Faster kayak

Currently I have a Current Design Solara 135. Im looking for something faster and lighter. Im 6’ 4" and weight 250lbs. I mostly paddle on slow moving rivers and some small lakes. Any suggestions would be appreciate. I probably still wanna stay poly because of cost. Thank you.

sound rowers classification
The Sound Rowers publish a very approximate classification of kayak speed. Many but not all kayaks are included. As you find kayaks that fit you, the classification might be of further help.


– Last Updated: Jun-06-16 11:08 AM EST –

...but longer, in poly, will equal heavier. If you're using more materials to build something, the weight will go up.

If you want to get the weight down, but lengthen your waterline, you'll be looking at composite boats. In the CD line, the Solstice GT would be your best bet - very little rocker, good tracking, big enough carrying capacity for a guy your size.

They made it in poly too (called the Storm), but that boat has been out of production for a few years. You might be able to find a deal on a closeout or used one.

another way to reduce cost:
shop used.

Much about fit.
Solara 135

Overall Length: 13’ 6" (411.48cm)

Width: 28.00" (71.12cm)

Depth: 13.00" (33.02cm)

Cockpit Size:

Length: 45.50" (115.57cm)

Width: 20.00" (50.8cm)

Weight: 64 lbs

This gives a good quick reference for the Solara 135. It won’t take much to get faster. For the most part, just get narrower and longer. It’s a heavy kayak, so getting lighter should be fairly easy as well. The biggest thing will be making sure your hips have just a little room in the seat - say a fingers width between your hips and the sides of the seat, and your thighs have comfortable room under the deck. You should be able to lift and lower your legs a bit, not have them pinned in place between the thigh braces and the bottom. Definitely don’t have the sides of the seat or the thigh bracing putting any kind of light pressure on your hips and thighs as you sit at ease in it. It’s really best that there’s just a little space there when at ease. Height and weight don’t necessarily tell if you have slender hips and legs and hulking chest and shoulders, or well endowed in the belly region; or if you have wide hips, thick thighs, and a healthy butt. Or whatever variations in between. I was just paddling yesterday with a skinny little thing, significantly shorter and lighter, but hips a bit wider than mine, who’s best served in something with a wide seat and a low deck. But it would be very hard to guess that based upon height and weight.

In general, something like a Gulfstream:

Overall Length: 16’ 10" (513.08cm)

Width: 23.75" (60.325cm)

Depth: 13.75" (34.925cm)

Cockpit Size:

Length: 30.00" (76.2cm)

Width: 16.50" (41.91cm)

is going to have you feeling lightning quick in comparison, and be beautifully maneuverable. Where a Solstice can allow you more speed, track beautifully for distance paddling, but won’t have the maneuverability. For clarity’s sake, I’m not a one or the other kind of paddler, meaning I don’t declare one type of behavior superior. I’m lucky enough to have several, so I can choose my kayak to fit the conditions and the paddle of the day. It takes more skill and strength to maneuver tracking kayaks, but they glide along distances more efficiently with less attention to directional control.

There are likely a lot of options out there. Good luck in your search.

How handy are you?
For speed, lightness and low price, it’s hard to beat a skin-on-frame (SOF). You can buy them already built or build one yourself either in a class (many places offer them around the country) or on your own with basic shop tools and some space in the garage or basement. I got a 31 pound 18’ long Greenland style for $900 some years ago and it’s fast and effortless to paddle. I see there are three such boats for sale at the moment on the classifieds. They often come up on Craigslist in some areas. I drove 450 miles to Michigan to pick up mine (even took it across the Lake on the ferry!) and am glad I did so. It’s been a wonderful boat.

A lot of people are not even aware that these exist but they are actually were the original kayaks, made with wood and bone frames with sealskin stretched over them. Modern ones use high tech fabrics like 8 ounce ballistic nylon with 2-part urethane coating and are extremely tough.

A good intro to the type and how they are made is kayak designer and builder Brian Schulz’s website:

Another option is wooden kit boats like those made by Pygmy and CLC (Chesapeake Light Craft). Costs are comparable to rotomold plastic touring kayaks but the boats are much lighter.