Kayak choice

I’d appreciate some advice. I am 5.10, 170lbs. I am new to kayaking, but I have been paddling canoes on lake and sea for a few years. I want to use my kayak primarily to stay fit and to enjoy the lakes and the Puget Sound, including when the weather is not the best in the middle of winter. I am considering 3 kayaks: a Wildernest Tempest 170, a Eddyline Falcon 16, and a Mariner Express. I’ve experienced the Flacon in white caps and I actually preferred the way it handles compared to the Tempest. The Mariner Express is the big question though. Matt Croze makes a very good pitch for his boat, and he almost has me convinced! Please shoot down these 3 kayaks. I want the bad and the ugly.

No help but…
I don’t own a Mariner but I’ve never talked to a Mariner owner who didn’t rave about their boat. Now that they are accepting orders again I’m really considering one (and I already have 10 [or is it 11] kayaks.)

All good kayaks…
Mariner’s are excellent well balanced designs. Guess what? You can’t bypass the seat of the pants real world experimenting with each to determine what is best for YOU. Forums just give you opinions, which, kind as they may be, are not that useful…cuz we aint YOU.

At best it’s about generalities and common observations. But even here you have to be careful, as sometimes a given model will get a bum initial legacy, but be an excellent boat.

All the above a very capable sea touring kayaks that will serve you well. You’ll know which one when you get seat time…

good, bad, ugly
“including when the weather is not the best in the middle of winter.”

I don’t know the falcon but if you’re considering a boat for bad weather you should be looking at a boat that you’ll be big in to sink it down so you don’t get blown downwind. Doesn’t the Falcon bow bury easily?

Have you tried the 16’ Night Hawk(?)I think that’s the model.

You should see if you can fit in the Tempest 165. You’re kind of light for the 170 and day paddling in high winds.

I had an Express for 14yrs. The good is that it will respond well and teach you how to paddle. It’s a very manueverable hull in rough conditions. That said it has a lot of windage and will send you downwind if you do not point it where you need to go and paddle there. Above 20mph you’ll start to struggle. I was heavily taxed in 25-30mph winds to maintain course but I don’t think a person should be out in that kind of stuff anyway. Loaded down camping will slow that down. It’s not a particular fast hull but mostly it shines in choppy water and abilty to point in any direction. It has kind of a brute force method for keeping the bow up with all that volume. Like I said it’s been a wonderful boat. They should make hatches for the front. If you wanted max room, max maneuverabilty and max comfort in choppy stuff,dry ride,it’s a nice boat.

I’d strongly suggest a Chatham17 for high wind paddling and comfort for down wave paddling. It and the T165 would be worth looking at as well.

Sorry if you’ve narrowed it to those three but there’s more

Thank you for your answers
I’ll try the Express as soon as feasible. If anyone has been satisfied enough with it for 14y, it must have some real quality. The T165 may be just a tad too narrow in the seat, but maybe I can work around that. The Chatham17 may be more boat than I need. Thank you all.

I meant the Eddyline Falcon.
Not the Chatham.

hip pads
I don’t want to speculate on your hips or anything but I’m about your size and paddle a T-165. Have you tried taking the hip pads out? - they are meant to be removable. I fit fine with them in but I like to be able to shift and twist around more.

“more than you need”??
I don’t understand the comment, do you mean price? Get a plastic one. For paddling in very high winds or down wave performance the Chatham 17 is especially nice. For roominess and comfort in rough water with a dry ride the Express is good, for handling breaking waves he Express is great.

Yep,keep testing.

if he’s new to it all then he doesn’t roll and the lower stability might be an issue

Mariner sliding seat
I have a Mariner Elan which is the same hull as the Express but with lower decks. The boat is very sensitive to loading. You can change it from weathercocking to leecocking just by moving a gallon of water around from behind you to in front of your feet. The Mariner sliding seat does not fit in the Elan and I miss not having it. If you get an Express I highly recommend getting the sliding seat which allows you to adjust the handling of a Mariner much like a skeg does for a lot of other kayaks. It is a really good kayak without the sliding seat, but I think it would be a great kayak with the sliding seat.


Thanks all.
I plan on getting in all of these boats in the next 2 weeks. Thanks for the advice!

Forget the logos

– Last Updated: Feb-09-08 1:30 PM EST –

Get past other peoples favorites. Remember, they are all good boats. Listen to your instincts and trust your own intuition. Choose what feels right for you, not what others say is best. There are no absolutes, no right, no wrong, only options.

In what boat?
“if he’s new to it all then he doesn’t roll and the lower stability might be an issue”

You should be clear about what specific boats you think this might be a problem for.

I don’t find people flipping over very frequently in any boat.


– Last Updated: Feb-07-08 11:32 AM EST –

For someone who's 5'10" 170lbs the 165 has a narrower range of stability than the other kayaks mentioned. If he doesn't roll and has a problem with the responsiveness of the T170 then he "may" have some stability issues with the 165 to maneuver it.

"I don't find people flipping over very frequently in any boat"

I find people trying out kayaks flipping over quite often at demos when they get into a kayak that is substantially tippier than what they are accustomed to. When I said "lower stability" I didn't say he'd flip over. Simply that some kayaks and some paddlers have a cg point that take the paddler closer to requiring bracing more often than not. Not everyone has the same reflexes/comfort level near the capsize angle so distinguishing one kayak as tippier than another seems like a useful characteristic to mention.

I wish I had that opportunity
It probably would have helped in some situations. I went overboard making my first custom seat out of fiberglass on a mold out of expanding foam. It made a HUGE difference for control on a lean. Felt like it took the pressure off my knees by 50% when coming vertical from a brace/roll.


– Last Updated: Feb-07-08 1:36 PM EST –

I think it might be helpful to be clear on the boats one might be concerned about since these threads can be confusing to follow. You don't want confuse the "lurkers" who might be reading this thread also.

I don't think one needs to be able to roll to demo a boat. One should be able to wet exit instead.

To me, being worried about needing to roll implies that the boat is unstable even after one has had a little accustomization time.

to me needing to roll
depends on the paddler, conditions and boat. So one could be accustomed to a kayak for flat water paddling but be totally challenged in 2’ waves and overwhelmed in waves with breaking tops. It’s not the boat that is unstable but the paddler in that boat for specific conditions.

At some point any paddler with a particular cg in a given kayak HAS to know how to brace and roll once the waves get big enough. It could be 8" or 5’ but at some point simply sitting doesn’t keep you upright and a brace is necessary, when that brace isn’t there you roll or wet-exit. That’s what I’m talking about, the person who is accustomed to flat water paddling and managing in 22.5" wide boats paddling occasionally in 1’ waves going out for the first time in 2’ waves in a 21.5" wide boat and finding out,oops,they really can’t butt balance anymore.

Once a person has to brace then they should learn how to roll.

At Your Weight
The Tempest 165 will handle much better than the 170. I know from experience.

the 170 is too high out of the water with 170lbs