First boats for smaller people

An adult friend of mine, a petite woman, and her 9 yo son, who weighs about 60 pounds, are looking to buy their first basic kayaks for strictly recreational use–flatwater small lakes. It seems to me that the beamier rec boats would be too wide for them. What current small rec boats are out there that I can recommend they look at?

Why would the “beamer” yaks…
be too wide for them ?

Most people who have never paddled a kayak are much more comfortable in a wide kayak.



Sure, but short torso and short arms
mean getting a decent stroke in a deep and beamy kayak is not possible. And smaller people don’t need all that width to feel stable in a boat, so why have 30 inches when 24 will do? Spend some time actually watching a small child paddle a Pungo or an Otter, and it is pretty obvious that the width of the boat makes paddling it harder than it needs to be.

Can’t paddle comfortably
That is, unless they want to bend joints in odd ways to reach the water or use a way too long paddle. Granted many do it, but I’ve known more than one person who found paddling to be an uncomfortable and unpleasant chore until they got into a boat that fit them better.

As someone who races, why the question?

Both my 4’-11" daughter and my
5’-2" wife started in nine foot long Keowees and now have long skinny kayaks.

If they had to do it all over again, they would go the same route.

I have started a bunch of my gandchildren (seven) of them off way younger than that nine year older in the same rec boats, and it never “seemed obvious” to me that they were having a hard time, except for the monstrosity of a paddle that I let them use.

You said it was for "their first basic rec. kayaks.

If you want to go narrow and less stable, you just might put a fear into them that is not necessary!

I probably shouldn’t have even chimed in, since I was no help to your question, but thought I would get a few cents worth in.



Take a look at the …
Wilderness Systems Tsunami SP. It’s smaller, narrower and has a capacity up to 180lbs. It’s also has better features than childrens kayaks.


SOT probably not what you’re looking for
… but Ocean Kayak makes a Kiwi that is great for kids

2nd the Tsunami SP. I put my grandsons
in one (5 and 8) and they had no stability issues and it is more kayak-like than a rec boat.

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– Last Updated: Aug-19-08 4:07 PM EST –

How big is she?

The Perception Tribute might be an option for her, and an Acadia Scout for her son.

Tsunami SP and 120 or 135 have more features, such as dual bullkheads, but are more expensive.

An important factor is how comfortable they are being in the water(swimming), and if the prospect of capsizing seems scary or entertaining.

Adult beginners tend to be very concerned about stability, but most find that their perception of stability changes quickly with experience. Kids tend to be less concerned about stability and just want to go fast.

I agree that a boat that's too wide or too deep can be frustrating for small folks who want to do anything beyond poking around on ponds.

A paddle that's proportional to their size will also be more comfortable than a "standard" paddle.

are great boats for what they are—fun for a beginner to paddle, good initial stability and they actually can be rolled fairly easily—they would make a good choice for your friend.

LL Bean has a…
… kayak called the Calypso. It’s actually made by Perception kayaks.

I find that petite women love the boat and have never had a comment about instability. I’ve been putting kids into them lately - I’m 1 for 2 - 1 girl loved it; 1 boy capsized it.

another referral for Tsunami SP and 140
Both are designed for smaller paddlers and include lots of features/capabilities. Tsunami’s are very beginner friendly and offer the benefit of being very usable as skills increase. Great tracking and good stability.

Or skip the rec and go to “crossover"
Not as wide, and longer, but not as narrow or long as standard sea kayaks.

My first kayak was an OT Castine (26” beam). While I had fun with it, it was pretty wide, and I would’ve done well by skipping the rec kayak stage entirely. It’s hard for a small/light person to edge such wide boats.

a 22" wide kayak for a 75lb person can feel like a 28" wide kayak for a 200lb person.

look for used Umiak for 9 y.o.
My son’s first kayak was a Perception Umiak for his 10th birthday. He slept in it for the first week. He was outpaddling me in my old Pungo at the end of his first day out & surfing within a couple of months. I had to get a faster boat to keep up. He never capsized the Umiak. I bought another one for my daughter who wasn’t interested in anything not soccer-related, so I used it to teach other kids. These boats get outgrown by kids and often come up used for about $200. They can be improved with a backband made just for that little boat and float bags. I believe its now the Carolina Jr(?) - someone will correct me if I’m wrong.

Umiak now called the Carolina 12 XS(NM)