kayak for a light woman

-- Last Updated: Jul-15-06 3:17 PM EST --

I am a female less than 120 pounds. Could anyone recommend a kayak for me?

I'd like to use this kayak on rivers and lakes, mainly flat waters but perhaps someday onto class II rapids. Although I'm a beginner, I'd like something I'd have fun with when I'm an intermediate. I like a lot of speed, prefer something that tracks straight but still has reasonable manuverability. As I'm so light, I want to make sure I don't get blown away with the wind.

Would prefer something that costs less than $1500 but could go more expensive. Hard to find used kayaks where I live so would be looking to buy new.


small paddler



Small paddlers typically have two issues: finding a boat taht’s comfortable to paddle, and one that’s easy to handle on land. For most smaller folks – especally women – anything much over 40 pounds starts to get awkward. Make sure that carrying/loading/unloading is part of your demo.

At the high end, somethng like the Impex Mystic/Gale/Sea Breeze would work well if you intend to try more open-water paddling. Other light boats include the Hurricane Tampico 135Sand Necky Elaho Sport. With all these you’de be giving up whitewater capability for flat/open water performance.

In plastic boats, the Necky Manitou 13 has gotten good reviews.

If you want to play in whitewater, a used whitewater boat might be a better choice than sacrificing speed and tracking in your lake boat.

2 boats

– Last Updated: Jul-15-06 6:01 PM EST –

You're really looking for 2 different boats--a whitewater boat for the rapids, and a low volume sea kayak for good tracking and high speed, with reasonable maneuverability. Don't rule out quite long boats, just so they're low in volume and narrow ( my main boat is a BBK Valkyrie, which is 17ft long, 20 " wide, and quite fast but also very maneuverable. I'm 130, 5'6". When I go on rapids, I borrow a whitewater boat).

Good luck! Several threads recently have discussed which boats are best for small women. The BBK Idun is also great. . Others that have been recommended for your size (none of these are cheap boats, at least not in composites that are light enough to carry easily):

Impex Force
CD Rumour
P&H Vela
NDK Explorer LV
Foster Silhouette
Current Designs Slipstream
VCP Pintail

Class II rapids
Can a touring boat handle Class II rapids? I don’t see why not.

Here is the definition of Class-II Rapids from River Classificaton System: Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels which are evident without scouting. Occasional maneuvering may be required, but rocks and medium-sized waves are easily missed by trained paddlers. Swimmers are seldom injured and group assistance, while helpful, is seldom needed. Rapids that are at the upper end of this difficulty range are designated “Class II+”.

Not generally.
Assuming you mean a real touring boat. Even class II rapids mean you must be able to quickly move left or right to avoid rocks. The pinning potential is substantial. Get a beater of a WW boat instead.

Reminds Of The Time…

– Last Updated: Jul-15-06 9:21 PM EST –

I went down the Fife section of the Deerfield class II. There was a group of 5 or 6 going down in touring boats. Seemed every other rapid or turn, one or two in the group were swimming. Normally, I would help pick up the pieces or swim someone to shore when someone goes over. But, I felt really, really irked by this group and felt no compulsion to help them. Figured if they don't want to use appropriate equipment, let them deal with it on their own. And, boy, did they struggle to empty those voluminous long boats.


Class II can come in many flavors. A river with short, well-spaced rapids and long sightlines might be easily runnable by a skilled paddler in a long boat. But a tighter river and a whitewater-novice paddler would probably be ugly.

You can find decent used whitewater boats starting around $250. Why compromise?

Junebug…my wife is about your size
and owns a hurricane tampico s (wgt = 41 lbs). We’ve taken ours into class II a number of times, however, the trylon matl is more brittle than a polyethelyne boat (also much lighter. She’s never had any issues with it. As it’s 13.5’ its a great slow river and inland lake boat also. I believe they are running appx $1000 for a new one. You should take one for a test ride…good luck

what were we talking about?
I think its funny how the conversation changed from what boat would be best for this woman to what boats can handle white water. Must be a bunch of guys on here.

The question isnt if the boat can handle white water. Question is, does the person have the skill to handle the white water. Sea kayaks can handle river white water no problem; as long as it isnt too tight so the boat gets hung up. Had that happen once. LOL