A beginner with a question about fit.

I’m a total beginner to touring kayaks having only been on sit-on-top kayaks. I’m looking at the WS Tempest, Perception Essense and Necky Looksha. I’m 6’-4" 185 lbs… what size kayak is recommended?

Try them out
The best advice would be to go to shops and sit in the boats. Paddle them if you can. I always equate it to a running shoe. The touring boats should fit snug but not uncomfortable. Many of the kayaks available now have outfitting that can be easily adjusted so you can change for summer or winter clothing. The fit really comes down to personal preference.

Believe It Or Not
My buddies of your dimensions love the Tempest 165. BUT… the reason they can get their long legs in and out is because I moved the seat back a couple of inches. Unless you plan to load the 170 down with a bunch of gear I think it’s too much boat for you.

Try a bunch.
You have to fit and be snug, it has to keep up with your paddling partners with you and 20 lbs of stuff for a day trip and perhaps 100 for a week end.

If you get a decent boat, what ever you get you will love.

I am 5’8" on a good day and 177 lbs. I padle an Explorer. When I am not in her it’s an Orion, Capella, Makkovik, Sealution 2. While I would not recommend a Sealution 2 to an experienced paddler all these boats have a place.

Oh DON"T ger a 19 foot long 20 inch wide rocket because some fool sais: “you will grow into it!” You won’t. Instead you will quit paddling and someone like me will buy a nice boat cheap.


I am with the others. Get butt time in each boat.

With your body size, you likely would fit in a standard size boat (as opposed to smaller paddlers - like 5’2" 100# women - would would need a small or LV boat). The one challenge you may have is being taller than average, so make sure you find a boat with leg room and that lets your legs be comfortable.

Beyond this, the size of the boat is a preference thing based on the type of paddling you do. A Looksha 12 is a day tourer, so has less storage and capacity to carry stuff. Also would likely be a bit slower than Looksha 17, which is more of a touring kayak, so can carry enough for a few days’ trip. Same variances with the Tempest 165 (16’) versus the 180 (18’). In general, longer boats go faster, but are harder to turn.

The boats you mentioned are also very different. The Percetion and WS boats are more British Style (lower volume, upswept bow and stern, have skeggs) while Necky is more of the traditional pacific northwest style (higher volume, has a rudder). In theory, the British style is designed for more advanced conditions (open ocean chop) and is less affected by weather cocking (the tendency of boats to turn upwind in side winds).

So lots of variances here, and it really comes down to what fits you and your paddle style best. I would strongly recommend getting butt time in the boats before buying, to make sure you make a good purchase. Even paying for rentals could be cheaper in the end than buying the wrong boat which you then have to sell so you can buy the appropriate boat.

There is no industry standard for how boats are measured. Boats that look similar on paper can feel very different.

There’s no shortcut to test-sitting and/or test-paddling.

It’s also a question of what you like. Some folks like roomy cockpits, other folks like to feel locked in.

My size precisely :wink:

– Last Updated: Jul-10-09 8:49 AM EST –

I am exactly your height and weight and found the Tempest 170 a good fit with the thigh pads installed. The late '08 and the '09 models are supposed to have the foot braces mounted all the way forward so our long legs can fit. In the '07 model I had drill and move both the seat and the foot braces a couple of inches to fit - too short otherwise.

When I test fitted, I could not sqeeze into a 165, mainly due to my large feet but the cockpit is narrower as well I think. Even though I like the lower volume of that boat better, the fit may be too tight...

EDIT - see next post on 165 fit.

The 170 is not huge - much more compact than some other boats for "large" folks. Still, if not loading it there is a lot of wasted volume you carry.

Great boat to learn and progress with. As someone I know says, "everyone should have a plastic Tempset in their fleet" to use when they can live with the 60 or so lb weight of it -;) and to bang it around. Rolls well, mid-pack speed, handles rough conditions well too. The '09 models come with better hatches and better sealed bulkheads.

Generally, unless you will be loading the boat for multi day trips, get the shortest and smallest volume boat that gives you the speed you want - shorter are lighter, easier to live with, and easier to paddle at regular speeds than the longer boats. Something in the 14-17 feet range should be waiting for you somewhere to test paddle -;)

But, you need to figure out what kinds of things you will likely be looking in a boat for the near term - for skills development and rough water go with shorter, lower volume boat with low rear deck and more rocker (Chatham 16?). For trips - longer better tracking and faster boat (Impex Cat 4?). For photography - need something stable with large cockpit for your gear and with a rudder prefereably to steer hands-free while taking the shot.

Sat in 165 - FYI
EDIT: I must have remembered wrong about the 165… Yesterday sat in a fellow paddler’s Tempest 165 (plastic) and I had no trouble fitting with bare feet. The seat/cockpit was OK, not narrow. Of course my feet were resting comfortably on the front bulkhead not on the foot steps, which do not have enough extension by a lot… Not sure if the seat and foot steps can be moved away from each other to allow proper trim of the boat and enough length for long legs… Give it a try if at Tempest is on your list as I have no idea how it is on the water for us tall and heavier folks (it is supposedly for smaller people than us).

The Seat Can Be Moved Back

– Last Updated: Jul-10-09 11:14 AM EST –

I think a lot of folks who belong in the 165 are missing out because the seat is placed for short folks. I'm 5'9" and all leg. I moved the seat back a couple inches in mine and it's perfect. No trim issues. My 6'4" skinny (165 pounds) buddy bought a 165 and immediately moved his seat back. My other 6'4" buddy (and 200 pounds) prefers the 165 over the 170... of course he paddles mine... with the seat moved back.

If you get a chance to paddle the smaller Zephyr the issue has already been taken care of. Lots of shin room. Ahhhh... perfect.

Small boats for large folks
Can be a lot of fun! I’ve been paddling for almost a year now the Perception Sonoma 13.5, which is promoted as a smaller paddler’s boat. Guess what - it fits very nicely (with foot pegs out of the way) and can even use additional paddling on me ;). It is a lot of fun as it light and maneuverable and very responsive, unlike some longer boats. As I recently found out, it surfs ocean waves like a rocket: does not pearl, and I could actually control it to zig-zag on the down face of the wave where a longer boat would be much more of a handful. Yet, still fast enough for group paddling to not feel outpaced by the others… Not promoting that particular boat, just indicating that smaller boats can work well as day/play boats for taller folks who are not outside of their weight limits (heavier folks have to get bigger boats due to displacement issues).

that is a good boat
kinda tall for a small persons kayak

All of this is great info and yes I do need some seriuos butt time in them. I’ll try as many as I can. I’m taking a basic strokes class at NW Kayak Center and Kayak 101 at REI Seattle next week.