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looking to upgrade to a touring/sea yak

we are relatively new paddlers. husband about 2 years and me about 1. we tried cheap entry level sit ins to start to with but then upgraded to a wide stable rec boat since we were mostly paddling rivers with current. although we still enjoy the leisurely downstream float on the "barges" we are venturing into open water areas and eventually some ocean. we learned the hard way that 30"+ fairly flat rec boats are rubbish on flat still water :(
we are looking to bite the bullet and get a much nicer boat that will go much faster with less effort as our hobby evolves to larger bodies of water.

we have narrowed it down to 3 that we found good deals on used. keep in mind that neither of us are petite so comfort is a factor, but we also want to be able to cover distance efficiently and keep a certain amount of stabilty.

our picks are:
16' necky eskia
17' necky elaho
16' hurricane tracer

thoughts, opinions or advice?


  • Options
    -- Last Updated: Jun-10-13 4:16 PM EST --

    It all depends what you hit with the boats.
    Trylon can crack if you hit submerged rocks.

    Scroll down to see the various fix-it-kits

  • a little feedback on two of the boats
    I rented a Necky Eskia a few years ago on a trip to British Columbia and used it for some coastal and fiord paddling. It was a little wide for my taste but certainly a comfortable and decent handling boat. The outfitter also had the Elahos in their fleet and I paddled one around a sheltered inlet for a while just to get a feel for it (I was planning on buying a hard shell sea kayak in the next year and was taking every chance I could to try various models.) The Elaho was more impressive to me performance wise -- note the Elaho is a couple of inches narrower (than the Eskia) and has a slightly smaller cockpit, though still a reasonably sized keyhole type. I can see why the Eskia is popular with outfitters -- very durable and stable for a touring boat. Both Necky's struck me as heavier than I would want to wrestle with as well -- the 15' Venture Easky 15LV I eventually bought after all my test paddling is 15 lbs lighter than either. The Tracer you are considering is about the right weight (46 lbs) though I see somebody has warned that the Trylon plastic may be vulnerable to damage. Based on the specs that would probably be one I would prefer to the Neckys.

    Can't help you with how the Tracer handles since I have never been in one. But the Elaho seems a more "talented" boat to me than the Eskia, which I would classify as closer to the day touring range, a little wider and a little slower than suits me. If it helps in comparing what might work for you, I'm 5'5" and about 160 lbs. and a fairly cautious intermediate paddler who is happier with lighter, longer boats that paddle quickly, track well and take rough water with a grain of salt. I don't mind wiggly primary stability at all, but if you do the wider Eskia might feel more friendly to you.
  • Tracer
    -- Last Updated: Jun-11-13 6:16 AM EST --

    I recently sold a Tracer that I had for about 1 yr. The boat was light, well made, and was a fairly fast boat. I sold it because for me it had very soft primary stability (made it feel overly twitchy to me) and the seat was not very comfortable for me when I was in the boat for more than 1 hr. The Trylon mtl seemed pretty durable to me but I try to take care of my boats.

    I have a Wilderness Zephyr 160 (which I think is a blast to paddle in rough water or tight conditions) and a Perception Essence 16.5 which for me is a very comfortable and well behaved boat in a wide range of conditions. I have found that the Wilderness or Perception seating and backband just feels best for me. I'm 6' and 215 lbs.

    You might really enjoy the Tracer, the guy that bought mine already had one and was adding a second for the family. I would strongly suggest that you test paddle it before purchase to be sure you are comfortable with it.

  • Thermoformed plastic
    may crack if you hit a rock with quite a bit of force in white water, but it is perfectly suited to the poster's uses. I've paddled thermoformed kayaks for the last five years and have had no durability problems whatsoever. Unfortunately, Hurricane's plastic and/or construction method tends to be a bit soft, but I haven't paddled the Tracer. Test the plastic by pushing down in front of and behind the cockpit and see what you think.

    If you like thermoformed and are "not petite,: consider the Eddyline Journey. Large cockpit, reasonable speed, excellent construction, stable. It costs about $500 more than the Tracer, but I think you will see and feel the quality difference immediately.

    Feel free to give height and weight specifics so we can advise you further.
  • What are your sizes?
    Your heights & weights will help guide advice.
  • sizes
    male 5'9 190 lb
    female 5'5 yo-yos 150-175
  • If you're near central IL, .............
    The female should try out my kevlar Perception Shadow 16.5, which is in near new condition and could be bought for about the price of one of the listed boats new.

    Of the boats listed, the Tracer is the only one that I've tried on for size and it fit me pretty nicely at 5'6" and 160 lbs. I haven't had a chance to paddle one, yet.

  • boats and price
    the three that boats that are listed were being considered as they are for sell used in the $700-900 range. we arent able to spend more than that at this time and were excited about the deal we were getting. if we are buying new, we would need to stay under $1,000.

    if anyone knows a good transitional type or entry touring in that price range that would fit our needs please speak up :)
  • That helps
    In your price range, you will be looking at rotomolded plastic, or possibly a used Hurricane. If you don't mind the softness of the Hurricane plastic, go ahead and buy it.

    There is just one other thermoformed kayak that might be in your price range: the Delta 12.10. I bought one recently for $950 used. Watch the video here and see what you think: http://www.frontenac-outfitters.com/kayaks/one_boat.cfm?ID=645

    I have a sense that you haven't yet grasped the differences in kayak lengths, and this is a really important question. There is a lot of debate about this, as you will see in the replies here. In my opinion, you should go with the shortest kayak that is safe, efficient, and comfortable for your planned uses: size of bodies of water, expected conditions, use for camping, etc. If you exceed what you actually need, you are storing, transporting, and paddling excess length and weight unnecessarily. Like driving a Hummer around town instead of a Honda Fit. IMHO

    The Delta 12.10 a transitional kayak. It is unique in that it is the only short kayak I know of that both is seaworthy and has ample space for your camping gear, for up to a week. It is very stable in all conditions, faster than expected for its length, is fully outfitted as a sea kayak, and has huge hatches. It would fit both of you.

    The Delta 12.10 is pretty hard to find used, but even the new price is reasonable for the quality. Feel free to e-mail me if I can answer any questions about the Delta 12.10 or thermoformed kayaks in general.

    Be careful not to get excited about any one kayak just because it shows up on Craigslist. Have a good understanding of your needs and of kayak characterstics and wait until the RIGHT kayak shows up.

    If you tell us your location we can check Craigslist for you.

  • Softness of Hurricane plastic?
    Seems pretty scuff resistant to me.
  • length and uses
    we have actually tried out a few different things and know that we want to stay in the 14-16 range. i am looking at 14.5 15 primarily. husband is looking more 16 maybe 17 since he will do more overnight trips.

    we are looking to cover distance with good time and less effort on flat and open water, but also want the ability for sea with out buying another kayak :( hence the choice of length.

    i am aware that finding what we want in our price range is quite difficult and is why we are looking at used. we have looked at and/or tried in water several we found on craigslist and most arent going to work for one reason or another.

    the necky elaho sold and we are going to try the tracer today, but then will still need a second comparable boat. we mostly paddle together so even though husband will want a bit larger for cargo, i want to be able to keep up during day paddles.
  • Comparative stiffness
    Stiffness depends on the thickness of the plastic as well as stiffening deck architecture. Eddyline is the only thermoformed manufacturer I know of that builds stiffness into the deck architecture, and it makes a big difference.

    Stiffness of the top four, in order:
    1. Eddyline
    2 and 3. Delta and Swift
    4. Hurricane
  • Let us know what you think of the Tracer
    I've done a lot of kayak camping in kayaks that were 12'10", 14'6", and 15'6". The hatch volume of those three kayaks was in the reverse order, with the 12.10 having the largest volume and the 15.5 having the smallest volume. It is very possible to camp with a 13'-14' kayak. You definitely don't need 17' to camp. I could camp for a week in my 12.10.

    Okay, Plan B: buy the best kayak you can afford now, use it for a while, sell it for a profit, and upgrade. That's how I acquired an Eddyline, which didn't cost me a single dollar in the end. It took 9 upgrades to get to my goal. Great fun.

    -- Last Updated: Jun-11-13 11:50 PM EST --

    I can't speak to your other two candidates, but the Tracer is a good boat. At 16-1/2 feet long X ~22-3/8 inches wide, it's a far sleeker and faster boat than any rec designs I can think of, and equal to or better than quite a few other tourers.

    These days the Tracer is skegged out of the factory, and may or may not be ruddered; when we got Sally's, it had neither and was a "turny" boat, with even experienced paddlers working to keep it headed. It became a good tourer, tracking well with some skeg, and quite maneuverable with the skeg up, after we had one retrofitted. Sally finds the boat quite stable (as do I) -and this was her first SINK after paddling a Scupper Classic SOT (14'1" X 26") for several years before switching to a SINK touring design.

    The Hurricane boats are made of Trylon, their proprietary brand of vacu-formed thermoplastic, and it hold up well. It looks like glass when cleaned up, and is tough stuff -we've accidentally dropped ours a couple-three times, twice on asphalt (ouch!) and it's none the worse for wear other than a slight abrasion at the contact point. A friend of ours saw one of the other Hurricane boats, a Tampico I think it was, take a header off a car roof rack similarly onto a parking lot. It bounced and then came to rest, with no damage other than a scuff where it "touched" down.

    We've had Sally's Tracer about 8 or so years -and we got it used at two years old, and at ten, it still looks great and paddles well. We keep it outdoors under the palms down here, albeit hull up, and the color is still as good as when we got it. The Kajaksport hatches, with a little 303 used 3-4 times a year, have held up well and remain nicely waterproof.

    The down side for some is a largish cockpit -exactly what Sally was looking for to escape a feeling of claustrophobia she got in other, smaller, 'locked-in' cockpits. Sit in one and see it it works for you.

    All in all, it's been a great boat for Sally, and looks handsome in the water, too.

    You could do a lot worse than a Tracer as one of your next boats to


    -Frank in Miami

  • tracer responses
    -- Last Updated: Jun-12-13 5:09 PM EST --

    several things here..

    as for overnight camping, yes the tracer is more than adequate but that will be a small portion of what we want to do. mostly long paddles, island hopping, and eventually sea. looking for versatility. plus the tracer is a used boat for under $1000 so its hard to pass up :)

    UPDATE: husband bought the tracer last night. its in great shape, looks brand new and he fit in it perfectly. i have not sat in it yet but we are gonna try it out this weekend. if i like it i found a second one for sale.

    to the poster who said sally thought it was a bit large... wow she must be tiny!! :)
    you also mentioned stability. my local kayak shop told me its one of the trickiest boats to keep upright til you get it going so i was interested to hear you find it stable.

    back to the tracer cockpit size, i have wide hips and could stand to lose a few lbs so i am curious to see how i do. as a reference, i tried the tampico 140s and 140L yesterday. the 140S was tight and not comfortable, but it had a touring seat with metal plates on the sides to keep you from utilizing the inside space under the initial opening.

    the 140L however i was told had the exact same mold but with a rec seat and without the metal panels i fit super comfy with plenty of wiggle room. so if i fit well in the tracer and can control the "tippy" i will get the other one.

    however, if it is too small or too tippy for me i really like the tampico 140L and may look at that. i hear it is pretty fast for its size compared to other 14' boats, but if husband has the tracer i dont see me keeping up...
    or would i?

  • airlte
    nice.. too bad im not closer.
    im on the gulf coast and there isnt a very big market here for touring or sea boats. mostly rec and fishing. so we dont get too many used offers for what i want. even the stores dont carry many new, so i am hard pressed to even try one out. one of our best kayak shops in the area only carries 4 models over 14'
    so i come here for advice :)
  • Just an example
    of what you can find with patience and a willingness to travel a bit.
  • The Tampico 140S is VERY straight/
    hard tracking and doesn't turn easily.

    If the 140L has the same hull, but just different cockpit, I'd strongly encourage you to test paddle before buying, unless you don't mind working hard to turn a boat.
  • Turning the tampico
    Yea ive paddled the 135 and it took a wide girth to turn it, but so does my perception sot, which is basically a 31" barge :) so im used to it.
    But my bigger concern is keeping up with the husband as he just bought the tracer 165.
    I can live with the turning issue i think.
  • Keeping up
    -- Last Updated: Jun-13-13 2:22 PM EST --

    It happens often that not everyone in a group has the same level of strength and skill and kayak capability. So the rule is that faster members go at the pace of slower members.

    That could be applied to a couple as well. Get the kayak that suits your needs and your build. If necessary your husband can modify his pace. His goal is to have a pleasant time with you, not just go fast, right? Slowing down a bit does not actually cause pain.

    Generally a 14-footer can keep pace reasonably well with a 16-footer. 12 and 17 feet would create an imbalance, but 14 and 16 feet is a close enough match.

  • Options
    140S and 140L
    not sure what you mean by metal plates. To my knowledge there are no metal plates inside any Hurricane cockpit. Could you give more info?

    Thigh braces: Those are made of plastic. The 140S is equipped w. them, the 140L is not. Thigh braces actually help w. turning as they are a huge advantage in edging. They also help w. bracing which is another plus in preventing capsizes. And of course make rolling a lot easier if you want to try that some day.

    The 140S has the low backband - actually with good form just as comfortable as the high one -which promotes good posture/good forward stroke - and which has the bonus of not being an obstacle during self rescues.

    The 140L has the higher seatback. The higher seatback often leads to ppl slumping and therefore not engaging their abdominal muscles as much as they could. Also leads a paddler to scrape over it, often on their belly doing a self rescue. which isn't always fun. And is harder for many folks.

    I owned a 135S (a slighter shorter and lowerdecked predecessor of the 140S, which also turned a lot better than the 140S does - I have paddled both).

    Honestly the 140S felt like a de-tuned version of the 135S - it's got a lot more volume that I didn't need, which meant the fit suffered, and all the things that come w. that. It didn't turn nearly as well -it's a *very* tracky boat, as is the 140L. The integrated stern skeg (not a moveable skeg of course, a shaped stern end that acts like a skeg)
    But it was just as quick as a 140S. You can set a nice pace and pretty efficiently with either a 140S or 135S, and that would hold true as well for a 140L.

    Whether I could keep up w. a Tracer 165 would depend how good a paddler I was and how good the Tracer paddler was. And of course the faster paddler could be nice and slow up every now n then.

  • 140S & L
    i think i have seen them refered to as hip plates.

    they tend to keep you from "spreading out" so to speak in the cockpit area underneath the opening. no clue if that makes any sense but without pointing to in on a picture i dont know how else to describe it :)

    at any rate these made me feel a little too tight in the 140S and is why im looking at the L model.

    i do wish the L had the thigh braces though as i would like to learn to manuever correctly, however i can spread my knees a bit and lodge them under the edge of the opening comfortably and hope that will work.

    as for the turning, i assumed a boat of that type would be a little hard anyway, and i think id rather trade some manueverability for better tracking as we intend to use them in large bodies of water and save the winding rivers for the rec boats.

    of course the more i look the more boats i find that i would like to try... i think instead of asking which one out of a certain set would be best i need to ask for advice on ANY boat that may fill the needs described in my original post :)
  • Options
    140S and 140L
    thanks for the post. This is one situation where a picture is worth 2,000 words :)

    So you are saying these "plates" are in the 140S but *not* in the 140L?

    In any case the 140S is too tight for you so I see why the 140L interests you. Many ppl enjoy the Tampicos and I was once one of them in my 135S.Which I really loved my first two years of paddling. I sold it at the beginning of year 3 because I found it limited me but we all have our own goals in paddling.

    Not saying it's a bad boat - not at all. There are several features that make it less appealing to me, but that's me. You may be able to make it work fine, for your purposes and your style of paddling, and that's all that matters.

    Do you get to test paddle it? That would be good. If you can take it out on a breezy day and try to turn it both into and away from the wind, that would be a good test before you buy it. I'd do that with any boat, but esp. with one that was a "tracker". Good luck and keep us posted!
  • Length - what's in the water matters....
    not overall length.
  • OMG!!
    husband just got home with his new tracer and i fit in it much better than i thought i would :)

    may have to see if that other used one i found is still available.

    but first to see if i can keep it upright!
  • Tracer cockpit fit is very similar to
    Tampico 140S, IIRC from Canoecopia last year.
  • Once you each have a boat...
    Go to a local pond after viewing videos or find an outfitter who can work with you on assisted rescues - as in on the water, not going to shore. With two paddlers and boats that have air in each end, a capsize should be a total non-event. It will leave you both a lot more comfortable, both because you got by the first capsize and because now you know how to handle it.
  • i think i made a choice...
    i actually didnt care for the tracer once i tried it. the tippiness didnt bother me so much, i just felt it was harder to maneuver than i wanted and i wasnt greatly impressed by the tracking on calm water. i had tried the tampico and tsunami just prior and they just felt better.

    someone posted earlier about the tampico being hard to turn and i would agree. plus no thigh pads on 140L.

    i think i am about 90% certain i am going with the tsunami 140. it turns well, i feel very stable when i practiced my edging, and the speed wasnt terrible. a bit slower than the tampico but not enough to measure really. its alot heavier than i like but thats what husband is for :)

    i thank everyone here for the valuable input. all of your advice played into my decision process more than you know. i feel wiser for it

  • demo them
    If you can, try the boats before you put down the $$. A trial of several hours on some bigger water means a lot more than a few minutes near the dock.

    I could tell you my opinion, but it might not apply.

    Last year another club member and I bought CD Storm GT's from the same dealer, the same day. They were three year old demo boats. We both like our boats, but have very different descriptions of how they feel. He thinks they are twitchy and sensitive, and seldom edges, but uses bow rudder for tight turns. I think mine is a barge, and edge till the spray skirt is all that keeps me from swamping, and think bow rudder costs to much speed loss. Size may be a factor. I am 5' 9" 165 # while he is a couple inches taller and forty pounds heavier.

    Longer boats are more forgiving in big water when the wind blows.


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