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Touring Kayak with High Deck Height

Hello all, been using this site for years as a great resource!

I'm having trouble finding a touring kayak that fits me. Was in love with the Jackson Journey 14, and checked one out today to find I don't fit in it. Everything is fine except for the deck height (which is listed with the same 16" deck height as my Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145). I can't get my thighs to fit under the thigh braces... I'm 6'2' and 290 pounds.

I'm turning away from the Tsunami because I really want something with a rounded chine so I can lean into turns more and begin to paddle with better technique (and even with a rudder the Tsunami is sluggish to turn).

Any suggestions for a touring kayak? I'm really trying to stay around 14-15 feet as I do paddle in smaller rivers with lots of turns. Tried the entire Wilderness Systems line-up. Tried a number of Necky, Jackson, Perception, Liquid Logic, Current Designs, Prijon, Native, etc. kayaks and they couldn't find anything I fit in (and to be honest I didn't write down the exact models to tell you what they were).

Any suggestions? ...not looking for a canoe or a sit-on-top. Very set on a sit-inside; and a touring style, not recreation boat (already have an Old Town Dirigo 140, Loon 138, and owned a Pungo 140 before). Thanks.


  • Have you tried a Perception Carolina ?
    Jack L
  • Options
    have used Carolina before...
    -- Last Updated: Sep-21-13 8:46 PM EST --

    Yes, my cousin has the Aerilite? version of the Carolina 12'. I fit in that fine, but I don't consider that a touring kayak (we bought my Pungo and the Carolina at the same time, and they were nearly identical to each other). Really need a touring boat that can do lots of miles, hold lots of gear, and still be able to have things like a rudder and cockpit spray skirt for some mild whitewater (done class II in my Tsunami so far and it was great!).

    ...it just seems like all the "touring" boats are all extremely slim in width, with a very low (for me) deck height. My butt (i.e. the width of the cockpit/seat) fits fine, but can't get my legs under the deck/thigh-braces. Don't know if my Tsunami is a freak or what, but ideally I want that, but a little slimmer, and with a soft chine (if that's the correct term) so I can get it on edge and make it turn better.

  • Perception Eclipse 17 Airalite?
    -- Last Updated: Sep-21-13 8:47 PM EST --

    Yes, longer than your target length, but you might have to expand your search if you can't find what you want in the shorter length "non-recreational" boats...

    I have not paddled it, but people seems to say it has a rather large cockpit.

    Or the QCC 500?

  • Deck height as listed...
    in the specs doesn't tell anything about the overall contour of the deck - as you've discovered.

    I'm assuming you did indeed try the WS Zephyr 160 with its 17" deck height? Longer than you want but very good hull for river use and the seat is easily moved back 2" for additional foot/thigh space.

    Another thing you might consider in some of these boats you're too tight in is making your own custom foam seat. The first one you make is kinda fiddly but they're not real hard to do. Rather messy process I might add :) The foam seat might allow you to lower your position in the boat which will certainly affect thigh clearance.
  • Options
    I think the Eclipse model is discontinued, but from their 2008 PDF catalog it has the deck height as 13.5" (versus the 16" for my Tsunami).

    I tried out (I think, not positive) their Expression and Tribute models and definitely didn't fit in them (they have same deck height listed). Their Essence 17 model has deck height listed as 16.5" so maybe that's a possibility if I can find one to test out.

    QCC 500 has deck height of 14.5" - Thanks though!
  • Options
    I actually did sit in a Zephyr today. I want to say it was the 16' model. Didn't fit in that either (and I swear, I'm really not a huge-huge guy!).

    And I just found something too. Look at the side profile of the Zephyr:


    Versus the Tsunami:


    And look where the thigh braces are. You can see a steeper incline where the Tsunami's are, thus why I fit in that boat perfectly but the Zephyr, even with a higher listed deck height, I don't fit in at all...so you're right, listed deck height isn't perfect to tell if you'll fit in a boat.

    And no, I've never looked into making my own seat. Most of these seem to have a very thin plastic frame (literally sitting on the bottom of the boat) with maybe a .25-.5" foam pad...don't think that would help me if I built my own. ...I was actually thinking if you could heat up the plastic sides of the thigh braces with a heat gun and move them up; I only need an inch and I would fit.
  • You might...
    consider removing the thigh braces altogether and simply adding minicell padding to the thigh brace surface in a thickness appropriate for fit.
  • Options
    it's not the foam
    It's not the foam; most of these boats don't have adjustable thickness foam or anything like that, it's maybe a quarter inch of foam below the plastic of the boat – even if it was removed altogether we're still talking about inches (2-3") of clearance that these kayaks don't give me.
  • Chesapeake Light Craft Chesapeake 18
    -- Last Updated: Sep-21-13 11:18 PM EST --

    I am currently building one and that thing is cavernous.

    You may also check out the Impex Assateague, Impex Serenity sport, Wilderness Systems Tempest 180, or an Easy Rider Eskimo 18-6. All of those kayaks are designed for big guys. I don't know of any touring boats under 17 ft that a 6'2" 290lb paddler will fit in.

    If you decide to order the CLC Chesapeake 18 kit be sure to get the optional larger cockpit opening because the standard size cockpit opening is pretty small for a boat designed for 200+ lb paddlers.

  • Look for a used
    -- Last Updated: Sep-21-13 11:28 PM EST --

    Necky Pinta, Necky Swallow, Pacific Water Sports Sea Otter and others.
    QCC 400 andMariner Max may also fit the bill

  • Eddyline Fathom
    A little longer than your request, but your dimensions probably require a bigger boat. Lots of front deck volume, 16.5 ft long, great for touring and hauling.
  • I was thinkiing of the older 14 foot
    plastic one.

    I didn't realize they don't make it any more.

  • that doesnt make a lot of sense.
    The tsunamis and zephyrs are about as cavernous as they come. You must just have incredibly thick thighs or something. There are a few boats that have taller decks for knees up paddling, but not really what you are looking for. Ever think canoe?

    Ryan L.
  • Deck Height and other measurements
    Manufacturers often measure heights and widths differently. Some measure between the bottom and the top of the cockpit rim, some measure up to the underside of the deck.

    Similarly, some measure cockpit widths and especially length on the outside of the cockpit, which is much bigger than when measured on the inside as others do it.

    Some kayaks have huge deck heights because they have a sharp V bottom and a peaked deck in the center, but they can still be low on the sides. Imagine a rhomboid - they measure the diagonals but your thighs need to fit in the corners. So, kayaks with lower measured deck height but which are more squarish in shape will have more room for you inside.

    And yes, the Airalite 17 is discontinued but there is one on Craigslist, so they can be found. I have not paddled that, it looks very nice, but seems to have little rocker, so not sure if it is maneuverable - you wanted that, so it might not be the right boat for you of indeed it is a good tracking boat.
  • Delta?
    Did we mention that? Some of their models have rather spacious cockpits and come in shorter lengths too. Never paddled one and only sat in one a long time ago so I don't remember much. They seem to have plenty of volume too, so suitable for a heavier paddler. REI used to carry them, not sure if they still do...
  • Whoah!
    Totally wrong kayak for the OPs size. He would never fit in the Fathom and the Journey's thigh braces are probably too low for him. Maybe the Denali, though---cockpit 14.5"

  • Doubtful
    The Delta 15.5 Expedition would be perfect for the OP (it can carry a whopping 375 lbs) except for one thing: the standard Delta cockpit is 18" x 32.5", which is sort of a mismatch with the kayak's carrying capacity. The 18" width might fit him, but 32.5" is short for a guy his size.

    Deltas must be made for Canadians, who are smaller than Americans. Americans have been gaining weight so quickly that I guess Delta hasn't been able to keep up. A 35" cockpit would fit the OP much better.

    This is a drawback of Deltas (also QCC and Lincoln) and I hope they will come out with an 18x35 cockpit in a few models. I bet it would increase their sales a lot. Eddyline seems to be adapting to the growing size of Americans with the Denali.

    Unfortunately a thermoformed kayak that fits a larger person is also a heavier kayak---over 50 lbs.

    One thing that has changed is that people who are overweight are doing more outdoor activities than they used to. So the industry needs to adapt to them.
  • Options
    bought a new beast...
    -- Last Updated: Oct-18-13 3:13 PM EST --

    ...so against my better judgement I went back to the kayak dealership today and sat in every boat I didn't have time to check out yesterday. Only touring boat I actually fit in was a used/demo (although I couldn't find a scratch on it) 2011 Current Designs Storm GT with rudder. I'm still going to adjust the thigh braces a bit (they drop down maybe 2-3" so there's room to bring them up so I'm more comfortable – it's still tight in there!) The cockpit length is also excellent; I don't have to lift my butt out of the seat to have my knees clear the front of the deck which is nice.

    The test paddle of the 17' long beast was decent. I know they say boats of this length won't turn very well, but since it's bow sits up so high there's really only maybe 10" extra length in the water compared to my Tsunami 145, but the difference in turning was drastic (even with the rudder) – it is very hard to turn (or maybe I just have to get used to it).

    It is a lot faster though, which is nice. Got up to (I'm guessing) my regular ~4mph speed a lot faster than the Tsunami for sure. Stability was pretty wobbly for me; but I kinda wanted a soft chined boat that teaches me better balance (and reviews say when it's loaded with gear it's a lot more stable). All in all, this might be the boat I negate to use in the ocean and larger/wider rivers only, but that's OK. For the small rivers near me where speed doesn't matter I'll stick to the Tsunami.

    Thanks for all your help; it's appreciated.

  • For turning
    If you haven't already learned to bow rudder your boat in one fashion, or another, you might find that any boat can be turned more efficiently with that technique and even more so if you edge it properly.

    Just curious--did you try the CD Sirocco?
  • Options
    Doesn't sound familiar; don't think I tried that one.
  • Options
    New Seat
    So I've paddled the Current Designs Storm GT twice now, and the seat isn't as comfortable as my Tsunami. What is involved with putting in a new seat (or do people use new pads on top of the old seat?)?

    The old seat seems to sit on foam blocks which I assume are glued to the floor. Do you look for a seat that's the same width as the old one so it fits in the kayak? ...never done a modification like this before. Thanks.
  • Seat
    I would suggest that you put a lot more time in the seat before you start hacking away at it. You might find that you become accustomed to it and it just might save you a lot of trouble. I could be wrong, but isn't the storm's seat attached to the deck (coaming)? This attachment-if that is the case-might be part of the kayak's overall design and could effect rigidity.

    I can't think of any seat in any kayak that ever felt just right after the first few hours in the boat. Some have felt pretty good at first, but then not so much after a couple of hours. I compare it somewhat to a bicycle seat; it takes time to get used to them.

    The sea kayak that I use the most has a solid fiberglass seat that has no pad. I thought for sure that I would always need a pad in it, but after only a few outings, I did away with the pad. It is by far the best seat I have ever sat in.
  • Options
    I always figure if it isn't comfortable after an hour of paddling, how is it going to be comfortable after 8+ hours, and multiple days of that?

    ...maybe you're right though. I'm going out for a longer paddle on Sunday so we'll see how it does.

    And for the seat construction, it seems like it's only attached to the floor via a double-stack of foam; not integral to the kayak itself. I'll double check up on top where the the seat hits the top of the cockpit – there might be something holding it in there as well.
  • The Tsunami 145 was uncomfortable
    The 145 was uncomfortable for me initially, after about an hour on the water. It went away soon, after several outings. My body needed time to adjust. I have had the same with other kayaks - takes a few days in the seat (as log as it is not killing you, take the time to see how things go).

    On the other hand, with certain kayaks, I never really got really comfortable despite time in the seat and my attempts to modify them, but those were the minority.

    Necky makes a "touring" seat that is just a simple matter of removing the old seat and velcroing the new seat inside. Those are nice contoured seats, relatively inexpensive, and could be trimmed a bit if desired. Had a good luck with that in one of these kayaks where the seat was too narrow for me and had to replace it.

    Also, pay attention on how the seat back or backband is attached and configured. Sometimes you might have to do modifications there too.

    The easiest way to start is by putting temporary padding on your existing seat to lift or lower your bum or upper legs. This effectively changes the angle of the seat - people like different positions, so the factory setting might or might not work well. Also, start by adding foam (minicell) at the sides of the hull where your knees or thighs get close to so that you relieve tension on your legs from just sitting in the kayak. That might be all that you need, if you physically fit in the existing seat.
  • agree with giving more time
    As a personal example, I've heard over the years a lot of complaints about NDK seats, just a simple small glass seat. My first time out in my Greenlander, and I thought I would need to think about something different. But I loosened up the back band a couple times, paid attention to my posture, and after just a few times out with it I was out all day with no problem, without even giving a thought to seat comfort. So I agree that a person should give what they have a few outings, think about their posture, give the muscles supporting a solid posture a little time to shape back up, and give strong consideration to the backband and how it's adjusted. Sometimes changing just the back support and how you use it can go a long way.
  • Adjustments
    On one of my boats, over a period of time (several years), I would adjust the back band and each time I thought I finally had it right. But after a few times in the boat it was obvious that it still wasn't right. I changed the bungee cords that are part of the support system and then I thought for sure I had it. Just recently I think I finally did get it right when I made one more little tweak to the bungees.

    Again, my point is that it takes time to get used to your seat and it isn't always going to feel the same. But at least I've got the seat and back band in this boat right--maybe.
  • tsunami 145 turns fine
    Keep the rudder up. Take a few classes. Your boat will turn well, but you need to edge it so that big built in skeg spreads the after like a knife icing a cake.
  • Options
    seat still stinks
    So I went on a full day paddle on Saturday, and the seat still stinks! Removing the thigh braces helped a ton, but the seat still doesn't hold a candle to my Wilderness Systems Phase 3 seating (or whatever they call it).

    What is a good gel-like foam to use to try padding it different ways? My local boating shop only sells the really dense foam commonly used on those kayak/canoe car roof foam-block systems.

    What are common things to try? Currently the seat back goes up and down, and more forward (already have it all the way back), but that's the only adjustments I can make with the stock seat.
  • How is it uncomfortable?
    Legs going numb? Back pain? Butt sore? Different people are built differently so what works for one may not work for another. Posture might be an issue - if your hips are rolled back you might be loading an area that isn't used to the weight. Pay attention to your posture when paddling and maybe have someone take pictures or video.

    Some resources:
    NRS - supplies - http://www.nrs.com/category/3043/whitewater-kayaking/foam-padding-glue

    Redfish - high end seat - I've been tempted - http://www.redfishkayak.com/seats.htm

    Onno Paddles has an interesting seat: http://onnopaddles.com/components061513.html

    Info on cockpit modifications: https://sites.google.com/site/kayakfit/instruction
  • Yakpadz sell gell pads
    I find them comfy but usually paddle with no pad at all. Have you removed the factory pad if there was one? On most kayaks I prefer bare seat with the factory pads removed - more room this way, usually.
  • Necky Eskia
    -- Last Updated: Oct-09-13 7:37 PM EST --

    If you can find one. No longer made. Nice big man's day tourer. Love mine.

  • Temptest 170
    The Temptest 170 has plenty of room.
  • No way
    A 6'2", 290 lb. man must be wider in the hips than me and he could not get in the cockpit of a Tempest 170. I know, I tried and I am "only" 6'4" 235 lb.
  • large kayaks
    Pygmy sells wood kits for Greenland style boats that come in XL. Some are up to 18 feet or more and will accomodate people with large feet also.
  • That's what I thought regarding Prijons
    Their touring kayaks have really tall foredecks.

    Maybe he could remove the seat and put in just a thin foam pad.
  • Yes
    I am anxious to try the "high" versions of the Coho and the Arctic Tern, as well as the Borealis XL. I have a regular Coho and I love it, but I would appreciate more foot room for my size 13s. Also, I believe the Tern is easier to turn.
  • Options
    -- Last Updated: Oct-11-13 11:15 AM EST --

    Ha. I was going to mention the Storm. I have one. I have occasionally tried a foam pad on the seat but have never been convinced to add one permanently.

  • Easy to edge
    My Tern 17' Standard doesn't need much of an edge to carve a turn. Even in the standard deck height it has plenty of room.
  • It is cavernous
    But not a good boat for high wind without a rudder.
  • Borialis XL
    Is part way to a Necky Pinta.

    I've built a Pygmy 13, Coho and Pinguino13 and paddled the rest.

    The Borealis would be perfect for him.
  • May not be the decks
    But the thigh brace height
  • Options
    I googled "kayak seat pad" and then selected the "Shop on Google" link and 18 choices popped up.
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