Kayak advice

I’m a long time whitewater rafter just getting into kayak touring. Because of a messed up knee that doesn’t bend very well, I use a SOT. I have a lot of trouble getting into & out of a sit inside kayak. I’ve had my Necky Vector 13 for a year and love it, but sometimes I wish I had gotten the 14 with a rudder. Now Necky has discontinued the Vector series. There are a few out there, but not many, and none with rudders. I live in Utah, so shipping is also pricey. The Vector 13 has handled everything I’ve done so far…weekend lake paddle/camp, weekend class I-II river paddle/camp, and a 4 day flatwater river paddle/camp. I can see myself getting more into 4-7 day trips on western rivers and lakes. Next month I’m paddling on Yellowstone Lake, and I’d like to start exploring Lake Powell. I’m a middle aged female, 5’5", 190. Pretty strong from years of whitewater rafting.

Most readily available higher end SOT kayaks are geared more towards fishing. The Vector was a great blend of SOT & touring.

So… options.

  1. Stick with my Vector 13 for now. It holds my gear & does what I need for now.
  2. Get one of the last Vector 14s that are around, but probably without a rudder.
  3. Ocean Kayak Trident Ultra 4.3. Without a rudder at a really good price, or spend more & get one with a rudder?

    What do the experts think? Thanks.

First of all.
Not knowing just how messed up your knee is, I would suggest that a lot of people who paddle sit inside kayaks have issues with body parts. Even people whose body parts work perfectly fine have to learn how to get in and out of sinks. It takes lots of practice and sometimes the right boat.

Anyway, if you are sure that a sot is your only option, I would expand your search. There are several sit on top kayaks that would really do the job right, but it depends somewhat on your budget. Take a look at what Eddyline and Current Designs offers just for starters. I wouldn’t even rule out Epic, or Stellar.

I’ve had 4 surgeries in the past 6 years on my knee, including a shattered femur. I can no longer bend to even 90 degrees. I’ve tried out sit inside kayaks and they are a no go. Difficult, frustrating, and uncomfortable. So a SOT is my choice.

I thought about the Eddyline Caribbean 14 and chatted with Tom Remsing via email about that kayak. Because I will be using the kayak on desert rivers up to class II he talked me out of that kayak. He didn’t feel it was a good choice and advised me to stick with a Poly boat.

Current Designs, Epic, and Stellar don’t have SOT kayaks that I can see on their websites.

I have a friend who paddles an older Ocean Kayak Scupper Pro 15 (no longer made) and he likes it a lot. The Ocean Kayak Prowler Tridents & Trident Ultra kayaks are a lot like his boat except that they are more geared towards fishermen.

How important would a rudder be for me as I venture into bigger lake paddling? Is staying around 14 foot for my kayak best in terms of maneuverability, ease of handling on & off the water? Right now I’d say my Vector 13 is almost perfect except I’d like a little more gear space for longer trips, a little more length for paddling speed, and maybe the rudder.

One other thing I should mentions in terms of my search. My Vector 13 weight 59 lb. and I’d like to stay under 65-70 lb. if I get a larger kayak.

Probably Fine to Stick with Vector 13
You don’t say where you are in Utah for lake paddling now, if you are doing large resevoirs or doing rivers.

The Vector 13 will work for Yellowstone, Bear Lake, Great Salt Lake, Flaming Gorge, Lake Powell. Your biggest issue is going to be paddling during periods of high winds, which you won’t want to do anyway. That is the only time you would really want a rudder. I have not paddled the Vector but I paddle on the ocean in SOTs and don’t use a rudder ever.

There are some really nice light weight SOTs in the 14 to 16’ range but I doubt they are sold in Utah. You might look into the Wilderness System Tarpon 14 or 16 if you want to do lots of longer paddles without paying for all the fishing junk added to kayaks.

If you paddle on Yellowstone lake, make sure you take some kind of wetsuit, you may know the water is cold there year round and it can be dicey when windy.

I haven’t pulled the trigger on a new kayak because I do like the Vector 13 a lot. I keep thinking about that old saying “The enemy of good, is better.”

We are using the shuttle service to take us from Bridge Bay over to our campsite in the south arm of Yellowstone Lake, so no long mileage or open water paddling. Just basecamp day paddling in the south arms for a couple days. I was planning on wool base layers plus a paddle jacket & paddle pants. I used to have a drysuit for rafting but sold it. Wish I had kept it now. I might have to invest in one again???

Paddling on Lake Powell and maybe longer trips on Yellowstone Lake would be the places where a rudder would come in handy. You have echoed what my paddling friend told me. That he rarely uses his rudder. In April I did 4 days on the Colorado River in Meander Canyon, Potash (Moab) to Spanish Bottom just past the Green/Colorado confluence. I’ve done weekend trips on Leigh Lake in Grand Teton, flat water on the Colorado from Glen Canyon Dam to Lees Ferry, and class I-II on the Snake River in Idaho. Easy class II is my max in the kayak. I have a raft for class III-IV rivers. I’m glad to hear from another SOT paddler.

Yellowstone Lake Water Temps
I grew up in Utah and we used to visit Yellowstone a few times every summer. Yellowstone lake is pretty unique, it can warm up to maybe 60 at the surface during a warm summer but it is usually pretty cold the average temperature is something like 41! Even when the surface is warm there is very cold water a few feet below, it’s a nasty place to take a swim, and researchers have found the bottom is just like the rest of yellowstone full of hot water thermal vents, so at the bottom of the lake there is water that would boil at normal pressure. If you can find a Spring Suit wetsuit and wear your thermal layers over it if it gets really cold it would be good. Usually you can buy a shorty spring suit for about $100 that would offer you better protection. I think a dry suit is overkill for just doing day paddles close to a base camp. You might search for Pikabike and ask her about yellowstone lake I know she did a trip a few years ago. The last time I was in Yellowstone in July it snowed 2", so be prepared but if you have done Leigh Lake you know the score.

…my handle sort of says it all…!

The “problems” with most anglers are that they’re comparatively wide because they’re usually designed more for fisherfolk who want to go shallow and/or close in stealth mode, and not for paddlers.

That means they tend to be wider for stability -for both angler anxiety as well as a better fishing and fish fighting platform. And wider to be able to float more gear -depth meters, fishfinders, even trolling motors, and batteries to power them, as well as coolers for drinks and kept fish, plus rodholders, net holders, and tackle box holders, etc.

And they come in, mainly, some form of camo color scheme.

Wider also means slower, generally, for similar lengths, and heavier as well.

With most SOTs, paddlers aren’t -at least initially -looking for particularly efficient boats. If you paddle with other SOTs, you’ll likely do fine. The hassles come in transporting larger, and in particular, heavier, boats. Can you get them on/off your vehicle OK? Can you get them to/from storage to your car, and to/from your car to the put-in/take-out OK? If you paddle in a group, helping hands are likely -but what about at the home end?

Also, if you’re paddling in a mixed SOT+SINK group, sometimes even an easy, moderate cadence by the SINKers will require more effort by SOTers to keep up. That’s a big reason Sally and I moved from our Scuppers to our SINKs -we’re both strong, so we kept up, but we WORKED at it in a headwind and chop, and the SINKers had afar easier time of it because their boats were a lot skinnier and longer than our 26" x 15’ SOTs.

We handled our Scuppers -Sally’s 48# Classic at 14’-1", and my 55# S-Pro TW at 14’-9" -easily without rudders.

But that 4.3 at 68# and a 29" beam looks like it could fit the bill if you’re OK with the weight, no rudder, and land transport aspects of the boat.

Between the in-hull storage and TW (tankwell) in the back, and dry bags large enough to carry your larger gear (tent, sleeping gear, etc.) as well as smsller items, you can kayak camp OK, and the boat should paddle OK, as well.

If the price is as good as you think it might be, it would probably be a good next boat for you.

NEXT boat, you say?

We’ve got a mixed SOT and SINK fleet of 6 out back under the palms -and we no longer have 2 others -and there are others “worse” than us here at PNET, LOL! -so you may use the 4.3 -or whatever you get -for as while, and then progress to another boat in the future to even MORE enjoyably


-Frank in Miami

also had the Vector 13, good kayak, but a wet ride for me at 215. I’ve owned Prowler 13, 15, Trident 13, Scupper Pro and all excellent kayaks. My favorite is my Malibu X13…outstanding performance for speed, glide, tracking, and room. I’ve had all (except the Scupper) on our Pacific Ocean and big lakes and they all do well, but still give the edge to the X13. Paddle before you buy.

Thanks to everyone for all the great replies. I know what you mean about having more than one boat. I have owned 6 different whitewater catarafts & rafts over the years.

Finding a SOT that’s more of a touring boat than a fishing boat is a challenge. Right now I’m paddling with a mixed bag of folks. Most in SOT or recreational SINK kayaks, plus some inflatable Sea Eagle kayaks. So, I’m definitely not the slowpoke of the group.

The rudder vs no rudder thing still has me wondering. I feel like I’ll rarely use it, but it would be nice to have if I do need it.

My Vector 13 weighs 59 pounds. I have a hitch mounted Rhino Rack T-loader that makes loading solo pretty easy. I also have a wheelie cart for solo transport from SUV to put-in. Staying in the 14 foot length/60ish pound range would be ideal for me.

The Malibu X13 is one I had not looked at before. I like to center hatch and large front hatch. Would this kayak work well for weekend to weeklong touring? can you add a rudder?

Masthead Sailing Gear Carries RTM
The scupper pro has been transforms into the RTM Tempo and is still a great all around kayak if your hips fit in it.

The RTM Disco works very well for paddlers up to about 220 and fits a lot of sizes of people. It is a Greenland style hull and paddles like a true 14 foot sea kayak.

another alternative
Since you’re a former rafter, have you ever considered the newer models of inflatable and combo frame/inflatable kayaks? They’re a long way from the flabby and slow $100 discount store pool toys of years past. Boats like the Feathercraft Java (no longer being made but used ones do turn up), the Pakboat Saranac (a tandem which can be set up solo), the various iterations of dropped stitch hull Aquaglides and even the new Sea Eagle Razorlite 393 offer easy paddler access, cargo space and performance approaching a hard shell while being 1/3 to 1/2 the weight of similar sized plastic boats.

The older I get, the less I feel like humping 50 pound or even 40 pound kayaks and the more I appreciate my growing fleet of lightweight collapsibles. I also like the way they handle in rougher water compared to hardshells (which I do still paddle as well.)

No problem add a rudder on the X13.

Also take a good look at the Sea Eagle Razor Lite rl393. Paddles like a hard shell sot and at 28lbs. Its a very good option. See YouTube for bids of it

Hard shell
I have a 14 foot raft and a 10 foot mini cataraft at home now, so I don’t want another inflatable. I have paddled with folks who have the Sea Eagles and they are great boats, but not what I want. I definitely want a hard shell SOT.

Vector 14

– Last Updated: Jun-16-16 8:33 AM EST –

I've found a Vector 14 with a rudder at a good price, but would need to arrange shipping from California to Utah. Decisions. Decisions.

Differences between my Vector 13 & the 14 (besides length)
Weight - 13 is 59 lb. 14 is 63 lb.
Width - 13 is 29 inches, 14 is 25 inches.
Capacity - 13 is 350 lb. 14 is 300 lb.

Might be hard to find

A rudder is great for longer trips with a lot of gear, but also helps if you’re paddling all day in the wind.

I have a Vector 14. It is a quick boat

– Last Updated: Jun-16-16 9:41 PM EST –

and tracks very nicely. My grandson loves it and handles it easily on the water without a rudder BUT he weighs less than 150.I weigh 225 and my butt gets wet unless I plug the scuppers.
I think a rudder on the boat is a waste of money.
WS Tarpons are good for touring, but are heavy. I have had 4(don't ask). My current one is a 160 and I think I'll keep it until I can no longer paddle.It is a much drier ride than the Vector.

Nice to hear from someone who paddles the Vector 14. I’m closer to your weight than your grandson. I always used the scupper valves on my Vector 13. I love that they block water from entering while still allowing water to drain out. So far, no wet butt. It seems that the general consensus is that a rudder isn’t needed.

How does your Vector 14 compare to your WS for stability, handling, and gear capacity. I’m trying to stay in the 60 pound area for the kayak.

The Vector is a bit less stable than

– Last Updated: Jun-17-16 8:19 AM EST –

the Tarpon but not enough to mention. The Tarpon will handle more gear because it is a bigger boat but I seldom carry anything but water so really can't comment.
Handling(turning) is about the same because both are made to track.