Best Kayak for Women

I’m a relatively new kayaker, but I love it and would like to invest in a quality boat that will meet all my needs and last a long time. A lot of kayaks seem to be made for for large males and I am a small female: 5’3", 115 lb. The problems I’ve had in the past are the foot rests not adjusting close enough and the sides of the cockpit being too high and so I my arms don’t have enough clearance for a strong stroke. Any recommendations or tips on how to choose wisely would be greatly appreciated.

Where are you located
and where do you paddle? Rivers? Lakes? Oceans?

They make the boats
Fewer for you than the guys but they are out there, but yeah it would help to know roughly where you are to suggest places that you can go and check them out.

Also, are you talking ocean or inland lakes? It does not appear that you are talking white water, but correct if that is wrong.

Take a look at the QCC-10x
It is a first quality one and would be good for your size.

Try to find someone in your neck of the woods with one so you could try it out.

My wife is 5’-2" and 113 pounds and was in on the design of it.

However if you are a newbie, it might be on the tippy side for you. It is 15’-3" long and 21" wide.

If you like more of a Brit Style boat take a look at the small Surge

The above two are for experienced paddlers

Jack L

I’m in Florida right now, I’m looking for a sea kayak. Everything is flat water, mostly rivers and creeks. I do plan to move to the Pacific Northwest in the next year, but probably will stay on relatively calm waters.

I have an Eddyline Fathom LV for sale.
It would probably meet your needs and is priced reasonably, but it’s in central IL, so trying it on for size would be a challenge.

A Current Designs Suka would also be a good fit, unless it’s too tight in the cockpit - it’s tiny.

Valley Avocet LV would likely also fit.

Good luck in your search.

Kevlar Perception Shadow 16.5.
Too snug for me in the cockpit and foot space at 5’6" and 160 lbs.

That Eddyline sounds awesome to someone living in Northern IL :slight_smile: Unfortunately I need more hip room, I measure around 17in and I doubt I’d fit that comfortably.

OP-as a woman with almost identical stats, I’d recommend looking for low-weight too. My current yak is about 45lbs and it’s a nightmare trying to load or unload myself. Someone in better shape might not have as big of an issue, but it’s the biggest factor in me wanting to sell mine and upgrade.

Can you get to this place?

– Last Updated: May-19-15 2:10 PM EST –

Sweetwater Kayaks in St Petersburgh. You need some place that has a robust range of sea kayaks, as opposed to a focus on fishing and rec-type boats.

That will do two things - it'll give you a chance to demo boats that are more likely to fit so you know what you are dealing with. It doesn't sound like you have had much of that experience so far. If you get to the right place - and Sweetwater should be it - you can also have a conversation with someone about what kind of paddling you are looking at in the PNW and what boat characteristics will be helpful there. The folks at Sweetwater include people who have done symposiums out that way.

One more note on boats and the single woman - I am going to go out back shortly and load a 16 ft kayak that comes in close to 50 pounds on the back of my car, myself. The car is a station wagon. So the load/unload thing is quite real in my life these days, and at 63 yrs old it is getting more real by the day.

Consider buying tools to help with that as part of your purchase of the boat. I have an Amagansett Roller-Loader and a good sized cart - really a canoe cart - and between the two I can move the boats to and from the car and slide the boats up and down from the roof pretty safely by myself. The ends do occasionally get scraped but the boat has a keel strip so that is OK.

Some choices
Lincoln Kayaks Schoodic 16’x22.5" 8" thigh brace height. 42lbs at it’s heaviest, 32lbs at it’s lightest layup. Open seat pan arrangement is very forgiving of curvier hips.

Review of it’s longer sibling here:

Performance very similar but for the smaller paddler.

Valley Avocet LV carbon/kevlar @43lbs. 16’x20.5" 9.5" thigh brace height

P&H Cetus LV carbon/kevlar 17’ 5"x21.3" 9" thigh brace height 50lbs

North Shore Atlantic 15’11"x22" 10" thigh brace height 48lbs.

Closest airport is SWF if you want to catch a flight to do a test paddle.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Wait a while
If you’re serious about coming to the Northwest, I would suggest that you wait just a little while before buying your dream boat. Come on out here and take a little trip to Tacoma, Washington and visit Novus Composites Kayaks. They will build you a boat, or you can choose from in-stock boats. Check them out at The 15’-8", or 17’-2" models will fit you and if you have one built, they can be custom fit just for you.

These boats are fast, light weight, gorgeous and built to last a lifetime.

More options

– Last Updated: May-19-15 3:53 PM EST –

Perhaps a Necky Eliza carbon at 41 lbs? These are designed for small to medium female metrics.

There is a mysterious 15' Necky used kayak for sale on South Florida Craiglist (Miami area) that they identify as a "Dolphin" which is unlikely since the Dolphin is a sit on top. It looks like it might be an older Eliza or a Looksha, either of which could work for you.

I'm a little larger than you but still in the medium sized female range and I like my 46 lb Venture Easky LV, a boat that was recently discontinued but still shows up in stock various places. LV (low volume) boats are what you want to concentrate on.

A realm of light kayaks that many newcomers to the sport are unaware of are folding kayaks. Unlike slower inflatables, some of these have the shape and performance of hard body kayaks yet can be half the weight and have the added advantage of breaking down into a duffel bag for travel or storage. If you are considering a move that would be one thing you would not have to worry about transporting.

Look at the Feathercraft Wisper (37 lbs) and Kurrent (25 lbs). They even have a new fully inflatable sea kayak (Aironaut) that sets up in 8 minutes and weighs 20 lbs. They are costly but high quality boats -- I have owned 3 models (presently have a Wisper) and paddled them from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Great Lakes. The pleasure of having a full sized seaworthy kayak that you can carry with one hand and easily lift over your head is hard to beat. But they are an investment, ranging from $2500 and up.

A bit more modestly priced are the Pakboat kayaks -- the 29 lb Pakboat Quest 135 is designed for smaller framed paddlers and currently on sale for under $1200. I've also used one of their larger models (the XT-15) and they are well made boats that paddle just like a hardshell, in some ways better. Folding kayaks absorb the force of waves to an extent and I find them more enjoyable and secure feeling in rough open water than any hard shell.

Where in Florida
Florida is a big state. Where in Florida are you? I am in the Pensacola area. If you are in this area I know a few folks that might let you try their boats.

Mystic, Schoodic
I’m a female paddler in SE FL and paddle an Impex Mystic. I’m a bit bigger than you (borderline too big for it on paper, foot pegs maxed out) but love it, and it gets rave reviews from people your size. Impex sadly no longer exists, but they pop up used occasionally.

Marshall suggested the Lincoln Schoodic. I’ve been watching one for sale on craigslist in Daytona, wondering who will snap up a deal. Its listed by someone who clearly doesn’t know what it is (The have it listed as a “Fishing Kayak” called the “Schoodie”). Florida is a silly place.

Finally, I second Celia’s suggestion of checking out Sweetwater Kayaks. Despite being almost 4hrs away, its still my go-to shop.

You have 20lbs on my wife, the best waterlines I saw on her were in the following Sea Kayaks.

NDK Pilgrim (Take a very close look at this one)

Valley Avocet LV

Tahe Reval Mini

My wife preferred the Avocet RM to the LV even though the other hull was a better fit on paper. Just goes to show you need to demo if possible.

Neat older Schoodic

That’s a neat color fade on that Older Schoodic you found. Tough to tell to many details from the CL pics but it has the Kajaksport hatches donuts an older one.

Newer ones can look like this.

Happy to say that the Hudson doesn’t look as cold anymore.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

I agree with that
My wife demoed one at Florida Bay Outfitters, and I thought we would have to bring it home with us.

If she didn’t have her QCC, I am sure we would have.

It is well made, light weight and very responsive

Jack L

se fla

Do you know of any paddling groups down here?

Might fit okay in seat, since hips would
be below the coaming. Getting through the coaming might be a bit tight.

You can start here…