Does this kayak exist?

-- Last Updated: Aug-08-11 12:08 PM EST --

I'm looking for a Wilderness Systems kayak that I can paddle in the ocean, in canals, in mangroves and possible class 1 whitewaters or slow moving river.

I need to be able to lift it myself over my head onto my car.

Any suggestions? Thanks!

Yes it does.

Why WS?

– Last Updated: Aug-08-11 12:31 PM EST –

All manufacturers have a boat, or several, that CAN do multiple environments of low difficulty. That is class 1 WW but not higher 2 or 3, ocean bay but not big offshore stuff, etc. But none of these boats do any particular of those things extremely well, or should be asked to try more advanced conditions.

It boils down the the paddler goals. It is quite common for those goals to expand as someone spends time on the water.

Some of the new hybrids come to mind

– Last Updated: Aug-08-11 12:33 PM EST –

They are neither fish nor fowl, doing all you mentioned but none of those tasks better than a dedicated boat. However, if you are willing to accept the compromise, which you must in this case, then they can do it.

There are also a couple of general rec kayaks that might be a better choice if you truly don't intend to do anything above Class I, but for that selection it is more a matter of personal fit. Pungos can do all of those things, as can some of the Tsunamis.


why just WS?

– Last Updated: Aug-08-11 12:56 PM EST –

Yeah, the WS Zephyr would suit the function but I don't consider 54 pounds to be light.

Why are you limited to Wilderness Systems? If you are looking for lightness, that's the wrong brand to limit yourself to. I've found their equivalent models to be more ponderous, foot for foot, than nearly any other good brand of kayak.

Hard to be specific on recommendations without knowing your body size (height and weight) and also what you consider a reasonable weight to lift over your head.

Not saying it would be right for you (don't know enough) but I've used my 15' Venture Easky for everything you've described and it is 10 pounds lighter than my best friend's Wilderness Systems 14' Tsunami 140. Costs pretty much the same,too. Also has better internal hardware (adjustable thigh supports and foot pegs) and is made in the UK rather than China.

I've also taken a seaworthy folding kayak (Feathercraft Kahuna) on rivers with occasional Class I sections (scuffed the hull a little but nothing really damaging). At 35 lbs it is hard to beat for lightness but you pay dearly for that as they cost 3 times what a plastic boat does.

Perception has a new model called the Expression that looks like it could be used for that range of waters but I have yet to see specs and prices on it. Their boats also tend to be somewhat lighter than WS models of the same length.

Or, for the $1200 you would pay for a WS boat you could go out to Oregon and build your own custom Cape Falcon F-1 skin-on-frame kayak weighing less than 30 lbs and tough enough to even surf.

you are what, 6ft 160lb athlete or 5ft 100lb yoga instructor?

Boat weights can range fro 30lb to 50-70lb, price is, typically, an inverse function of the weight.

Good thoughts, thanks!

– Last Updated: Aug-08-11 2:33 PM EST –

Thanks for all the replies so far, they're helpful. I went with Wilderness Systems because I've rented that brand for touring and really felt comfortable. I'm definitely willing to look at other brands. What you guys say makes perfect sense though, that the kayak I want may be versatile but not an expert in any specific application. Good for me to be aware of, thanks!

I will be here reading and learning before I buy a kayak.

I'm a cross between the two body types mentioned. I do yoga, yes. :) I'm reasonably strong and I have a canoe that I paddle in canals and the intercoastal. I fell out of it recently in the ocean and experienced rip tides for the first time.

I've done Class I-IV white water, the Chatooga river in April being my last time. Of course I had guides and was in a raft, not a kayak.

I'm 5 ft, 8 inches and 125-130 lbs (female) and my arms and legs are lanky.

Thanks again for the advice so far, and for future advice! I live in Florida so that is where I'll be Kayaking mostly. Rarely I'd love to take it on rivers if safely possible.

Got it
I would strongly suggest getting lessons first - it saves a lot of time later. Even though kayaking is not rocket science it is worth spending some money getting a boost up the learning curve. Typical school will have access to a whole variety of boats, might make your selection process easier.

Good luck

Local kayak shop
The place I rented from does give lessons so I will try that out!

now that we know your size
if you get a chance, check out two other models in the same price range to compare to the WS boats you are familiar with:

the Strait 120 by Elie at 48 lbs.

the Easky 15LV by P & H/Venture at 46 lbs (I have one)

Both are lighter and a little sleeker and faster than the WS boats of similar size.

Nothing against the Tsunamis – they are good boats – but bear in mind that WS is a popular brand for rental liveries because they are very stable and heavily built. Good for durability and nervous newbies but since you are an athletic person the faster design and lighter weight of these other two low volume boats might be more enjoyable for you. I love the Easky in waves – she performs really well in rough water and is fun to paddle anywhere. I can brace her over until the coaming hits the water and she won’t go under. I am 3 inches shorter than you with long legs (32" inseam) – I paddle with an 84" Greenland paddle and find it a good combination(except in rocky creeks where I use a narrow bladed nylon fiberglass standard 230 cm paddle). Got mine without a rudder but it is all rigged to add one easily.


– Last Updated: Aug-08-11 4:00 PM EST –

Sit-on-tops tend to be more popular in warm-weather/warm-water areas like Florida.

Hurricane and Malibu make a relatively light one.


– Last Updated: Aug-08-11 4:10 PM EST –

Great, thanks for those recommendations! I will look into them!

As for a sit on top, I did consider that. However, I'd like to be able to store stuff to keep dry and maybe even get a spray skirt. I want to be able to when take a weekend trip.

Where can I find out the price of that the Strait 120 by Elie at 48 lbs? I love the specs on that one!

Figure out a way to lift one end of the boat at a time. Much better than hefting the whole boat at once.

Elie Strait 120

Elie Stait
Its actually only 46 lbs without the rudder – REI is a good place to buy from since you will normally get a 10% co-op member annual rebate on all purchases AND they will take the kayak back for a full refund if you use it and decide you don’t like it.

Only possible drawback for your use may be that I don’t know how well that tri-layer hull Elie uses would fare bouncing off gravel bars and rocks in Class I waters. The rotomold poly of the WS boats and the Easkys isn’t much fazed by that.

The Easky:

is a bit longer and narrower but the same weight. List price is higher but I got mine for $730 last year around this time (up here where kayak sales diminish in the winter 30% off end of season sales are not unusual)

SOTs have hatches for storage
For what you want to do look at an Ocean Kayak Scrambler for a starter kayak.

Ocean Kayak Venus 11, 40lbs

rent, research
there are a lot of boats that fit you but the biggest challenge is finding something light with bulkheads.

made in USA
all of WS’s plastic boats are still made in South Carolina

I find the Tsunami 135 really easy to cartop… and recall that Steve (Flatpick) was rather fond of the very maneuverable 120 for surfing ocean waves; great for river daytrips and for exploring creeks and marshes with tight channels

the newer Easky’s are much more nicely outfitted than the ones from a few years ago. their plastic is slightly thinner to achieve the lighter weight

dunno much about them, but the Elie’s I have seen look really nice.