First touring kayak

Looking to buy my first touring kayak. I will be in lakes and rivers and intend to use this kayak for the MR340 (340 mile canoe and kayak race)not looking to win the race just complete it. I am 6’ and 200lbs but intend to get down some, anyway I have paddled rec kayaks but want to move up. I plan on trying out plenty of kayaks but looking for suggestions. Stability first but I will need something that is atleast ok in the speed department. Long post…sorry. Thanks!

You’re only a bit larger than the mythical “average” paddler, so you have a lot of choices.

You say “stability first”, but stability is very subjective, and changes with paddler skill. A lot of folks here have reported that their “tippy” kayaks became much more stable with a few hours of butt-in-boat time. There’s going to be some tradeoff between speed ad stability, so be careful about trading short-term comfort for long-term frustration.

If you can, I’d suggest taking a class in a sea kayak before you start demoing boats. Rec kayaks can encourage some bad paddling habits, and improving your skills will make you a more efficient and safer paddler.

All that said…

Almost any touring kayak designed for your weight will probably work. The WS Tempest 170 or 180 would be one example that’s widely available. For something more race-oriented, the QCC 700X might make sense.

Either a QCC-700 or a Epic 18
In carbon they are a bit faster then kevlar.

If you put the same engine in both, I think the Epic 18 might have the edge.

Jack L

If you want speed…
you simply have to get used to a boat that will feel quite a bit less stabile than a rec boat at first. But that phase passes with butt time.

For mostly sea kayaking
If I read correctly, you’re looking for an able sea kayak that also has the speed of an occasional race. For that I’d recommend the Valley Nordkapp or QCC 700. Both have speed and durability, with the Nordkapp being agile for its length.

Stability and Speed
The two do not go together. Even an outrigger canoe is easier to tip over than a typical rec boat. However is you are looking for speed over many days like in a 340 mile race then it often becomes a matter of being able to paddle more hours in a day comfortably.

In that case a Kruger canoe might be the fastest boat as it is very very comfortable and very stable. However in races less than a day long you will lose to narrower less stable boats.

Some paddlers spend 20 hours a day in their boats during these extreme races. in that case comfort beats sprinting speed every time.

Given that, most any boat will be stable after you have trained enough to actually be race ready. My guess is that the P&H Cetus is a great boat for you to try. It is very stable for a Sea Kayak. It turns very well with some edging skill, even well enough for surf shenanigans. It is fast for a Sea Kayak, I think only a race specific boat like an Epic or QCC will be faster but they will not take care of you in rough water.

Thanks for the suggestions everyone. I do appreciate it. Time to go demo some and make a purchase!!!

You should decide whether the MR race or your general paddling is more important. The boats listed are fast sea kayaks and would be good for the race. But may not be as much fun for your general paddling, depending on what that is like. You can always rent a fast boat for the race.

You may also want to read the getting Started column non “Getting Butt Time” in Issue 8 of California Kayaker Magazine - can be read online for free at This talks about why to demo demo demo, and some thoughts on ways to do it cost effectively.

Have you ever paddled a QCC-700 or
an Epic 18 Frank ?

They are fast do all boats and and in my estimation are two of the best all around touring kayaks on the market. I doubt if there are compartments in any other boat with as large a hatch as the QCC-700, and the boat will handle any conditions that you throw at it.

I went from a 23 inch wide poly kayak to my QCC-700 and the first day I paddled it, it felt more stable than my older boat.

My daughter has an Epic 18, and that is similar.

Jack L

I’d agree that the QCC and Epic boats can handle rough water, although the QCC outfitting is more conducive to it IMO. I’ve succumbed to the Epic design a couple times, only to be disappointed by the quality issues.