advice needed for first purchase

I need advice on a kayak…looking at the Manitou 13. Being 5’3" and a 115# woman, does anyone have advice on size and make most suitable? I live on the lake and plan to use it in calm waters along shorelines (to start with). Realize I am a novice. Thanks

check out this article
Check out this article from California Kayaker Magazine on Getting Started at You can read it for free online.

While I have not…
…paddled that kayak, I did notice that it appears to only have a rear water tight compartment. You might want to consider one with front and rear compartments like the Manitou 14 footer.

I have read glowing reports about the Necky Eliza, which is designed for smaller paddlers. I don’t know if it’s out of your price range but if you really get into kayaking the Eliza might be a better option whereas you could quickly out grow the Manitou.

Got a place nearby where you can give them a spin?


– Last Updated: Apr-24-12 12:32 PM EST –


The Manitou 13 is a fine design, but I suspect that it might be a bit big for you to paddle comfortably. Your size puts you firmly in the "smaller paddler" category.

Length isn't the issue -- width, depth, overall size and cockpit fit are probably more important. A kayak that's too wide or too deep for you will be uncomfortable and less efficient to paddle. A boat that's too big will be more vulnerable to wind. A good fit in the cockpit is important for better control, especially if you encounter waves.

Your paddle should also be sized to fit you. Several manufacturers make paddles with smaller blades and/or shafts for smaller paddlers.

Demo day season is coming. Try to test-paddle -- or at least test-sit -- some other boats designed for small paddlers. The Wilderness Systems Tsunami SP would be an example of a kayak designed for folks your size or smaller. The Perception Tribute 12 would be one alternative to the Manitou.

There is no industry standard for measurements, so comparing specifications doesn't always match how boats feel.

But aren't narrower boats less stable? They are, but perceptions of stability change rapidly as you gain experience. A lesson or two before you buy is often a good investment.

It also depends on your background and comfort on the water. Folks with no water experience or less athletic folks tend to prefer more stable boats. Others are comfortable skipping the "beginner boat" stage and trading some stability for better performance.

Agree with angstrom
Seen that boat in use - and your post says calm water “to start with” which means you have ambitions beyond calm flat water. So take the time to find a proper small person’s kayak that will help you with skills for bigger water rather than hinder you, and one with two bulkheads (front and back) as well as decent deck rigging. You’ll be glad of all of it by summer’s end.

Not a bad boat at all
A friend of mine is about your height, and not much heavier, and she often paddles a Manitou 13. Yes, there’s no front copmpartment, but she installs a pair of float bags up front, and when practiciing rescues, that has proven quite effective. The boat handles rougher water just fine, and is quite speedy and efficient, considering that it’s not strictly a “sea kayak”. It’ll blow away any typical “rec boat”, both in terms of ease of maintianing a decent cruising speed and in the way it handles big lake waves, and the cockpit isn’t small by sea-kayak standards, but it’s small enough that the skirt won’t implode when the water is rough. Being a huge step above any normal rec boat, I doubt you’d actually regret buying the Manitou 13, but what some others have said is true, in that you may want something even sleeker with smaller cockpit if you expect to get quite serious about your boating. However, for someone who’s only “semi-serious”, it’s certainly a decent performer for a small person.


– Last Updated: Apr-24-12 3:35 PM EST –

The Manitou 13 is a much better choice for the OP than a typical 28" wide rec kayak. No argument there.

WVMM -- is your goal to eventually paddle in more challenging conditions on other bodies of water? Or do you just want to mosey along your shoreline on nice days? And will the kayak be exclusively yours, or will you be sharing it?

Absolutely better than rec boats
But for a post that sounds like the person plans to move up in some fashion, also one that she could feel she has outgrown fairly soon. See what comes back to angstrom’s post.