Another thread about choosing a kayak.

I have been paddling for many years, but only a few day trips a year on rentals and loaners. Moved to TN on Cherokee lake a few years ago and I have been trying to decide on boat for about a year. Yes, I know, ridiculous. But for all the water sports options in NE TN, I cannot find a retailer that deals in kayaks longer than 10 feet. So, I am left to order on-line, meaning that there is no chance to try these on before handing over my credit card info.

I am a woman, 5’3", 140# and will be doing only short day trips. (hate camping) Usually a few hours locally on the lake - which is part of the TVA dam system - and longer day trips here and on local rivers. Usually flat water, with a little 1+ ww here and there. I will paddle often by myself, and probably once a week or so with friends, who will not be able to keep up with me no matter which I buy

After much internal debate I have narrowed it down to 3. Perception Tribute 12.0, Perception Expression 11.5 w/skeg and WS Tsunami 135. Based on reviews and videos, I love the light weight and maneuverability of the first two. But I also like the idea of duel bulkheads on the Tsunami. Although I have never had a problem, I have heard horror stories about rude bass boat drivers and wouldn’t mind the added floatability if I should turn over. But for the price difference, I could buy a great paddle and PF gear. Ye, I know… when I said this to hubs he rolled his eyes and made sarcastic remarks about having to cancel retirement.

I considered Tsunami 12 or 125 but cannot find a seller I feel comfortable with. Prefer to deal with somebody who is going to have good CS and quality guarantees - so I would also appreciate recommendations of good places to purchase on line.


I’d plan a vacation

– Last Updated: May-22-15 9:44 PM EST –

to a locale where you could try different boats (demo) and then purchase the one you liked. You would probably have to leave your immediate area to do this and do some internet research to find a locale/store worthy of your time/gas/expenses. Sorry I can't offer anything more specific than that.

Thank you!
First, let me tell you that I was a little frustrated reading your reply. I could think of multiple excuses why it would not work with my schedule and set about to prove myself right by means of a google search.

Then look at that - on June 4 -the only day I will be in SE Michigan in the foreseeable future(Go Tigers!) Summit sports will have a demo at Dodge park - which will include 2 of the 3 I was vacillating over, plus a couple more I am now considering.

So thank you - both for the advise and the bit of frustration that pushed me to look a little harder than I had. Have a great holiday!

While you’re at it.
I know this isn’t advice that you will want to read, but while you’re testing boats, take it up a notch, or two; try some longer narrower boats. And if possible, don’t rule out composites, or thermoplastics (ABS).

You are very correct that a high quality paddle should be on your list, but resist compromising on one for the other. The same goes for a high quality pfd. In the long term, you will save a stack of money by going for the good stuff from the start, instead of working your way through a bunch of beginner items.

If you’re going to be on a big lake, I think you’d be better off with something 13-14ft and a little skinnier, than 11-12 feet and wider. It will then have lower drag, glide better, better speed and track straighter, all of which will make it easier to cover distance without getting exhausted. The longer/skinnier do tend to raise both the weight and the cost of the boat, but this is all about compromises.

I’m larger than you - 5’9", 150, and have demoed the Tribute 12 and the Tsunami 135.

First of all, stay away from the Tsunami 120 or 125. They are too big for you.

I liked the Tribute 12. It is light, has a fairly low deck and a reasonable beam for a smaller paddler. At my weight it had a nice balance of tracking and maneuverability.

The Tsunami 135 is biased more towards tracking than maneuverability, and is heavier than the Tribute.

Between those two, for the kind of paddling you describe, I’d get the Tribute and a bow air bag and spend some of the difference on a nicer paddle.

There are other boats that might work for you, but it sounds like finding used ones in your area may be difficult.

Demo Day Chattanooga
There’s a upcoming demo day in Chattanooga. It’s always a good event.