Help me pick a new boat. I’ve been kaying a $200 10-foot Dick’s Sporting Goods Pelican Potomac sit-inside recreational kayak. I paddle on the wide, slow Susquehanna River, in Harrisburg, PA, and also on some local creeks. I am an ultralight backpacker and have enjoyed loading my minimal backpacking gear into this small kayak for overnight paddling trips. I want to upgrade to a good boat for my local river and creeks. I do not ever intend to do white water. I do not ever intend to take my kayak into the ocean. I paddle lakes sometimes, but fast little creeks and the slow Susquehanna River are my paddling zones. I don’t want to exceed a 12 foot boat, as storage can be complicated. I want a very light boat, so I’m looking at kevlar or composit materials to minimize weight. Money is no object. So far, I’ve found the Current Designs Vision 120 composite (part Kevlar). It’s called a transitional design – not as wide as a recreational boat, but not as skinny as a longer touring kayak. What other manufacturers make kayaks in the 12-foot range, skinny, and ultra lightweight, suitable for creeks and rivers? Oh, I am 5ft 10 and weigh 145 pounds.
Does it fit?
You need to paddle it first. Otherwise, it is a boat, it will definitely float and take you here and there. People expecting occasional or frequent poking by rocks usually prefer poly, but that is usually quite a bit heavier than composite hulls.
Now, for lightness and price - what are we talking about? Here is a kayak, more or less in your interest range. Take a look at weights and prices:
One way to go is to build your own - SOF ( Skin On Frame) method, the traditional way of building kayaks is very flexible in terms of design, very light, surprisingly durable.
Warren Light Craft
Little Wing 12.5.
I’m a fan of Current Designs, but I’ve never paddled that particular kayak, and I’m a different style paddler. I imagine it would do great.
I hopped into a couple Little Wings at the East Coast Sea Kayak Symposium. I’m guessing it would fit the bill quite nicely. Extremely light, a bit higher priced, but if money is no object, I would give the Little Wing a try if I were you.
You may want
To also consider some of the Swift kayaks such as the Kiawassa 12.6 or perhaps a Placid Boatworks Spitfire which only weighs 20lbs but is extremely well made.
As an an owner of a Little Wing
12.5, I disagree with Capefear’s recommendation for your purpose. As I have fequently posted, I love the light weight and on-water handling of my Little Wing 12.5. I have a LW 15.5 on order. But, I would not use a Little Wing on twisty, rocky creeks - they dent very easily. They are constructed of a thin layer of carbon over a foam core - very fine and very expensive.
I suggest that the OP look at Swift kayaks. Swift has several 12-ft carbon-kevlar models almost as light as Little Wings, but probably much more resitant to denting from rocks.
Don’t rule out a pack canoe for your stated purpose. Many are available in the 12-foot range, and the lack of a deck makes them lighter than similar sized kayaks. Look at Swift, Placid, Wenonah to start. I’m sure others will chime in, too.
Is a great option. Great for carrying gear and you will be able to broaden your boating options. Be careful about buying a nice small kayak or you will soon end up with more nice longer ones once you feel the ride in a composite boat. Trust me you will solve the storage issue.
tough enough for rocky creeks?
I guess my main concern is will the lighter composite or kevlar or carbon materials stand up to some bumps in rocky creeks? Am I doomed to stick with the heavy weight and sluggish performance of my plastic recreational boat? From April through September I paddle about an hour or two 5 days a week or so. I’m willing to pay top dollar for a great boat and I will appreciate the quality but I don’t want to do the equivalent of driving a formula 1 car on a dirt track. I don’t want to destroy a fine kayak on rocky creeks. So how about the Current Designs Vision 120 in their composite material? Only 29 pounds. But is it tough enough?