Kayak Recommendations for Beginner-Intermediate, Small Paddler?

Hi! Feeling overwhelmed by choices and hoping for some recommendations. I’ve paddled for a couple of seasons now, first in a Riot Quest 10’ (too wide!) and an Enduro 13 (much more comfortable, could be a little narrower/lighter but not unmanageable). All day trips, mostly bay, coast but a few river trips as well. Now I’m looking for my own kayak, something suited to my smaller size (5’3, 130 lbs) but long/fast enough to keep up with the big guys!
I’m currently considering:

Perception Expression 11.5 - size good, has a skeg (although maybe that’s not as important as I think?), but will it be too slow to keep up ocean with 13’ yaks?
Elie Strait 140 XE- size is good, should be fast, not sure about the rudder system (never used one), also concerned about comments on leaking hatches?
Wilderness Tsunami 120- size is good, but is a 12’ without skeg going to cause issues on open water with wind/swell?
Boreal Kasko- size is good, not sure about the rudder system (never used one, but this one looks simpler than the Elie’s?)
Enduro 13- safe choice, my default if I don’t find something else I like

Any thoughts/suggestions? Am I overthinking? Are there any models I should be considering that I’m not?
Thanks in advance!

Personally I think you are going for too small of a jump up in length. The boats you are looking at are still 24-25 inches wide, if you want an efficient hull speed at your size that is still wider than is ideal. If you want to keep up with guys in 13 ft boats, you will be better off with something longer and narrower than that. Fot ex, in the Enduro line you would be better off looking at the Edge series, and the Edge 145 to get a faster hull and better contact in the cockpit. It is still plenty big for someone your size, but it has the stuff including perimeter lines.

I assume river is not whitewater, just something you can do in a touring boat.

The other part that I refer to up above is features. Especially if you are talking coastal bays, you are into sea kayak characteristics like perimeter lines, two sealed hatches and ability to use a skirt. I am not seeing perimeter lines on most of the boats you mention in your original post.

Rudder/skeg - Doesn’t matter. Get the boat that fits you right and you can afford and take whatever tracking system it has.

Celia, thank you for the reply! I will worry less about rudders/skeg and focus on size. I had looked at Edge series but the 145 seemed heavy, and I can’t afford the price jump for the lighter Thermo models. Seems like I might have to re-consider what is “too heavy”.

I love my perception-Carolina 14’.

I was lucky and got is used with a rudder already installed. I enjoy having it,

It has dual bulkheads, dual hatches and will accept a sprayskirt.

They re designed the Tsunami this year, it has some extra features & you can get it in 14’ or 17’ if you want a longer boat.

I am half an inch taller and 5 pounds heavier than you. And maybe older - have hit full retirement age. The too heavy part is often a matter of how you are handling the boat, and the tools you have, as much as the pure weight of the boat.

In the interest of full disclosure, I did finally find the money for a Hullivator on one side when I went to a car with a couple of inches more height on the roof, and I generally try to focus on the boats that come in around 50 pounds rather than 65 these days. But I can load two 16 ft plus boats on the roof myself without damaging my back. On one side is is Thule glide pads rear and saddles front, for that I use the Amagansett Roller Loader to get the boat between ground and roof. The other side is the Hullivator, which is a wonder thru most of the range of motion but still involves a bit of a dead lift to get it into the cradle arms.

But I can handle the 65 and 70 pound boat if I need to, with the above systems.

I have a good cart to get the boats between the car and the launch, or the car and close to where I hang them under the porch out back. (The last few feet of how I get them under the porch would bother the heck out of anyone who is into pristine boats.)

Another idea that works well for between the roof and a set of saddles or glide pads or whatever is a bar that comes out from the side of the cross bars. You get the nose of the boat over that then swing it up. For the most part you are never carrying the full weight of the boat. And this technique may be easier for sedans. I have never had any use for a car that was not a hatch or wagon, so sedan owners may have better ideas here.

This all works a lot easier on a boat with perimeter lines, gives you something to grab when sliding it between.

My concern is that you will still be spending a decent chunk of change for a new boat, only to find you have tied up bucks for something that does not achieve the goal.

You could go a couple of ways. My first recommendation, since you are stepping up anyway, is to not try for a new forever boat right now. Get a used boat which will give you a chance to get used to having more capability. Spend some time in that then worry about the longer term hold. And if it is used and you drop it while getting used to handling it, you haven’t horrifically damaged your investment. It’ll also leave you budget room to get tools for handling the boat that will serve you long term.

The other is to review how you are handling the boats, see if there is a way to make that easier by getting some tools.

The bigger guys are welcome to blow out their backs hefting things the hard way. At our size, tools is everything.,

What region are you in? There are some on this board, like Willowleaf, who are geniuses at spotting ads for really good ideas in used boats.

Thanks Tortoise- one of the dealers I spoke with has a Carolina 14 on hand, he thought it might be “too big” but the specs say it’s actually narrower and lighter than the Enduro- I will have to check it out.
The longer Tsunamis I’ve seen (so far) have been above my price range, but if they’re redesigned maybe there will be some clearances on older models :wink:
I’ve been watching ads for used kayaks as well but most are for tandems or short wide “beginner” kayaks

I’ll also recommend a used kayak. Once Spring is close, you’ll see many more kayaks for sale. It is likely that your idea of what constitutes a ‘good’ boat for you will evolve with time and experience. If you get into kayaking more deeply, this will probably not be your final kayak. A used kayak makes good sense on several levels.

Three recommendations:

Delta 12.10 $1500, 43 lbs
Hurricane Sojourn 126 $1300, 43 lbs
Hurricane Sojourn 135 $1400, 45 lbs (although mine actually weighs 43 lbs)

All three are lightweight and incredibly stable. No reason for a person of your size to be struggling with a 50-53lb kayak. There’s a significant difference in perceived loading weight for each 5 lbs. Once you’ve tried a thermoformed kayak you will cross the 53lb Carolina 14 and Tsunami 140 off your list and pay $3-$500 more for one of the kayaks above. I believe a friend paid something like $700 for a used Sojourn 135 on Craigslist.

There is nothing wrong with a 24" kayak. Paddling characteristics depend on many things besides width, and 24" is not wide. It’s the norm in the transitional class, which is where you want to be with your upgrade, I think.

I think you should be looking at stability first. In terms of stability, all three of the above kayaks can be considered sea worthy.

Elie Straight: Many reviews mention leaking hatch covers.
Tsunami 140: 53 lbs, $1300, 25" wide: You’re far better off with a Hurricane 126 for the same price.

Here you go GusNS. At the same weight as a 13’ plastic kayak this one, at your build, will leave all your compadres, you were worried about keeping up with, wallowing in your wake.

P&H Bahiya Fiberglass 17’5" x 20.5" $1300

I would also suggest a Venture Islay 12 Skeg Turquoise Demo model ($875 reg. $1300)but hey, go big!

See you on the water,
The Connection, Inc.
Hyde Park, NY
845-228-0595 main
845-242-4731 mobile
Main: www.the-river-connection.com
Store: www.the-river-connection.us
Facebook: fb.me/theriverconnection

I just ran the conversion on centimeters, and unless I put things in wrong I am coming in at 20 inches width for the Venture Islay 12 that Marshall mentions above. I am seeing perimeter lines and two hatches. The relative narrowness should improve hull speed, making it easier to help you keep up. While still being a fairly small boat for you to handle.
It is available with, or can be converted to, a back band rather than the high seat back. Very helpful if you want to be able to use a skirt.

Where are you located?

If possible, check with kayak liveries or rental companies, a lot of them are going through inventory right now and will be selling off boats that need replacing.

Good way to get a nice used boat for a good price!

Your 5’ 3" 130lbs and someone told you you might be to big for a carolina 14. Yikes. Thats a big wide boat. So is a Tsunami 140. I had one a while back. I was swimming in it and iam 5’7" 170 lbs. Get something in the 22 inch wide 15 or up in length. No need for a wide 24 inch boat. Like others have said look used. When you think you found one post about it here. Don’t bother looking at reviews here. Most people say there boat is a 10 out of 10.

GuysNS, jump on that P&H that Marshall suggested, you won’t be sorry–if the boat is as good as it looks in the picture. You will kick yourself someday if you don’t.

Wow! First of all, thank you all for taking the time to read my questions and reply :slight_smile:

A few of you have mentioned buying used- we’ve actually been watching for used kayaks online for years (literally), unfortunately nothing suitable ever seems to come up in our area, which is why both my hubby’s beginner and upgrade kayaks were bought new (it’s his Enduro 13 that I’ve been borrowing, and he’ll be using again once I have my own).

We’re on the east coast of Canada, and there are limited number of sellers in our area- I haven’t found any that sell Hurricanes (although I looked online, and they seem to run $700-1000 more than the ones I’m looking at- so probably not in the budget). I did find someone who sells Deltas so I’m checking into that option.

To WaterBird, yes Transitional class seems to be where I am aiming, and 24"wide would be an improvement (the Enduro is listed as 25.2 but I think it’s closer to 25.5)

I also found a Necky Manitou 14 that I’m adding to my “maybe” list (hadn’t originally made the list because I couldn’t find any sellers in the area).

Thanks again for all the suggestions and feedback!

Where on the east coast of Canada? I just threw up a rough map and am finding a few possible sources for used boats, seems the worst is you may want to take an overnight trip make it a mini getaway with some boat demo involved. Here are two I found that listed kayaks for sale.
http://www.easternoutdoors.com/store/kayaks/used-kayaks/, St Johns NL
http://www.paddlefreedom.com/kayaks.html on PEI They have a bunch of boats including the Venture line that has the boat Marshall mentioned. And Wilderness Systems. They likely have demos/used - they do courses as well.

There were a number of outfitters that also are likely to shed some portion of their fleet each season in used boat sales. Call them to see if they do that shedding in the spring, as replacement boats come in, rather than the fall.

Thanks Celia! I am checking out PaddleFreedom, as well as outfitters in NS and NB. St Johns NFLD is not as practical, it’s a 3 hr drive + 16 hr ($1000) ferry ride. Beautiful province though! Would definitely recommend as a vacation spot :slight_smile:

OK. I may poke around further in NS and NB, not right now. I have thought of thaetarea I was looking in for a vacation, unfortunately my dance card is pretty much filled up for 2018. My first Canadian vacation may be further west - there is a dude ranch out in the middle near Glacier that I am seriously trying to figure out how to get to in 2019.

It’s a little pricey, but Kayak Exchange in Moncton has the 44 lb Delta 14s with skeg in stock. It’s designed for smaller paddlers and the 15’ length and 22" width sounds good to me. Those are the same dimensions (and close to the weight) of my Venture Easky 15LV which I love. The “LV” stands for “low volume” for small to medium paddlers. I’m 2" taller and 25 lbs heavier than you, but I have loaned the Easky (I have multiple boats) to friends closer to your size and they were very happy in it. I can keep up with people in longer touring kayaks with it – would not want to paddle anything shorter in coastal waters.

Unfortunately, the Easky 15LV was discontinued a few years ago. replaced by the slightly heavier Venture Islay line that Marshall suggested. Lake George Kayak in upstate NY still lists the 15LV at $1,300 but I don’t know if they still have back stock of it.



Don’t under bye if possible. Cheaper to buy right once and be happy with it for a long time. Look at used kayaks also.

Thanks willowleaf, I’ll be visiting Kayak Exchange soon, they have a few boats I want to compare, including Deltas.

PaddleDog52 I agree, which is why I’ve been researching like crazy! :wink: