Advice on kayak for a tall woman paddler

Hi all, I’m a fairly novice sea kayaker looking to narrow my choices for my first (sea) kayak. I am looking at used boats for budgetary reasons and have wasted a lot of time driving to see boats that don’t fit at all.

The problem seems to be that I’m tall and have long legs (36" inseam) but am fairly slim (I weight about 160). I’m having a hard time finding a boat that I can fit my legs into that isn’t far too big for me in every other way.

I am looking for a boat to take on day trips and some overnighters and would prefer a boat that will let me work on my paddle skills. 16-17’ seems about right.

I have tried going to stores and renting but the selection around here is limited and mostly rec boats.

Thus far I’ve tried a P&H Capella (couldn’t bend my legs at all under the deck, seat was misery on a 4 hour paddle but close to the right width) a WS Tempest 170 (very wide in the seat area, couldn’t edge but legs fit!) and a bunch of plastic Necky boats at a dealer that were all far too small. I used to regularly rent a NW kayak that fit great but unfortunately I did not note the model and that rental place has since gone out of business. I did go to look at another NW kayak last week in hopes it was the same one but it was tiny.

I would much appreciate suggestions from experienced paddlers so that I don’t waste too much time driving all over to look at boats that are entirely unsuitable. There are a couple of older used boats for sale locally that I was avoiding due to age but have been told I should try (a Chinook Aquaterra and a Perception Sealion) and I would particularly appreciate info on those models.

As far as the seat goes…

…the hip area can be padded out with minicell foam. Those of us who WW kayak generally take

the approach that a kayak is just a plastic shell

to which you add minicell.

Probably almost any boat you’re going to find will

need to be padded out, and if it doesn’t, it will

probably be improved by padding it out.

on the T-170
were you told that the seat has adjustable width–there are shims made out of hard foam that can be added or subtracted to the hip area to adjust the width of the boat—if the 170 was too wide for you what about the 165?

Have you considered a canoe?

of course she hasn’t—she wants to
to paddle on the salt, in rough conditions.

Consider a QCC600X
It is a great boat and you are within the weight range. When you order it they will ask you what your inseam is and place the foot pegs to fit. Plus there is no risk. If you don’t like the boat they will take it back, no questions asked.

Lots and lots of choices…
You are in the sweet spot of weight range for most seakayaks and if you are slim, it’s just a matter of outfitting the boat with your own hip padding and thigh padding. Lots of us make our own seats for our kayaks out of minicell foam so we get a nice perfect fit.

Check out the valley boats and current designs too.

I got to paddle a Valley Nordkapp and really liked it. It comes in poly and composite so would be in the price range of the NW boats you are considering.,1435.html

Tried a Silhouette or a Legend?
Tend to be cockpits that are narrow and on the long side - don’t know if the silhouette is long enough, but these cockpit configurations may be a match. Issue with the Silhouette may also be that it’s mroe boat than you want to be messing with in terms of stability.

Aquanaut LV? Avocet RM?

– Last Updated: May-30-08 12:10 PM EST –

The composite version of the Aquanaut LV is a snugger fit than the plastic one. The plastic Avocet has a snugger fit than the composite version. Valley(and some other manufacturers) can adjust the position of the forward bulkhead if someone orders a composite boat, so you could find significant variations in the same model.

Did you try the Tempest 165? It's a nice size for your weight.

Remember that you don't have to use the footpegs if the bulkhead is solid. A bulkhead footbrace is more comfortable and will gain you room in some boats. Moving the footpeg rail forward is another possibility on some boats.

As for driving around: I'd suggest measuring your minimum required backband-to-bulkhead length. A motivated seller should be able to grab a tape measure and get that measurement for you from the boat.

try the Tempest 165. the seat moves back a bunch, if needed.

just ask Kudzu!



thanks for the input
Aquanut, that is a great suggestion I will definitely ask people to measure. Thanks!

Just to clarify- it’s not the length to the bulkhead so much, it’s the height of the deck. To be able to bend my knees ~at all~ in the P&H, for example, I had to pull them up into the cockpit.

As far as width goes it sounds like I can use a lot more padding than I thought. However, if my thighs are on the inside of the cockpit coming and thigh braces entirely when I sit in the boat I assume that is too much width to take up? That was the case in the wider WS. I could only use one thigh brace at a time unless I sat just about cross legged.

One other problem I had in some of the “big person” kayaks was hitting the deck rigging or sides with my knuckles when I paddled. Probably due to my poor technique but it only happens in those boats.

A custom boat is out of the question $$-wise for now. I don’t think I’m quite ready for that yet anyway! I did see a Valley Nordkopp but I’ve heard they are not for novice paddlers?

Thanks guys, lots of food for thought here. A trip to the big city may be in order to sit in a lot more boats.

I paddled that NW kayak for years very happily and assumed that all kayaks fit so easily. This has been an interesting experience.

One trick that has worked for my 34"

– Last Updated: May-30-08 1:43 PM EST –

inseam legs is to remove the foot braces and use the bulkhead to brace against. You might have to put some minicell foam in there to get the length right. If you do, cut it at a slight angle; makes a very comfortable foot brace.

Second the Tracer
Light weight and your legs should fit without a problem. DO NOT buy one of the early versions without the skeg. Those do not track well at all. Later models have slightly different hull which makes them track much better.

I do prefer a skeg so that’s handy.
Thanks again. I have located a store within a reasonable drive that carries Hurricane and Current Design and has some of the recommended models in stock so I will go this weekend. Maybe I’ll be getting a new boat after all!

I’d love to find that NW boat again but there are no dealers around here and no-one ever seems to sell them used.

try the following
Current Designs GT Titan

Prijon Touryak

Special order most any longer boat…
with the foot peg rails uninstalled, and install them yourself in a position which enables you to sit comfortably with your feet on the pegs. have done that for a couple folks in the past.

Heck with the boat …are you married
Just kidding. I started sweating on reading 34" inseam so finally I must be a “Dirty ole man” but I can still paddle.

Good luck finding what you want.

Paddlin’ on


And good luck finding…

…what YOU want!

Not sure it matters …
If you have paddled kayaks before … I don’t see a big deal about needing to be an intermediate to paddle a Nordkapp.

Second the Aquanaut
You might fit perfectly in the rotomolded Aquanaut, using the bulkhead rather than footpegs. Even in the LV version, the deck isn’t terribly low and you can probably bend your knees. The cockpit is fairly large, also.