Originally Posted by Lone Wolf
I have been kayaking for years. Rivers & streams mostly. Unlike most on this site, I am not aN avid backpacker any moredue to lame knees. I do my traveling in my yak. Plus I have a fishing addiction.
Anyway, in my opinion the first thing to consider is the type of water you will mostly float. There are 3 basic types of yaks. Touring, recreational and whitewater. If you plan to primarily float lakes and plan on covering alot of distance, a touring yak is best. These yaks are long 14' or longer, very narrow and have average initial stability and good secondary stability.
Basically they may feel a little tippy, but recover well to the center line and typically cost more than a recreational yak. They glide well in the water and are made to reduce fatigue since your planning on doing a lot of paddling.
Most folks use some sort of recreational kayak since they can do a decent job in most waters except classIII and above waters. Normally they have a large cockpit and excellent initial stability. They are made of plastic and take a lot of abuse. They are very forgivable to the new paddler. They are wide(around 30") and have either a flat bottom(good for turning in moving water) or a keel ( makes the yak go straight when paddling). Most are 10' to 12' in length and will weigh around 50lbs depending on length.
I have limited experience with whitewater yaks so I will leave that topic to others with experience. From your post, it doesnt seem that whitewater is what you are looking for in a yak.
I have used the following brands. I primarily float moving water.
Old Town otter & loon- My opinion is that they are heavier than other yaks, the seats are not that comfortable and they are not as forgiving as other yaks. Quality is good and they are bomb proof. Good manuverability. I did a 2 nighter with an otter before I purchase my current yaks. My complaint was comfort.
Perception Swifty- A basic yak with a good turning radius in moving water. Very forgiving and was overall fun to paddle. Down side was low on features.
Spent 10 hrs fishing out of one and again butt comfort was an issue.
Dagger Blackwater- This yak is a little more narrow than the other recreational yaks I have used and it had a flat bottom for manuverability and a drop down skeg for calm water tracking. I liked this boat due to the cockpit was raised more than the other which helped in keeping water out of the yak when going through rapids. Seat was not that comfortable. I spent about 6 hrs fishing out of this yak.
Wilderness Systems Pamico(10') - After using the others, I settled on this yak. Flat bottom for manuverability and they have the best seat(phase 3) out of all that yaks I have used. Large cockpit is nice for getting in and out. Excellent construction. I have spent 4 days in this thing and my butt didnt mind. I have modified mine to include 2 fishing rod holders, bungie paddle holder,drain plug, bow and stern anchors for fishing and I added a workdeck that goes over a part of the cockpit. Old town makes the work deck.
The down side to most of these yaks is they will take in some water due to the large cockpit when running classII rapids.
I can pack in my 10 footer for a 4 day float trip. Being a backpacker, I had all the small gear. I even take a small cooler, lantern and chair.
I spent countless hours researching yaks before deciding on the WS Pam100. Since then I bought 3 other yaks. WS Tarpon-Sit on top yak(10'), Dagger BlackWater(11.5') and a Perception Sundance (12').
Just like tarps and hammocks, I have yaks based on different applications.
My suggestion to you is to locate an outfitter like Blue Mountain Outfitter in Duncannon, Pa and find out when they are having thier demo day. It is a good way to try different yaks.
I frequent a website very similiar to HF but for river smallmouth fisherman. Its called Riversmallies.com.
You can find a wealth of info on that site about kayaks. Just like this site. A knowledgable group of folks who are happy to share thier knowledge.
The bulk of members on that site use kayaks and you can find all you would want to know about kayaks and thier uses from folks you use them regularly. The site also has a classified and I have bought 2 good yaks from the site for a great price. You have to routinely check the site since yaks dont last long once they are posted.
My passion for fishing drew me to thier site and ultimately to yaks.
Once you fish from a yak, you will never walk the bank, float in a tube.
Just like this site- Once you camp in hammock, you will never want to go back to a tent.
The best place I found to purchase kayaks(believe me I spent a ton of time looking) is Appomattix River Company in Va. I can buy online and have delivered a yak cheaper than any retail/outfitter I could find.
Bottom Line- Riversmallies.com for a library of info on kayaks, paddles, PFD, etc & ARC for experts to purchase your yak.
Also- Dont get sucked into the thought of needing a keel to go straight. A good paddle stroke will keep you going straight. If you are floating small narrow creeks and doing alot of rock hopping & dodging, being able to turn on a dime is critical. You will gain paddle experience rather quickly to make you boat go straight in slack, open water.
I just noticed that you are located in PA. I would be happy to let your borrow a couple of yaks and float my local waters here in the Harrisburg Area.