help choosing kayak-short waisted.

HELP. I want to keep up with husband, but I find myself immobilized in “standard” kayaks with my PFD because I am extremely short waisted, and heavy.

I am looking for a shallow hull ocean/touring kayak that will allow me to twist as necessary for paddling. My PFD tends to ride up even when tight and doesn’t make matters easy either. I am all leg (34" inseam, with a short torso (14-15" for backpack frame purposes). But, I also weigh 220 lbs., and I fear the Necky Eliza may be too narrow. I did test drive a Manitou, and find Necky shallower (and more short-torso-friendly and responsive) compared to the the Wilderness Systems.

Can anyone narrow my shopping field for me?

Have you tried changing your PFD? Maybe an over the front inflatable that won’t take up as much room?


– Last Updated: Mar-24-09 7:59 AM EST –

The Manitou is still on the too-deep side for person of your dimensions - you can get shallower by stepping up on your boat choices. If you are paddling out of California, I think you want to go a little longer anyway.

For a shallow deck, you might try to get into an NDK Romany. They aren't too hard to find used in some areas of the country, especially the east coast near major kayak centers. The boat isn't fast, but probably more so than what you are paddling. And it should be set OK for your other measurements.

Maybe a Current Designs Caribou - I don't know that it would work, but it might be worth a sit-in. I think you are probably over volume for their smaller paddler version of it, I think the Suka, but for the heck of it check out Current Designs' web site and se what they say.

Another boat with a nice low deck is the Impex Outer Island, and if your inseam is 34 inches you may be a fit. At 28 inch inseam the cockpit is too short for me to find decent contact. You are also at or near its top paddler weight, which is good because you'd get a much nicer waterline than me. You do have to edge it more aggressively to get it to turn in wind, but this boat has shockingly forgiving primary stability compared to what you think it'll be like from looking at it. And it is relatively fast - your husband would have to keep up with you.

You are probably in somewhat of a jam for your PFD - likely little will be perfect - but within that imperfection you may want to see if the Kokatat MS-Fit ends up being shorter on you than what you are using.

While I am here - what boat is your husband paddling? Maybe you could sneak an anchor onto the end and see if he notices... :-)

i would go with a different PFD first then try something like a tarpon 16’ SOt. I am 250, granted i am 6’3" so i have a longer torso, but i do not consider myself skinny. My PFD doesn’t even bother me when i have to shoe-horn myself into one of my QCC-700s. You DO have a paddling PFD? Not a wallmart special right?

Cheapest way to go…

– Last Updated: Mar-24-09 2:43 PM EST –

..would be a new PFD. A MsFit is a nice one to check out. I'm just short all over and find it very comfortable. It is made specifically for women.

a few thoughts
I am w. the people advocating an upgrade in PFD. That would be the first thing to try.

Padding the seat to raise you up compromises one of your natural female advantages - a lower center of gravity. If you raise your seating position you will probably decrease your stability.

Go for a short waisted PFD. I too have a 15" backline. Use a WW Type V PFD Freestyle by Palm (no front zipper, five side buckles for max adjustment.)Many WW vests are compact, curved & less bulky. Great range of motion at shoulders & upper back. No reason a flatwater kayaker can’t use one. P.S. Type V rating means the vest must be worn all the time while on the water to meet USGC regs.

My backup is the MTI PFDiva (Type III) which is a front zip w. diff. removable bra pads for fit. A good fit in the upper chest is a must for women of all shapes & helps a lot w. overall torso fit.

Naturally personal fit opinions will differ. All the more important to try what you buy.

Boat sizing: I’ve paddled both the Necky Eliza and the Current Designs Suka. My reviews of both are on pnet. If you felt constrained by the Eliza you will feel downright compressed in the Suka. Being 5’3", 117 lbs w. a 31" inseam & size 6 bootie the Suka is a true small paddler’s delight.

White Water PFD
I assume you can swim (I can’t, at least not well) A decent WW PFD is designed to ride much higher that the normal stuff we use for sea kayaking but will give ample buoyancy.

At 220 lbs and then add 20 + Lbs for safety stuff, then water: You need a half way big boat. I use an NDK Explorer for my 180 + - and all the safety stuff I ever need.

I would avoid inflatable PFD’s They have a high incidence of failure when compared to the ones that can’t leak.

The Capella loaded for camping is to small for me. Loaded with normal day gear it is a little on the small side as I put her deep in the water and can hardly keep up with some of my friends.

I don’t want to plug Explorer because of quality issues but she is a bench mark. The Impex Force line-up seams good, valley have what looks like a beautiful boat, the Aquanaut; very Explorer like, that can carry a nice load.

Don’t cheap out on your PFD and use your own discretion. My Kokotat Guide / rescue PFD is great for me but it is definitely not what you need.

We are recommending $ome $erious $tuff here. A lot of this may be available used. There are some good plastic boats out there too.Sirocco for example

Good luck, you are going to love this sport.



– Last Updated: Mar-24-09 7:51 PM EST –

I've sat in a suka, and if you're looking for a low deck, this boat definitely has it! The coaming on the side was just barely above my hip joint! I have a 32" inseam, and size 12 feet, and I do fit in it, but not with any room to spare. I expect 220# would float that boat quite low though. It's pretty low-volume.

How about a Romany? There are a few different cockpit sizes available, so you're likely to find one you like. Romany, Romany Surf, Romany Excel (and the older Romany HV too). Some of those are now available in rotomolded construction too.

What boat do you currently paddle?

FF you are so right
"Padding the seat to raise you up compromises one of your natural female advantages - a lower center of gravity. If you raise your seating position you will probably decrease your stability."

Definitely true.

To the Original Poster, I wasn’t sure what your price range was, but how about: the Prijon Motion (Catalina is probably too narrow), WS Tsunami 140, Current Designs Squall… those are just some that come to mind.

Sirrocco good idea
I’d forgotten about that one. Current Designs so it’ll behave well, a good sized cockpit and a nice responsive boat in all respects.

back to the OP :wink:
noonie, where do you and your hubs like to paddle? what kind of water? What’s he paddling? Are you into undemanding recreational paddling at a relaxed pace or do you think you want to take your skills further & paddle harder? No right or wrong, no better or worse, just what you like.

Do you like to fish or take pix where stability is more of a factor, or do you want something sleeker & more agile that might bounce around a little more but get you there quicker?

What about kayak camping - would that be appealing for a long weekend? Or a week or more?

All of this would factor into your choice of boat.

With your long legs & weight, there is actually a nice range of boats out there, depending what you want them for & where you’ll take them.

The tricky part for you will be the depth of the boat. By this I mean the depth from the seat bottom to the cockpit side. Also, AFA deck height you will want something high enough to get those legs in easily & give you some gearhauling room, but not so high that your short waist won’t be leaving you w. frequent raps to the knuckles as you forward stroke.

No matter what you weigh, it’s always good to test paddle a boat & have someone else look at the waterline while you’re sitting in it (unloaded). Too low a waterline & the boat will paddle kinda loggy, & even unsafely low when loaded. Too high & it’s an invite to the wind to push you around.

Boat recs can go all over the map, but w. some more details we could help you narrow down.

suka II
Nate, I’ve seen men at 165-170 lbs in a Suka, and it’s already pretty low. Methinks at 220 lbs it might start to look like a “cheater” boat for Greenland rollers :smiley:

Me? I paddle a North Shore Shoreline Fuego which is narrower and lower volume than the Suka. It is cockpit neutral (neither fish nor swedeform) and decidedly medium chined, like the Impex Montauk. Lot of rocker approaching Pintailesque. You can see from my profile pic that it sits pretty nicely on the water carrying my 117 lbs.

Of course in this thread it is more important what the OP wants to paddle & how it would fit her, so I posted some more questions further down.

Just wanted to talk back to ya, I’ve enjoyed your posts.