New to Kayaking: Where to start.

Submitted byGooffy550 onThu, 04/11/2019 - 13:44

Hello everyone.  I'm new to kayaking  and kayaks.  I'd like to build build my own.  I live in west central MN with access to many small and large lakes including lake of the woods and some small rivers with small rapids.  I'd like to build a kayak that would would be a good around boat.  One I can use on afternoon river outings and weeklong fishing trips in the Boundry Waters.  Is this possible out of a kayak?  If so which one?  Thanks for any and all I fo you can supply.


Thu, 04/11/2019 - 14:42

My advice:

Take some lessons with a qualified teacher who will supply the boat.

You'll find out what you like and be able to ask questions and get relevant answers.

Then, buy a cheap (used) boat and get the gear you need.

Go paddling and take more lessons.

Then, pick a boat project to build.


I wish I had been given this advice! I did the 'build a boat first' thing.....

I agree with John paddle enough to know what you want before you build.  Buy an affordable used kayak first and then you will have a spare kayak for a friend when you build one.  Many people say the Boundry Waters are better with a canoe because of the portages and I tend to agree.  A touring kayak can easily carry enough gear for a week or two if you don't get a low volume one.  This video will give you a feel for long trips in a kayak.


Hi New Kayaker, 

my introduction into kayak building was a short kayaking trip with a friend....and then i said i would like to have one of these....and when i looked at getting one, i saw that you could build one....and i did a bit of research and picked one and built it.   No regrets.

my focus was similar to yours, what am i trying to do with it and then,  i focused on making sure it would be the right size for me and simple enough for somebody who had not built one before.

after building it, i paddled it...and had fun...and learned some more about paddling and over the years, my paddling and building have gotten pretty good.

but what i wanted to say is, if you want the experience of building a kayak, i don't know what buying a built kayak does for you?

fwiw my first boat was a CLC Chesapeake 17LT (over 20 years ago)....and it was pretty good.  

if you are new to building and that is what you want to do, my recommendation is check out the site   a lot of us here also use that site but i think it may have a bit more resources for somebody who is thinking of a first boat.   based on what you are asking for, i would check out the shearwater sport.  i don't know anything about your size....but if it fits you...sounds very close to what you say you are trying to do.  pretty good looking boat too.

anyway...that's my 2 cents...


John VanBuren

Fri, 04/12/2019 - 22:49

One option would be to build a fuselage frame kayak. They are pretty easy to build. And one of the cheapest types of boats to build. Dave Genty and Jeff  Horton both offer excellent plans and instructions. Plus they are pretty good kayaks.


John VB

Trying a few is a good way to get started so (obviously?) I didn't and started by building 2 one year, one for my daughter, one for me and then learnt about kayaking then went on a multiday trip with a group and later to forums and learnt more and did more trips. The trips I'm talking about were multiday coastal trips after originally messing about day paddling for a couple of weeks.

However I had been at sea off and on for most of my life, mostly sailing so probably knew that water was wet.

The first ones? A very battered blue-print that someone at work had built 2 from. It seemed it was a Kayel design (1969?) which I modified. A few years later I ran a building class and we did 4 to my later design. A decade(?) later my partner built the first of the current design of which maybe 50 have been built. She did start a second one but it has been finished by someone else.

So the right way to go about it? Depends on your ability to know what works.

Your ideas for kayak use suggest to me a 16' - 17' kayak with decent storage volume and good stability, which implies nothing skinny. You want stability and comfort, good tracking, while still avoiding too much drag due to water resistance. Find a local kayak rental company and try everything they have, keeping in mind that you'll want adequate storage for kayak camping. I use a kayak that has higher volume under the decks for equipment storage while still narrow enough for decent ease of paddling with excellent stability. As John and Scott have already stated...TAKE COURSES...then decides on your boat. Kayaking is a beautiful also has risks. Underestimate nothing. I've been at it for 19 years now with only one near-death experience. I didn't take courses...I was warned to but I didn't. Nick has some great boat designs...I'm sure you'll find something you love amongst his creations.

Robert N(ever do what I did) Pruden

Jared James

Thu, 05/30/2019 - 06:34

You really get the beautiful location for your kayak, did you also interested in kayak fishing to? if yes what is your favorite fishing kayak!

Stretching exercises? Oh? The same with bicycle touring. My mentor, OK touring mate, definitely rubbished that. He has only been riding bikes for about 70 years, across Australia, America, Iceland, Europe, etc. so I don't suppose he knows much. Simply start easily and get into a rhythm. Remember it is your body that does the work, not elbow bending. Cool down? Getting the kayak and gear ashore and loaded on to the vehicle will keep you busy and exercised enough.

So what I'm saying is in 4 decades of paddling, multi-day, paddling various bits of the world, I've never done warm-up or cool down exercising. however it is up to you whether you do.

Weather - that is the crucial item. Know how it works in your area and always listen to a weather report as close to the start as practical.

Communication - probably a good idea though for 5 decades I never had any, starting from being on the open sea, sailing, on all day trips as a teenager to reasonably recently when I was given a VHF radio. There is no cell coverage in most places I paddle in and if you rely on a cell phone, how good is coverage in your area?

The link (they are both the same link) given by Johnmarsh2 to "the Best Paddle" is typical of the wrong information. First they can't spell which says something. Next the lengths are way too long. Always be warned, if the title says "Best" it will be referring to price and be advertising, not quality for the job.

Paddle length, about 210 for experienced paddlers. Yes I use longer but mine are Greenland paddles, which are the best...