Best kayak for shorter women

I’ve been wanting to get a kayak for a few yrs now, but didn’t have anyone to go with or a work schedule that would allow it until now! I’ve been looking online at the different ones and now I’m lost as to what to get.

I’m 5ft 1in and weigh around 140 lbs give or take a few cheetos lol. I want to keep the price under $1,000, actually the cheaper the better but I don’t want junk. I want something that I can relax in and not worry about flipping if I happen to lean, I would like to be able to fish out of it as well. Also have some storage and maybe room for a small dog.

I want it to be easy to maneuver, I’m strong, but sometimes my short height interferes. I want it to be easy to maneuver on the water too, not something I’m fighting to keep straight or something I’m having to paddle constantly just to move a little bit.

Soooo anyone have any ideas on a good one that would fit the criteria?

Take a lesson from a reputable outfitter IF they hire/train ACA or BCU instructors. They should be showing you several different types of kayaks and letting you try them too. Plus, you will be introduced to good beginner skills to help you jump start your paddling.

It sounds like you need to do a little more research. Unfortunately, since the website changed its format a year or so ago, it is more difficult to find the basic “introduction to kayaking” and “how to choose a kayak” articles that used to be accessible here.

One problem is that you are expecting too many conflicting capabilities from your first boat. “Stability” is often a concern of beginning kayakers, and while it is true that a nervous beginner often feels that a kayak is “tippy” or “unstable”, that is more due to the inexperience of the paddler and not the fault of the boat. It does not take long for that “tippy” feeling to go away once you get used to being in the kayak and trusting it. Short, fat and wide kayaks do tend to be more stable feeling at first since they are a broad platform. But being a wide short boat has drawbacks if you are doing anything but just sitting in it on a calm pond.

You also express that you want something that is maneuverable and not slow – but most wide short boats are slow and many are barge-like and don’t track well. The short boats (under 12’) generally are wider than longer boats – they have to be to provide the volume of displaced water that will support the average adult. But you are smaller than the “average adult” which means that you will not fit in most kayaks very well. If a kayak is too big for you, you will not have good contact with the boat to control it, will have to reach farther over the width of the beam to paddle it, will sit too high in the water because of lighter weight, and also may be sitting too low inside due to your 5’ 1" height – also short boats are harder for shorter people to load on the roof of a car. Longer boats are easier to load. A longer boat will tend to be narrower and thus the same weight or even less than many shorter boats.

you also have to consider if you want an open sit-on-top kayak or a closed deck sit-inside. There are advantages to both. Sit-on-tops are usually preferred for fishing and for carrying a dog. BUT, they are a wet ride and not so good if you plan on being out in chillier weather or in colder or rough water. They also tend to be heavier and don’t have the protected storage hatches for gear that sit inside kayaks have if you are planning to do overnight trips in the future. You can stay warmer and dryer in a sit inside kayak and they tend to be faster and lighter per foot of length.

And in kayaks, you get what you pay for. There are options under $1000 new, but we usually recommend beginners try to start with a used kayak because you not only get a better bang for the buck, but until you have paddled for a while you are not going to know exactly what you want in performance or features. It’s pretty common for people decide within the first season or two of paddling that they want to change to another boat with different capabilities.

Do you live somewhere that has one or more dedicated kayak specialty dealers? Not the “big box” chain sporting goods stores , but an outfitter store (usually independent) that not only sells kayaks but also offers on-the-water demo days and instructions in paddling technique and safety, Another option is to see if there is a kayaking group (MeetUp often has them in major metro areas) where you can join outings – often there are folks who will share “loaner” kayaks with beginners to allow them to participate and this is another way to get some experience with various styles of kayak and get a better feel for what could work for you. One drawback, both for borrowing kayaks or finding a used ( is that you are not liable to have a chance to paddle many boats that are best for someone as petite as you are.

There are models that are scaled to smaller adults. You might even fit in some of the youth sized kayaks though many of them have an optimal upper weight range of 130 pounds and the cockpits might be uncomfortably snug depending on your proportions. The Wilderness Systems Tsunami 120 could work for you – they are no longer making that size of the Tsunami model but they were popular and fairly common used. Both the Perception Carolina 120 and the similar but less well outfitted Conduit 13 might also be suitable, and both are under $1000 new as well as fairly common used.

One new model, if you could find one to check out, is the Venture Islay 14 sit on top, which has some features that make it more comparable in handling to a sit inside kayak. I see at least one dealer selling it for $765.

WOW! Great advice above…
If you can rent a kayak a few times and maybe a lesson or two the parameters will become much clearer to you.

Wow! Thanks for the advice! I found an outfitter not far from my house so I’ll check them out for sure! I had no idea there was so many options when it came to kayaks lol.

Willowleaf said it best. One huge thing that you don’t understand yet is that at your size, a boat that would be very tender feeling to an average sized guy would feel solid enough for you to cook a five course meal in. On the other end of that, the boat that will be easier you to power will also be on smaller side. It’ll carry gear but maybe not so good when you start adding a dog.

Take her loading advice very seriously. You actually slide as kayak up to car top it rather than lift the whole thing. (There are tools for that.) At your height, the boat will have to be longer than for a 6 ft guy to physically reach from you to the top of the car. Our local paddling group has a couple of folks who got 10 ft rec boats thinking it’d make it easier for them to load the boat. They immediately found they could not get the boat up or down without help. Meanwhile between a cart and a roller-loader I am moving 16 ft of boat onto the roof myself at 5 ft 3" (on the side w/o the Hullivator.)

Here are the links to some advice articles on this site. There are more than what I listed here in the “Learning” section. One thing you need to consider is if you would be paddling solo or with others. Paddling solo means you either should limit your range or get a boat with better self-rescue capacity, more like a sea kayak than a rec boat.