Madison Kayaking Meetup Group Message Board › First time Kayak purchase

First time Kayak purchase

A former member
Post #: 1
Hello Madison paddlers!

I am going to be moving to the Madison area in May (coming up very soon!) and I am really looking forward to exploring the area waterways.

I have never owned a kayak before - just very much enjoyed the trips I would take as a student in La Crosse with the Environmental group. I am currently looking at two kayaks that a rental place is selling and would love some feedback from you more experienced folks. The two boats are:

Low price is definitely a priority, as I am moving to Madison to work on a farm and am slowly chipping away at student loans. Initially, I was all about the budget and going for the Prodigy, but now am wondering if some of the features of the Pamlico are worth the additional $100.

Any thoughts or suggestions would be very much appreciated! I am definitely getting one or the other and bringing it to Madison with me.

I look forward to seeing you all on the water!


Mike K
Madison, WI
Post #: 21
You won't be happy with the will paddle like a bath tub.
Dan I.
user 5304913
Madison, WI
Post #: 4
A 12' boat is a good one to start with . It will go straighter and still be able to turn well
Madison, WI
Post #: 17
Hi Carrie, Choose the one the best works for you. I highly recommend that you paddle both before the purchase to make sure you like how they feel and how your body fits in them. You could also wait to purchase a kayak when you get to Madison. Rutabaga paddle sport shop has opportunities for you to experience their boats on the water before you buy. Try out as many boats as you can because there is a difference in how they feel and paddle.
Good Luck! -- Barbara
A former member
Post #: 9
Think about price
How much you want to spend and what you can afford

How much do you think and plan to use it

Where do you plan to use it the most


As with canoes, it is important to remember that no single kayak can do everything. So choosing the right one for you means first coming up with an honest idea of how you intend to use your kayak. There are a lot of designs out there and some will fit your needs much better than others. Perhaps it might help to break down your intended usage into percentages, such as 80% lake paddling, 10% fishing, 10% ocean day trips, for example.


Purpose and Paddler Type

Before you shop for a kayak, you need to decide what type of paddler you are. The best way to figure this out is to borrow as many different kayaks as you can, head out to the water, and find out what exactly you enjoy doing most when the paddle is in your hands and a whole repertoire of kayaks is at your command. Unfortunately, most of us simply don't have access to all the kayaks we wish we could try. But don't worry. There is still a good way to determine your paddler type. All it takes is some honest self-reflection and a few predictions about your paddling future. So, with that in mind, try to answer the following questions as thoughtfully and accurately as possible:

1. Where do you intend to paddle your kayak most of the time? Creeks and shallow rivers? Small lakes? Large bodies of water? Oceans? Anywhere and everywhere?
2. How much time do you expect to spend kayaking on average? An hour? Five hours? All day? Weeks at a time?
3. How far do you expect to travel in your kayak on average? A mile or two? Five miles? As many miles as possible before the sun goes down? Across whole hemispheres?

Of the thousands of questions you could ask yourself to help narrow down your paddler type (without actually borrowing, renting, or buying a kayak), these three questions are potentially the most useful. Why? Because your answers will have a direct bearing on what type of kayak will best suit your needs. Essentially, these questions force you to focus on the purpose your kayak needs to fulfill. Keep your answers to these questions in mind as we examine some of the basic principles of kayak design. If you do, you should be in a good position to make smart decisions about which type of kayak will best fit your needs.

Length and Width: Efficiency vs. Stability

Here's a simple rule to keep in mind when buying a kayak:

As a kayak gets longer and narrower, it becomes faster, more efficient, and easier to keep in a straight line.

As a kayak gets shorter and wider, it becomes slower, more stable, and easier to turn.


Choosing the right Paddle

user 11739435
Edgerton, WI
Post #: 1
i sold my class 5 (fast water) and went to a wider shorter kayak for my stability and less options of tipping over. I paid a bit over 200 and bought it at Dunhams sports. I sat in them just wanting a comfortable fit for now. Since that purchase I am looking to upgrade but I have lifting issues and a back fracture, so I need to think about those things when purchasing one. So if your a beginner, I would suggest a slower wider boat to start. as was mentioned earlier, less chance of tipping over and easier to turn...

Good luck
A former member
Post #: 2
Thank you all so much for your responses! Very appreciated.

I think as far as those two go, while I haven't seen them yet, I am leaning towards the 12' boat - for more versatility. I would like to use the kayak for slow, meandering river kayaking (have been on the Black River & the Kickapoo for kayak/camping trips and would like to do more of that).

Barbara, I think your advice is sound - to check out the boats in Madison, try before I buy, etc. And I think that is what I will do! I thought I would jump on this opportunity because they were the cheapest I have seen, but now I am thinking it would make much more sense to shop around in Madison - where I will be using it. That way I won't have to travel up there (from Cincinnati) with it. And then I can support local and contribute to my new community.

So, thanks Barbara and everyone for your words. I would still like to join you folks for some outtings, so maybe until I get one I can rent/borrow a kayak. And also if anyone is selling a boat or has one that they think I should try that would be fabulous. (Thanks Ron!)

One week til Madison!!
Madison, WI
Post #: 18
Carrie, Just let us know when you are settled in and then spend some fun week nights or weekend days over at Rutabaga trying out different boats. It's a lot of fun!
We will have a meetup as a group this summer just for that reason, to try different boats -- only our group trying as many different boats as we want. Should be lots of fun.

safe traveling to Madison! see you soon!
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