Kayak for slim female

Fathom LV not so big as Nighthawk
16 and Merlin LT, which I owned for a while.

Check out the Impex Mystic if its available in your area.


I don’t know where in the world you are, but if you’re around central va. Go to Appomattox river co. those guys are great! I recently bought my latest yak there and they have a very good selection, they all seem to be paddlers and are quite helpful and knowledgeable. If you want lightweight you might want to spring the extra cash for a composite. I guess you have done some homework so you know the width to length conundrum. If you divide L x W you will come up with a figure between 3.5 to around 7 shoot for no less than 4 or you’ ll spend an awful lot of time fishtailing. Lastly if you demand control get something rudder compatible.


Sound or surf
I’m planning a trip to the core banks early oct. And am taking my tarpon 120. Has anyone had this puppy out in the surf and if so how’d you do? any tips/suggestions?

Tempest 165
I recently returned from a long trip to test boats for my wife who is quite petite. She paddles a Tsunami SP and having seen my 130lb nephew in it I’d agree with the above poster that it’s too small for you. It paddled ok but rode low. She rented a bunch of the more expensive boats listed above for small paddlers. She also rented a Tempest 165 (poly) and said it was by far the most comfortable for her and had the best outfitting.

Tempest 165

– Last Updated: Sep-09-12 8:22 PM EST –

It actually shrunk down quite tight with the thigh braces and hip pads on my extremely petite wife. The larger cockpit though makes scramble rescues a snap.

Edit: to clarify the thigh braces adjust in and back. It also comes with adjustable hip pads to fit it tight and the pan front adjusts as well. The deck was relatively low too. The size of the opening doesn't relate to fit in this case.

2nd Edit: I should also clarify that it wasn't the best boat for my wife. It would be a great expedition boat for her but it was too big for her as a day paddler. The Pilgrim was the best sized and the tempest was the most comfortable.

tempest is a bit roomy
I’ll really have to test out some models to see what cockpit size I’m comfortable in…it sounds like I should probably stay at 16" and under, while the tempest 165 is a roomy 18". But I imagine it all comes down to sitting in it yourself, maybe it would fit tighter than it sounds. I like snugness. I’m not sure why Wilderness kayaks have always got to have larger cockpits, even the ones aimed at smaller paddlers.

There is a beautiful CD Andromeda for sale in Saskatoon for under $1000, but I really think that is just above my skill level to handle comfortably at this point.

I wish we had a P & H dealer in Saskatoon…I could never afford a new one, but that might bring a few used ones up for sale. Rarely do one of the more “serious” kayaks(which around here is anything composite and touring sized! Haha) seem to come up for sale around here anyway, let alone ones small enough for me. I’ll keep looking! I’m fine looking until next spring anyway, I wouldn’t get much paddling in this fall.

Thanks for your advice…I would certainly test the Tempest and see for myself.

I’ve only ever paddled poly’s…so I have nothing to say for or against composite from my own (lack of) experience. It sounds like each material(except carbon…is that little bit of extra lightness REALLY worth it?!) have their plus sides…what I do find frustrating is that many of the boats I’m interested in simply don’t come in poly! But I could never afford a new composite. So it would either be a new/used poly or a used composite.

We’ll see what I can find. :slight_smile:

Personally I like poly because I prefer tough over shiny. I dropped my wife’s SP off the top of the roof racks without a mark. Also watching my kids paddling full speed into shore, then dragging them up the beach… I would cringe if they were glass. There are negatives but they don’t out weigh the positives for me.

the Andromeda is right there and priced right …If I were you, I would go test drive it. A kayak that seems advanced to one body build, doesn’t always seem advanced to another. it all depends on you and how you sit the boat. If you have spent any time riding horses or motorcycles, you will have a balance point with whatever you ride…GO TRY IT:} Make your own evaluation, don’t use that of others.{there are very few sea kayaks that are actually advanced, surf skies are different}

Best Wishes


poly vs composite
"what I do find frustrating is that many of the boats I’m interested in simply don’t come in poly! But I could never afford a new composite. So it would either be a new/used poly or a used composite."

Been there myself! The solution is used composite.

The reason the boats you’re interested in “simply don’t come in poly” has to do with marketing. You’re smaller than average so most boats are too big for you. The ones you’re interested are mostly “advanced” boats for average guys. They want the tight fit for control. And a super-tight fit boat for the average guy is just the right size for you for a relaxed but snug fit! Being “advanced” boats well, only comes in composite!!!

Here on the coast, there’re large number of these advanced boats on the used market because we have the type of water for such boats. As paddlers change their style, their weight or simply moving away, they sell their advanced boat on the used market. There’re lots of used Romany and Avocets. While still kind of on the big side for you, these are a lot smaller than the average kayaks.

Finally, about the Tempest 165. Whatever the spec say, I found the cockpit fit quite comfortably snug for me. And I’m actually a tad smaller than you. So definitely should go sit in it before you pass it up. Again, it’s a tad more volume than you need but it’s a lot closer to what you need than 90% of the other boats.

will do
I will for sure try out the Tempest if I have the opportunity to try it. I won’t buy something I can’t try first…it sounds like there are just too many variables that go into whether a boat will work for a person or not.

FadedRed, I missed your post earlier, that is interesting what you say about the Andromeda…hmm…I do a lot of horseback riding actually, and I have found that it helps me in just about anything that requires muscle control and balance. I hadn’t even thought of that. I’ll email the seller and see if it is still for sale to test drive.

kayak for slim female
I am shrimpier than you (5’3", 130#) and I feel your pain. The other problem is that a lot of men just don’t seem to understand that we need smaller boats so be careful when you go into kayak stores or you may come out with something too big. Also - skinnier boats tend to be less stable. I have a Sterling Ice Kap which is a fabulous boat but expensive (I got mine used and still was expensive). Love it, though, so if you get a bunch of money you might want to try one. I also have a Dagger Alchemy (I take it places where the kayak will run into rocks/gravel etc and I don’t want to hurt my precious Ice Kap). It was about $1000 or so and is made for smaller people. It fits me really well and I like the way it handles. The seat is a bit funky as my tailbone rubs a bit on the shell under the seat cushion so the husband is putting something in there to fix that. If you have ridden horses a lot or done something else that gives you good balance you will enjoy the skinny kayaks. I’ve ridden horses all my life and the transition to kayaks has been easier because of that (not that I’m giving up the horse!).

Might be worth a trip out to BC - lots of kayaking out there and knowledgeable people who can fit you into a nice used boat.

good luck! Penny (Steve’s wife)

Given its heritage, it should have a snug fit. Just keep in mind it’s a long boat. And fairly volumeous for your weight.

If you can pick a windy day to test paddle it would be best. Every boat paddles fine on a calm day on flat water. A boat with too much volume, you’ll fine it difficult to turn it on a windy day (or even keep paddling at a random heading).

Published cockpit measurements can
be deceiving - some measure from the outside of the cockpit rim and some measure from the inside edge.

Deck height, thigh brace shape and height and seat height and shape can all make cockpits with the same perimeter dimensions on different boats feel quite different. Here’s and example: My kevlar Perception Eclipse 17 / Sea Lion and my kevlar Perception Shadow 16.5 have exactly the same size and shape cockpit openings, but the cockpit fit of the Eclipse 17 is much looser than the Shadow 16.5. Deck height is the major factor in that case.

Impex Mystic
My wife is similar sized and she was padding a 16.5’ Essence but she complained it was too heavy to get in and out of the water. We found a fair price on a used Carbon/Kevlar Mystic and she is convinced this is her last kayak she will ever need. The fit is perfect for her, and she is very happy with the 14’ length. She has no problem keeping up with me in her old Essence 16.5. Worth a look if there is anything available where you are.

Tempest 165 outfitting
Even though the 165’s cockpit is larger than you need, the good adjustable outfitting will snug it up well. I am smaller and lighter than you and owned a 165 for 5 years. Could easily roll it and do static brace, butterfly roll–so the rear deck was low enough due to the seat’s being positioned a little more forward than many kayaks.

Also, I added 1/2" minicell foam under the seat fabric, then reglued it together. Made the fit very good. Without that extra height, it felt too low and loose. I am just under 5’3", so you might not need this extra 1/2".

Weight of poly or standard glass will be over 50 lbs for sure. You’d need to go to the lightweight (and more expensive) layups to meet that requirement.

NDK Pilgrim or Pilgrim Expedition are also good for small, light paddlers. I have the latter and love it. Again, the standard layup versions will all be more than 50 lbs.

check out the new pygmy boats
The murrelet or pinguino are both low volume. I know of couple of small women who paddle them. They are very maneuverable and roll well. Nice low back deck. They are also very light 35-40 lbs, compared to a glass or plastic boat.



Swift Saranac Classic
The Classic variant of Swift’s Saranac series was designed around a 5’7", 120 lb gal. It weighs 36 lbs in Kev, 34 in Carbon.

cd Squamish vs. ws tempest 165
Any opinions on this? Preferably from those who have owned or paddled one or both.

I feel like the Tempest has more room than I need - I don’t mean just the cockpit size, because I heard everything that you guys were saying about the ability to snug it up very nicely. But it does have nearly an extra foot in length that I’m not sure I need. If the Squamish were 21.5" wide, like the Tempest, I probably wouldn’t be asking this question, because then it has nearly everything I need. But the Squamish is 23" wide. Will this probably be quite a noticeable difference for me?

Bottom line, I want to paddle both(plus continue looking for used) before I would consider buying…but both seem to have good reviews, so I was wondering if there are some deciding factors that I’m not noticing. They are both 12.5" deep.

Another question: which boat is more maneuverable?