Boat choice for Pacific coast expedition

I need some advice on a boat for the west coast trip I’m putting together for next summer/fall. We’re looking at about 1200 miles in one shot. Some have suggested a SOT but I am definitely leaning more toward a SINK because of the protection it will offer from the elements. So, what do you guys recommend? I am looking at around 2500 for the boat and need the best boat for my money.

You definitely want a sit inside
seakayak. The water is cold on much of the west coast even in the summer. Much of it also has cool air. I live in Northern Calfornia and wear a drysuit when paddling in the ocean all year round. Coastal Oregon and Washington are similar. The water is rarely above 55 (colder this year) and the air nearly always 55 to 65.

If I were you, I’d be looking at a plastic WS Tempest or something similar in a 17’-18’ range. And definitely a drysuit.

I am definitely looking at a drysuit. What do you guys think of the Prijon Kodiak? It has been used on some long expeditions and gets great reviews.

butt time

– Last Updated: Aug-13-08 12:57 PM EST –

I would stick with Marciat's suggestion on boat size, and then find a way to get some butt time in various boats like that. I wouldn't want to do anything more than a day trip in a boat that looks good on paper or the internet.

For any sort of trip (let alone an expedition), you need a boat that you know fits you and you are comfortable with. Only way to know that is to paddle it.

skills development in cold water
the boat is irrelevant if you don’t have them, if your total budget for equipment was $2500 that steers towards a used plastic boat with about $1500 for drysuit and necessary gear.

fortunately, that is not my total
budget for gear. That is number I was looking at for the boat, and I am definitely planning on getting a dry suit. As far as experience in cold water, I have surfed many breaks on the west coast as well as winter surf on the east coast. I also have cold weather experience in the mountains. My biggest issue is open water paddling experience, though I hope to put a dent in that by training hard for eight months when I get home.

Planning advice

– Last Updated: Aug-13-08 10:55 AM EST –

Sorry I can't offer any advice on boats which is all you asked for but I can on the planning.

Having done several lengthy kayak trips I suggest you start planning early. Detailed planning will take some time so start early and then you will have plenty of time to work out the details. The logistics of a long trip will surprise you unless you are going to stop and shop everytime you need something.

Seems that this is still in the wild idea phase so not sure how much real-time thought you have put unto it but it can be a simple easy trip or a well disciplined one both requiring lots of details.

How you do the trip may factor into the storage capacity needed which will help you decide on the best kayak to use. Are you taking everything with you or will someone be constantly meeting you and how long do you expect the trip to take?

Paddlin' on

I was paddling a Kodiak, however It sustained some major damage during training. I would highly recommend a plastic boat, that your comfortable in surf with. I chose the Necky Chatham 17. The volume is a little low, a Looksha may have been a better choice but the Chatham is everything I would change about my 2 other Prijon kayaks.

Boring boat
I spent a lot of time in a Northwest Kayaks Cadence.

It is a dull boat, but dull because it is so predictable. I real workhorse, it hauls lots of gear, is easy to pack, and was quite well built. It is fast enough (not fast), maneuverable enough (not very), and quite stable. I am not an expert kayaker by any means, and I always felt comfortable in this boat.

I don’t know enough about all the options, but my guess is that something like this might be better suited than more exciting/legendary boats like the NDK Romany and such.


Hi Waterman:

I’ve paddled the Kodiak on extended trips on the Pacific Coast in Baja. Since I am heavier I fit well in the boat and I ended up carrying a lot of the heavy gear for 5 people in my boat. The boat was very nice to paddle in rough seas and playing in rock gardens with a full load. We launched on rocks all the time with no damage to the boat. It’s a proven boat by others doing long expeditions. I would definitely keep it on your short list of boats to try. The good news is it also fits easily in your budget.

Kruger Sea Wind
The Sea Wind is the boat for that reach. If only because Verlen Kruger paddled the Pacific Coast (from the Bering Sea to round Baja!) as part of his Ultimate Canoe Expedition.

Verlen, BTW, said the Pacific Coast is NO place for a canoe.

Kodiak is a
solid boat.

Have one in my fleet; definitely install a back band; e-mail me if you decide on a Kodiak and I will send pics of seat fix.

I paddle from mid April to mid November: up on the Canadian border on Lake Ontario, in Canadian Thousand Islands, and on large Adirondack lakes.

Kodiak is also the boat I will take when I paddle in new areas. Super to camp out of and a wicked fast poly boat. Solid German build, and easy to maintain/fix in the field. Get it with the rudder - you can always use the rudder to fillet fish!

Might there be a reason that big dogs doing big paddling expeditions, use this boat?

P.S. Kokatat Gortex Expedition dry suits (with new hood design) rule! Arrange to have Kokatat do a factory trim, if needed, on neck and wrist gaskets - you will be happy you did.

“around” $2500…
At “around” $2500 and considering you are planning to paddle 1200 miles? I’d be looking at an Impex Force or an Explorer. Both of which will likely run you closer to $3000…but for that kind of trip, it is much more in the way of what you would probably be looking for. I’d like to buy an Impex Force next spring…very nice boats.

Let Us Know When You Are Coming!
I don’t have any recommendations for that kind of trip. I am just a day tripper.

But make sure you post well ahead of your trip when you have dates. There will be Pnetters all along the route to help out with what we can.

long trips can’t be done in a Prijon Kodiak

Wait for Bowler to
sell his kajaksport viviane!

could get

– Last Updated: Aug-14-08 7:55 AM EST –

a used explorer or impex for around 1500--2000 and still stay in budget---but from the sounds of it, the OP doesn't have a lot of experience--my advice would be to buy your boat and gear and then do some shorter trips to build your paddling skills up and hone your navigation and seamanship

Can you rent a few first?
Big trip, big commitment to being in a boat for the duration.

Before going, it would be worth renting a few that get high marks for tripping. Your body size/weight will be a factor; it’s not enough that a boat be “good”; it should fit you, too.

We are definitely
in the early planning phase. We have ordered a bunch of books and maps and as you can see, are pumping all of you for info. Our plan is to carry as much as is safe and efficient to carry. We planned on being supplied once or twice along the route.

What ?
have you been paddling? Do you have any preferences? Skeg , rudder? Poly, Glass, Kevlar? How many days do you anticipate going between resupply points? I budgeted a second boat to have ready in case there were any major issue while in route. I also conditioned in a Kodiak for 13 months straight, and found that it was the wrong boat for me, also my back up was a Prijon Seayak. I considered the surf zones to the most technical part of Northern and Central California, so a boat that did better in the surf verses volume and speed was my preference. Rather than everyone throwing out suggestion as too what the right selection would be, your going to have to start putting together your trip route and logistics in order to help you make the selection. Volume is one of countless requirements for whats in your sights.


Rogue Otters