Big guy narrowing down my options...

-- Last Updated: Jan-18-15 7:42 PM EST --

Ok, I was able to "try on" a few kayaks at my local outfitter. A couple worked a lot did not. Mostly because they were smaller boats. As I stated in an earlier thread I'm a larger paddler (6' 1" 260 lb 40" waist, 32" inseam)

First, I tried a 14' Looksha IV. That did not work. Way to tight getting my legs in. Next I tried the Tsunami 165. That was fine, but for some reason the foot pegs were about 3-4 inches to short for me. Then I tried a 165 Tempest. That cockpit was way too short. Finally, I tried two that fit well. One was a Tempest 180 Pro and a NDK Romany (not sure which model it as pretty old and beat up.)

Both of those models fit me well. However, there are a few more that I'm very interested in. They are the TideRace Xcape-X, Impex Assateague, NDK Romany Excel, and Tahe Reval HV.

I really like the Xcape-X but and a bit concerned about the keyhole cockpit. Other than that what's been the experience with these manufacturers for quality? How do these compare to the Tempest 180 for cockpit size? I read that you have to take advertised numbers with a grain of salt. The 180 advertises 35" in length. But I guess that's not the inner dimension. Apparently, the inner dimension is 33". So a boat with a 33" cockpit would work as long as it's measured from the inside.

Anyone have any experience with these boats? I wish I could demo all of them but there just don't seem to be many sit inside kayak dealers in southern California. :-(

Thanks in advance!!

to compaire cockpit sizes
When I want to compare cockpit sizes, I take the known boat you fit in, then go to the seals spray skirt size chart and get that size in a nylon skirt. Then compare the sizing to the boat you are looking into. I have found that most boats with a seals size 1.7 or larger are pretty big cockpit entrance sizes.

Key hole cockpits can typically be a little tougher to get into as the thigh pads cut down on the open area of the cockpit.

In my case I have an Alchemy S that I love the tighter cockpit but found the thigh pads made self rescues tougher than I liked. I solved the problem by cutting off the “ears” protruding into the cockpit and padding the area of the cockpit with foam to build up the inside of the cockpit for correct (for me) fitting. This left the entrance area wide open for easy entry.

Did doing this hurt any resale value of the boat? Probably, but I like the boat so I will keep it around for quite a while, so I still get my moneys worth.

In addition to Assateague
Is there a Valley dealer near you?

To replace the Assateague, as Impex imploded, I found the Etain 177 worked well especially in the leg clearance and with the more vee’d hull, the heavier the paddler, the better.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

So Impex is no more?

Spray Skirt
Great idea on the spray skirt!

What is your experience and skill level?
The boats you are testing are all over the place in that regard. Also, experience and skill level can affect you perception about what fits and what does not fit.

Size of cockpit does not equal volume
I just looked at the list of boats you are looking at. Most of them fit way differently than a Tsunami. As a general statement the Tsunami is a higher volume boat (think big SUV), most of the others are lower volume, this effectively makes the “tube” of the kayak smaller to get into.

I have 4 boats that can use the same spray skirt size, but each of them fit completely differently, this is because they are all designed for different uses.

When it comes to kayaks a good analogy would be to think golf clubs, they have similar design and look, but each has a best specific use.

What I’m looking for…

– Last Updated: Jan-18-15 7:46 PM EST –

The Tsunami isn't in play at this point. I'm currently comparing everything to the Tempest 180.

Here is what I'm looking for.

- First Kayak

- Doesn't have to be the most stable. I want something I can grow into a bit. My local shop guy said if I'm serious about paddling than make sure I don't get something I'll be bored with in a couple months. (Big reason I dropped the Tsunami. He said I'd have it on Craigslist within 3 months)

- I want something with a decent cockpit opening so self rescues are easier. The Tempest 180 was more than big enough, maybe a bit loose even, once I was in. So I think a little lower volume would be OK. I'm not planning on hauling much in the way of gear.

- I want something that I can turn fairly easy since I'll be out with my wife who will be on a SUP.

Right now based on what I have read about the Reval HV it seems like a great boat for my needs. I really like the skeg and rudder option. That said there aren't any near me to try and I can't even find a Tahe dealer that would ship one to me.

Impex no more
Although you will find used around. I have a consignment Assateague at my place but you’re on the other coast.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

T 180/Reval
Disclaimer,I paddled these boats a year apart. Both good big guy boats, the 180 felt bigger. Looking back the 180 felt faster and the HV more maneuverable. Both felt rock solid as far as stability goes. I remember wishing the decks were a pinch lower on both. As for the above suggested Etain make sure you try one first.

Can you rent for a while to get a feel for things? Alternately look at this as your first kayak and just get out there. If your wife is on a SUP then even Tarpon would be fine, hard to beat the seat.


– Last Updated: Jan-19-15 7:13 PM EST –

On Tiderace, I am not an expert on their line, but when you say Tiderace X, do you mean Extra? if so, you may fit. If you man something else, then if the Looksha IV (which is 17', not 14' - so maybe you were looking at a Looksha Sport or Looksha 14?) doesn't fit, then the standard Tiderace probably won't fit.

The suggestion above about the Seals skirt sizing as a way to see cockpit opening size is a good one.

I assume you have been to Aqua Adventures? Best shop in SoCal. They have an event in Baja in April where coaches from other areas come in, some of who will be bringing demo boats. Might be worth seeing if anything is coming there that you can get in (either at Baja, or just before/after).

The shop in Irvine and in San Pedro about all else you have. You may need to make a trip to NorCal or elsewhere for some more demoing.

Aqua Adventures
The Tiderace I was looking at is the Xcape-X. It’s actually a bit larger than the Xtra. I did look at the Seal skirts. Unfortunately, I a few the boats I were looking at didn’t have a value. The sizing for this boat was “TD-R” I believe. Whatever that means.

As for Aqua Adventures that’s who I’m working with. I am doing the strokes and self rescue class on Wed there. I’ll be paddling the T-180 Pro for that.

More choices
Have you looked at a Current Designs Isle, or possibly the Solstice Titan? They are both big boy boats.

Wilderness Systems Zephyr 160
This boat is worth a look for you. It is a boat with a fair amount of rocker so it is fun in moving water. The cockpit might fit you quite well. It would be the kind of boat that you could grow into as far as skill level and when you start hankering for boat number two you would probably just keep the Zephyr for playful type paddling. It is a plastic boat which in my opinion is the way to go for a first boat.

P&H Delphin 155
Great shorter boat, fits me well at 6’2 and 230 lbs, very reassuring and comfortable. Great in rough water.

i promise
You would swim in a tsunami 175.

My two cents
So from what I’m seeing you’re looking for more of a touring kayak than a rec/fishing - which is a good idea if you intend on doing any distance.

I’m not too far from your size, though abit shorter, and if we’re being honest abit rounder. Anywhich way I absolutely love my Aquaterra Spectrum, however they’re not in production anymore - but Perception (who bought Aquaterra) has the Carolina models which descended from it.

I can’t say for sure a Carolina handles like the Spectrum but they have very similar lines. For me after a year and a half in recreational kayaks there was a definite learning curve but once I got comfortable in it I’m loathe to use my fishing kayak for anything other than fishing.

Either I think you’re on the right track looking at the 14’ range though. I think that’s sort of the jack of all trades length for kayaks, short enough for small rivers, long enough for ocean, and roomy enough for day/overnight trips.

Excel is great
A paddling friend of mine is around 270# and 6’4". He loves, loves, loves the Romany Excel. It takes weight to get the boat down in the water and performing well. This friend is looking for one to buy, but they are not easy to find.


Wow I like your choices
Seriously, those are all cool options to try. Some of those boats I would like to own some day (like a reval mini and a Romany lv).

If you sat in an old beat up Romany, it’s probably closer to today’s explorer design, so you may consider trying out an explorer. The tempest 180 is another good boat, and a safe bet.