Hello! I am looking to buy a touring kayak. I also have a 6 month old baby and live in a new city, so needless to say I don’t have a ton of time to try out different models, nor do I have a lot of contacts in the paddling community to borrow different models from. So, I’m wondering if any of you lovely folks could recommend some models to help narrow my search. Here’s what I’m looking for: back several years ago when I was a kayak guide, I loved the Necky Chattham (both the 16 and 17 foot models). But several years and a baby later, and I doubt I would fit comfortably in the narrow cockpit (I’m 5’8”, women’s size large). So I’m looking for something that feels similar to the “Greenland inspired” Chattham, but maybe a bit wider. My aching back needs a bit more rugged back support than your standard belted seatback. I would prefer a plastic boat (I don’t like having to baby my gear). I’d prefer a skeg. Even though most of my trips will be day trips or one nighters, I’d like enough room for say a five day mini tour (with a fair amount of cushy gear). Even though I mostly paddle in protected water, I would want it to handle ok in a little rougher weather. Thoughts? Thanks in advance!!
I am 6’ and 230 pounds and I fit the Chatham 17 just fine. I definitely don’t fit the 16 - my butt is too wide for the seat. So likely a Chatham 17 would be just fine for you. Necky is no longer sold, so you’d have to find used. But the Wilderness Systems Tempest 170 is very similar, and still on the market as new.
I don’t put the Chathams as Greenland inspired, but as British style boats. As such, I was thinking that most of the NDK boats would have a similar feel.
Backbands can be changed out on any kayak - nearly all sea kayaks will have a band instead of a seat back for several reasons (Spray skirt fitting, proper torso rotation, ease of self rescue) but there are higher/thicker aftermarket back bands that offer more support than the standard ones that come with many kayaks.
Be aware of not getting into a kayak that is far too big for you. All of them are designed to carry a certain weight of paddler and gear, and while there is always a range, trying to paddle a boat that is too big can be an exercise in frustration as the kayak will sit too high in the water, leading to more windage and weathercocking, poor tracking and possibly less stability. You didn’t mention your weight, but at your height and size you should fit comfortably into a lot of midsize sea kayaks - the Chatham 17 and Tempest 170 mentioned, Valley Etain 17.5, Scorpio MV, and many others. For reference I am 5’7" and currently 155 lb and paddle low volume boats - all fit me very well.
Do you have any good dealers nearby? They are usually good sources of info from boats to local paddling clubs. Also the ACA might be a good resource for local info or contacts.