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Help choosing a kayak

Hi there.  I'm looking to purchase a kayak and need some expert advice on some good models.  I'm in Seattle and primarily looking at kayaking the local lakes and maybe the Puget Sound.  No rivers. No camping, and if I'm going to be in salt water, I'm most likely going to be hugging the coastline.  I'm not going to be using it to cross large bodies of water to get to one of our islands or anything.... just some day trips and leasure paddling.  It's also my first kayak, so I'm looking not looking the lamborghini of kayaks.  I'm open to sit in or inflatable, but not sit on tops.  Any recs on a good starting model?

2 Replies

@Darab in addition to tagging a few of our paddle experts for their perspective, we wanted to get you started with a few resources:

@REI-EricP @REI-DeanD @REI-JohnJ @REI-AlyS @REI-EthanS @REI-MichelleW @REI-KatieK - what advice do you have?!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

@Darab right on, and thanks a bunch for reaching out! What you describe as wanting to do in a kayak is similar to what I do here in Southern California -- flatwater-ish (lakes, harbors, etc) and hugging the coastline.

Start with the information that @REI-JenK gave you. Once you've perused that, here are a couple of models that just might fit the bill. I personally don't like inflatable models as much, so if storage and transporting isn't a barrier, I would stick with rigid kayaks. If it is, let me know and I'll give some advice there.

First, the Old Town Manitou is a great starter model. It has a comfy cockpit, comes with a paddle, and is a great value. It's good for flatwater, but at around 11ft, it's a little short for anything choppy or for any longer distances.

Next, the Eddyline Skylark still falls into the beginner category but ups the performance. At 12 ft, this kayak will track better and be more stable in mixed-water environments.

Lastly, the Wilderness Systems Tsunami 140 is a kayak that a beginner can use, but that an intermediate or even advanced kayaker won't feel out of place in. At 14 ft, and with a ton of features, this kayak isn't the Lamborghini...but it might be the Lexus? If size, weight, and price aren't barriers, I think this is a kayak you could be happy in for years.

So there you go, a little good/better/best. Hopefully with the kayak knowledge you've gained from the other articles, you can make the right decision for you.

Hope this helps, and see you out there!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.