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My Wife and I are looking into getting into recreational kayaking, no rapids or anything. Trying to find a good reliable Kayak that we both can get. We are looking for a sit in and ideally with some storage space.

What should we look for? Is there anything we should avoid?

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    Hi and Welcome to TGO @BBrocker. It's generally not desired to ask for specific items to buy because they change from year to year so this topic will be obsolete quickly. It would be better to ask e.g. "What do I have to look for in a kayak as a beginner?". – Wills Jun 10 '16 at 15:19
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    I have edited the question so it should now be in scope. – James Jenkins Jun 10 '16 at 16:11
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    Putting this in a comment since my knowledge is limited. The flatter it is on the bottom, the tougher it will be tip to over. Shorter kayaks are also easier to maneuver but don't track as well. It would be good to know where you're planning on taking them, lakes, the ocean, etc. I would suggest once you buy one, taking it to a calm lake and purposely tipping it over with yourself inside to practice both flipping it back over and getting back inside it in the water. It will help prevent panic if/when you unintentionally flip it over. – DawnPatrol Jun 10 '16 at 19:32
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Can you specify you don't look for a whitewater kayak?

Other than that the use you will do, and expect of doing in the future, of the kayak will be a big part of your choice: a little calm inland lake and sea will call for two different kayaks. My suggestion to beginners is always to try as many as you can, through renting, dealers demo days, clubs and gatherings. There should be a little bit of homework you need to do about kayak characteristics before going to buy something, learning about the meaning of terms like stability (primary and secondary), tracking, rocker, what is a skeg and what is a rudder and why they are there or not, etc etc. All together they will make you understand a bit how the kayak works and what you want to have or not. It will also help in understanding if a salesman is trying to find something that suits you or something that suits his commission.

Generally speaking you have a couple of extremes, on one side there's the performance boat, it's designed to respond readily to the paddler and a beginner will find it very nervous, impossible to have it do what they want. At the opposite side there are some models that are designed to take absolutely everybody in the water, they are not maneuverable at all, the bottom is very flat, difficult to capsize. They cost little but they also do very little for you, they will not improve your skills and they won't offer any room for you to grow. The problem with not improving your skills is that all is good in calm and flat days but sometimes being a better paddler helps in getting out of some uncomfortable situations. It was mentioned that flat bottomed kayaks are more stable, that's true, that's because that shape will always try to follow the water surface. The problem with that is that when you are in waves that same extreme stability works against you as it will tend to follow the surface of the waves. A kayak a bit more unstable, while might seem tippy at first, is less affected by the waves and you will get used to it quickly enough (sometimes you might find yourself in bad weather, even if you have been careful, other times other boats could put you in a difficult situation).

Don't pay too much attention to things like speed, what you really want is to look for efficiency. For that same reason, unless you and your wife have the same size, she might like better a kayak slightly smaller than yours.

Consider used boats too, the prices are often low for kayaks that are in very good conditions, and at the beginning price is something to consider as there are a lot of other things you need to buy beside the kayak. Older models also have so many reviews online you can get a bit of an idea about them before even trying them (obviously every review is to be taken with a grain of salt).

Look for courses in your area, beside learning the basics in a proper and safe way they will clear your ideas on the kind of kayaks around, make you connect with other fellow kayakers, point you towards some good used kayaks.

Also take into account your space for storing the kayaks and how to transport them: sometimes one can't get what they want because they don't have enough room.

Think about a kayak as a pair of shoes, you cant really have one shoe to do everything,this is the same, there are tons of different models out there, if you start building your own they get even more. As a beginner you might not have a clear idea of how you will use the kayak, a bit because you might expect something different from what you actually get to do, or because you end with friends that steer you towards one activity rather than the other. Give yourself some options, don’t spend thousands right of the bat, try try try

PS: if you decide to just learn some things by yourself do it safely.

  • Anything on SOT vs SIS? Or would that deserve a question on its own? – Roflo Jun 10 '16 at 22:53
  • @Roflo a SOT is great for beginners (our first kayaks were SOT because we're not doing white water, just lakes and calm sea with the dog) mainly because you don't have to learn to capsize and exit the kayak, which can be unnerving for some. Also Erik you don't need two different kayaks for lake and sea, there are mixes, depends how far out to sea you want to go before you should consider sea kayaks specifically. – Aravona Jun 13 '16 at 4:44
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    @Roflo, I dont think it would do well as a question. There is a lot that is opinion based when it comes between the two types. The best thing is to learn the difference between the two kinds. As i understand you wont build your own and just buy one, that limits you to the models on the market and they have all their own behaviour, pick the one that suits you best. – Erik vanDoren Jun 13 '16 at 14:26
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    @Roflo, got it. I avoided as for a beginner both can do very well... would call for long discussions putting one against the other I think. If you want to post the question try, at the worst they will close it – Erik vanDoren Jun 13 '16 at 14:33
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    @Aravona, different strokes for different folks. These things are some of the reasons I told the OP he has homework to do and try as many kayaks as he can first. – Erik vanDoren Jun 14 '16 at 17:13

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