Kayak for my fiance

I’m looking at getting my fiancé (5’4" - 115lb) a Kayak off of craigslist, so unfortunately she probably wont get to take it out for a test spin first. The 2 I’m currently looking at are:

  1. Wilderness Systems - Twin Tarpon 160
  2. Perception caster kayak 12.5

    I’ve read the reviews for these guys and they seem to be pretty favorable, so I was curious if some ladies, or gents whose ladies paddle with them could give me some insight on how she’d be able to handle these yaks. I’ve been told to go longer so she doesn’t have to paddle as hard to keep up, but I’m also worried that it might be too big of a boat for her. Suggestions?

    Also, I’m not die hard stuck on these yaks, I’m pretty much just surfing craigslist on a daily basis to see what pops up, so if you have other suggestions I’m all ears.

    We’d probably be taking these guys in all kinds of conditions (well what the houston area allows). Bayous, lakes, tributaries, and maybe into the gulf.

    Thanks in advance for you input!

Ooops. Wrong meaning.
I was going to offer you my QCC-500 for your fiance.

My bad.


I think neither of those boats are

– Last Updated: Mar-07-11 4:55 PM EST –

suitable for a person that size.Look at the specs on a QCC 300 or 600 and you will be closer to something she will enjoy.
There are many boats designed for smaller paddlers.
Tarpon 160s are really large boats and heavy and wide for someone her height.Sure , she can paddle it, but it will not be fun.

big, fat, slow fishing yaks
Youre heart’s in the right place but both those boats are big, heavy and slow, made for fishing in calm waters. They are too large for someone her size – she will feel like she’s paddling a barge.

What kind of paddling are you two planning to do? What kind of kayak do YOU have that you will be paddling along with her (you want her to be able to keep up with you)? What is her athletic and skill level? How much are you willing to spend? That kind of info would help us make suggestions.

I suspect she will be happier with something she can handle herself and that fits her body size. Look for a low volume kayak and try to find one less than 45 lbs.

Why don’t you go to some independent kayak dealers in your area and talk to a sales person? You can get a good idea from them what styles and sizes you should be watching for and you might be surprised to find what you can get new for a reasonable price. One really nice and very versatile kayak for women is the Venture Easky 15LV . List price is close to $1000 but I got one last year for $700 at a local outfitters. It’s comfortable, light, fast and has good storage (it’s a pretty kayak, too).

Giving her a boat she’ll love will be a good investment in your future together.

Better idea

– Last Updated: Mar-07-11 6:49 PM EST –

Houston Canoe and Kayak Club http://www.houstoncanoeclub.org/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=496051&module_id=78455

Contact these folks about pool sessions so that you and she can go through some basics (including rescues) in a nice warm pool. Also join them, maybe see if anyone is thinking of selling a boat that might work for your fiance. Get one IF you find out from the pool sessions that she likes this to start with. And that time in a boat will make it a lot easier for her to choose one she would like to paddle.

Or - if this is one of those very common situations where one person is more interested than the other, go lighter on worrying about getting her a boat for now.

I regularly lead local paddles, and see couples out there again and again where the guy is trying to "help" the wife to have more fun paddling. Usually the wife helps herself right out of the boat by the middle of the season and the guy is paddling alone. Be careful of your intentions.

Life Insurance and PFD
Depending on your situation , buy one or the other.

thanks for all the info, I think I’ll def be looking for something on the lighter side for her, and that¡¦s a great point about getting her out in a warm pool and having her try a variety of different yaks. She¡¦s quite athletic, we both run marathons and half marathons plus she¡¦s into all those cardio/weight classes at 24 hr fitness¡K.so she should def be able to hold her own paddling around. Still a good point about getting something a bit more light weight.

All your advice and future advice is greatly appreciated!

Nice one Jsaults¡Kwhile I have no doubt your QCC-500 is quite a boat, its nothing compared to my gal ƒº

not looking to spend too much
Since this is an entry level for my gal I’m not looking on spending a great deal…I looked at the QCC, and thats far out of my price range. I’m just looking at getting her something that will get her in the water and get her paddling around with a group of us. Probably not looking to spend more than 500. thats why I was looking at craigslist…something along the lines of a wilderness system or old town type of deal. I know those are still in the range of 55 lbs…but I would be doing the loading and unloading. I had my eye on a wilderness system Purgo 140 but I missed out on it. Do yall think something like that would be too bulky and heavy?

NC 15 (nckayaks.com has a sale on now)

Necky Eliza, designed for women, all around good kayak

Valley Avocet

If she’s athletic and into kayaking, her skills will improve rapidly so get something she can grow into.

That approach will kill it

– Last Updated: Mar-08-11 2:21 PM EST –

Reread my above post - especially since you now add in that she needs to keep up with a group. Your current approach - something cheapo that will probably be a barge - is most likely to leave you paddling alone after marriage and paying for it with "Honey Do" jobs around the house to get that paddling time.

If you score the boat by the way, you also need to look at a very light (ie fairly expensive) paddle as well. A bad paddle produces the same result as a barge of a boat, especially since guys often make the huge mistake of getting a bigger, joint-killing blade for a smaller person thinking it'll help them to paddle faster. It doesn't - the effect is exactly the opposite.

Rent or do pool sessions for now, WAIT to get a boat until she is participating enough to know what she likes. Personally, it sounds to me like a better bet might be a nice light pack canoe and she just doesn't go offshore. But it doesn't sound like you do that much anyway.

Another Option - DIY

– Last Updated: Mar-08-11 12:08 PM EST –

If you want to be able to get your partner a great boat at a very reasonable cost, check into various stitch-and-glue ply/epoxy kayaks. Working from plans and raw materials (which isn't hard), you can (yes, YOU can!)create a kayak matched to your partner's needs for a fraction of the price of far heavier, less suitable boats. Just Google S&G Kayak Plans - there are dozens of great designs out there, some free and others at very reasonable cost. You can also buy full kits, like the excellent Pygmy Arctic Tern 14, for not a whole lot more than the cost of plans and raw materials. For advice on selection and building, the Kayak Building Bulletin Board is an extremely valuable source of information and inspiration...

We build and paddle a design called the VOLKSKAYAK - great boat - but it's kinda slipped off the radar since the designer has gone on to other things. I've done four, wouldn't trade 'em for any commercial design, just started another - and if I can do it, you sure can...

Now that we know more…
…about her (athletic and paddling with a group), all the more reason you should be looking at a lighter, lower volume boat that is lively and fun. The Pungo is another barge – forget that. Look for models similar to the Venture Easky 15LV and the Necky Eliza already recommended – more graceful boats in the 14’ to 15’ range and under 45 lbs if possible. Wilderness Tsunamis are tempting and common but I know a couple of women who have them, have tried them myself, and find them appallingly heavy and klutzy in the water, personally. Yeah, you say you’ll haul and load the boat for her but it is much better if the user of the boat can handle it by herself, plus a heavier boat is more of a chore to paddle.

And the advice from Celia on paddles is excellent as well – better, in fact, to spend at least $100 to $150 on a good paddle and less on a boat. You do need to wait to get the paddle (until she has settled on a boat) since the geometry of the kayak will have some bearing on the paddle length.

Why don’t you wait until Spring and see if there are any demo days or kayak regattas in your area so she can check out models? I know you want this to be a gift, but a kayak is like skis or a bicycle or even a pair of hiking boots – it needs to fit the user or it won’t really be suitable for the sport. Unless something really ideal turns up on Craigslist, saving a couple of hundred on a used boat may be false economy.

To echo what others have said, take her to a demo day don’t go on someone else’s recommendation. At the time we bought my wife’s kayak I worked for an outdoor retailer so I was selling boats. She paddled about 7 or 8 different boats at a demo day. The one she picked out I would never have recommended for someone her size, but she loves that boat. In 7 years she has never regretted buying that boat. She had buy in as to what she was paddling so she loves to paddle. Most large manufactures offer their boats in glass and plastic. A plastic boat won’t paddle as well as a glass but it will be about $1k cheaper.

As for a wood boat they are beautiful but unless you have lots of time they will take awhile to get done. A buddy of mine who is a good woodworker bought his kit this time last year. We paddled last weekend and his boat still doesn’t have it’s final coat of varnish or any deck rigging. They look great when they are done but take a lot of commitment to get them there.

Hopefully you will have her and the boat for years to come, it’s worth the money to buy something she likes.

thanks for all the advice!
Just wanted to thank all of you for all of the advice given. I know some of you will probably think I’m a bit foolish, but I ended up pulling the trigger and buying 2 boats without trying them or going to a demo day. I got a stellar deal on craigslist for 2 Necky Manitou 13. They came with a roof rack, 2 Aqua Bound carbon fiber paddles and 2 skirts for $1100 total. For all the research I’ve done on this site and searching on the web these seemed like the best fit for the both of us and a great deal. Here’s to hoping that luck is on my side and we both love them. But again, based on the reviews of this particular boat, I think they’ll be winners.

You got a good deal there
That’s a pretty good deal since the boats alone run around $800 each. I’d have snagged that myself if it turned up in my area. Decent little boats, great paddles and all the gear you need. And they are kayaks you could easily sell for a decent price later on if you decide your skills and usage deserve an upgrade of some kind.

That’ll get you started fine
My first non-free-with-the-boat paddle was the Aquabond carbon fiber. It’s a very serviceable paddle with a decent catch. A bit on the heavy side, but not the worst out there.

The Manitou 13 is a not uncommon starter boat around here. I’ve seen more than one paddler decide to replace it after they took a class or two that worked seriously on skills, particularly smaller women, because the contact is not great for those skills and they were sliding around in the cockpit. And the high seat back gets in the way of a lot. But for just getting on the water, going straight and turning it’s a nice little boat.

I see that there is not a bulkhead up front - you may want to get a couple of float bags and put one in each bow. That way you have a much better behaved boat for a potential on-water rescue.

The best advice on the subject…
Wait till you ARE married!!!

Paddle easy,