Hole in the market

Why are there no starter boats for the petite paddler? All the plastic boats seem to be built for someone 140lbs and up. Of course there are fiberglass models petite paddler specific but for someone starting out $4000 is a crazy amount of money to spend on a kayak. Would a plastic boat no longer than 15 feet and 19.5 to 20 inches wide not sell? Has this portion of the market failed before or something? Are there not plenty of paddlers in the 90-125lb range? Do they all just buy a camping boat and pad it out?

And so ends my rant for the day after trying so suggest an inexpensive boat for my petite niece.

Dagger Alchemy S
Great boat for a small beginner (and fun for an advanced paddler too). Very nice price.

Hatches are terrible, skeg dodgy, but the hull is awesome.

They tend to be women
Who spent years being jammed into guy’s boats with padding because it was guys making the boats. Apparently women didn’t have any money to buy boats…

Sexist rant aside, one option is to look around used as well. There are some older models out there that were originally designed for down to kids, often old school WW boats, that are dirt cheap and are fun starter boats for smaller folks. Roll and maneuver very nicely. I picked up one for $150 and it is not leaving - it is a great little boat for crawling around of creeks and dragging over beaver dams, and it is the only boat I have ever been able to reliably hand roll.

The last part is probably why I won’t let her go - at least until I can hand roll something else. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the suggestion
The price of an Alchemy is attractive but I was talking about a model designed for a paddler 1/3 less in weight. The closest I have seen (on the net) is a Tahe Solo PE at 12.5 feet and 21.1 inches wide. The dream model would be 15 feet, no more than 20 inches wide and a 10 inch deck. Basically a plastic Pilgrim without the knee bumps. After renting a bunch of the petite paddler boats I built my wife a scaled Yost design so she could have a day boat. We are debating ordering a Pilgrim for her next. However the price is not realistic for my still in school niece that wants to get started. At 5’2 and 110lbs she is at a size that is without a model unless she wants a big camping boat or has money to spend.

Perception, Dagger, Necky, P&H …
Tribute 14.0 and Expression 14.5 are both smaller persons boats as is the Dagger Alchemy S previously mentioned. Also, Necky Eliza, P&H Delphin 150, North Shore Aspect LV RM.

There are several polyethylene boats on the market now that have been designed for smaller paddlers. All of these models have at least two hatches and bulkheads and full perimeter deck lines. Most have a skeg, except Tribute and Eliza (rudder).

The market does not exist …
From a large manufacturers standpoint they would sell so few kayaks in that size it does not make sense to produce a lot of models. There are three or four models you can buy in that size. The market is tending towards large overweight middle age males who want rec boats and that is what gets produced the most.

Eliza too big for 110 lb paddler.
I fit it just fine at 5’6" and 165 lbs.

CD Suka crimps my thighs, so likely a good fit for small female.

Only in composite,though, so on the expensive side.

Look for a used WS Piccolo
Discontinued model but some show up on classifieds here and there.

20.5" beam, about 13’ long if I remember correctly, very low foredeck (less than 10" high). Lightweight due to small size, but add float bags to the ends (no bulkheads).

Fun and easy to paddle. It’s a shame they don’t bring it back into production, with sturdy bulkheads added, and some decklines.

You could also build a stitch-and-glue kayak, if the designer is willing to modify the plans/kit for you (ask them). Cost would be about that of a new plastic sea kayak or lower, depending on whether you do kit or plan, and where you live (availability of supplies).

Pretty close …
in specifications to the Picolo is the Walrus Griffin:


An updated design by Andy Singer.

Weird seat front edges
Just looking at the sharp points makes me wince. Might snag clothing or skin in a sudden unexpected move. Rest of the boat looks pretty nice.

Look around for a used QCC-10x
If you can go 1" wider.

It’s not plastic, but it is a sweet boat for a slight, light weight paddler.

I think new they run around three thousand new.

Unfortunately there is no market for what you are looking for. It took my wife four or five years to talk QCC into making the smaller boat, and she asked for a 19" wide one. Their answer was, it would never sell

jack L

couple more options
Current Designs Squamish

length: 15’8"

width: 23"

depth: 12.5"

Some of the depth and width is mitigated by the substantial thigh braces.

Tsunami SP




and only 38lbs!

Or if you do go composite:

CD Raven




Almost spot on to your requested width and depth specs, and it only weighs 26 lbs!

Alchemy S…

– Last Updated: Mar-24-13 5:51 PM EST –

I just got my Alchemy S. I'm 5'9", around 136 lbs. It's hard for me to see this as a "small person's boat." It feels pretty generous! And, it seems like a lot of hull width, for a small person to be pushing around.

I like the handling, and I think it's going to be a lot of fun.

WRT the skeg, I was surprised by it's dodginess. I expected it to be the same as a WS skeg. Now, maybe it _is_ the same, as I have not seen a Tempest skeg, since the skegs were redesigned several years ago.

I did improve the skeg, a bit. The big, round pivot point sits in squared off notches. Get some thin, flexible plastic sheet, like on a school notebook / report cover. Cut 2 squares to the notch width. Dog-ear one corner on each, and use needle-nose pliers, to slide 'em in between the pivot circle, and the skeg box. It eliminates a lot of wobble, and it seems they will stay in place, since there's a lip. And, I also used some self-stick fuzzy Velcro part, to put on either side of the skeg box against the blade, about half way -- an old trick used on the Tempests.

The other dodgy feature is the hip pads... again, where I had expected them to be variations on the better-made WS pads.

Just saw a CD Raven on Craigslist
on the east coast of Florida. A plastic or composite Impex Mystic would work well too. Just got a used glass Mystic in Titusville, Fl. There’s a Widerness Systems Tschaika in Sarasota (Economy Tackle) as well.

No Market
I understand there not being a market for a boat as small as the one I built my wife. She’s 4’11 and 90lbs so her selection is even smaller. It does surprise me though that there is not a market for the 110lb’ers since there are so many of them. I suppose if the Piccolo got discontinued there may not be. I’ve been casually keeping an eye out for one for a while now. We already have 2 Tsunami SP’s in our fleet and if they were a little longer and had a decent thigh brace they’d be fine. At 21 inches they are very stable. My wife and daughter stand in them and paddle them like paddle boards but they are the on the petite side of petite.

The main reason I posted this was to draw attention to the fact that there is a hole in the market. Yes there are shorter boats available but nothing in that 14.5-15 foot range. A “real” sea kayak size. Hopefully I don’t draw too much fire for the “real” comment.

The raven would be a great boat if it were 14.5-15 feet long. I considered buying one for my wife when we were starting out.

I love my Eddyline Samba! I am 5.6, and 105 pounds. I ran the Adirondack Canoe Classic with it and my only major problem…the carries…she is 43 pounds! I think she is $2300 for it, new…A major plus, my son and husband can not “barrow” her!

Disagree on the Squamish
I am a bigger than the OPer’s niece and it feels like a wide lard barge on me.

Tsunami SP is worth a look.

CD Suka mentioned above, worth a look too if composite. Or some of the Betsy Bay boats if you can find one used and inexpensive, really tuned for women.

Current Designs Suka for very small

I’m 5’6 and 165 and this boat’s thigh braces squished my thighs. I could barely get in or out of that thing.

I fit quite nicely in the Necky Eliza composite and the CD Willow.

Try this…
Engelhart products…Episea.