kayak purchase advice


I need some general kayak purchasing advice and some specific advice.

General - we bought two Old Town kayaks a few years back - a Loon tandem and some other solo one w/ less initial stability (forget name). I’m looking for one that paddles easier than this other kayak.

I get that less width will generally be easier but I’m a weak swimmer, and that won’t change for awhile if ever. So I will not be using a skirt. I only go on slow rivers or lakes. I only paddle, no fishing. I would like something lighter than the 50lb. one I use now. I’m only getting older and weaker so lighter weight and easier paddling is key. Manueverability not important. Length not important. I weigh less than 165 (and hopefully shrinking) and am 5’6".

Specific - it would be good to get some sample recommendations to help me understand the kinds of kayaks I’m looking for. I WILL be attending paddling days next year but wanted to go in w/ some knowledge. Searched the archives here. I get that less width is better. Will have to decide how thin I can go and still be within my meager abilities and comfort level. Is longer easier to paddle than shorter?

Thanks so much for any suggestions you have.


Try a bunch
There’s a lot more to it than just width, but in general, yes, narrower will glide better. Longer will glide better, too. But a longer, narrower boat is not necessarily “easier” to paddle.

Longer generally will not turn as easily as shorter. There are exceptions. Flatter bottoms will usually turn easier, and round bottoms will generally be faster. You get the point — lots of variables.

The best thing to do is go to a demo day with a rough set of dimensions in mind (Length, width, and weight), try everything that fits in that class, and buy the one that gets the little kid in you excited. It IS about having fun, after all!

It sounds like you’re looking for a
lighter recreational kayak. If maneuverability and speed aren’t important to you, and you aren’t going out in conditions, and you aren’t going to use a skirt, it is not necessarily the case that narrower is better. I would look at something like the kevlar Current Designs Kestral. Or the fiberglass version of the Necky Manitou. They are nice stable recreational kayaks, and both very light. Just know going in that you pay a premium for light weight.

Unfortunately, lighter is usually more expensive. The only way around that is to buy used or build one yourself.

The Hurricane Tampico 135S, Current Designs Kestrel, Eddyline Merlin LT, or Necky Manitou 13 composite might be a good choice.

The Puffin kayaks are very light for their size.

Pachena DX…
for what you are looking for, it sounds like the Current Designs Pachena DX could work for you. Its on the pricey side for a day touring, but its worth it for a fully outfitted composite. Its pretty stable, but has some good efficency in it too.

check it out-



very beautiful kayak, isnt it??

Check out the

– Last Updated: Jul-18-07 2:30 PM EST –

WS Tsunami 140 Duralite. Comes in at 44lbs, and is much cheaper then a glass or kevlar layup, and is likely to hold up better to abuse as well. The Tsunami line is supposed to be a "transitional touring" boat, essentially it is designed with many of the features a touring boat has, but with the comfort and stability of rec boat.

For your size the 140 should be a good physical fit, and its length/width combination lend itself to be fairly efficient and stable. It won't be the fastest boat on the water, but should plenty fast for what you need. It also features great dry storage, and very forgiving secondary stability. It tracks great, but when edged properly is pretty maneuverable.

I own a 120 and love it. You could look at the 120 as well, which would be a bit smaller, but wouldn't track as well or be as efficient.

Here's a link to WS website for the 140...

For something with a more open cockpit, and more of a rec boat feel check out the Pugo 140 in Duralite. It sounds like based on your issues with swimming and sprayskirts you may prefer a more open cockpit. It won't be as fast or as efficient as a Tsunami, but it is still a great boat, and fun to paddle. Its wider hull makes it more stable as well.

Here's a link to it....

The Manitou 13 in composite is also an excellent suggestion, it is a great boat.

Also the CD Kestrel 140 in composite or thermoformed are lighter weight, and good boats. But also on the pricey side.

From Prijon you might consider the Capri Tour - 12' and 42lbs, a good day touring boat that is pretty well reviewed here.

Go demo as much as you can, and good luck in your search.

Advice for the trial…
don’t worry about scratching the boat or dumping it or taking too long in it. Spend some time with it until you can lean well and carve with it. Take time to adjust the seat and foot pegs. The trial is not anything if you can’t really try the boat.

Excellent advice!
When I went to a demo days, I spent up to 20 mins each, several times, in the couple of boats I had narrowed my search to. If you don’t do as suntan suggests you won’t really get familiar enough with the boat to make an informed decision.

Try and let us know what model OT you are trying to replace - if we know what boat you don’t like and why you don’t like we can give you even better advice.

This is such great advice! Like everything else, it’s gonna take some work to research this.

There are some nice looking boats out there.

The OT one I have is the Sebago. It’s about as tippy as I can handle right now but I might be able to work into something else. It paddles ok but I’m sure I can find something more efficient. Even though it’s only 50 lbs, I would like something a little lighter, like maybe 40?

Thanks again. Will be reading these posts w/ much interest.