Eddyline Samba or Stellar S14LV

I moved to Naples, FL recently and am interested in getting into kayaking. I am 5’2", 120lbs, very active, avid biker, etc. I am also a photographer and know from experience that buying entry level/inexpensive gear means you end up spending more money in the end.

Therefore, I am looking for a nice kayak that will last me a while, and while I am a beginner, I am confident I will get good at it quickly.

I will be doing “light touring”, a little TINY bit of open ocean, also hoping to be paddling many of the rivers in Southwest FL. Based on my research, I am looking at either the Eddyline Samba or the Stellar S14 LV Advantage - they have very similar specs, same price, the Samba is heavier at 43lbs vs the Stellar at 36.6lbs.

I was leaning towards the Stellar because it’s lighter and I’ll have to get it on and off my car every time I go paddling. I’ve seen great reviews for the Samba, but not many reviews for the Stellar. Unfortunately, nobody in the area has one in stock that I can demo. I will be able to try the Samba hopefully. Any thoughts from the group between the two models? Or any other suggestions?

Don’t know the Stellar but…
I know of a woman locally who is a good fit for the Samba. She is wider and heavier than you by a decent bit, though also on the short side.

The Samba is a small to medium paddler boat, you are a decidedly small paddler. While I like the Samba a lot, at your size especially with an athletic tendency I think you would be happier with a boat tuned for a truly small paddler. Not one that reaches up to people considerably larger than you.

At your size you can go good and skinny on the boat width and feel as stable as a regular sized guy in a boat four inches wider. Don’t worry about going for a boat less wide than the average sized paddler. You’ll be fine with less width, in fact as you work on your paddling you will be happier. Unless you have unusually long arms and torso for your size. the skinnier boat will make life easier for you.

Get the best
If you’re thinking Eddyline, go for the Raven, but before you do, go to nckayaks.com and see what you can get. The 15’-8" models are super boats for people of your size. Even the 17’-2" models are great for the ladies. These are lifetime boats that you won’t grow tired of in any way.

What boats have you paddled, Tess?

– Last Updated: Oct-25-15 12:05 PM EST –

I paddle an Eddyline Samba. Purchased it last October. I'm 5'5, 110lbs, in my second season of paddling. Would I do it again? Absolutely. I like the Eddyline quality and outfitting.

While the only Stellars carried in my area (Great Lakes) are surfskis, I did go to the Stellar site and looked at the S14LV specs to compare them to the Eddyline Samba.

Both boats are 14' and pretty much the same width (22") Both boats have skegs. The S14LV cockpit is slightly larger. The Eddyline has a keyhole cockpit and is nicely padded for your knees, thighs, and hips. The Stellar seat is stationary. The Eddyline seat can be moved forward or back, which lets you adjust the trim, and the Seadog/Sea-lect foot braces are solid and easily adjustable on the water. The Samba seat also has padded thigh supports. I mention this because you really need to sit in the cockpit of any boat you're considering to see how it fits and if it's comfortable. In my case (I was around 15# heavier at the time), when I first sat in the Samba cockpit, I was wearing the boat. And still am.

I find the Samba very stable, responsive, and quick. It's been a good boat to develop and work on skills. If you're concerned about boat weight, here's a link to a product mentioned in another thread:

Just don't buy any kayak (new or used) unless you can demo it on the water, and for longer than just 30 minutes. A good outfitter will encourage a test paddle and help with paddle selection. A good outfitter will also offer instruction by competent people. That's as important as the boat, if not moreso, as there's a lot more to paddling than just moving forward.

You might have to drive some distance in your search, but we're not talking about $200-$300 boats here. When you add up the cost of the boat, a good paddle, PFD, paddle float, bilge pump, cockpit cover, skirt, and related equipment, it's a good sized investment so it's important to try before you buy.

Best wishes in your quest.

Thank you
Thank you everyone. Much appreciated. Special thanks to Rookie for taking a look at the Stellar and for the very useful input on it vs the Samba. I am very excited about getting into kayaking and glad to have found this forum.

A couple of comments
I have both a Samba and the above-mentioned Raven, and I believe the Raven is too large a boat for you. It’s for medium to large paddlers. Although I am a “medium” myself, I have put several smaller folks in the Samba with no problems – my wife, among others, loves it. I have not paddled the Stellar, but in comparing the specs with the Samba I see that it has rounded chines, whereas the Samba has harder chines. So other things being equal, the edging and tracking characteristics are likely to be a little different. Round chines boats tend to layover gently without a hard stop, and get pushed around in rough water a little less. A hard chine boat will tend to edge a little better, have stronger secondary stability and track a little better.

I can tell you from my own experience that I am very pleased with the speed and handling of the Samba.

Impex Mystic
Sorry to muddy the waters, but I think you should add the Impex Mystic to your list. Impex is no longer in business, but the Mystic is one of the more highly regarded smaller paddler’s full featured sea kayaks, and I think its a boat you should consider if able to find one on the used market.

I currently paddle a Mystic. Back when I was shopping around the Stellar S14LV wasn’t out yet, but I was strongly considering the Samba. In fact, heres a link to a message board discussion from 2011 of me looking for Samba vs. Mystic comparisons: http://www.paddling.net/message/showThread.html?fid=advice&tid=1411778

As you can see most posters gave the edge to the Samba, but I did end up trying both, and went with the Mystic. The Samba felt significantly more roomy to me, bordering on too roomy- Samba is an inch wider than Mystic, but I think it was more of a deck height issue- had to bend my knees and splay my legs out too far to get up into the thigh braces. I mean not as much as I would have in a boat not intended for small paddlers, but still more than I liked to.

Obviously fit is totally up to personal preference, but as a paddler larger than you who felt the Samba was just a bit too roomy, I thought I’d throw it out there. (My stats: female, 5’6", 150lbs, 7.5 shoe size).

p.s. there is a kevlar Mystic currently for sale in Melbourne on the paddling.net classifieds, yes its 4hrs away from Naples but might be worth it (no, I’m not the one selling it). Sweetwater Kayaks in St. Peterburg also tends to have a ton of used/consignment high-end kayaks, they don’t keep a list online so you have to call or email.

stellar makes great boats
I’ve been shopping their fast sea kayaks.

It looks to me like the keel on the Stellar is straighter, which should mean a faster boat, all else being equal.

More on the sizing issue

– Last Updated: Oct-26-15 12:35 PM EST –

One of the more recent posts above states the sizing concern very well. I have paddled a boat whose volume was too big for me. When I first started sea kayaking there really weren't major options out there for even a very common size of female for the time - 5'4" and 125-130 pounds.

BUT what made that boat work was a lowered deck and a smaller cockpit, so my thighs hit the thigh braces naturally, no contortions or froggy legged stuff needed. In the normal version of that boat, I didn't come close to having the correct thigh length to hit them. It flat out would not have worked.

I also tried out boats supposedly for smaller paddlers, where the deck had been lowered but the cockpit configuration was unaltered. In those I was usually sitting very froggy legged. It took all of a half hour to have a backache in those boats.

So with all due respect to Rookie, at 3 inches taller than the Oper, they could have sufficiently different thigh length to have a very different fit in the cockpit than the OPer.

AT 5'2". you really have to get into a boat to tell for sure. Even if it is sitting on the showroom floor.

If it matters to you…

the Eddyline is made in Washington, and the Stellar is from China. Some people don’t care, some do, so FWIW.

Gotta try before you buy

– Last Updated: Oct-26-15 2:23 PM EST –

Of course you’re correct, Celia. We all have different body specs and the only way to determine fit is to get in the cockpit and paddle the boat.

Last month I demoed a highly rated LV kayak. 20.5 wide. When I first sat in the cockpit, my immediate reaction was that I was in a rec boat. That didn't change during the course of the demo. I had hoped it would be a good fit. It wasn’t.

mm hmm
I tried a poly aquanaut and it felt like a barge to me. And while i’m shortish, I’m not small.

Outfitting, or lack of,
had a lot to do with it, I think. Hard to judge a boat when you have no contact with it. I’m going to put together a kit of pool noodles and yoga mat pieces for future demos.

that’s a good idea
MAybe have a masik cut out of foam.

I should admit that I like my boat outfitted to fit like a pair of jeans.

Had no idea what that was. I know now. Thanks, SP! I love this place.

Double ditto about fit.

The Raven is too big and heavy
The Raven is too big and heavy for the OP.

this is like the one I have

But mine’s cut out of minicell foam. I’ve seen people use the preformed knee or thigh pads to make the same shape.

Boats built in USA
NC Kayaks are also built in Washington State and right now, they are having a great sale on in-stock models. You can have a beautiful new composite sea kayak (15’-8" model) for about the same price of a decent RM, or thermal plastic boat. nckayaks.com

you should get a commission
just messin’ with ya magooch.

Stellar S14LV
Contact Maureen and Jeff at The Paddle Attic in Winter Park (Orlando)… he has the S14LV and the S14 and he has a great lake close by of demos. Fantastic folks! Ask Jeff about the Multi-sport layup… it is a honeycomb bottom that will have an attitude and can take on Level 1,2 rapids.

I found the Samba to be tight on the thighs.

LOVE the fit of the Stellar S14LV and the seat is very comfortable.