When starting my kayak research I had a list of key wants:
- Recreation / Exercise
- Stable enough for standing
- Some Storage
- Large & Small Lakes
- Small rivers
- Short day trips
Based on this short list I was able to narrow my search down to an angler, sit-on-top kayak, in the 12 foot length range. This size boat is good for tracking in lakes and manageable in rivers with smaller rapids. Most sit-on-top angler kayaks have a wider base, which gives it the stability for standing. With the wider base and shorter length you give up speed and those longer day trips will give you a good workout. This type of kayak is not light, it’s on the heavier side compared to recreational and touring kayaks.
The right way to shop for a kayak is to find outdoor retailers that offer demo days, where you can test ride the models and see what feels right. After all my research I narrowed it down to three kayaks, the Wilderness Systems Ride 115, Jackson Cuda 12 and Old Town Predator MX. You can’t go wrong with any of these manufacturers, they make great products that get terrific reviews.
For me the final decision came down to cost. I was able to grab a Wilderness Systems Ride 115 at a lower price point that I was comfortable with. This boat is rock steady and weighs close to 80 pounds. A kayak at this weight will take extra effort to lift and carry on the roof of your vehicle. So the money I saved with the Ride 115, I was able to put toward a Malone Sports Trailer. It made a huge difference with loading and unloading time and the weight I’m lifting. With this trailer I found myself hitting the water more often.