Hi all! We're new to the Pittsburgh/SW Pennsylvania area and we're so excited to explore all the mountains and rivers in the area. We've rented kayaks a few times but it's starting to get expensive. Does anyone have any recommendations for beginner kayaks that we can use in the rivers around here, but also in the lakes back home in Michigan?
I have a Perception Swifty Deluxe 9.5 that I LOVE - I use it on lakes and slow-moving river sections in Colorado. (Plus, the colors are so cool!). It's super-sturdy and great for beginners but still has a lot of amenities on board. The only drawback I'd say is weight - it's a little on the heavy side if you're going to be carrying it for a bit - but I bought a cart to haul it on so the weight doesn't personally bother me anymore. Have fun!
I paddle a 9 ft Dagger Zydeco I picked up on sale at the REI in Jacksonville Beach, FL while I was down there visiting family. It works well on flatwater, such as Cross Creek Park near Washington, PA, and slower moving sttream like the creeks around where I live in West Virginia's Northern Panhandle, such as Buffalo Creek and Wheeling Creek. I would paddlle it up to class II but stay away from swifter streams.It is also light enough for me to single handedly lift it up to put it on my roof rack and take it down from the rack without difficulty. You might find a less expensive yak at discount box stores but they will not be as well made and sturdy. I know several experienced paddlers who also use this boat, including one of the employees at the REI Settler's Ridge store.
I am looking for a two person kayak in order to include our kids. I have a Wilderness Pungo, which tracks nicely on windy lake days, but is slow to maneuver on a river. I like the idea of the removable tail tip on some of the boats, presumably to free up maneuverability.