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.

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.


– 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."


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 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.