12ft, 13ft, or 14ft kayak?


– Last Updated: Jan-05-15 10:27 PM EST –

...at just how maneuverable a 14-footer can be!

I run a 17'-7" Valley Aquanaut; Jack & Grayhawk -responders above -respectively -run an 18' QCC 700 and a 17' 9" (?) CD Caribou; my wife runs a 16'6" Hurricane Tracer, and Jack's bride Nanci runs a 15' QCC Q10X.

All of us have paddled impressively narrow, less than shoulder height low, and twisting with turns shorter than our boat length mangrove tunnels in the Everglades and coastal mangrove habitats of Southwest Florida and the Florida Keys, doing the kayak limbo, the kayak hula, and every so often, the kayak break-dance, for many years, and many miles.

We make it thru VERY tight spots in very long boats, which were designed for and certainly MUCH more than adequate for the open waters of the Atlantic, Gulf, Florida Bay, and Biscayne Bay. Now except for Jack & Nanci, we're all larger than you, so larger boats tend to fit us a tad better -but you can outfit almost any boat to comfortably fit almost any paddler. And don't forget, Jack & Nanci paddle an 18-footer & 15-footer quite comfortably (and QUITE well, I would add) in all conditions and environments..

I think you may be selling the considerable advantages of even a "short-to-us" 14-foot kayak short, so-to-speak, and of your sizes, as a number of responders have already noted, that 14-footer would be the best choice for you to buy and happily


-Frank in Miami

Big feet in a Dancer?
Better be the XL version.

Alchemy L or WS Zephyr 155
Both have a lot of room for bigger feet, but are not so large to feel like you are sitting in a bath tub. Both boats can be turned quickly on flat water, and turned on a dime in currents with a little practice.

Neither boat would be considered really “fast” but they can keep up with a lot of touring boats.

I have kept my Alchemy and Zephyr in my “fleet” because both are very good at multiple water types, and are just fun to go out in.

Sounds good everyone
Well, I do believe I will get a 14~.5 foot or very close kayak. I really appreciate all the input!

Now I plan to use everyone’s suggestions and do some research. I tried to research them a while back but not really knowing what length I wanted I became overwhelmed.

Maybe if I can play it smart I will wait until Spring so maybe a deal will come up on craigslist with someone upgrading and also there might be some demo days, we’ll see how it plays out.

We have Necky Looksha 12
My wife and I were new to kayaking fall of '13. Storage is an issue for now so we have Looksha12s and like them a lot. I like the two hatches but, yet a shorter boat. To me they are a good shorter touring boat. This upcoming season we will be doing a few overnight camping paddles. I have a feeling that my hotrod and garage get finished I will be looking for 14ft.or longer kayaks, but we will not be getting rid of the 12s. A few people in a group that we paddle with have Necky Manitou14s. In the spring I will take one of them for a spin.

good point
Yeah, I think due to the OP’s proportions, he pretty much really needs to sit in whatever boat he considers.

I found out that myself when I bought a Dagger RPM whitewater boat a couple years ago. Even though I sat in it and seemed to fit before buying it, I discovered later that my unusual leg/knee/foot orientation made the boat unusable for me. My feet, though small, turn out at about 30 degrees from the direction of my knees (duck feet). This meant that when my knees were tucked under the coaming my feet were so severely jammed against the hull that it caused strain on my ankles and eventual numbness in my legs – more important, it made it dangerously difficult to eject myself from the boat , I was effectively locked into it without aggressive contortions. Since I did not have a reliable roll, I sold the boat, with regret, but there are boats that simply do not fit some people.

The OP being tall with large feet means a lot of the 14’ day touring boats may not fit him , especially the lower volume narrower ones – they tend to be proportioned for women or shorter guys. Tough when you need clearance for large feet but have a slim body and don’t want to be swimming in a large cockpit.

WW boat
I have been looking for a cheap WW boat in the past 5 months, but cheap to me is $100-$200. The winding steams have some really long stretches of flat water which would be a bear to shovel through in a WW boat for the very limited rapid areas. I plan to get more serious about a WW boat when we start to see more/bigger rapids.

I know very well there is no one boat to fit everything.

Probably 80% of my trips are currently on streams and it is the long open areas that I always dread. However, I live 5 minutes from the Arkansas river so I am trying to get something to make flat water less dreadful than my current 10ft bathtub so maybe I will get on the river more.

I definitely will never be seeing an ocean anytime soon though that would be nice!

Ya, you can imagine how I feel in my current arube 10 30" wide kayak, haha!

I will definitely keep this in mind. Guess I will have to wait until spring for maybe some demo days so I can at least sit in them. I may look for some larger kayak shops within a 2 hour drive if they have floor models for me to sit in.

I’m in Fort Smith, AR and the place I go to is in Garfield, AR. They have a bunch of kayaks but mostly WW, SoT, or rec kayaks since that is what sells around here. I think there is a big shop near Tulsa, OK (about 2 hours away) that I will look further into.

I know the feeling you are talking about, I got in a WW boat at a garage sale and didn’t think I was going to be getting out. I shuttered to think what would happen if I needed to exit underwater.

these are your best bet
if you are looking to do river/creek paddling where you need maneuverability and ability to handle long flat stretches as well as some easy rapids, and still have decent touring speed for open waters, the Alchemy and Zephyr are your best bet.

Tsunami 145
The kayak shop I go to has 3 branches, the branch in Ozark, MO put on craigslist tonight a used Tsunami 145 for $900 that is practically new!! Unfortunatly that is over 3 hours from me but they are going to talk with the haulers and see when they could get it to their store that is an hour from me. As long as I fit I will probably pick it up, even has a rudder. Here’s hoping for the best!

Tsunami 145
The 145 is a big person’s boat. At 110 pounds, you’ll rattle around in there.

North Shore

– Last Updated: Jan-03-15 1:12 PM EST –

Aspect and Aspect LV 3 layer poly Brit style picket sea kayak with skeg.

Pics are now up on the Blog

I don't know if the brand is in your neck of the woods.

See you on the water,
The River Connection, Inc.
Hyde Park, NY

My tsunami 145
At 5’11" with a 38 waist I find the cockpit spacious. It is nice for people with big feet.

Hey willow, Minicell?
Can you tell me about minicell? I looked it up and know what it is, but how exactly is it used? Do you attached it to the sides of the seat to technically make the cockpit smaller?

Since I have big feet I can’t really compromise if my feet don’t fit, but how much would I be able to compromise with a bigger cock pit if I add minicell?


– Last Updated: Jan-03-15 7:08 PM EST –

Alright, I threw together a quick spreadsheet, comparing the Tsunami 14.5, Vision 135R, Expression 14.5, Tsunami 140, Alchemy 14L, Pungo 140, Zephyr 155, Carolina 14, and Whistler. Let me know if I left anything out.

The Pungo having a 22" cockpit width and Carolina with 21.5 (plus being sluggish) is kind of a turn off if I am being told the 19" on the Tsunami 145 will be too big. Really though the only boats under 19.5" is the Vision (17.2") Alchemy (18.5") and Whistler (16.5").

I know deck height doesn't mean a whole lot since they measure them differently but the Tsunami 145 has a much higher deck than any of the others.

Really the Whistler looks great, why was this boat not mentioned? Is it hard to get or not in production or something?

I go up next Saturday to get inside the Tsunami 145. I would say, looking at my sheet, if I had to rate them without me being in them it would be Whistler, Tsunami/Alchemy then Expression/Vision if deck height isn't too low.

Edit: I'm not really wanting to mess with skin on frame or any specialty kayak. Necky isn't available from my local shop so I left it out.

The Tsunami line is not very maneuverable. If you are thinking rivers, then you need to be able to turn.

How is the Tsunami less maneuverable than other 14.5 ft kayaks?

Length not the only parameter
I admire how gung-ho you are, but you’re asking questions that lead me to believe you’d be better off investing in a lesson or two before you spend your hard earned money on a boat that you may quickly find doesn’t meet your needs.

Length is not the only parameter when it comes to maneuverability. The tsunami line is designed to be fairly straight tracking boat. I’m not an expert on hull design; there are many more on this board who know much more than I do and can articulate it better.

At 6’ and 110 pounds, you’d have to double your weight for the 145 to fit you as it was designed, leading to more difficulty in maneuvering.


– Last Updated: Jan-04-15 11:10 AM EST –

The CD Whistler is basically a poly Pachena, but a little longer, which CD discontinued a while back - there are a lot of positive reviews of the Pachena here at p-net, and should be relevant to the Whistler.

I've had a Pachena for 9 years, and still paddle it regularly. It is very forgiving in rough seas, and is quite maneuverable. Mine has a rudder, and I do use it most of the time. I'll never get rid of this boat - it's my wife's favorite and a perfect loaner boat for novice paddlers. I thought I would outgrow it, but I still use it about half the time, especially for winding rivers or in situations where I know there will be confused seas and boat wakes (East River/LI Sound).

I think it would work well for your intended usage, and should be roomy enough for your size. It does have a deep deck - I personally prefer this, and you're tall enough that it shouldn't interfere with your stroke. There is a chance you're a little light for the boat - then again, I've had many smaller paddlers in my Pachena, and it didn't seem underloaded.

The Tsunami has almost zero rocker in the stern (plus a built in keel) and just a tiny bit of rocker in the bow. They are designed to go straight.