I have to buy a boat from REI

As a very thoughtful gift (in return for closing a big transaction) I received a very generous (think $1,000) gift certificate to REI from the company I work for. Everyone there knows I am a rabid paddler. It was wonderful and I am very thankful.

For background, I’m 55 years old, 5’11" and 225 lbs. I paddle for exercise two or three times per week at a local lake, and usually get out two or three weekends on a river trip and one week for a longer trip per year. My preferred boat is a solo canoe.

However (and this is where I need advice), I want to buy a boat that is either exactly want (a very light, fast, solo) or spend not very much over the amount I was given. I am a canoeist and already own eleven boats:

2 tandem canoes (a Grumman Eagle and a Sawyer Cruiser)

4 solo canoes (an Old Town Northern Light, Wenonah Vagabond, Novacraft SuperNova, and Whitesell Pyrhana)

2 Pakboats (a 14 and 16.5 footer)

3 inflatable Kayaks (an Aire Tomcat and Strike and an Innova Solar)

REI doesn’t seem to offer any canoes I would be interested in. The best of the bunch (all in royalex} are:

Old Town Penobscot–can’t see any trip where it’s better than what I have, but a good hull

Old Town Pack–again, can’t see where I would prefer it over the solos I own

Mad River Explorer–see Penobscot

REI also has the Esquif Mistral in Twin Tex, which is more appealing. But I rarely paddle tandem and I’m worried about how much use the boat would get. But it looks like a very good boat.

So I’ve been thinking about buying a kayak (which might get me disinherited–it’s a bigger deal then you might think). I’ve only been in a kayak twice. Both times in Moss Bay between San Francisco and Monterey. Once in a Tsunami 14.5 and once in a Wilderness System tandem. I live in North Texas, which has a lot of paddling on big impoundments, and it is often too windy for me to feel comfortable paddling my solo canoe.

REI has for sale a Tempest 170, Tempest 165, Tsunami 165, Tsunami 145, Zephyr 16, Necky Looksha 17, Carolina 14, and Necky 14 (and maybe others), which look like plausible kayaks to buy. I would, of course, only paddle the kayak when it was too windy to canoe.

So I have two question. First, what boat should I buy given my choices? Second, if I buy a kayak, is my eternal canoeing soul at risk.

Thank you in advance for your advice.

how about one of these?

and ask for the rest back in change :wink:

Yes your soul
is in everlasting mortal jeopardy, DO NOT BUY A KAYAK. Instead email me, I’ll give you my address, and you can send that gift card to me. Trust me I’m doing you a favor - saving you from a fate worse then death. My wife says my soul is already damned and the penthouse is reserved me in hell so I face no danger as you do.

On a more serious note I can’t provide you a ton of great input here as most of my kayaking experience is on smaller rivers and waterways. For the larger lakes/impoundments in your area you’ll definitely want something longer that will track and glide better.

I’m a big fan of Wilderness Systems boats and Necky boats. I have Tsunami 120 and love it, so I’d highly recommend the right size Tsunami for you in 14’ or 16’ - the choice between 140/145 and 160/165 will depend on your physical build. The Tsunami series are very comfortable, track well, maneuver well when edged, and provide plenty of stability. Additionally they all have two sealed bulkheads and dry storage hatches, providing plenty of flotation and storage. The Phase 3 outfitting is great as well for comfort and good fit.

The Necky Manitou 14 is also an excellent 14’ boat, and would do well in the larger water you describe. I found them very comfortable when I test paddled, but just felt more at home in the Tsunami.

Lots of people love Tempests, but I can’t provide any input there.

Best advice is to try and rent or test paddle the top two or three boats that interest you. This will give you the opportunity to see what really fits you and is comfortable for you.

Not the Tempest 165
Great boat, but at 225 lbs you are heavy for it. Maybe the Tempest 170.

In case you don’t already know, you can order a boat that your local REI store might not have on the floor. That’s how I got my Tempest.

64 pounds
That’s more than I’m going to find easy to transport. I couldn’t see myself using it very often.

If I had to pick…
and was your size, the Tempest 170 hands down. It’s the friendliest all-around boat for bigger water and conditions assuming you don’t mind the weight of a longer boat.

I’ve got a kayak, and 3 canoes.
Kayaks have a place and it is where waves and wind are a problem.

must it be a boat?
Do you really have to buy a boat, in particular? A drysuit and some other cold-water gear could eat up a thousand bucks easily. Well, I see you’re in Texas, so maybe your cold-water season isn’t long enough to make a drysuit worthwhile, but you see the point: you could get something other than a boat, describe to your benefactors how it was going to expand your boating in such-and-such a way, and everybody would be happy. Apologies if this idea is out of bounds.

– Mark

Not out of bounds
and I can buy what I want to without any real issue.

But the cold season in Texas isn’t that long, and I have a lot of gear already (I’ve been paddling for a long time). Still, I don’t have a dry suit.

There are some cold days where I might take a chance on the lake with a dry suit where I wouldn’t if I didn’t have one, but not that many. It isn’t that much fun paddling a solo canoe on the lake in the cold wind and waves.

I can imagine some trips where I would like to have a dry suit for safety reasons.

camping gear
REI has great camping gear. Pick up a new tent, stove, sleeping bag, and a crusher hat. Then load up your favorite solo canoe and hit the backcountry!

A good idea
but after way more than 20 years of camping, paddling and backpacking (until my knees gave out on me), I probably have enough stuff to stock an REI store.

Other than some specialized equipment (and I’m not about to take up rock climbing–althoug a dry suit is a possibility), I would have a difficult time spending a $1,000 at REI (maybe enough freeze-dried dinners for a year?).

It’s one of life’s ironies–now that I can afford to do most of the things I’ve always wanted to do, my body won’t let me do most of them.

Maybe there is a lesson to be learned from that.

since you already have everything
what about using it for something like this?


Take the trip you wouldn’t have taken because it was too expensive. Now you have 1k paid for thanks to your company.

REI ideas
hi…how r you stocked on paddles ? maybe a nice carbon fiber one if u don’t have one already? new canoe cart? maybe a Sail rig for a canoe? Life vests?

Safety gear? canoe outriggers? Donate the Certif to boy scouts or other group? as far as the kayak, a 17’ gets the nod…how agile are you? can you get in and out of a narrow cockpit easily ? hope this helps

Just a thought…
If you really have everything you need outdoor adventure wise, and you’re not really into getting a kayak, I do know there are websites where you can exchange gift cards w/ others. For instance, if you have some home improvement projects around the house you could swap w/ someone who has a Home Depot gift card that would prefer to have an REI gift card. I’ve never used one of these sites so I can’t speak of them, but it’s just a thought.

Delta 12.10
Great little seakayak in thermoform by good company. i think REI carries this line. I canoe and kayak and love both types of craft.

I can only help you with:

– Last Updated: Aug-22-08 7:15 PM EST –

"is my eternal canoeing soul at risk?" and my answer is a big NO.

I paddled a canoe all my life, and fifteen years ago started kayaking.
for me: when I am in a canoe I like it the best and when I am in a kayak I like it best.

Each one has it's place and purpose, and you never stop refining your skills with them.


I’m 55, 5’11" and weigh 185,

– Last Updated: Aug-21-08 6:39 AM EST –

more or less---I've owned a T-170 for 5 years and love it---on windy days, unloaded, the 165 might be easier to handle--and unlike some above, I wouldn't rule it out due to size---sit in it, see how it feels, and if it fits fine---if it feels tight, go to the 170--it will ah;ul a bunch of stuff and once loaded it will handle a gale easily--- you wont' regret it. Oh and I load the 170 by myself all the time---buy a J rack for your car if you dont' have one already, either the yakima or thule

Sell the certificate on Ebay.

I’ll start the bidding at $5.


All right, I’ll give ya $10