Advice: Seek a Better Novice Boat for Tracking

Better Novice Boat for Tracking ?

I’m 66, an occasional paddler in lakes, rivers, streams – not whitewater. I paddled an old aluminum canoe happily for years, but it’s now too heavy for me to manage myself. So I’m trying an inflatable kayak, with sad results.

This weekend, my Sevylor inflatable drove me crazy with frustration in a modest breeze. The wind blew me around, and each paddle stroke had me lurching from side to side. (I only paddle a half-dozen times a year, so realize that poor technique is an issue, too).

What’s your advice for an upgrade that can help paddling be more fun ?

  1. Ideally, boat is 45lbs or less, so I can put it on roof myself. (I’m a scrawny 130lb)

  2. As an occasional paddler, SOT is appealing to me, with a comfortable backrest very desirable for my aged spine.

For SOT, 10’ seems near upper limit of weight. Are there longer kayaks that aren’t too heavy ?

What brands/models would you recommend that are likely to track well and make for happier paddling ? Would a sit-in kayak of same size/weight be more likely to track straight ?

Thanks for your advice !!

IMO, Eddyline rec kayaks track well for their length. Consider the Sky (10’, 32 lbs) and the Sandpiper (12’, 38 lbs). Neither are appropriate for big water. The Skylark is also 12’, but 41 lbs because the smaller cockpit (which would still fit you without difficulty) means more decking.

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I’m going to send you back to canoes although that does depend some on your price range. There is a good selection of canoes under 40 lbs and some sub-20 lbs (if you are willing to treat them correctly). New, Northstar, Swift, and Wenonah may be the most common.

Watching Craigslist last year, I picked up a used composite kayak slightly under 40 pounds. It’s just a bit shorter than 16’ and is a good tracking kayak. Oddly, it doesn’t even weathercock for winds under 10 knots (which is about my limit anyway). Over 80 years old, I can get it onto my car, but then I’m only semi-scrawny at 140 pounds.

MY point is that things do show up on Craigslist and other places like Marketplace. And if you do find something of interest, this list can give you further information.

Keep an eye on FB Marketplace too. Many sellers will list on both, but not always. There’s been a Venture Easky 15 for sale near me for over a month. Seller says it’s “like new” and just lowered price from six bills to $450. Getting in the tempting range! 50 lbs, though.

I’m your age been in my 80# canoe a couple years now. The day I bought it I knew it was more weight and size than I wanted to car top alone. The two pieces of gear that made it work for me were first a $40 folding kayak dolly that I sit the canoe on and I slightly modified it to take two hook cam straps to hold it on. It rolls like a dream from the car to the water and back with little effort. The second thing was DIY and it was for lack of a better name a ladder that attaches to my rack with blocks spaced just so that I roll the canoe off the dolly and walk it up the steps one at a time until I hit the rack height and then I just press half the weight up and on to the rack.

I will attach a photo.

My lady has a Old Town 10’ sit inside rec-kayak in the weight range you are looking at and compared to cheaper rec-kayaks we used to borrow she loves how it tracks. Around here there are a lot of SOT rec-kayaks guys use with the seatbacks and you have a higher center of gravity than a sit inside. A lot of them add little outriggers for extra stability for fishing. If you google it you will find lots of how to vids.

You might like how I took both seats out of the canoe I bought and replaced them with one center seat back I bought at WalMart. Like you I’m a flat water/slow river guy. I switched to a double blade kayak paddle also. You need a extra long one for a canoe, 260cm is what I have.

less cost more when it comes to weight usually.

That weight/$$ ratio is widely applicable. There are probably more than two variables, too, although I don’t have the knowledge to understand all the trade-offs in boats.

In the world of amplified sound (for concerts, etc) we have a saying:
“There are 3 main goals/factors to balance - you can choose any two, but you cannot also have the third:
Good sound quality
Reasonable size/weight
Affordable price”

Replace “sound quality” with “speed and stability” and you’ve got the kayak version.

Bud, this is ingenious ! Thanks for posting the photos – the ‘ladder’ would not have made sense without them. How did you actually secure the WM seat in the canoe ?

Thanks, Buffalo Alice. This is helpful insight on the relationship of price, weight, and speed/stability.

(As an example, I looked up the Eddystone boats you recommended … they look GREAT, but are way outside my price range as an occasional paddler ).

What a friendly and helpful community this is – Thank You All !

Affordable price? Buy used.

As @rsevenic said, keep an eye on FB Marketplace and Craigslist. I’m seeing more listings now as summer winds down. Pricing for kayaks and canoes in very good condition tends to be about 50% of retail where I live. Almost everyone here will agree with @PaddleDog52’s advice - it’s way better to buy a better quality used boat than a “pool toy” from the big box store parking lot. Also, if you have a dealer that does rentals near you, they may be selling off some or all of their fleets now. Rentals are usually stable and durable, but they can be on the heavy side.
If you find something of interest and want to post the specifics here, you’ll get good feedback. And save some $ for a good PFD if you don’t have one already.


Stay tuned, yes there are longer, sleaker SOT kayaks under 45 lbs. I’m not up on the latest models that are available but I suspect you’ll get a lot of answers eventually on this thread. Taking a simple paddling class can probably get you tracking in most boats. Inflatable kayaks are notorious for bad handling in wind, you can buy some upper tier that work fairly well, but I doubt you want to spend a lot of money if only paddling every once in a while.

There are also some very light solo canoes you might find used. Might also want to take a paddling class for handling a solo canoe, I think much harder for causual paddlers to handle.

The WM seat was made for clamping to a bench seat like bleachers. I cut off all the clamping stuff on the bottom down to the tubular frame. I built a wooden framework that hangs from the gunwales and then held the seatback down with 4 screws with wing nuts and conduit clamps. The wing nuts are great as I can pop it out in a minute and use it as a camp chair when needed. It is low but keeps me off the ground and offers back support when sitting on the shore having lunch or if camping around a camp fire.

The seat folds down and is below flush when loading the boat on the rack.