Economical Touring Kayak

Good Morning,

I go kayaking weekly in the Newport Back Bay (Newport Beach, CA) and I would like to start venturing along the SoCal coastline. With this in mind, do any of you have any recommendations for a fairly decent hard shell kayak around $700 or less? Ideally I’d like a vessel that’s not more than 11 feet in length, but I’m open to any suggestions. Thank you for your time and consideration.

You will find 11ft boats

– Last Updated: Jan-08-06 2:03 PM EST –

are not all that suitable for touring the coast. They are slower and have more windage than a sleeker touring boat. Check the CKF website You find some really good deals.

Questions ?

– Last Updated: Jan-08-06 2:32 PM EST –

Are you limited in storage space? As Chuck said above a 11' boat is not going to be the best for touring, but that being said your idea of touring and Chuck's may not be the same. If you are only planning short trips you would be OK in a shorter boat, but I would just buy something like an Ocean Kayak Scrambler sit on top for short coastal paddles. The scrambler is easy to throw on a car or in a truck and it's easy to paddle out through surf (something you will want to do once you start exploring the coast.) It's slow but OK for short paddles, say 5 miles or so. A boat for coastal touring is going to be at least 14' long and probably 16-17'. I have a longer boat but I hardly use now since most of the time when I paddle on the coast I stop all along the way to surf so I paddle a very short boat. Southwind Kayaks in Irvine and Aqua-Adventures in Mission bay sponsor coastal paddles where you can try out a few different kinds of boats. I would reccomend going on two or three of these long paddles 10-13 miles in different boats so you have a feel for what you want in a boat then buy one used either from the stores or from the classifieds here, or from CFK webpage or san diego kayak club newsletter.

More Information

Thanks to both of you for the quick reply. I plan on just doing short weekend trips. Trips from like the back bay down to Crystal Cove (approx 8 miles). But the bulk of my kayaking time will be sent in relatively sheltered waters (harbors, bays, lakes). I suppose in the long run I’m better off with a shorter boat because of my preferred kayking spots. Do you have any suggestions for 12’ kayaks under $700.00? I’m also going to check out Southwind Kayak Center and see what the employees there say. Thanks again!

CD Kestrel…
Is a very nice boat.

is owned by 2 very close friends, Doug and Joanne. They will steer you right. My feeling is you may want to stretch to 12’, probably MORE for a little more speed/glide/efficiency.


I’m not sure why your preferred
locations mandate a 12’ boat.

Personally, for trips of 8 miles or more, I wouldn’t want anything shorter than about 16 feet.

A 12 foot boat on the ocean is really only good for surfing. If you expect to paddle in the wind and waves that we get out here, go longer.

I would check with Southwind - they have a rental fleet in Newport Bay and frequently sell some of their old rental boats and demos too.

You might get a better and longer boat by buying used from them.

Before you jump to a short boat…
give it some more thought and talk with some experienced paddlers.

A longer kayak is just as good if not better in sheltered bays, estuaries, lakes and naturaly in the open ocean.

It will be faster if you want speed, and it will hold more if you are camping.

My wife and I do all kinds of paddling around bays and harbors and much prefer the longer kayaks.

If I were you I would make a 16 footer the minimum length.



Hi Everyone,

Thank you all for the input. The biggest boat I can fit in my apartment is 12’ long. I was hoping the local shops would offer storage of kayaks at a decent price, but I’m not willing to spend $40.00 a month to house a larger boat. I visited Southwind Kayak Center today and Doug recommended purchasing the Kestrel made by Current Designs. I’m also considering the manitou by Necky. Both boats fit perfectly in my price range. Which would you recommend?

I live in a 400 sq. ft. efficiency and just finished building a 19’ 8 1/4" kayak in my apartment.

During Hurricanes I have had 4 sea kayaks inside - the shortest I have now being 16’ (the rest 17’, 18’, and a 21’ surf ski.

Are you absolutely sure you can only fit a 12’ kayak?

How long could you go it you kept it on your car?

Is there anywhere near a launch site with storage? Any local clubs that might have ideas?

If you haven’t guessed yet, I have pretty warped priorities - and REALLY prefer longer boats. Shorter boats are for surf play, WW, exploring tight creeks, and lounging on quiet ponds.

Kayak Storage
I’m one hundred positive I can only fit a 12’ kayak in my tiny apartment. I’ve measured everything out. Unfortunately, even though I live just half a mile from Newport Beach, I live on the shady side of the tracks so there is no way I could leave my kayak on my car for any length of time. I’ve researched kayak storage sites and the cheapest place I found was $40 per month.

I lived in a studio
and was able to store a 16ft Falcon in it. Getting in was a bit precarious and I did have to tip toe around it.

If you are real concerned with space, consider a Folding Kayak like a used Feathercraft K-Light ( about $800-1000 used, A Folbot Aleut about $600 -800 used or a new Atatl

I had a K-Light and travel around the Pacific with it. Great little boat. Fairly fast for a 13 foot boat, stable and easy to assemble. Had an Aleut but it was a pretty wide, stable slow boat but it was easy to assemble. No experience with the Atatl.

A third option
Besides folding kayaks, you might want to consider sectional kayaks. These are regular hardshelled kayaks (composite) that consist of three sections (bow, cockpit, stern) bolted together.

Downsides: heavier and more expensive.

I saw a photo of a custom Arctic Tern that had been made into a sectional version. Now, that boat would still be light. But I hate to think of what someone paid to have it made. It was done for the reason you gave as needing a short kayak: the guy lived in an apartment.

cd kestrel
Here’s another vote for the CD Kestrel. I am a fair-weather, flatwater, mostly short trip paddler, and my Kestrel is great. I find it responsive, relatively fast (for me) and manouverable without being too “twitchy”. If you have the chance, give one a test paddle.