Adding a fitness kayak - what kind?

Hello, I am a 53 year old male that has fallen in love with paddling. I reside in the midwest where most all of my paddling is done on local small lakes. Currently I paddle an Eddy line Merlin LT and like it, but would like to add a faster fitness kayak for those calm days where I want to paddle with more speed in more of a straight line. I used to have a Valley Aquanaut LV and liked it but at 65 lbs. it was just to heavy to car top. I am thinking about a CD freedom, and I also have a chance to pick up a Kayak Pro Marlin at 1/2 price. The Kayak Pro Jet has always seemed tempting but I fear it may be too unstable for me. Any thoughts? Thank you.

Weight and Car Tops
Lift one end of your boat at a time. Weight isn’t an issue.

Epic V8
Hands down, get yourself an Epic V8. Even Middle School kids can handle by themselves the heaviest model. Easy to car top too, just flip upside down on top of the padded cross bars, strap and you’re on your way. Fast too in all conditions: rough and flat.

Just a question
Why does a “fitness” kayak need to be fast? I see this all the time and I just don’t get it. A fitness workout really has nothing to do with how fast you are moving but how much work you are doing during the workout. What you really need is a heart rate monitor. Now if you just want a fast kayak to have a fast kayak that is a different story by all means get one.

You reallly want fitness?
Get yourself an Old Town Loon 111. Or any fishing kayak, that is 12 feet or shorter, 29 inches (or more) wide and make it go as fast as you are used to, as long as you physically are able. Then paddle back to shore. You will be amazed how quickly you will be making a strength and endurance gain.

I’d add a Hurricane Cat5 to the line up
It doesn’t fit me well, but it is light, fast, and inexpensive. If it were for me I’d get the V8.

If you have a choice
b/w the Marlin and the Freedom, I’d pick the Marlin. It has bulkheads, hatches, full-plate footstep with toe controlls… As long as you are not too heavy for it. Not sure what “half price” is and the condition, but this is one of the top fast “real” kayaks (as opposed to only good for racing/fittness but not seaworthy).

Weight is always an issue with a kayak. If you lift only one end at a time, how do you get your boat to the water, by dragging it along the ground?

I second the V8

Now Now
Muscling a boat to eyeball level or higher is much more difficult than walking it a ways at waist level. Working smarter rather than working harder can give you a bigger list of usable boats (and prevent injuries).

Adding a fitness kayak - what kind?
Ok, you got me. Actually I do just want a faster kayak for when I am paddling for fitness. The V8 does sound great except I paddle in cold conditions for part of the year and have been spoiled by having a spray skirt. Does WSBS make any training yaks that are somewhat semi stable? Is the Jet too tippy for most people if paddled in calm conditions only? Thanks for any advice.

Now, now, yourself! Working smarter is buying (or building) a lighter boat. You know as well as I that putting a ‘1-hand-light’ boat on a roof rack is a pleasure, not a chore! What price light? It’s only money…

Do a google search…
…of “Kayakpro quality”…and then make your own decision.

I paddle a ski up until the water freezes around here and have never had a problem. Hydroskin pants, knee high chota socks, and an appropriate top for temp/wind conditions. Full neo if you’re just starting. If you’re paddling for fitness you won’t get cold while you’re paddling, and in the off chance you capsize, with practice one can be back in the ski in less than 30 seconds. My bud paddled a v8 and said it felt super stable… he thought a motivated paddler with decent balance would grow out of it sooner rather than later. See if you can link up with any local surfski paddlers to demo some beginner/intermediate skis to get an idea on what might work for you… there’s lots of models out there and some deals to be had on used. Just about all of the fitness/fast paddlers around here have switched to skis - I haven’t seen a wsbs or vampire used in years.

Okay, Mister Rockefeller
Howzbout you buy me and marco some lightweight boats? I’ll take one o’ them Nick Schade pieces of fine furniture. Thanks.


Light, fast, inexpensive
Tell me pilgrim, what do I have to do to get you and Marco into a nice, fast SOF racer designed to maintain 6 knots, weigh 29 lbs and is sized to fit the paddler during the build? Step right over here:

Hey, if you’re paddling flat water, SOF is perfect.

I Have No Skills

– Last Updated: Nov-13-11 4:22 PM EST –

but I do have a job. Maybe I can talk Bill Bremer into making me one. I'll make him mad by requiring a keyhole cockpit. I'd also prefer bulkheads and a couple of hatch covers so I wouldn't have to mess with flotation stuff. I grant ya, those things are freaky light weight.

Easy build
In the class, the build is surprisingly easy - no experience required. Of course you have to go to Oregon. But Brian will custom build one for much less than the cost of a carbon ski. Of course, there will be no bulkheads, not a deal breaker on flat water IMO, but I understand wanting to have them.

I’d Echo
the above. Mostly all of the racers/fitness paddlers in the northeast have also gone over to skis, for a variety of reasons. Certainly, if you’re in more unprotected waters, the ski gives the added advantage of having an understern rudder that won’t ventilate on a swell the way an overstern does.

Secondly, and perhaps most paramount for our group, is the ease of remount: no rolling, dumping, or pumping required. (Most fitness kayaks generally lack thigh braces and have wide open cockpits, to facilitate pumping the legs for proper rotation. If you go over, unless you have the forethought and reflexes to hook your knees under the coaming, you fall right out of the boat anyway. A large number lack bulkheads, and trust me, float bags are NOT the same.)

I have a WSBS EFT with all the good stuff (over and understern, bulkhead, hatch, and Onno foot pedals (Shhhh…), but I paddle it only once a year in one race, mainly because its Kevlar hull is darn near bulletproof, and although heavier than my skis, is easy to carry for the 6 portages involved. It’s a fantastic boat, quite fast and very stable, but I prefer my skis more. I’m on the cusp of selling it, but what holds me back is its degree of rarity.

That said, we paddle our skis all year round, as long as we can get through the ice to open water. Drysuits, neoprene, Chotas, mitts, and/or pogies are the norm here. Unless the temps get below the 15 degree mark, then it’s really not bad-it’s the extremities that go first anyway.

Really what some of the fitness boats offer over a ski, is a higher seating position conducive to efficient power transfer. Pad up your ski bucket a bit and you’ll achieve same. Run a 4" rudder vs. an 8" or 9" and it’s like found speed.

The V-8 is a wonderful boat, as is the Stellar SR, etc. I know of at least two folks who have paddled HPS (high performance skis) for years who enjoy the heck out of these, for cold weather confidence, and heapin’ helpins’ of flat out fun when the big stuff kicks up. The next level up in skis would be boats like the V10Sport, Fenn XT and then the Swordfish, Huki S1-R, Think Evo, and the like-these would give you a bit more speed and still be realistically ‘stable.’ Good luck with your quest!

Paddling Fast Gets Heart Rate up Fast
I use to think paddling hard upwind would get my heart rate up and keep it up. Boy! Was I wrong. It was only after I turned around and headed downwind, that my heart rate easily entered the target zone and stayed there.