Female intermediate paddler-which kayak?

I am an intermediate paddler on Long Island sound mostly, also some rivers and lakes but not rapids (so far). I am looking for a composite or Kevlar kayak (max wt 50#) that fits my 5’5’/130# frame. I would appreciate suggestions, as researching all the options is overwhelming.

CD Caribou…
It seems to fit a wide range of paddlers from small to med large. It loves the wind and chop…

p&H vela explorer or romany lv
qcc 600 boreal ellesmere, cd slipstream, something fron the WS tempest line, etc etc. Get a cheap plastic boat for the rivers and h ooptimize for the sound and sea. Can you tell I am a sea kayaker.

What are you paddling now?
What boat/s are you paddling? What do you want to move up/over from?




Depends On Whether On The Type Of

– Last Updated: Oct-05-05 6:12 AM EST –

paddling you do? Like it fast? Or more into playing in textured water? Plan of week long camping trips? Or just into day trips?

You're pretty light weight for most kayaks and unneeded volume without a load will make it more prone to being affected by wind.

Peter mentioned the Romany LV - more a playful day boat with weekend capacity. The Vela is slightly shorter than the Romany 16' but tracks better (Love this boat). Another good day boat coming out may be the CD Rumour, designed by Nigel Foster. (long awaited by some small folks).

If you're into weekend long camping. The Impex Montauk will do, as will the longer Currituck. I think the Avocet is a good playboat for a medium/large paddler but can serve as weeklong boat for someone your size. Eddyline Nighthawk 16 is another boat with capacity for load.

Demo, demo, demo, preferably in some windy conditions to see how you like the handling and fit of a boat. If this the first boat, buy used until you figure out more what you like.


Try Sing’s Recommendations

– Last Updated: Oct-05-05 9:41 AM EST –

I am an inch shorter and five pounds heavier than you (OK - I plan to do something about that as I get back to the gym). Sing has mentioned your best choices, for sure.

Personal experience in these boats - the NDK Romany 16' is a very, very forgiving boat that'll do anything you want. It's not fast, if you paddle with others in 17' boats you'll be working a bit, and the regular Romany cockpit will take a little padding out for you. But it is well within reach of a good fit because of the keyhole. It probably has the best manners of any boat out there within its range of talents, which are many.
There is an LV version which you'd probably like, but it is so low volume that it may not handle the occassional camping trip etc well.

If you want a full length expedition boat, I would steer you towards the NDK Explorer LV. With the lowered decks and extra small cockpit you'd find it to be a very nice fit, and it's a great all-around boat. (That's my longer boat.)

My short boat is a P&H Vela, which interestingly I am just getting back into now after having focused on my Explorer LV to get thru a 3 star assessment. The Vela would have been fine, the paddler was the issue. I just didn't have the mielage in this boat that I did in the LV. The Vela has a fairly tall front deck that will be better for you with some padding down, but the seat is narrow and very comfy. It also has a couple of settings - we moved mine to the more forward setting and that has helped a lot. The seat is quite comfy and nicely narrow - good fit without being overly constrained.

As to performance, the Vela is sometimes considered to be a more advanced boat. this is because it is a little less forgiving on primary stability than say the Romany, but it's secondary is fine. The Vela tracks well for a shorter boat but manuvers very well too, and is likely to feel a little more challenging on first sit than the Romany. It also accelerates up to a certain point (I think about 4 knots but I haven't checked) very easily.

I am planning to take the Vela to my first surf clinic in a couple of weeks, figuring it'll be a fast intro to finding out how I and the boat do in that stuff. If you are interested in any comments I might have after that, let me know.

And as Sing mentions, you really need to think about how you plan to paddle and exactly what your skills are. Intermediate seems to mean a lot of different things to different people, so the responses you get may not always match up to a boat in which you'd feel comfortable.

what ever one YOU like…

Not many under 50 lbs
The boats that sing and others listed are pretty good, but not many are under 50 lbs unless you get them in kevlar or a lighter layup.

Small person fiberglass boats under 50lbs.

Impex Montauk (small to med, 49-50lbs)

CD Sliptstream, ~47lbs

Small person wood/epoxy boats under 50lbs

betsie bay valkyrie (35lbs, small cockpit, $)

betsie bay idun (30lbs, small cockpit, $)

Small person kayaks under 50 lbs in Kevlar or lighter layup, usually more expensive.

NDK romany LV (elite layup, maybe 50lbs)

Necky chatham 16 (carbon layup)

Wilderness Systems tempest 165 (kevlar, maybe 50)

Impex montauk

QCC 600 (but has high decks and cockpit)

Some of the kayaks mentioned by others are not available less than 50 lbs, such as the Nigel Foster boats (e.g. Rumour or Silhouette), P&H Vela (too bad, 52 lbs in kevlar, very nice kayak). Of course there are other kayaks that I may have forgotten about, but those above should be the most popular/available.

Good Luck and try before you buy!

E-Mail Me
I might have a six month old boat that you would be interested in.


Under 50 lbs
I have an Elite layup Romany and it sure is light. I think it may well be under 50lbs. My wife’s Vela is a standard layup and also seems to be no more than 50lbs.

Both are good boats. The Vela is faster and less forgiving.

I love the feel of the Avocet hull, but the cockpit needs padding for me (6’, 170lbs) so I am sure it would be awfully large for someone smaller.

Deck height reality check
Some comparative foredeck heights (this is what affects contact/fit)

Impex Montauk - 12.5"

CD Slipstream - 13.5"

Sorry, can’t find info on NDK decks regular or LV versions) - Maybe someone else can add this?

A QCC 600? - 12.5" It’s also an inch narrower than the Montauk and Slipstream, and a half inch narrower than the NDKs, which can also help fit and speed. Very good primary and secondary stability.

Rear deck at 10.5 is probably higher than the others - but this is only a major issue if you’re a rollaholic that does dozens of different rolls - some of which require being very flat to the deck (Greenland standard is better that way but full layback is NOT required). Several rolls will work just fine - and it’s an easy boat to roll. Yes, it would be better with a lower rear deck - and the flatter deck style of the 700, but makes up for it in other areas.

Bottom line: Deck heights need not be a deal breaker between these boats for most paddling needs. The 600 is a great boat - but then so are the NDKs. Explorer manages to stay on my top 5 - a bit boring, but that’s what makes it so good in the rough. Any opinion beyond that wouldn’t help you as I’m not close to your size/weight.

We need more info on what sort of paddling personality you are. Conditions you like to paddle in, distances covered, gear load you expect to carry, etc. That may thin the list a bit. At least get it down to expedition or touring boats vs. play and day boats.

Add a few
WS Sparrow Hawk if you can find one. Check out the Lincoln line. Also check out ONNO. Patrick has a new boat called the Mermaid that he designed for his wife. My wife is 120x5’2" and can handle the Caribou but it is really too big for her. If you are into wood, the Guillimot S looks very intersting. The Guillimot is a fun boat.

That’s the Nick Shade boat? I saw a strip built one at Friendship Kayaks in Maine, made by Mike Scarborough, and it was absolutely gorgeous. Seemed to be a pretty round hull, looked like a very playful boat (maybe too much so for tripping). The size looked like it’d be a little on the big side for me, but that may be wrong. I was standing alongside it while it was up on sawhorses rather than sitting in it.

Surge Marine Sea Kayak
For sea kayaks, I like the Surge made in Maine. It’s light (under 40 pounds), fast and nimble. It fits me well and I’m 5’7" and 135 pounds. I use mine primarily in ocean races. They are very well made (I think he only makes about 20 a year). Mine was run over by a 4 wheeler and survived with just a little crack. Billington Sea Kayak in Plymouth MA usually has a couple to demo and sell.

Some fore deck heights
A standard Explorer has 12.25" foredeck at coaming. As I recall an Explorer LV has 11" foredeck height at coaming. I think my Romany has 11" foredeck height at coaming. I would guess a Romany LV would be about 10".

NDK Heights

– Last Updated: Oct-05-05 1:06 PM EST –

Bnystrom measured a Rumour (on another thread). Though I can't recall the numbers now, I know that we checked at home and found that my Eplorer LV came within half an inch of the heights he measured on the Rumour. Those measurements were:
"11 3/4" to the top of the coaming and 10 1/4" to the bottom."

The extra small cockpit in the LV is markedly smaller than the regular one, but we've had myself thru 5'6" women in my boat and all have found it comfortable. Secure but still some room to wiggle around.

I haven't measured, but my husband's Romany (regular size) feels like it is about an inch higher. The height would definately have to be padded down for me.

One of the paddlers in our local group had a Surge. Very well made, very light, seemed to paddle nicely. But she never did manage to execute a self-rescue with it. (She couldn't roll.) Between the high peaked back deck and the light initial stability it was very difficult for her. She was only moderately athletic and it is possible that with the right application of effort she could have overcome this. But the boat didn't make it nearly as easy as my flat, low rear deck boats. In case this is a consideration.

Also - Impex is coming out with a new boat targeted for smaller paddlers - a Force 3 - that should be arriving at dealers as soon as the end of this month. Though there isn't any experience with this boat yet, it should be worth a look. Impex is doing a nice job with boats.

Why you need to demo or rent
Some things will turn out differently from how you might think based on numbers alone.

I bought a Tempest 165 in plastic (they make it in composite also). I thought it would serve well as a long-trip hauler (carrying 2 weeks’ supplies) for someone of my size, 5’2" and less than 110 lbs. The reason I thought that was because I’d seen men in the 5’6" to 5’9" range say they liked this kayak. Add camping gear, and that would put me in their weight range.

Well, the kayak does work very well for me on camping trips. The surprising thing is that it is just as good for unloaded paddling. In fact, I actually prefer it as a daytripper because without half again my body weight added, it (and probably any kayak) reacts more quickly.

If I’d gone by spec numbers alone, I would have thought 21.5" beam and a rather large cockpit would make it feel big on me. But the excellent outfitting more than makes up for any extra “bigness”. The kayak manages to feel light and close on me yet is super-comfortable for all-day, day-after-day paddling.

I also expected to need the skeg much of the time, solely due to my light weight. The rear deck is not tall but it’s not especially low, either. (And if it were lower, it would be useless for long camping trips.) That has not been the case.

People have listed a lot of kayaks that might suit you. Try to keep an open mind and demo/rent as many as you can, and not just in glassy water. You might be surprised at which ones you prefer.

Agree with sing
also look at Impex Mystic.

Places to Go
Here’s a “dump” of places on Long Island and elsewhere that will have some of the boats recommended on this thread:

Empire Kayaks (see Dealers) - They can rent/demo the Night Hawk (my boat, tr the Falcon also)and the Caribou (tell them Lou sent you and they’ll raise the price lol!)

The Dinghy Shop - May have the Tempest

Peconic Paddler - Has the Surge, Impex

Mattituck - Has some Lincoln

Atlantic Kayak Tours - for NDK, Valley, P&H

Or, schlepp all the way down to Brick, NJ, to Jersey Paddler and see most of them (just get there well before 3pm)