Kayak for slim female

I’m a 5’6, 130 lb woman who is looking for a kayak, preferably touring or light touring. Weight preferance around 50 lbs(less is fine)…I have no trouble carrying that. I will be kayaking mainly on medium sized lakes, some rough waters, but nothing very extreme. I would still qualify as a beginner, I’ve never rolled a kayak…but I find (the ones I’ve used) to be very intuitive, I’m naturally very stable…I find kayaks far easier than canoes to maneuver and be steady and secure in.

I appreciate speed, maneuverability, and yet able to travel straight with relative ease. Something not too tippy, but fun.

Unforutunately, the stores in my area only allow you to test a small selection of kayaks, none of which I am interested in buying…their cockpits are much to big and wide for me.

So I am pretty stumped as to what I should research…these are the brands that are carried at the nearby shops: Current Designs, Wilderness Systems, Necky, Delta, Old Town…are these brands all very comparable? Or are some better than others?

I’ve been told about the Necky Eliza, which sounds nice, but there are a number of reviews of unsatisfied buyers, so I’m not sure. Are there other kayaks you guys can recommend that suit a smaller frame?

I’m also not sure whether I should shell out the cash for a composite, or whether I am better off in a poly. I do have a shop in which to store the kayak. I’m not really in a position to upgrade my kayak in a few years, so what I get will most likely be what I keep for quite some time.

I’d appreciate your suggestions and advice!

Search for “small paddler boat” threads
Your weight (or the lack of) qualifies you as “small paddler”. Your impression of too-big-cockpit also points to the kind of boats that targets smaller paddler.

Do a search on “small paddler boat”, you’ll find a bunch of threads that list good candidates boats.

A lot of the “small paddler boat” are British made, which your list of brands don’t cover. So you might have to hunt a little harder amoungst North American brands for models to fit slim paddlers.

Not sure what negative you read about the Necky Eliser. I heard only mostly good thing about it. (I never paddle one).

You are being shown the wrong models
My wife is your height and weighs slightly more than you and fits lots of kayaks. For example, you would fit into the Current Designs Caribou or Cypress. I suspect you are being shown rec boats in stock.

Wilderness Kayak Selector

I think this gives you a nice place to start. Then you can look for similar models in the other brands. I’ve had really good luck with the Wilderness Kayaks.

how wide of a cockpit
I guess my question should maybe be, for my size, how big of a cockpit am I looking for? Widest part of hips/butt is 37", hip bone 33", waist 27.5".

Some of the negative reviews I read about the Necky Eliza were on this site. Some of the complaints were less-than-stellar craftmanship, uncomfortable back, “very average” performance. Although, maybe that is just fine for what I need anyway?! Some women even complained that it was awkward to get in because it is too shallow for them…it is hard for me to judge for myself without seeing it in person and getting in myself. Maybe they were just bigger than me or very inflexible…

The only 2 kayaks I can rent to try out are are CD Whistler and CD Storm, so I’m afraid I really won’t know what I’m getting until I get home, which kind of scares me with the price tag. Oh, and there was one store that offered “Riot” brand kayaks, but they seemed even roomier than the WS, CD, etc.

I will keep an eye on used ads for other brands, but what I do like about getting on from the store(used or new) is that they will do any service on them. As a beginner, that is comforting to me.

Those number you gave are the sizes “around” the body parts, I assume? If it’s width, that’s not exactly “slim”…

I’m not that different in size (above assumption). I went from a boat having a cockpit width of 20" to a boat with 16" width cockpit and am a lot happier! I would prefer to be even a little smaller for better control but that’s about as small as they came when I was looking for boats.

If you’re looking for used ones, ask the original owner what size/weight they are and you might get an idea if that’s too big. Sometimes, more seirous owners already added foams to “tighten up” their cockpit, which might actually fit you well.

Basically, you want to “wear” your kayak, not swim in it. (there aren’t many boats with cockpits “too small” for you so go as small as you can find to try on)

CD Squall or Squamish
Haha, yes, my measurements are definitely AROUND my waist/hips, etc. :wink:

What do you guys think of either the CD Squamish or Squall? They both look like they might fit the bill, plus I would be able to get them from the local shop. Any opinions on one being better than the other for me?

Thanks for the advice so far…searching for similar messages in this forum definitely helped.

A couple of thoughts …
Keep focusing on smaller models and keep looking … also go used, don’t worry so much about what the stores want to sell you. Also post up where you are approximately. Likely someone here can point you to a store that is more friendly to fitting someone in a proper boat.

I have a friend your size who loves her Valley Avocet plastic model, also know ladies who have Necky Eliza boat and like it.

For your first boat see if you can find something used … you’ll spend 1/2 as much and likely pick up a paddle, skirt in the deal.

Getting and keeping a kayak is good, but most people who get into kayaking find out the their first boat is not quite what they need, so if you go used, you can likely sell the boat for just a little less than you paid for it. I’ve owned several kayaks that only actually cost me ~$200 dollars after I resold them.

perfect all-around boat
would be the Nigel Dennis 16’ Romany. It does everything very well and has been doing so for many years. Get the fiberglass version with the day hatch. This boat has served me (a guy 5’8’ @ 190) well for about 14 years and my wife (your size but shorter) enjoys it too. It tracks well (no rudder) without the skeg being deployed and carves turns easily. It has great primary stability for photography or simply stopping to eat or relax. Very comfortable boat that handles the rough waters/waves with ease. With a 21.5 inch beam it is narrow and allows the use of greenland style paddling as well as western. Can’t say enough good stuff about the boat.

romany is too much volume
I am oper’s weight, just a smidge shorter. We have a romany and an explorer lv. Both boats are too big a volume for this person

The pilgrim boats would be the right boats in the NDSK line.

Two to consider:
Walrus Griffin


I will definitely keep an eye out for used…then I might even be able to afford composite!(really, I’m not that picky, but composite does seem to open up more options. I’d take plastic if it was kept out of the sun) I have noticed though that it seems to be mainly men selling their kayaks, or maybe just more men period in the sport…the light touring/touring ones for sale seem to be larger models.

I live near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.(Canada)

Slim and light
Either of these two Eddylines would make fine choices.

Samba: 13’ 10" x 22.5", 43 lbs.


Fathom LV: 15’ 6" x 21", 47 lbs.


While these are plastic, they are thermoformed as opposed to rotomolded – a much higher quality boat, more comparable to composites.

kayaks for smaller people…

– Last Updated: Sep-09-12 3:34 AM EST –

Wilderness Systems Tsunami SP
Valley Avocet LV
Valley Etain S (17-3)
NDK Pilgrim
Tiderace Xcite S
Tiderace Xplor S
Impex Mystic
Sterling icekap
Maelstrom Vital

PS- Oops, I see now that you're in Saskatoon. =\

Probably the only boats on the list you'd be able to find without quite the super-long road trip are the Tsunami SP, and the Mystic (Wildy dealers are almost everywhere, and there are Impex dealers in Edmonton and Calgary, last I heard).

Valley Avocet LV
Not a small person myself, I can only pass along what I’ve heard from other small paddlers, and hands down the Avocet LV gets the most rave reviews. I’ve paddled the regular Avocet and love - very resposive and can do almost anything. The only compromises is that it’s not too fast, and doesn’t hold a ton of gear.

Our club has some poly Elizas. They’re good, do everything fairly well and nothing exceptional. We’ve had to reseal the bulkheads a few times due to leakage, otherwise the quality is decent. Honestly you could have a lot more fun and grow your paddle skills more in an Avocet.

CD Whistler
Our club had some Whistlers. They leaked, and they’re very roomy, stable and wide. I think you’d get frustrated trying to learn any skills in it.

Those two boats I happened to have tried.

Squall is really quite a big boat for your weight. While not ideal, it’s got at least a “tight’ish” cockpit so it fits a little better than many other choices.

Squirmish, you have to try it to know for sure. I’m shorter than you, yet had trouble getting my legs fit in there. It’s got a very low deck but quite wide so I felt I was not at all comfortable.

Really, for tall slim light weight like you, the ideal boat would be the Pilgrim and the Avocet LV. But if you have trouble locating those two, Romany and Avocet is about as big as you should go. In that same class of boats are also WS Tempest which is widely available and comes in plastic.

My kevlar Perception Shadow 16.5,
if you’re near IL. A great small paddler boat and weighs 46 lbs. And it’s very, very, pretty, too. Not enough foot room for my size 8.5 feet wearing mukluks.

The CD Suka is a great fit for small paddlers, but my thighs barely fit under the thigh braces (I’m 5’6" and 160 lbs male.

I really liked the fit of the CD Willow, but haven’t had a chance to paddle it yet.

The composite Eliza also fit me well, but I haven’t paddled it.

The Hurricane Tampico 140 S and Hurricane Tracer also fit me well, but I haven’t paddled either.

I have paddled the Eddyline Fathom LV and really liked it’s fit and handling.

Good luck finding the right boat for you.

Not a fan of Eddyline cockpit
They’re fine boats. But for some reason, the cockpits were HUGE! (at least the ones I tried were)

On paper, they were not particularly big but somehow I managed to get lost in there! It might be the seat itself being too big. I had some white water fit kit and once I applied those the boat felt good. Though in the end, there’re other boats that fits us small folks better without modification so I moved on…

Tsunami SP too small

– Last Updated: Sep-08-12 11:17 PM EST –

My girlfriend tried the Tsunami SP, and at 110 pounds, found she was too heavy.

Valley Avocet LV compsite is her number 1 choice. For some reason, the Avocet LV in plastic feels very different to her, and not in a good way. But my girlfriend is a little smaller than the OPer, so this may or may not be helpful input.