First "real"boat

-- Last Updated: Sep-21-14 12:03 PM EST --

I have decided to actually commit to the sport. I started this year and I love it. I am 6'2 220lbs and in good shape ( no I'm not looking for a date, just using that for sizing and stability purposes ;)I have been suggested these three boats. They are all similar and because I have very little experience I am hoping as a group I can get some insight for my purchase.

Intercostal NC - tidal, slow moving
No constraints just looking for a good balance
No experience in this class of boat

Wilderness systems focus 155
Hurricane tracer 165
Perception expression 15

A few questions…

– Last Updated: Sep-21-14 11:29 AM EST –

What is your intended use -- quiet lakes, ocean, rivers?
Camping? Fishing? Racing?
What are your goals?
Do you have any constraints? Weight? Cost? Storage space?
What kayaks have you paddled that you liked or didn't like?

Your size does put you in the "larger paddler" category, but there are plenty of choices in that range.

Great questions- answers
Great questions. I guess I should have addressed all those in the post! I’ll correct that.

Intercostal NC - tidal, slow moving


No constraints just a good balance

No experience in this class of boat

Any others outside those 3?



– Last Updated: Sep-21-14 2:05 PM EST –

I know it's hard to know what you want when you're starting out.

I'm 5'9, 150 lbs, so I can't really recommend specific boats for you, but I can offer some thoughts:

It's not unusual for novices to buy a boat based on dreams of multi-day expeditions, when in reality 98% of their paddling is lightly loaded day trips. True "expedition" boats that are designed to paddle with a load can be cranky when paddled empty. it's good to be realistic.

Novices tend to be very concerned about stability, and how "tippy" touring kayaks seem. Most find that their boats magically become more stable with a bit of butt-in-boat time. The "trick" is realizing that the boat doesn't have to be perfectly upright, and being loose enough to let the boat move under you. It'll come with practice.

Your comfort level in & on the water and athletic background can make a big difference in your perception of stability. Some beginners are fine with the idea of getting wet and are comfortable with sea kayaks as their first boats, while others do better starting with something more stable. If possible, try to take a class in a touring/sea kayak before buying. You'll be better prepared to make a good decision.

Used boats can be a great deal if they fit you and your goals. This is the time of year when stores and rental outfits start selling off demos, and can be a good time to buy.

Don't obsess about specifications on paper. There are no industry standards for measuring kayaks. There are no hard definitions for "touring", "light touring", "sea kayak", or many of the other terms you'll see in marketing materials. Test-paddle or at least test-sit as many boats as you can.

Shorter boats are not necessarily more maneuverable than longer ones. Hull shape makes a big difference, as does paddler skill. Boats of similar lengths can be biased towards easier turning or harder tracking.

That said, perceptions of tracking qualities are also greatly dependent on paddler skill and experience. Folks who also paddle whitewater boats never complain about poor tracking in touring boats.....

It sounds as if a lot of touring/sea kayaks could work for you. For your weight and goals, I'd think something in the 16-18' range makes sense. Anything much shorter will be fairly wide in order to have enough volume.

The boats listed are fine, but don't limit yourself to those. If you're looking at the Focus 155, also try the Tempest 170
and the Zephyr 160. Each will have a different fit and feel. It's all part of learning what you like and don't like. Seriously: demo every boat you can that's even remotely close to what you think you want, even if it's out of your price range. You never know what'll turn up used.

Based on my experience in the smaller size, one boat I'd recommend trying would be the Aquanaut HV:

Sometimes bigger is better…
for your size and shape don’t be afraid to go longer, something in the 17 to 18’ range.

At the place I’ve been renting from, I’ve been using both WS Tempest 170 fairly regularly and like it, and I’m only 5’7" and 165 so I bet for someone your size you might like it.

Thank you
Epic response thanks for all the knowledge!

focus discussion
There were some recent strings on here about the Focus models, with a number of people finding them to be problematic.

The Venture Jura HV, if you can find someone who stocks it, is supposed to be a good boat for larger guys. I have a smaller Venture and find it to be a much better design for the money than similar models of Wilderness Systems boats I have used. Good looking boats with nice features that perform well, made in England.


– Last Updated: Sep-21-14 3:29 PM EST –

Not sure where you are in NC, but here's an example of classes that would be a good foundation before buying a boat:

Walking in
If you walked into my Showroom with those parameters here’s what I would have you try from the mfgs I carry;


Cetus HV - likely composite shoo-in

Scorpio - likely poly shoo-in


Jura HV - skeg or skudder. Knowing me probably skeg


Etain 177 - composite - a little more lively of primary stability and harder tracking than the Cetus. Need to get on water with it to see if it clicks.


Ocean 177 - composite - fun and forgiving shoo-in

Atlantic RM - higher thighbrace height than the composite.

Consignment Pool

Impex Assateague - a reliable higher volume Brit style sea kayak

Impex Force 5 - if waist size is no more than 36", it’s actually more of hip bone width measurement, civil primary stability and high top end glide speed.

Boreal Designs Nanook - ruddered kayak, very pretty with Indian pattern seam. I’d have to rely on your feed back on the water as it’s a model I’ve never stocked.

This broad menu would quickly lead to me hanging the sign on the door that says “On The Water - Test Paddle”.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY


If that is a primary use, then IMHO, take your weight, add 100lb, and go from there.

My whole thing was 4-5 day trips and I am not the smalest bear in the woods either. I ended up with a used poly sea kayak. Ithas taken me for multi day trips and it just took me down a bony river that its 17 foot hull got a lot of stares on. It WILL not turn like a smaller one without work, but I am getting better at faking it. It does do better with a little weight in the rear along with my 255lb self.

Just for comparison, it is a older perception sea lion.

cockpit size

– Last Updated: Sep-21-14 10:18 PM EST –

and shape, distance from hull to front coaming as foot room.

I'm 6'4" and thin. My boat is a Solstice Titan. Check the specs.

Tho your feet are shorter than size 13 when tilted over in the hull, room to stretch and egress is important.

With the Titan and size 15EE, ruined backpacking, I wet exit eelsily.

For tide lands, avoid rocker, go for a straight keel line.

The Solstice was bought/chosen for these factors and stability as a tourer for the use is wildlife observation not running waterfalls.

As an intermediate canoer and swimmer of rapids but novice sea kayaker, the tourer stability allows competent navigation in near small craft warning conditions more or less from the starting gun.

I'd buy an ultra light 18' Epic, as a thin intermediate now, but for a fat guy the extra 1.5" to a Solstice is probably a big deal of space.

Are you equipped with Word ? Assemble cockpit photos, dimensions in Word then compare several times so you understand the choices.

Blog searching is uneven. Search here in Padnet for the Solstice reviews. Read my experience is different from at least 50% other reviewers.

A search for: fat man kayaks/large man ect will deliver info just not accurate for your paddling.