Would appreciate recommendations

Good day. I recently relocated to MN and am interested in either kayaking or canoeing. I would appreciate recommendations on both a kayak and canoe, one that is stable, yet quick, good on lakes and rivers. Also, I need one that will fit a 6 ft 235 lb guy.

Lasstly, if you can suggest the best places to look for your suggestions that have been previously owned (and no I’m not in car sales.) Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Tim L

Perhaps you’ve perused Piragis.com.
They have both canoes and kayaks, and they may still have some used boats from last season in good shape.

They have a spring paddling event where you may be able to demo boats, and I think they are a very good source of advice on what boats might be suitable for you.

Some Basics
It’s probably a good idea to learn some basics while figuring out what you want. Read the stuff that’s available on this site regarding canoes and kayaks…


… and maybe get yourself a Wenonah Catalog, which in past years has been good for basic intro material. You will soon see that any SINGLE boat will be a compromise (for example, straight-line lake tripping is best done with a different hull shape than going on twisty rivers or dealing with crazy currents, but there are boats that will do both of these things reasonably well).

I’d also recommend that you not be too concerned about stability. Like everything else, stability must be compromised to get some other desirable characteristic. Stability (in beginner’s terms) is not very compatible with decent cruising speed and some other nice handling traits, but a typical level of reduced stability is really no big deal once you get a little practice, so a boat that feels “tippy” at first will feel solid and predictable once you get your “canoe butt” (that’s sort of like “sea legs”). Of course, even wide, flat-bottomed boats have their place, and you might even want one (like if you plan to stand up in the boat a lot).


– Last Updated: Mar-04-10 12:27 PM EST –

I was challenged on how I phrased this concern and perhaps the person is correct that it did not come across as I meant, so I'll try again. It'll be longer...

When I read a post from a new paddler looking for stability as a top concern, I figure that they associate a boat sitting flat and quiet on the water with a high level of safety in terms of capsize. This is based on seeing any number of new paddlers get into our or others' narrower sea kayaks and think that the boat bobbing side to side in waves means it's going to keep going and go over.

Another take is that someone is thinking they can get onto the water and not have to be ready for a capsize - but that's a different thing so I'll leave it.

Yes I have had someone get into something like my little Vela and get that the boat had great secondary immediately and they went happily bobbing away. But I haven't had that happen yet with someone who is a truly new paddler, and rarely with people who have seat time in things like rec boats. This is based on a goodly number of people, not the occasional friend and family. We had frankly too-popular after work skills sessions on local ponds for a couple of summers, and while this may not be true where cockneykayaker mingles, it is true up here.

So I stand by this - it is very easy for a new paddler to pick up a boat that feels comfortingly stable right at first and find out within a fairly short time that the boat is slower and more boring than they really wanted for a long hold. I am a little flummoxed at this being controversial - I don't know a paddler personally who didn't progress thru boats that felt a little daunting at first in terms of their stability in waves or wind to get to the boats that they are happy with now. This is NOT just people in skinnier long boats.

So - back to my reply - newer paddlers tend to look for stability in the boat more than the paddler. Basic lessons are a good way to shake out some of that so the first purchase is a happier use of funds.

On another note, a quick look at my profile would show that my current boats are ones that people make their way to over time, not the first ones they buy (if for reasons of cost alone). So it isn't hard to guess that I went thru a progression. I find it odd that I keep getting complaints like this from someone who has not provided any way of figuring out what their own paddling background is.

To the OPer - It's a little unusual to be looking for both a canoe and a kayak up front. Neat, but unusual. Are you thinking of using each for specific paddling situations or are you just thinking you'd like to mess around with both?

Your in a great place to look
Well for starters, Minnisota is a wonderful place to be if you want to learn to Canoe or kayak. I, like many of the others suggest that you should try it out first before you buy anything. In pretty much any area that has a popular canoeing/kayaking area, there are bound to be some people that rent canoes and kayaks. Easiest way to find them is to google canoe rentals for your area. Talk to them about what you want to do, see if you can take some lessons or at least rent one and get some pointers. They may also have some used equipment they would be willing to sell you. Most rental places replace their canoes and kayaks periodically for newer stuff. If they don’t, I would suggest looking on craigslist.org there are usually good deals to be had on there. You might want to take someone with you who knows abit about canoes and kayaks when you check one out though to help you determine if its in good, working order. Good luck, be safe, and have fun!

I just started kayaking last year. I’m not a swimmer but I can float. Took 2 lessons. One was on a lake and the other a small river. Both were good. You learn the basics and it gives you a chance to see if you really want to do this. The lesson on the lake I had a kayak that was stable but didn’t track well. The kayak I had for the river lesson was smaller and was an okay kayak. Both were sit ins. I had got it in my mind to buy a sit on top (SOT) and the lessons let me know I was headed in the right direction for me. I ended up buying a Native Manta Ray 14.6 which is a SOT. I’ve had it on a couple of rivers and a couple of lakes. I’m not one to trade around a lot so I bought it new without trying it out. I’m very happy with my yak. But do take a couple of lessons and ask lots of questions. I haven’t ran into anybody yet that kayaks that minds answering all my questions. Below is the link to Native.


You frequently make the comment
That anyone looking for a stable boat will soon want to change it. Why do you assume that ??

I don’t think she was that emphatic

Saying as celia did, “one of the most reliable ways to end up with a boat you’ll want to change …” does not mean “anyone” or everyone 100% of the time someone seeking stability will become dissatisfied with their choice. She is using boat stability as a predictor of longer term satisfaction, and not as a hard and fast rule.

When new paddlers seek advice, I think all anyone can ever do is to try and make educated predictions and offer them for consideration.