Best budget lightweight performance kayak for a bigun

That should take care of a bunch of individual questions. There are 3 contradictory characteristics in that question.
I’ve had to accept the creep of time and never want to buy another kayak after the next one of course.
I’m 6’5" , 220 lbs of stiff joints.
Budget: under 2K$
Lightweight: less than 40 lbs
Performance:Maintain 2.5 -3-5 mph with a decent paddler, capable of handling small whitecaps minimum weather cocking.
IOW, an improvement on my Pungo 140.

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If you do not count your labor or time you probably could make your own for that amount, and fill in all the blanks. Or at least get close to them.

However if you hired it out I am sure the amount would be far in excess of the $2000 figure.

I’ve built 2 from plans . Good suggestion. I haven’t looked at CLC lately.

CLC isn’t bad if you know what you are doing. Epoxy is the heaviest part of them and those damned end pours weigh in at a few pounds apiece.

If you just to go a little faster, CLC isn’t bad, but John really likes putting the cockpit pretty far back.

See if you can find a used Epic. The 18s are a big step up from a Pungo, but are stable, cruise well, and can go really fast if you want to.

Their shorter boats aren’t all great and rotomolded is rotomolded, and it does weigh a lot.

Also look for an RTM Disco. Light for plastic, pretty fast, and just a fun boat to paddle

Me on a Disco looks like an elephant on a bicycle.

Maybe keep an eye out for a used Swift Bearing Sea XL. My brother has one and it’s a well mannered boat that’s faster than it looks. Think its round 44-45 lbs, though.

What was it about Rapidfire and Voyager that didn’t fit your needs?

The Northstar Trillium in a sit-down or pack version is a lot like a slightly wider/shorter Rapidfire and it easily meets your performance and weight targets. A sit-down or pack Magic also seems like a good option.

I hate the company and would never order something from them after getting screwed twice but they offer some good designs and there are quite a few used boats out there.

Or maybe a Prism?

Tom , it was never the boats. My back has been a disaster for a couple of decades and I’ve been looking for an impossibility. The closest I’ve come is the Pungo.
You have a great memory .

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I’ve been following renowned SOF boat designer and builder, Brian Schulz, for at least 15 years. His most recent project is a prototype skin on frame solo canoe around 40 pounds that can be converted to pedal-drive, with an also-removable steering rudder. I checked his website,, but he only seems to have posted the videos of the project to his Facebook page. Even if you are not a FB fan, being a follower of his page is one of the reasons I regularly log onto FB.

Brian has had some major health challenges himself in recent years (a rare neurological/endocrinal syndrome and now a spinal injury, both of which have greatly affected his ability to kayak white and open water. So he decided to apply his considerable creative and woodworking skills to developing this unique boat. As with all his designs, he is planning to share plans with others. His videos are well produced and enjoyable to watch, by the way and he shows the process in great detail. So far the pedal drive canoe seems to have met his expectations. Since you already have experience with building your own wooden craft it might be something to consider. I’m guessing you could build one of these for under $600 – most expense would be the pedal components. Like all Brian’s designs, it can be custom scaled to fit the paddler’s metrics.

Click and check it out. Here’s a first look at the pedal drive canoe system in action. As always, there are many things i’m planning to change for the final version, but overall the launch went surprisingly well. The canoe is fast, maneuverable, sufficiently stable, and most importantly can be transformed back into a normal canoe in about 90 seconds. . i’m a bit tired at the moment but I’ll make sure I have more details in tomorrow’s post. For now, enjoy! . . . #canoeing #prototype #makersgonnamake #buildityourself | Cape Falcon Kayak | Cape Falcon Kayak · Original audio


The advantage of the Pungo is ease of entry and exit; weigh capacity; the console closes the large opening and helps shed water; good speed; stability. Drawback is width, no thigh braces, no forward bulkhead on the older models (I added one) and no deck ropes (easy fix).

A pack canoe seems like a viable option. I’ve never seen a Rapidfire available for $2K, but would sure be interested if I did! There are more Northstars (Trillium, Magic, Northwind Solo) on the used market and good ones occasionally come up in the $2K range, at least in the western Great Lakes/BWCA region. A new Hornbeck 13 (22 lbs) can be had for $2100, but you’d need to add the cost of picking it up in the ADKs. You’d also need to add flotation and probably a seat with better back support than their std. back band and butt pad.

Thanks! I haven’t seen that video. Really simple and straight forward.

Impressive! Well designed. Thanks for sharing!

I neglected to mention that I have a very difficult time getting out of a canoe because of a semi functioning right leg. I have resorted to dumping myself out on several occasions. I prefer SOT for that reason.


Makes good sense.

Are you familiar with the Feathercraft Java? Might suit your desire for a fast and light SOT. It’s a 33 pound hybrid inflatable and backbone-framed sit on top, long and fairly fast. Can be converted from solo to tandem. No longer made but they do come up used at times, and being a folder it can be shipped anywhere. They were around $3500 new but most used ones I have seen were around $700 to $1000.

In fact I have one (bought 2 years ago used and shipped to me) though I am not sure yet if I will keep it. It arrived just as the merde hit the fan with grifter tenants in my rental property which diverted all my energy and time from paddling for nearly 18 months. I do plan to set it up and try it out for the first time within the next few weeks and then decide whether or not to sell it.

I seem to recall that TsunamiChuck used to have one and there are photos in the archives of Paris the pup’s butt riding bow in it.


Is this one? Paris has her own Facebook page, Paris the Parson.


Yes! Thanks for locating that - it is Chuck’s Java. And, of course, the fabulous Paris.

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I will mention, about the Java, that (like all Feathercrafts) the inflation bladders in the sponsons are replaceable and repairable as they slide into fabric sleeves so the air tubes are not a built in failure point that might cause concern in an older inflatable boat.

In fact, I have been renovating a pair of PakBoat folding kayaks that had sponson failure due to a manufacturing defect (sponsons made of urethane coated nylon where the bond failed and they leaked air like a sieve) and to do so I have been replicating the Feathercraft system of having fabric sleeves to hold inflatable vinyl sponsons that are far easier to fix or replace. In fact I am making new sponsons from vinyl, H66 glue and the valves that DIYpackrafts sells. Same process as making your own kayak float bags. Having removable bladders was ingenious on Feathercraft’s part.


Consider a used QCC500 - it’s a 'big guy boat - roomy and holds alot. If you can find one that is a kevlar lay up the weight is ~50# , carbonfiber is even less but cost more. I bought one new, and needed a roomy boat b/c my knees were pretty messed up.