Choose Elie Straight vs. WS Tsunami

Looking for help deciding which kayak to purchase. Have always shared others or rented before. Looking for light touring kayak for rivers (possibly up to class II), bays, marshes, lakes for full day or overnights. I know it’s a big mix. I am only 5’3" so looking for something not too heavy. I’m 160lbs, so can’t really get into the 10’. I seem to be contemplating between the Elie Straight 12’ and the Wilderness System Tsunami 120. Does anyone have advice regarding my size with these? My thought is that they are similar in their abilities, but there is way more info on Tsunamis out there. Maybe the Tsunami is a bit more durable and the Elie is a little more geared for my size? That’s my impression. I think the Elie would be a little lighter too. I have really wanted to keep the weight under 50lb. and

go longer and narrower
Both of those are kind of short and chunky for longer tours and carrying loads. Also this makes them heavy. I am your weight and close to your height and the boat I prefer over the Tsunami and Strait models is one longer, narrower yet lighter than either of them, the 44 pound Venture Easky 15LV. If you have a chance to look at and try one I think you might appreciate the difference. Kind of has the best features of both the kayaks you are looking at. Venture also makes a 48 lb Easky 13 that is similar to the two boats you are considering (though maybe you don’t want the confusion of a third model in the mix).

But if you are settled on choosing one of the 2 you mentioned, it might come down to durability of the rotomold Tsunami. Personally, I would probably go for the Elie because I think they are neat boats and I have always found the Tsunamis a little clunky. But the customer service reputation is reportedly better with WS.

How much ocean bay?
I see that in your post, and ocean is checked off in your profile. If that is a serious goal for you - and being in Massachusetts you certainly are within easy reach of open water - I’d suggest that you follow willowleaf’s advice. The Easky she is talking about is a boat with more potential to support you as you grow in your paddling than the two you are considering. It is also a better fit in terms of supporting the skills you will want to acquire for paddling offshore at Cape Cod or towards LI Sound.

I had not weighed in before because I am sufficiently off your weight to be uncertain about fit in a boat. But I had the same concern about your getting into a boat that you might find too limiting. Happily willowleaf can speak to fit.

I suspect that you might find a boat similar to what she recommends to feel a little tender at first. But that is something that just takes seat and skills learning time, and if you want to paddle in ocean bays safely you need to go get some of that anyway.

Previous thread about Elie kayaks:

Here’s a pretty thorough review of the Straights:

12 feet is the bare minimum for your intended use. 14’ would be better, especially for the ocean and camping.

The biggest drawback of the Elie Straight 120 is that it lacks a front bulkhead. For that reason alone I would consider the Straight 140.

The Straights are unusually heavy for thermoformed. The 140 is 9 lbs heavier than the Eddyline equivalent (53 lbs vs 45 lbs for the Eddyline Equinox). I would say that the Straight is a step above the Tsunami for the material and the features. The price and weight of the Straights are about the same as rotomolded.

Either the Tsunami or the Straight should fit your size.

Best advice: If your budget is limited, look for a used Eddyline, Delta, Hurricane, or Current Designs Vision on Craigslist. End-of-season sales have started as well.

Forgot to mention this about weight of a boat… longer boats slide onto the roof easier than short ones. Handling all boats solo is greatly aided by use of a basic kayak cart.

1 Like

A couple of points:
On the same web-site there is in fact, a review of the Elie Strait 120

Though probably the OP is aware of this. The review suggests that the Elie 120 might be a good boat for a women or smaller-type paddler. And perhaps that it is for less strenuous types of paddling.

I’d also point out that the XE version of the 120 does have a forward bulkhead (as well as a rudder).

Thanks so much for the advice. I’ll look into those as well.

Thanks for your input. While I plan to do some bays ( and certainly get some better training for it) I will likely do mostly lakes and rivers as I am in Western Mass.

Definitely scoping out craigslist and sales. Certainly price is a factor for me. I have thought about a 14’, but was worried about it getting a bit too awkward to handle off the water. I have mostly used the old WS Sealution II which I love, but is sooo heavy, long and hard for me to get onto the truck even with help (given my short stature.)

The XE with front bulkhead and rudder was what I was looking at on the Strait side.

I’ll certainly have to look into a cart. It looks like I need to be looking at a 14’. I just wanted to stay with something fitted more for my short torso/height. Actually saw an old WS SealutionXS which is just over 14’. Maybe the one for me?

WS Tsunami 135
Nice compromise, maybe. I kind of want one, as an intermediate length, kind of multi-use boat.

If stretching the parameters to the 14’ range the new Venture Islay 14’ takes a lot of its maneuverability in design aft of the cockpit from the P&H Delphin but on an even keel much easier tracking than the flatter hulled hard chined Easky 15.

It’d be worth paddling for comparison.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

day trip to do test paddles
Can you spare a day to drive up to Lake George to do some test paddling? Lake George Kayak right on the lake has a good stock and variety of boats that you could test side by side right in the water. The differences between kayaks that look very similar or have slightly different dimensions can be very striking and sometimes you just sit in a certain model, paddle it for 5 minutes and say “Yes, this is the one.”

In terms of carrying your boat, I’m 160 lbs, 5’ 5", reasonably fit (but certainly no athlete) and 62 years old but I have no trouble carrying my 44 lb Easky on my shoulder or loading it on the rack on my tall wagon. Celia is right – it is easier to load a longer narrower kayak on a car than a shorter one.

Carts may seem like a handy answer for heavier boats, but in my experience they have their own hassles you have to account for – a piece of bulky gear you need to carry in the vehicle and then haul back to it after you have brought the boat to the water, or break down and carry with you.

I have noted that among my fellow female paddlers, the most frequent obstacle to them paddling as often as they want to is the kayak weight factor and I think there should be more emphasis on that when you are shopping for one. Two of my single friends rarely paddle because of the difficulty they have loading their 50 to 60 lb kayaks solo. Unfortunately, both live some distance from me and the best places to paddle are between us so if I have to drive to their houses to help them load and unload we lose a lot of time backtracking.

While I love the longer and nicely equipped kayaks, I am a realist. I need to be paying attention to the weight factor for just that reason. If it’s too hard for me to maneuver off the water, it will diminish my ability to go as frequently as i want. We are of similar stature. I found a place an hour away that lets you demo on site. They have several of the brands and kayaks I have been contemplating. Plan to do that soon. I am finding that research is one thing, but trying it gives a certainly different perspective! Thanks for the help. Anyone else with advice on the type that would be best to try out, I appreciate it. Budget is a factor, though, so keeping it under $1000 - used is fine!

Good deal on your local Craigslist
There’s a very good deal on this used Avocet and entire acccessory package for only $750 (worth over $2000 new), its a smaller person sea kayak, being sold on the Western Massachusetts Craigslist. They are including a good paddle, high-end PFD and spray skirt.

It is a 50 lb kayak, not bad for a 16’ boat but a little heavier than I like to haul (though I have a similar 52 lb one I can carry on my shoulder). The ad has links to reviews of the kayak by users here on

I realize you have started out looking for shorter boats, but a lot of us did that and ended up finding we preferred longer ones. The two kayaks in my “fleet” that I use most often in the widest range of waters are between 15’ and 16’.

On the other hand
I started short, went longer, and am now searching for shorter again.

I’m not in agreement that a beginner should be encouraged to start with 16’. That kayak is likely to be heavier, harder to store, harder to load, harder to paddle, more expensive, and less stable for a beginner. 14’ is a nice manageable length for a beginner. That length loads fine over the trunk of a compact car onto a rack, using a mat to protect the car.

It can take quite a while to find out your commitment to the sport and how you want to practice it. I recommend a medium length while you’re learning about kayaks and your preferences.

OP, with your budget of $1000 you should really be looking for a used kayak to get something lighter.

How much weight you can handle depends on your strength and fitness. This is how various weights might feel to a person of your stature:

54 lbs: A pain to load. I would end up using it less often.

49 lbs: Better, but still not fun to load on a car

45 lbs: Not too bad. Pretty cceptable.

40 lbs: Ahhh . . . now we’re getting to a nice weight

38 lbs: An expensive delight

Unfortunately, each of those steps down in weight costs a lot of money. Going from 54 lbs rotomolded to 49 lbs thermoformed can cost you an extra $1000. If you kayak a lot, it can be worth it.

As for the OP being a “smaller person,” short does not mean small, but we would need to know about her weight distribution.

Charles River
is having their end-of-season sale now.

Dagger Alchemy LV
Might be a good boat for you in the 14 foot range. It will be lighter than the Sealution and it has good manners for everything else.

A longer kayak is NOT less maneuverable. In fact, since they are usually narrower and lower decked they can be MORE maneuverable than a shorter model of similar volume. Short “day touring” kayaks tend to be in the 11’ to 13’ range. Mid-sized touring kayaks are 14" to 16’. Anything over 16’ is large full touring or expedition sized for a medium sized person.

But you won’t really understand that until you get in some different boats to feel the difference.