you will pay a lot more!

YMMV, amigo.

Pine Barrens
I can’t comment on the 2 boats you are considering but will throw out a few comments to some of the other points mentioned based on my local knowledge of the area you paddle based on your profile.

If you have rented 10 footers in the pine barrens and are comfortable with that length go then go with it. Many people give you advice assuming you will be going into large open bodies of water which require a different type of boat. If that’s not the case then a longer boat may not always be the “right” choice. As long as the boat matches your conditions it’s all good.

The shorter boat gives you better maneuverability in tight flat water rivers like the pines. I’ve seen lots of 10’-ers in the pine barrens. The better tracking of 12’-er may not be as big an issue if you are mostly going downstream. Other factors such as how you are transporting the yak may also come into play (lighter, shorter fits into minivan etc.).

The 12’-er will give you better tracking if you are in some of the smaller lakes down there but still ok for the tight rivers too so give 12’-ers a look if you want a little more flexibility.

If you haven’t been down to Belhaven Paddlesports in Green Bank go demo a few boats on their lake. It would be a good place to test out 10’ vs. 12’ rec boats. They are super nice people.

Good luck.

The Emotion Glide is a very nice smaller yak for people who just what to go out on the lakes and have a nice laid back evening. These are very popular in my area and the people I talk to that own them are very happy with them. I have had an Emotion Temptation 10’ long Sit on top (SOT) and have had no problems with the shorter length. It paddles pretty straight unless I really dig the paddle in hard like I’m trying to win a race but normal paddling it tracks fairly straight.

I like the 10 to 12’ range yaks out today as they are easy to transport and easy to manuver around when paddling. Most to the newer yaks out have some storage and good room for their size. Price is normally pretty good in this size yak to.

Everyone will have varying options but in the end if you can get a test paddle on the yak your thinking o buying that is your best bet to finding the yak for you.

Starter kayal
I know this is not a starter kayak, but I heard from several folks that (as an adult early 40’s) I would outgrow a starter one quickly and want to buy again soon. So I bought a Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145 and absolutely love it. I’m not going in the ocean and bays yet, but when the time comes the boat will be more than capable.

For a few hundred more than the ones you listed you might like an Old Town Cayuga or Dirigo.

First Kayak…
I have only been kayaking for 3 years now, so take this with a grain of salt, but…

I will never own a kayak for my own use that is shorter than 13’ again.

I’m not trying to say cheap rec boats don’t have a place, they do, but if you have been renting a while and now want to buy your own, its time to step up to at least a day touring kayak. Consider what you have spent on rental fees over the past 10 years, and I bet you could afford a Necky Manitou 13, Perception Carolina 12 or 14, Current Designs Breeze or Kestrel 120, Old Town Dirigo 120 or 140, just to name a few. All of the above should track well, paddle easy, and allow you to go on longer voyages.

If money is a big concern, try craigslist. I have seen some 14’ boats for $500 recently in my area, and Kayaking is really on the upswing around here. They might be older, but a good condition used boat would be better than a cheap new boat, IMO.

I’m glad some of the recent posts
have made a case for getting a rec boat (if that is what the OP wants). I thought about commenting yesterday but didn’t have the energy.

It’s absolutely true that it is possible that the OP would quickly ‘outgrow’ the two boats originally mentioned, but it is also possible that he (or she) would find them a perfect fit for the activities/trips/exploring the OP envisioned.

The perfect boat might not be the one that best allows full skill development or permits open water expeditions, but instead one that is easy to store or most convenient to transport. The important thing is for the OP to identify the type paddling they want to do.

I would agree that demoing boats and looking through classified ads are good ideas. Second hand boat with paddle and other kit is always cheaper than new and can be resold later. Around here (in Southern Quebec) I see many ads for low end Pelican rec kayaks and very, very few for true touring boats. Perhaps some (most) of these Pelican owners regretted their purchase, but a scan of the paddling.net reviews for the Pelican Pursuit 10 show many happy (and sometimes adventurous) owners.

Just don’t sweat this decision.

Thank You!
I wanted to thank everyone for the constructive input into this. I actually thought about touring/longer kayak. The thing that I noticed is that when I rented the one like that in the Pine Barrens, I had a hard time maneuvering it in a narrow, constantly winding river. Maybe, I eventually should have two kayaks for different waters? :slight_smile:

Trying out different kayaks at that place in Green Bank sounds like a good idea. I’ll probably plan a trip there next week.

Thanks again all!


– Last Updated: Jun-25-11 9:39 AM EST –

We spent time on the Jersey shore when I was a kid - lived in the center and my father fished every weekend he could, time by Barnagat Light and off of Sandy Hook etc. I am going to be surprised if you don't hear the call of the salty stuff once you get some time on your first boat. But you really are talking two different boats to do each most effectively and comfortably, also upping the ante on your skills. So you have time to get around to this.