Kayaks

Anybody here a kayaker?

I’m thinking about buying one and wanted some opinions on what the best/most reputable brand would be and what I should look for.

I’m not going to be doing whitewater with it or overnight camping.

It’ll mostly be used to putter around Michigan’s 10 gazillion lakes, streams, swamps (about 9 gazillion of our bodies of water are swamps!), and other wet areas (including the golf course on Sycamore Creek that gets flooded out every spring - cool!). I’d like to seat 2 people in it and have some space for drinks, extra clothes etc (but not a lot, just a little). Canoes are heavier and not as manueverable as a kayak, I’m guessing, from my experience.

Anybody have any good suggestions? What kind of features should I look for? Price ideas?

I love to kayak, in oceans mostly and sometimes lakes - no whitewater.

I have purchased all my boats from the second hand ads in the newspapers (save a lot of $$ that way) and I have a few suggestions for you.

See if you can find a paddling group nearby to join or attend a kayaking symposium if any are nearby. This is a great way to meet other kayakers and check out their gear, and hear what they like & why. Sometimes the magazines (Kayak or Canoe) will have ads in them about groups & symposiums.

A boat with a rudder is great for beginners; I prefer fiberglass boats to the plastic ones; be sure that you can get the kayak onto your vehicle with adequate support; polypro clothing and wind/rain resistant outerwear is a must for any cold climate paddling, along with knee high rubber boots.

A quality, lightweight paddle is worth the money you spend on it - and treat it well.

I feel like I am leaving out a lot - it’s full winter here & my mind sure wasn’t on kayaking (until now)! Have you done any paddling at all before?

Welcome to a great pasttime!

I’ve done a fair amount of kayakng, although I unfortunately don’t have my own kayak.

I’ll second what Lost said, make sure you can easily carry it on your car. (You’d be surprised how much a car can carry in terms of boat weight on top, but roofracks (either factory-installed, or bough from Thule or the like) are essential.

I unfortunately can’t give you any brandnames for boats, but the staff at places like Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS), REI, and L. L. Bean are usually quite helpful. If you don’t have any of those in your area … I’m not sure what to suggest. :slight_smile:

Canoes are indeed heavier and less maneuverable, but they’re also stabler and have more easily-accessible storage space. All the kayaks I’ve seen, the storage space is situated in the ends of the boat – behind the rear/stern paddler, and in front of the front/bow paddler. (And in water-tight compartemnts.) You can install cupholders in your compartment, and maybe hold some things on your lap, but the latter would be uncomfortable and impractical.

Incidentally, having done lots of canoeing, a good amount of solo kayaking, and some duo kayaking, I’ll note that I prefer canoes or single-person kayaks. In two-person kayaks, you have to be very careful to synchronise your strokes (some would argue this is true for canoeing, as well, but I’d argue that two canoeists can’t do each other physical pain when not in synch.). This works out alright if you have a decent working relationship with the person, but I find it calls form a lot more concentration until you get used to it. YMMV.

A decent one-person kayak should run you anywhere from $600 - $1600, new. Much depends on the material it’s made out. A decent canoe should be anywhere from $900 - $5000. Again, a lot depends on material – and length.

A 9-foot, plastic kayak can be as light as 30 pounds. A 14-foot duo kayak can way over 100 pounds. A 16-foot canoe will be about 75 pounds (lighter if made of fiberglass, heavier if made of aluminum), an 18-foot plastic canoe is about 100 pounds, and I’ve never dealt with the 24-foot variety…

Good luck! There are lots of web sites out there with more info; I’m sorry I can’t offer anything specific right now.

Consider a small tandem sit-on-top kayak. Good for day-trip inland puttering due to stability, manouverability, and open deck comfort. Here is a link to a reputable manufacturer:
http://www.kayaker.com/perception/flash/index2.html , but there are lots out there.

Put the bucks in a light paddle (you’ll be lifting it each stoke), and a comfortable personal flotation device with great gaping arm pits to avoid chafing.

Take some lessons. Aside from getting you up to speed quickly so that you can use your whole body rather than just your arms, there are some very serious safety issues which you should be made aware of – for your purposes, pretty much environmental stuff, e.g. watching weather and avoiding hypothermia.

A terrific mailing list for sea kayaking and recreational kayaking is Jackie Fenton’s Paddlewise at http://www.paddlewise.net/ . Sign up and jump right it. You’ll get lots of friendly and informative answers, and probably end up going for a paddle.

Muffin
Sprint racing instructor
Wild water instructor

Thanks for the info, everyone! Lost, I’ve not kayaked a lot but I’m a canoer from way back.

Thanks again!