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14-15' kayak under 50 lbs?

Hi Everybody,

Happy New Year!

I’m looking for advice on lighter weight 14-15 foot kayaks mainly due to life complications. Background: I am 5’8”, 170lbs, paddled for 3 years in a Tsunami 125. Spring 2012 bought a Pyranha Fusion for small rivers/large creeks.

The Bottom Line: looking for 14-15 foot boat that weighs fewer than 50 lbs that is considered on the nimble side for that length. For paddling large rivers and lakes, mostly day tripping up to 20 miles or so. Ideally costs less than $2k. Really can’t spend more than $3K. Won’t buy without test paddling. Thoughts on the Hurricane Tampico and/or Perception Tribute? Anything else I should look at, either used/new?

The Gory Details: I’ve become increasingly frustrated with the Tsunami’s barge like (to me) paddling qualities. I know I could stand to work on my paddling technique, especially edging: that was the plan for summer 2012. Then a couple of discs in my neck popped out in May and I lost the entire season. My docs have cleared me to start paddling next summer, but I’m not to lift weight over 40 lbs. I figure I can fudge this a bit to about 46-48 lbs or so for a kayak...if I’m smart about it. I was pretty strong before and know how to lift weight.

I am now looking to sell the Tsunami and get a sub 50 lb. 14-15 footer for larger rivers and lakes (I live in southern Wisconsin). Ideally it would be (for this length) on the more nimble side. And for sure work on my paddling technique. I load by myself onto a Thule Slipstream, so I really do need to pay attention to weight. (I’ll get something like a Hullavator if I need to, but the Slipstream works really well for me) I’d prefer to stay around or under $2k, though if I fell in love I could maybe spend up to $3k. (retirement fund be damned...) That’s the rub, I think.

Local paddle shop recommended I test the Hurricane Tampico and the Perception Tribute come spring. (gave them $2k limit) Any other recommendations? Definitely will buy used if I can get in the thing and test.

If you've managed to read this far, thanks much!


  • check out pygmy
    Pygmy makes some nice small boat kits, if you have the space and ability to do some building.
    They are super light compared to a tupperware boat

  • Stitch&Glue Kayaks...
    ...like the Pygmy boats, are excellent choices - not at all hard to build, very tough and light, and they cost a fraction of the price of fiberglass or kevlar boats.


    I build and paddle the VOLKSKAYAK design - 17' sea kayak, 40-45 lbs., costs me about $500 (top of the line materials) and about 80 hours starting from plans and raw materials. The work is actually simple - a step-by-step process, easy to follow and needing no special tools and skills. Dollar for dollar, pound for pound, a good S&G design is the hands-down winner for me.
  • Need a kayak?
    PlacidBoatworks makes a couple of pack canoes that come in the weight range of 20-25 lbs.

    I have paddled my RapidFire on the ocean and on the Great Lakes. Mine is configured to sit on the bottom and paddle with a double blade.

    So my question to you..is do you really need a deck? Maybe yes maybe no.
  • Kits
    Thanks for the kit ideas! I've been thinking about trying one for other reasons: despite my lack of skill with anything adhesive, I enjoy basic woodworking. Hadn't made the connection with lightweight--could be great.
  • great question
    You've given me a lot to think about! I'm definitely open to a canoe, but it does need to have a good back support and possibly footrests. I'll know more about that once I get back on the water and see what's working. I will check out Placid Boats for sure. Thanks!
  • Not Sure of the Weight
    but the Dagger Alchemy is 14 ft and nimble. Put it on your list of ones to try. I only lift one end at a time car-topping and un-car-topping. After that I carry it at waist level. Less stress.
  • NC Kayaks
    -- Last Updated: Jan-02-13 5:52 PM EST --

    NC Kayaks weight range 40-50 lbs depending on layup. Check the stock on hand link. They have new glass boats in the $1500 range + shipping. I think they are factory direct like QCC. I have never paddled one, but I have heard great reviews. I have seen a couple in person. They are well made. But, I do not think they would hold up to rock gardening.


  • Swift Saranac
    My Swift Saranac 14 tips the scales at 36lbs with a skeg. I use the boat for everything from the Adirondacks to the Atlantic.
  • If the disk problems are in your neck,
    why are the docs limiting you to 40# lifting? Docs are likely to be ignorant of the mechanics of lifting, even if they understand stresses on disks.

    I carry canoes and kayaks on my head, and have had a tiny bit of greater auricular nerve buzzing which might relate to my carrying practices. But I have never felt a neck buzz when throwing a 50 pound canoe up to my shoulders.

    One can contrive to lift only one end of a 60 pound kayak at a time. There are bar extensions where the one end of the boat can be propped while the other is lifted into place.

    I applaud your search for a light kayak. There is no necessity to put up with heavy boats.

    Twenty mile day trips? Can you reduce the quantity in favor of higher quality?

    If you think the Tsunami is a barge, let us know if you decide to sell the Fusion.
  • they have top of the line backbands
    and of course adjustable footpegs.

  • SOF
    -- Last Updated: Jan-02-13 7:16 PM EST --

    Check out the Cape Falcon F-1, a 14' boat in skin-on-frame construction. Weight about 32 pounds and it is amazingly nimble, responsive, etc. I highly recommend it - you don't say where you are, but if you're close to Oregon I recommend the building class. You get a new boat and a Greenland paddle for $1300. He can custom build one for $1950. Everyone who has paddled mine has liked it and been comfortable (mine is a previous model, SC-1, very similar). Advanced kayakers can really make it fly.


    PS an SOF is much easier to build than a stitch & glue boat, by the way.

    PPS I have my eye on a Rapidfire or a Spitfire as well, they appeal as I am losing my tolerance for having my legs flat out in front of me for a long time. The SOF is way less money...

  • excellent suggestions
    -- Last Updated: Jan-03-13 6:31 PM EST --

    Like Kim I have a Rapidfire and enthusiastically recommend it. It is costly due to the expensive materials used and the extensive labor required in construction- the polar opposite of dumping a bucket of plastic beads in a mold and turning on the heat and rotation. I really enjoy paddling it on lakes and non-whitewater streams. It's quite fast and nimble. You can read a number of reviews on Paddling.net, including mine and Kim's.

    Like Carl, I have built a 14' Cape Falcon kayak (he built the SC1 while I built its successor, the F1). Have used it in many paddles on Long Island Sound and continue to be impressed with what a fantastic design it is. Reviews are on Paddling.net

    I'm going to build the 14' "Petrel Play" in a class with the designer, Nick Schade of Guillemott Kayaks. I test paddled the "Play" and was impressed enough to sign up to start building one next week. It is nimble. CLC will be selling the plans and/or a kit. Weight should be about 35 lbs , depending on build quality and components added.

    All 14' kayaks give up higher speeds to longer kayaks but are fast enough to keep up with average paddling groups. I would recommend the "PLay" highly for you except that it is a new design and you will have a very hard time finding one to demo for a few months. Nick has a demo in CT and there will be a few more in CT by spring, including mine. However, CT is a 22 hr. drive from southern Wisconsin (did it in one day many years ago, never again). I'll post a review in the summer after I've completed the kayak and paddled it many times.

    Good luck on your quest-When discussing canoes/kayaks, my friend the late Bart Hauthaway always said "the smaller and lighter it is, the more you'll use it."


  • Alchemy
    Not sure of the exact poundage, but you'd be over 50 if it was even damp.
  • neck and lifting
    g2d, it may be because the problem discs are the last two before the back starts, perhaps because they were bumping up against my spinal cord, not entirely sure. I also lost all functionality in my right tricep, though that's slowly coming back. Fair question. I'll be exploring my limits this summer...

    All I know is that for most of this past summer even picking up 5 pounds of weight caused pain and pressure. Don't want to go back to that!

    Good point about trading quantity for quality.

    I'll let you know if I decide to sell the Fusion. :-]
  • Thanks!
    Thanks everyone for the awesome suggestions and great questions. I have a lot of research to do!

    Kayaking has been a super motivator through treatment and PT: can't wait to get back out on the water.

    I really appreciate all of your thoughtful help, and definitely welcome more suggestions.

  • Let us know how it works for you
    every paddler has their own journey and trip log.
  • More build options
    Hi Dave,

    Thanks very much! I will keep an eye out for the Play. CLC comes through Madison with boats for demo usually at least once a summer, and they will be at Canoecopia, so I could at least talk to them about the boat/kit.

    The reviews for the RapidFire are among the most useful I've read on this site: thanks to you, Kim, and others for putting such great information out there.

    I appreciate the sentiment that the lighter you go the more you'll want to get out and go. I should note, as it's that time of year, that getting myself lighter will help too!

  • Motivation during PT
    Hi Megan,

    During 18 weeks of PT, 2 x wk, while recovering from shoulder reconstruction, to paddle again was my motivation to work very hard. In the eight years since surgery I've been able to paddle frequently with no ill effects if I paddle in ways that don't stress the shoulder. I won't bore you with my injury accommodations as they don't apply to your situation. When healed as much as possible, determine what adjustments you need to make and then enjoy paddling!

    CLC probably will add the "Play" to their road show as it's a new design that should prove popular so they are likely to be promoting it. If your still interested in trying it, a phone call a few weeks before they will be in your area could help assure that design gets loaded.

    Best wishes,

  • Feathercraft Kahuna or Wisper
    buy used and you get a boat you can travel the world with.
  • I'll second that.
    -- Last Updated: Jan-04-13 10:39 AM EST --

    A previous post recommended taking a look at NC kayaks. I second that with extreme prejudice. I know you (the OP) mentioned that you would not consider a boat without a test paddle. Well that probably wouldn't be possible unless you live somewhere in the Northwest, but the same is probably true of a lot of other really great boats.

    NC does not make a 15' boat, but they do make a great little 15'-8" sea kayak. They are also having their super winter sale. It is worth taking a look--if for no other reason than to see what a fabulous boat you can get for well below the cost you stated.

    I don't own one of their 15'-8" models, but I do own a 19 footer and a friend of mine owns the "fifteen." I wouldn't trade mine for anything and neither would my friend. Take a look at nckayaks.com.

  • Options
    Impex Mystic
    Add the Impex to your list. It is a sleek, lovely small kayak. I am with Chuck, though, and would personally prefer a folding kayak. If you would consider a folder add the Feathercraft Kurrent and the Long Haul UTE to your list of prospects. Generally Feathercrafts are lighter in weight, nicer to paddle, easier to carry, but more time consuming to assemble; Long Hauls (and the very similar Kleppers) are heavier (although the UTE meets your spec), more rugged, and much quicker to assemble. Folding kayaks are an acquired taste, but once acquired, their appeal transcends any rigid boat.
  • Hurricane Tampico 140
    -- Last Updated: Jan-04-13 11:25 AM EST --

    I have one (listed at 45 pounds) and I'm very happy with it. I kept up with a 2.5 feet longer boat than mine last year in bouncy water. There are 2 versions, the 140S (http://hurricaneaquasports.com/kayaks/tampico140s.html) and the roomier 140L
    (http://hurricaneaquasports.com/kayaks/tampico140l.html). The S has thigh braces and a backband, the L has no braces and a more comfort oriented seat. I bought the L because I barely fit in the S. My friend who is about your height has an S and loves it.

  • Delta 14.5
    Epic V6

    NC 15

    Necky Eliza

    Sterling makes very light boats, but over 2K
  • Options
    Eddyline Equinox

    The Eddyline Equinox would be another good option to investigate. 14', 45 lbs, and retails for $1799.

  • more suggestions
    My two favorite kayaks (in a sequentially owned fleet of more than a dozen) are both fairly light and nimble and around 14-15 feet. One is a 37 lb Feathercraft Wisper folder (bought used for $2200) and the other a hard shell P & H Venture Easky LV (46 lbs and under $1200 new). We also have a couple of Pakboat folders and they are coming out with a new model of their XT kayak around that size this year which is intriguing and in your spec range. Probably well under $2000.

    Not quite a proven product yet but the Orukayak Origami folder is an interesting concept and certainly looks portable and easy to set up.

    I also have a skin on frame and agree that the F1 might be a good boat to look into for you. My 18' SOF weighs in at 31 pounds and is a snap to load and carry to the water. It's amazing how much having a light boat can simplify paddling and amplify the enjoyment thereof.
  • Options
    You might want to take a look at a fuselage style skin on frame. They don't require much in the way of wood working, and there's a million and a half ways of putting 'em together. Yostwerks.com has some good designs, pics, and step by step instructions. The site was put together by an engineer, though, so it's recommended to read through all of the site, even if you're only building a non-folding kayak.

    You don't have to use PVC to cover the kayak like Tom does, either. I used 8 oz polyester, covered it in PL Premium Construction Adhesive, then Rustoleum. There's been a lot of success using ballistic nylon and varnish, instead. I lashed all my joints, too... no need for epoxy or screws.

    It'd be hard to build a 15' SoF over 50 lbs without getting really excessive on the size of the frames or stringers, unless you use absurd wood (mahogany for the stringers, for example).
  • Impex Sea Breeze?
    Maybe also consider an Impex Sea Breeze

    I was going to get a Impex Mystic, then stumbled on a really killer deal on an Impex Sea Breeze - Same hull as the Mystic just without the skeg and front bulkhead/hatch - and about 5 - 6 pounds lighter - mine last weighed was at 39 pounds.
  • Squamish
    Current Designs Squamish might fit you well, if you like a tighter fit. It is ~$1300, just over 15 foot, skeggy, and versatile. I have squeezed into one, and it felt lighter than the 54 pounds listed on the website.
  • Contact me when the ice melts in
    central IL. I have one that might work for you, but it's right at 50 lbs and is kevlar.

    Why the restriction to 15' length if paddling larger creeks and small rivers? Some 16' & 17' kayaks are quite nimble because of relatively short waterline length compared to the overall length.

    I was fortunate to find a used carbon Epic Touring Cruiser 16 that weighs about 36 lbs and it's my kayak of choice for non-bony creek paddling, because of it's light weight and good fit for my 5'6" 165 load.

    The Eddyline Fathom LV should have room for you and is quite sporty, quick & efficient.
  • Will do!
    My restriction to 15' is indeed somewhat artificial. In the little bit of research I did before posting it seemed to hit a sweet spot between weight and price.

    The 50 pounds is a little artificial too in that it's 10 pounds beyond what my neurosurgeon said I should be lifting. I'm just going to need to keep working on strength and conditioning and see how it all feels in the spring. 50 pounds as a "limit" may or may not work, especially at first: it's a little depressing how quickly I fell out of shape!
  • I can identify with being out of

    I prefer not to lift any boats over 40 lbs, though how well they're balanced makes a big difference when picking them up and loading them on the vehicle.
  • 14' Petrel Play
    I'm starting the construction of a stitch and glue "Petrel Play" kayak tomorrow in a class with the designer, Nick Schade of Guillemot kayaks.

    Will post about the construction experience when finished and review it in the summer, after paddling it for a few months.

  • Petrel Play
    I hope the class is great--please do post an update! I'll be hitting their booth at Canoecopia.

    I'm keeping an eye on their Michigan classes to see if they add the Petrel, but I bet it will take a while if they ever do. I do have the option of building at home, but I like guidance!
  • Options
    less than 50 lbs
    Try Warrenlightcraft.com
    A father and son team. wonderful light wt kayaks
    American made!!
  • Lincoln Canoe and Kayak
    Are they still around?

    Many light kayaks.


  • They were last week
    when I went to their store in Freeport.
  • Kismet!
    -- Last Updated: Jan-19-13 4:57 AM EST --

    I haven't been on UU for a few years, and I log on, and bruce and yanoer have posts from a few days ago!

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