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Finding the right kayak

Hi. I am new to the discussion process, but I am looking for the right kayak. I am looking for a sea kayak I can handle in the wind.
I am 109 lbs. 5’4”, and plan to do both day long and full weekend touring.
Several people have suggested I would likely do well with a Pilgrim LV or an Avocet LV. I am looking for ideas, and someone who might be selling one of those boats.
Thanks for any help!
Barbara

Comments

  • Where are you?

  • Lake Placid, Florida

  • Also spend summer in Maine

  • Are there other kayak models I should be looking for?

  • I currently own a Hurricane Tracer165 which is a nice kayak but has too much sail surface for me.

  • You might check with Sweetwater in St. Pete they are a Valley dealer. I have bought from them... good people.
    https://sweetwaterkayaks.wordpress.com/

  • Just as a thought, there is a Superior kayak sparrow hawk LV for sale in the classifieds. If the maps are correct, it may be a couple of hours away from you if you wanted to see if the owner would allow a test paddle.

  • edited November 26

    @Barbara H said:
    Are there other kayak models I should be looking for?

    Current Designs Prana LV, Sisu LV, or P&H Cetus LV are other options. As to finding boats to try, look for upcoming symposiums. They generally will have demos to try and sometimes to sell on the spot.

    Good luck in your search. I know from experience how frustrating it can be.

  • Do you prefer composite or plastic?

    On the Avocet LV you mentioned, the composite version is supposed to be a better fit for smaller paddlers than the plastic version. The Avocet is no longer made - I believe the Valley Sirona line is the replacement, but not sure about how well they fit smaller paddlers.

    Some smaller people kayaks (based on what my 5'1" 110 lb girlfriend likes):
    Jackson Journey 13.5 (day touring - might not be enough storage enough for your camping)
    Valley Gemini
    Sterling IceCap (very expensive)

    Most any boat with an LV designation might be worth trying.

  • The Echo, is NDKs newest LV kayak. It is for very petite paddlers. A friend down in Charleston, received the first one, in the US. She is ~5 and weighs ~100lbs. The Pilgrim had to much volume, for her. She had some input, in the design of the Echo.http://maineislandkayak.com/new-ndk-echo/

  • @grayhawk said:
    You might check with Sweetwater in St. Pete they are a Valley dealer. I have bought from them... good people.
    https://sweetwaterkayaks.wordpress.com/

    Agree.

    My wife called them. They took her size information and made an appointment. We arrived they fitted her in three likely boats. They took the boats to a local launch and let her play in them as long as she wanted.

  • RexRex
    edited November 26

    Maybe I can contribute some here. The word "wind" caught my attention. When I first started with the kayak thing I really valued tracking. After going out in some stiff wind and significant waves I realized that tracking is NOT the attribute I wanted all the time. What I needed in higher winds was a boat that was easier to correct when it got pushed around. I found that a somewhat shorter boat (14 ft) was the thing to have. If I were you I'd definitely look at the boat that Peter-CA mentioned... Jackson Journey 13.5.

    Try to demo boats on a really windy day.

  • Thanks everyone for your comments, I met briefly with Russell at Sweetwater kayaks and he is helping me look too. He was the one who suggested an Avocet LV, but he only had a moment at the time. Great guy!
    I’d love an Echo, I think, but new ones are above my budget,...sigh.

  • Consider not buying into any of those options and just cheapening out and seeing what you find on Craigslist. It's a bit of a gamble but you can get some great deals. I have the opposite problem as I am 6'4" but in the end sometimes it's better to learn how to fit into things then it is to stay on a quest to find something that fits you because then you learn how to deal with stuff and become a better paddler.

    Also do remember that composite will never be as durable or resilient as plastic which is heavier. No plastic isn't as nice, it's harder to carry and less responsive but you can do everything you're not supposed to do to a kayak repeatedly and for years and get away with plastic. While it's hard to fix if truly broken, it can be dragged, beached and launched from rocks stress free and it's inexpensive enough that after decades of such abuse that it obviously can take can be replaced inexpensively so it's a "fire and forget" no stress, worry free 100% reliable, literally zero maintenance type experience.

    I live in the rocky Northeast and briefly tried out wood/composite with not so good results but I am not into resurfacing or varnishing or that sort of stuff and the beaches, if they exist, are just "dry rock gardens" for the most part.

    Eventually the sit inside Kayaks are way better but it's not bad to just spend a couple hundred bucks on something cheap to try out and then see every level above that how you get improvements so you know what each level feels like and can give you. Also the biggest hit is when you buy new, but if you buy used then you can usually turn around and re-sell it on craigslist for more or less what you paid as long as it didn't take serious damage which is something worth considering. For such a low commitment or outlay it's hard to go wrong just to see what you're getting into.

  • Continue working with Russell, that'll be your best course. He is familiar with paddling conditions in Maine, he came up regularly to coach at sea kayaking symposiums in the Downeast area.

  • @CA139 said:

    Eventually the sit inside Kayaks are way better but it's not bad to just spend a couple hundred bucks on something cheap to try out and then see every level above that how you get improvements so you know what each level feels like and can give you. .

    Unsure if you read Barbara's post that she's been paddling a 16'5" sea kayak and is 109# and 5'4" tall.

  • I did, I have kids that are about 5" and 95lbs each who aren't doing too bad in a 12 1/2 and 14 foot Tsunamis but Craigslist gives you the chance to try stuff out because if you're used to a 16.5 foot Sea Kayak it will be much faster, generally more stable and track straighter. There's a significant differenec between our Tsunami 125 and 140 and that's just 18 inches of difference!

    The difference of a smaller boat could be considerable and after a lifetime of being long and thin I always had problems fitting into every which thing I just gave up trying to find things that fit me. My wife criticizes me for plopping myself down, not using pillows, not making myself comfortable and assuming the most uncomfortable postures or positions to which my answer is I gave up years ago and am just dealing with it but that's how I roll.

    I am sure there is some importance to position but if it were that important the Kayak manufactures would allow much more adjustable seating like in a car.

  • Rookie and CA139, no need to refine the size and fit discussion here. The OPer has hooked with an outstanding resource in Russell down at Sweetwater. She will be steered correctly.

  • I'll add an Impex Force 3 to the petite paddler mix. Problem will be keeping up with her. ;)

    See you on the water,
    Marshall Seddon
    The River Connection, Inc.
    9 W. Market St.
    Hyde Park, NY
    845-229-0595 main
    845-242-4731 mobile
    Main: www.the-river-connection.com
    Store: www.the-river-connection.us
    Facebook: fb.me/theriverconnection

  • Is the Impex Force 3 mostly a “go fast” boat vs playful? And any paddlers under 135 who like its fit?

  • From my wife’s years of experience with it (5’ and as close to same weight as I will hazard) it is a go plenty fast without leaving maneuverability by the wayside, provided you’re comfortable heeling it over into a skidding turn.

    I do have a paddled once Demo that needs a home. Line seam is the F3, grey is a F4.

    See you on the water,
    Marshall
    The River Connection, Inc.
    9 W. Market St.
    Hyde Park, NY
    845-229-0595 main
    845-242-4731 mobile
    Main: www.the-river-connection.com
    Store: www.the-river-connection.us
    Facebook: fb.me/theriverconnection

  • edited December 5

    I’ve paddled all the rivers you mentioned in both canoe and kayak. Forget the rudder or skeg, they just drag and reduce maneuverability on the small rivers. I’m 6’+, currently ~225# and use an antique plastic 16’ Aquaterra Chinook, so I cant comment on your choices except to say “drag”. Shorter the boat, deeper it sits and those low water levels in the summer on any MO river means more gravel push time. Stay narrow as you can (you really don’t need to move L/R!), give yourself the toe/knee room to flex, and pack like an ultralight hiker. If in or near STL, the Alpine Shop Paddle Days event might give you a chance to actually try before you buy.

  • @Caver69 said:
    I’ve paddled all the rivers you mentioned in both canoe and kayak. Forget the rudder or skeg, they just drag and reduce maneuverability on the small rivers. I’m 6’+, currently ~225# and use an antique plastic 16’ Aquaterra Chinook, so I cant comment on your choices except to say “drag”. Shorter the boat, deeper it sits and those low water levels in the summer on any MO river means more gravel push time. Stay narrow as you can (you really don’t need to move L/R!), give yourself the toe/knee room to flex, and pack like an ultralight hiker. If in or near STL, the Alpine Shop Paddle Days event might give you a chance to actually try before you buy.

    Am thinking you meant to post in another thread. There's been no mention of rivers. The OP is looking for a sea kayak.

  • Current Designs Suka is another good one for petite people. Very light and manageable.

  • Thanks Sparky, this looks like a good suggestion!

  • Thanks for all your comments, it looks like the Pilgrim lv, Avocet lv, and the Sukarno May be some of my best options but finding a used one at a good price might prove difficult!

  • Yes, I have not found many used kayaks in this category myself. But please report back if you do find any and get to try them!

  • @Barbara H

    Since you summer in Maine, might not be all that difficult: http://maineislandkayak.com/boat-store/used-boats/

    The have some really nice offerings in their used fleet:

    https://www.maineislandkayak.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Used-Demo-Flyer-112018-v2.pdf

  • There's a new Suka for $1,999 on ebay. That looks like a fantastic deal if you could get to it. I have both an older and newer Caribou (bigger version for bigger person) and they are well-built, very nice handling kayaks. That's an incredible deal for a new kayak if it works for you.

  • Wow. I'd almost buy a Suka at that price.... if it weren't for the inconvenient fact that I could only get one leg inside. I know someone who bought one for about $CAD 4k new.

  • I’ve heard the Suka is super-small. How large a paddler do you think it would fit?

  • @Doggy Paddler said:
    I’ve heard the Suka is super-small. How large a paddler do you think it would fit?

    According to Frontenac Outfitters, optimum paddler weight is 95 to 150 pounds. The 150# max was confirmed by one of the reviews here. CD lists it as for small to medium paddlers.

    https://frontenac-outfitters.com/single/current-designs-suka-kayak-16-6-kayak-81

  • I fit in the Suka fine at 130 pounds and 5'3 or 4". Sometimes comments are coming in from smaller paddlers who have become accustomed to sitting in barges, so they don't understand proper fit.

  • edited December 12

    @CA139 said:
    sometimes it's better to learn how to fit into things then it is to stay on a quest to find something that fits you because then you learn how to deal with stuff and become a better paddler.

    >

    I greatly disagree with this opinion. Having to learn in a too-small kayak might stimulate a big person into developing better skills, because that combination will be tippy.

    However, a small person in a too-big kayak will feel too MUCH stability and not need to develop better skills. That boat will also take more effort to edge. And maneuvering SINKS relies heavily on edging finesse.

    I am slightly shorter and lighter than the OP. I learned in kayaks that were too big. But I was highly motivated; the big boats were so stable for me that I could have settled for just piddling around and relying on a rudder for all maneuvering.

    Demoing boats that were kindasorta successively better fits confirmed that I should use kayaks designed for smaller people.

    I ended up with a Pilgrim Expedition, regular volume version. At that time, the LV version had not been made. The PEX is the best fit in my succession of boats bought, but I do wish it were scaled down a bit. The height could easily be an inch less for me. I will say that it is very comfortable without being unwieldy, so if longer trips are at all on your horizon, you may well want to demo the regular volume Pilgrim as well as the LV. It would give you a tad more cargo volume.

    If I did not already own the PEX, I would test out the Echo. I would have to drive at least 1200 miles to do so, unfortunately.

  • Agree with Pikabike. A smaller person in a barge just learns to hate paddling in wind.

  • Thanks for the comments, I am definitely looking around, would check out the Suka if I can find one to try, I am 110 Lbs, so definitely not a powerhouse!

  • Hi Barabara, I know you are being inundated with information but here's another choice. I have a Necky Manitou 14 which is fiberglass and not made anymore so it is lighter then the rotomold plastic ones. I have camped off this boat, had it in many lakes and rivers in Florida. It has a ske g for paddling in wind to keep it tracking straight, a comfortable seat, two bulkhead for storage and I have babied it. I am 5' 2" and 1 15 pounds. The boat is so smooth on the water and very easy to paddle. Anyway just more information for yo u to make a decision.

  • edited December 12

    I'm only familiar with the RM Manitou, but I'm fairly certain this will feel like a bathtub for anyone smaller who wants a proper fit with good contact. I'm 6'2", and 225 lbs and I fit just fine find the fit quite roomy in a Manitou. For someone very light, this won't be floating deep enough in the water and would just blow around over the water's surface when the wind picks up.

    Defend the suggestion if you want, but I think there are much better choices with the information given.

  • I never imagined that there would be so much to consider in buying a kayak (I do canoes since 1980). The choices are dizzying, but I'm finding it all very interesting.

  • edited December 13

    @Schuylkill Some is similar between canoes and kayaks, for ex whether the hull shape favors tracking (usually a more plumb, longer waterline) or maneuverability (usually a shorter waterline, extreme version being the WW canoes that are very round).

    Fit for both includes the issue of volume, that is whether the paddler and normal gear sink the boat to its most effective waterline. You rarely see a kayak manufacturer say where that line is. You usually have to try it out and see if you are giving the wind enough surface above the water to make it a pain. Hence my comment about a small person in a barge above.

    Fit in both also includes how well the paddler can get their paddle into the water for an effective stroke . Width and height come into play here. Summarize to say that canoes that properly fit a 5'4" woman are rarer than those that make a good stroke easy for a 5'11" guy. But unless you are doing performance paddling in a canoe, people tend to accept a pretty rough approach to this. Many casual canoeists (like myself) accept dealing with a boat in which someone more performance-oriented would say that they are straining to get around a boat that is wide enough to impact efficiency.

    The part of fit that is relatively unique to kayaks is because, with the closed cockpit, the knees/thighs and the feet have to all be in contact with a surface to put it on edge. Since you are sitting on your butt with legs in front, you don't have the same options for dropping onto a knee in the bilge like you have in a more open canoe to get the boat on edge for turning. And putting the boat on edge is how you maneuver a kayak. You can drop your butt into the bilge of a kayak, but you still want to be able to do something with the boat via those thigh braces. Without going into the details, a rudder is primarily a tracking device more than a turning device.

    The other part where this comes into play is rolling, which despite older attitudes is a skill that many of us consider to be fundamental to sea kayaking. Like really in the sea or similar big water like the Great Lakes, with waves etc. It just can't be reliably done in a poorly fitting overly large boat. WW kayaks have long been tuned to paddler size because it isn't optional there. 15 to 20 years ago the major sea kayak manufacturers started designing better around ease of rolling as well. Rolling means that thigh braces and pedal position have to create a secure tripod with the seat.

    The good news is that there are way, way better options for the average sized and smaller woman than there were when I got my first sea kayak. Before the change manufacturers seemed to think that only average sized and up guys wanted to sea kayak aggressively.

  • Short yaks are easy to turn but do not track well at all. Longer will track better and will be much better when the seas pick up. I would look for a longer yak with a rudder, it will help you as you learn to handle it. My wife is 5’3” 115 and had a CD Extreme which is 18’+. We paddled out to Dix Island in Maine sea was flat. The headwind and tide created 2’ seas on the way back and she just cut through the waves. Long paddle but we had fun and felt safe. Best way to pick is to try as many as you can.

  • @Celia thanks for all of that insight!

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