The Next Step Up from a Box Store Kayak

5 box store kayaks review

If you’re new to kayaking like millions of people are in 2020, you’ll want to watch this video from our good friend, Dan Arbuckle, from Headwaters Kayak in Lodi, California.

Dan’s video that reviews a few box store kayaks for under $300 has over a million views now (you can find that one here). Those are great for people who are just getting started or who have a limited budget and will only kayak a couple times a year.

When you’re ready to upgrade or if you have a $1,000 budget, then this is the video for you. Dan covers five recreational kayaks, all priced under $1K.

Take a look…

What to Look for in a Sit-Inside Recreational Kayak

The five kayaks Dan and his friend, Josh, review in this video are from Perception, Jackson Kayaks, Dagger, Feelfree and Wilderness Systems, all good names in the kayak world. For all the specs on these models, see the details underneath the video on Headwaters’ YouTube channel.

The point for this post is: What do you look for when choosing a mid-level recreational kayak?

Dan points out an important tip: It’s not about the bells and whistles, it’s about how it fits you and how it paddles. Here are some questions to think about when you try out these various kayaks:

  • Does the cockpit fit your height and body size well? Is it easy to get in and out? Do you feel “one” with the kayak?
  • How does the secondary edge feel? That’s when you lean to one side and it “locks into the natural buoyancy of the boat” when you turn and glide. It should feel pretty stable. (Dan explains that more in the video—it’s easier shown than described!)
  • How’s the tracking? Some kayaks at this price range have a skag—a small adjustable rudder that helps with tracking.
  • Does it feel sluggish or does it move through the water pretty well?
  • How comfortable is the seat and how well does it fit you? Are you sitting in the kayak or do you feel more on it?

 testing 5 kayaks under $1000

What’s the Best Length for a Rec Kayak?

As far as performance goes, Dan always recommends a 12-footer over a 10-footer. It’ll glide faster and track better for you, giving you an overall better paddling experience.

The disadvantage of longer is in storing and transporting it. You’ll need a couple feet of more space to store, and it’ll be heavier than a 10-foot boat.

So you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons. Even if the kayak paddles better, if you get out on the water less because it’s too heavy for you to load yourself, or if you don’t have any place to store 12 feet of boat, don’t give up on a shorter one.

Conclusion: 3 Best Rec Kayaks Under $1,000

Dan’s conclusion for the best rec kayaks they tested are:

  • Feelfree Aventura (retails $699)—great for kayakers who’ll paddle flatwater and want a boat that’ll grow with them. Lots of extra features for the price.
  • Dagger Axis (retails $979)—great for bigger kayakers and those who’ll paddle both rivers and flatwater.
  • Wilderness Systems Pungo (retails $999)—the most-sold recreational kayak. Loaded with features including lots of seat adjustments. Paddles very well.

(NOTE: The prices of these kayaks have gone up since this video was made. The prices here are as of 11/2020)

Both Dan and Josh emphasized this: The point of kayaking isn’t really the kayak—it’s where you paddle it and how you enjoy your time when you’re in it.

Enjoy your time on the water!

Do you need help choosing a kayak paddle? Contact our Wisconsin-based Customer Service team today: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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