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Sun Dolphin manufactures one or two 10' sit-on-top kayaks for under $350.00. I know they would be suitable for a day of recreational paddling on a calm lake or river. But could they reasonably be used (with or without modifications) for a solo camping trip of 2-3 days with the same lake/river conditions?

  • Depends on the size really, I own SoT kayaks and they're sea-worthy on a calm day. You need to look into the details that the manufacturer states - or supply them here so we can give some better feedback? – Aravona Jun 26 '18 at 10:49
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    For dual purpose a Canoe might be a better choice. If you can carry and store a longer craft, 15 to 17 foot canoes can be found used for $50 to $150. There is much more room you can carry a bike and there is much less chance of getting wet, but you do sitll need to protect your gear from water. – James Jenkins Jun 26 '18 at 12:48
  • I hope this serves as a helpful response to you both, James and Aravona. I have enjoyed canoeing quit a bit, but want to do the same with a kayak. I'm about 5'6", 160 lbs, in good shape--but would not like to deal with the weight and expense a SOT kayak beyond 11' would place upon me. I prefer moderately calm lakes/rivers, looking at 2-3 day trips at most, don't fish, and want to do a fair amount of photography from the water. I'm uncertain what I can get in the way of storage, stability and tracking at no higher than $400-$450...but sensible DIY modifications might help. Your thoughts? – Douglas Spaulding Jun 29 '18 at 23:08
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There's no reason why a boat of this type could not be used for short expedition type trips, assuming you stay within the capabilities of the boat and paddler.

As boats of this type don't usually have watertight hatches you need to consider a couple of things, importantly

  • Securing your gear to the boat
  • Ensuring your dry gear stays dry

10' boats don't tend to be especially fast in the water, so don't expect to be going long distance, but they should be perfectly capable otherwise.

Most boats also have a design weight range, consider this when purchasing as it affects how much gear you're able to take on your expedition. An overloaded boat will wallow and be unstable. Larger boats tend to have a higher weight limit, as 10' is reasonably small you may find you're limited for gear.

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Just wanted to second the comments above about keeping your gear dry. If it’s within your budget, good-quality drybags will be good for this and all future adventures. But extra-large ziplock bags, kitchen trash compactor bags, or just ordinary trash bags closed and handled carefully (put inside duffels to protect them from rocks etc) will work. Does your expected weather make a wet sleeping bag a comfort issue or a hypothermia issue?

Regarding canoe vs. kayak: The main virtue of a kayak is its ability to lay low beneath wind that would blow a long high-sided canoe off course and survive waves / wind chop that would swamp any open boat. They’re also a little more intuitive for a novice to steer. If you know your route is flat and calm a canoe may be a great choice, you can pack luxuriously and spend your time paddling not packing and unpacking in little bags.

Regarding price: You may also consider a used touring kayak with hatches and a rudder that you sell after the trip, or when you want to upgrade, for exactly what you paid ($500-$1500). Kayaks that already show moderate wear and tear don’t seem to further diminish in value very quickly.

In all of these cases consider storage and transport. A 10’ boat is easier to contend with off of the water, and will get there eventually.

Regarding sit on tops vs. sit-inside: Sit on tops offer a safety benefit in warm water and moderate wind in that if you capsize they don’t flood, you just scramble back on. A sit-inside kayak is moved less by wind but merits plenty of practice getting back in and pumping it dry after capsize unless you are absolutely certain you’ll stay so close to shore you can just swim to the bank with it.

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  • Excellent points, both of you. The issue of keeping what is meant to be dry...well, dry is certainly my penultimate concern. At the price point I don't have too much flexibility moving beyond, the sensible application of paddling skills, marine epoxy In advance) and dry bags is the rule of the day. I am considering a river in the mid-west that I know if well suited to the novice, is popular with canoeists and kayakers, and plan on making my first day+ outing safe and enjoyable.There are better choices for storage needs and tracking once you break the $500-$600 barrier. Budgets are a nuisance! – Douglas Spaulding Jun 29 '18 at 22:56
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    Good luck and enjoy the trip! PS to whomever is downvoting my answer to this question, would you be willing to add a comment as to why? I’m new to this site and am curious whether it’s re the content or format (such as posting as a separate answer vs commenting on the existing) – mmcc Jun 30 '18 at 3:49

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