Graduating to bigger kayak

-- Last Updated: Jan-08-07 10:58 PM EST --

Greetings all,

When I decided to venture into the world of flatwater paddling, I received great advice here and after demo'ing the suggestions, I purchased a Prijon Calabria.

A bit of history - I paddle both flat and whitewater, and own a Wavesport Diesel and EZG for whitewater, and the Prijon Calabria for flatwater. I am 45, 5'7" and about 170 after a superbowl party. I decided to get into touring kayaking because of dreaded low-river summers that in some seasons only provided a few days of paddling.

I love the Calabria, and could comfortably paddle it without upgrading. Honestly, my first thought was simply to buy another touring kayak (used) for friends and my girlfriend to be able to join me. Knowing that the Calabria is stable enough for beginner paddlers, I have been thinking that the more intelligent move might be to upgrade both the boat and my skills by going with something in the 16' range. Here's where you come in, if you don't mind.

- Stable tracking would be nice.
- Speed not so important, but would be cool to have.
- I like to both sprint and take it easy, often taking photos, so both primary and secondary stability (to whatever extent I may have a modicum of both) can also be added to the list
- would prefer rudder (seldom used anyway) over skeg
- from a touring/storage perspective, its probably unrealistic to presume anything over 3-4 nights
- mostly lakes, though I would like to handle choppy water with ease
- primary use is to get on the lake and get some exercise for 3-6 hours per day, once or twice a week
- composite is most likely overkill, weight not so much a factor. Poly is fine.
- price not a huge factor, but would be nice to keep it under $1500-2k

Not sure what else, but please spur my memory if other factors are to be considered. If, once again, you could help narrow the choices for me, your help would be most appreciated.


Charlottesville, VA

how much
what is your budget?

and where will you be paddling the boat mostly?

I won’t narrow your choices but
rather introduce a new variable into the equation. I also have a Calabria which I love and could paddle until I was in a nursing home. I also considered upgrading to a 16’ kayak.

My fellow paddler Cooldoctor recommended moving up to a 17’ kayak because its only 6" more on each side. Seems basic but with the 17’ yak I have greater speed when I want a workout and greater secondary stabilty on textured water.

Your choice. Good luck. There are many outstanding yaks on the market in the 16’ range. A few that I researched that seemed good were:

P&H Capella

Impex Montauk

Epic 16 Cruiser

Lincoln Schoodic

I’m sure you’ll get more responses.

original post edited to reflect price
Sorry, I didn’t put in a price range, original post is now edited, 1500-2k tops probably, though used is certainly an option.

The second question was answered - mostly lakes, occasional bay, inland waterway paddling.

I’m not opposed to going to 17’. I figured there would be more choices at a better price point at 16’ or so, and the added speed is not really that important, particularly when the Calabria must keep up with me.

take a gander@

they have a really nice thermformed 15.5 with along waterline has a few nice boats the xray is composite/glass boat starting out $2k new.

wilderness syetems cape horn 15, is nice rig

what size diesel?
Just curious, i am 6’1 and 180 and i love the fit of the diesel 75(took pool rolling classes in one). I Think the necky elaho (i own one) would be a pretty damn good all around 16 footer, decent at just about everething. The only drawbacks are weathercocking and very basic thigh/knee braces(which work just fine if they fit). If you can afford and won’t be bashing it into things, i’d go with the lighter composite version, less weight, stiffer material and considerably more storage space(most poly models have super thick foam bulkheads, mine is one of the funky ones with thin plastic ones with foam around) you can find my review of the boat in reviews section.

Tempest 165/170
After reading quite a few reviews the Wilderness Systems Tempest 165 or 170 are on the short list, though I can’t quite figure out based on reviews what the difference in the two boats is - though I gotta say, I’m leaning toward the 170. Any comments from those experienced would be great. Also, any reservations about buying this brand based on any business factors?

Thanks for the replies so far.

Tempest differences
I have been researching the boats you indicated and there is a difference in length and the depth of the cockpit. Wilderness Systems have charts, on their website, to show you the dimensions and weights of their boats.

As a person of shorter stature, 5’2", I am strongly looking at a Tempest 165 or a Perception 15’5" Avatar. For my shorter legs (28" inseam), the grip with their thigh braces works better for me than those having deeper cockpits.

If possible and as most will recommend, try it before you buy it.

Happy shopping and enjoy your choice.

Necky Chatham
Chatham 16. I’m 52, 6’3", 200# , a little bigger than you, but I would highly recommend you test paddle this boat and see what you think. it’s very maneuverable, gets up on edge fairly easily, I love the adjustable thigh braces, and it’s pretty easy to roll. It ain’t the fastest boat out there, but it’ll hold its own against other boats in its class.But test paddle a lot of boats before you decide. And the Necky customer service is incredibly excellent!!

At Your Weight
the 165 would probably be a better choice. Try to demo them both on a very windy day. In fact it’s best to demo ANY boat on a very windy day.

The Tempests are skegged.

Wilderness Systems opened up a new plant in SC and I know it’s a long wait to get a composite boat right now. I don’t know about poly.

At 5’9", 160 pounds the Tempest 165 is a much better fit for me than the 170.

How important?
Since most newer designs have gone to a skeg, you are limiting the heck out of your choices by asking for a rudder. The only place that won’t limit you is if you go for a kayak like the Epic Endurance, intended to function as a race boat. Is this something you can move on?

word by word

– Last Updated: Jan-09-07 11:08 AM EST –

You are talking about the Prijon Kodiak or Yukon (both with rudder). Don't downgrade your plastic.

keep it smaller
At your size and with your intent to keep any trips short, I would recomend a smaller/lowER volume kayak.

Also like celia I think you might be limiting your choices a bit by excluding skegged boats. If you have never tried one, you should, you benefit from solid foot braces and simplicity.

Secondly, I would demo as many as possible and try to get a used boat.

Here are my recomendations:

Valley Pintail

Valley anas acuta

(these are composite only so you would have to find one used)

Valley avocet poly

P&H Capella

CD squamish

tempest 165

There are a few more but in my area at least, there seem to be a few of these models used (with the exception of the anas Acuta).

You mentioned that you will often be taking photos. While a lot of the advice you have gotten on this thread says to skip the rudder and go with a skegged boat, I feel I have to add my $.02. If you like to take pictures of wildlife, a rudder is an invaluable tool. My husband has two boats, one with a rudder and one without, and for photography, the ruddered boat wins hands down.

I understand why some folks prefer skegged boats, and the topic has been debated ad nauseum on this forum, but for wildlife photography, you can’t beat a boat with a rudder. It allows you to control the direction of your drift while you have a camera in your hands. No need to juggle a camera and a paddle while approaching your subject.

Just my 2 cents.


Wow - thanks for the posts so far.

I’m not opposed to a skeg, but I find that even in rough water and wind I prefer to use my paddling skills over the rudder (whitewater paddling background, I suppose), rudder is fully retractable, no chance for leakage, no noises, etc. I will admit that in 30mph winds the rudder quickly became a necessary tool, and I’m sure a skeg would hold equal weight when needed.

I wasn’t nuts about the Chatham 16 when I paddled it - it was slower than the calabria, cockpit like a bathtub, and tracked like a drunken sailor. But thanks for the suggestion.

So rockered boats off
The Chatham 16 is a well-respected boat for manuvering in chop and surf, a good bit of rocker, so your reaction to that suggests that you are looking for more of a rail and less facile manuverability. Just a comment, that may put you more into the 17’ range. The 16’ boats, aside from the Tempest 165 and the Silhouette (which you may be a bit big for) include a good bunch of the boats intended to be more about manuvering in surf etc than tracking and speed.

Could you store a 17 or so foot boat, or are you limited to the 16 ft length? Also, I don’t recall where you live. Would you be open to considering a high end SOT?

no SOT
Hi Celia,

Thanks for the reply. Yes, that is correct, I am not so interested in surfing as I am tracking, along with some level of advanced speed and performance in relatively flat water. As my skills expand, so does my desire for more performance from the boat paddled. I’m willing to sacrifice some stability, though probably not quite to the extent that something like the Prijon Barracuda delivers (great speed, but very limited stability).

I live in central Virginia, so the bulk of my touring will be on lakes with an occasional jaunt to the Chesapeake bay and inlets on the NC coast. Primary purpose is really to get on the water and have fun, while also getting a good workout.


Much like you…
…I got a Prijon Barracuda to branch out from WW.

It’s fast, tracks well, and I’ve have it out in

mild chop.

it lacks primary stability, so it’s a tad quirky

to get the hang of, but it has made me a better WW

paddler because you have to learn to get your

lower body working independently of your upper.

And it is FAST.

Another boat to look at would be the Prijon Kodiak.

Kodiak on the list

I’ve been eyeing the Kodiak, and if a great price came up I might be more interested, but was thinking of experiencing another hull design.