Buying A Kayak

For Father’s Day, my kids got me a kayak.  Which means, since my kids are little, I picked out and got myself a kayak.  But it sounds better to say the kids did it.

This involved much research on my part. And by research I mean I went to the outfitters and took pictures of boats I could afford on my trusty iPhone.

My Son tries out a Perception Sundance.

My Son tries out a Perception Sundance.

I had basically narrowed my search down to the two kayaks I could afford that were big enough that my 6’4″ frame felt comfy in.  It was either going to be a Swifty or a Sundancer, both by Perception.

Really, they are the same boat.  The Swifty is a big box standard sold at Dicks Sporting Goods and REI, among other places, and is a solid boat.  The Sundance is basically a Swifty with an upgraded seat and deck.  I found the Sundance at Gander Mountain.

The Sundancer was about $30 more than the Swifty, and ultimately that was the deciding factor.  The nicer seat and better deck rigging was worth the $30.  So off I went to Gander Mountain last night to pick up a new Perception Sundance.

Only I didn’t.  My price point was around $300, and the kayak I wanted was $379.  I couldn’t justify the $79, even though I was justifying $319 for the Sundance.  I gave up on the one I really wanted, and was pulling out a Sundance to take to check out when, in passing, I mentioned to the guy helping me that I really wanted the other kayak.

“Why aren’t you getting it then?  It’s cheaper.” he said reasonably.

“No it’s not.  This one is $399 with a 20% off sale, so its $319.  You’ve not included that one on the 20% off sale, so its $379.” I explained to the dimwitted salesman.

“What do you mean it’s not 20% off?” he said.

I pointed to the sign that said “All Kayak’s 20% through Father’s Day” and the fine print that clearly said the kayak I wanted wasn’t included.

“Oh yea,” the salesdude said.  “Well the flyer that we sent out on the sale was misleading.  The two kayaks featured for the sale weren’t included in the sale.  So we decided to include them.  So yea, it’s 20% off.”

I was stunned.  I REALLY wanted that other kayak.  It was longer (longer means faster) had a better seat, had knee pads, a bigger rear deck for gear.  The only thing it didn’t have was deck bungees, but it didn’t need them since the cockpit was huge and roomy.  (It’s practically a sit-on-top, even though it is a sit-inside)  And the reviews on the net were extremely positive.

I pointed to the kayak of my desire and said “That kayak is on sale?”


“That one there?”


“The one that EVERYONE on the planet is selling for $379, you’re going to sell to me for 20% off $379?”

“Only if you stop asking me about it and buy it before tomorrow.”

“It’s on sale?”

He didn’t answer me that time.  Instead he put the bright red Sundance back in the shelf and said, “Do you want the blue or the orange?”

About that time the kids had caught up to me.  “Kids,” I said, “do I want the blue or the orange?”

Much crying and discussion later, the two kiddos agreed (after a bribe of ice cream) to the orange.

My son and the Old Town Vapor 10 I ended up buying.

My son and the Old Town Vapor 10 I ended up buying.

So I walked out of Gander Mountain the proud and quite surprised owner of an Old Town Vapor 10.  And at $303.  That’s LESS than the Sundance and a mere FOUR DOLLARS more than the less equiped Swifty.  Plus it’s a half foot longer, tracks better and, well, just rocks!

I am a very happy kayak owner.  And apparently an Old Town Canoe and Kayak loyalist.  My canoe is an Old Town Guide 147.  Heck, Old Town Canoe should be paying me to advertise for them or something.

Ya hear me Old Town?

Why won't Old Town sponsor me?

Why won't Old Town sponsor me?

3 thoughts on “Buying A Kayak

  1. Enjoyed the read! I’m just now getting around to reading your shared items on google reader (thanks for the follow by the way), and being a kayaker myself I know how agonizing over models goes. Unfortunately, being 6’6″, my size shrinks my field of options…

    I look forward to future stories!


    • Hi Charlie! I’m 6’4″, so I’m not THAT much shorter than you, and I have to say I feel MIGHTY comfy in my new Vapor! If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it. It comes in two models, the Vapor 10, which I got, and the Vapor 10XL, which is a fancier version. I fit the lower end version better, because the seat was lower. It has nice knee pads that I have to use if my feet are on the pegs, since I must bend my knees to do so. Give one a try if you’re looking for a simple little creek boat.

      Also, with the HUGE cockpit, getting in and out is easy, if sometimes wet. One thing I don’t like about it is a lack of a drain plug. I suppose I could add one, but so far I’ve just bailed it out. With the large cockpit, if you do exit/enter it poorly, it swamps fast. And once swamped, it handles like any other swamped boat. Poorly. Since I’ve been known lately to go out in the middle of large rivers, I’m going to have to invest in a hand pump and/or bailing sponge. The cut off bottle I’ve been using just won’t cut it in a real bailing situation. Something I didn’t worry about in a canoe. Canoe’s are easy to empty, just turn’em upside down. Doesn’t work so well in the kayak. 🙂

      • Hey, sorry about the really late response… Been on vacation in Alaska. As I see you noticed, I’m the lazy kind of kayaker — I let rivers carry me and just worry about avoiding rocks occasionally. I also prefer wearing a skirt so I don’t have to bail 🙂 It’s definitely a different experience, but a lot of the appeal is the same. I don’t mind flat water too much, provided it’s moving at a reasonable clip — I can always practice rolling!

        The Vapor you ended up getting is an interesting looking boat — its shorter and more aggressively designed than your average rec boat (like the perception you tried). If it had a closed cockpit and a flat bottom I bet it wouldn’t make the worst whitewater boat.

        If you’re ever interested in trying out a different type of kayaking, let me know, its a blast! And if you make it up to the Ann Arbor area ever, also let me know. I have a few boats, and the rivers around here are pretty tame. Except for the spiders.


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