Kayak size and make - Advice needed!

Hi - First post on this site!

I’m in the market for a sea kayak. I’m approx. 5’1" and 115 pounds. Is a 14’ boat too long for me?

MODEL: I have kayaking experience. Would like a boat that can be used both on the ocean and for use on ponds and non-white water rivers AND for potential touring. And I have dream of getting a non-plastic boat (kevlar, carbon, fiberglass). I’m looking at a used Necky Looksha Sport (fiberglass and carbon b=fiber according to the owner). Looks really clean - price is $900. This seems like a good price tome - no? Is it? And would this boat suit my needs.

I should add - there is also a Perception Carolina for sale (plastic) for $450…

Many thanks for any advice !

Welcome to the forum! 14 feet is definitely not too long, it’s pretty much the minimum length for a sea kayak, and your size doesn’t have too much impact on the length. It’s more the width and volume you want to worry about. If you do a search on here for “kayaks for small paddlers,” you will get threads with lots of recommendations of low volume boats.

As for the ones you mentioned, I’ve never paddled a Lookska Sport myself, but maybe someone else who has will come along. I thought that boat was plastic, and it’s always possible the owner doesn’t know (I’ve seen many plastic boats mislabeled as fiberglass by sellers) or they get the boat model name wrong. There are a few different Looksha models. If you post the ad it’ll be easier to tell. The Perception Carolina is going to be too big for you volume wise. Keep an eye out for a used Impex Mystic, that’s a 14 foot capable sea kayak that is designed for small paddlers. Around my neck of the woods I see them come up on Craigslist and Facebook marketplace quite often for around $700 or $800. If you post links to ads people can often give very constructive comments.


I’m gonna agree that I’ve always understood the Looksha Sport to be plastic only. Google doesn’t turn up any composite examples.

I own a WS Piccolo which is about 13.5 feet long. Made for small people, I can’t even sit in it and neither can my wife. We have it as a loaner for the kids from our church and 2 small women that go kayaking with us at times. One lady is also 5’ 1" and only 103 pounds. She LOVED using the Piccolo. So do the kids that go from 85 to 130 pounds.
I am very far from being an expert, but from the kayaks I have bought and sold and the ones I have here I would say a 14 foot kayak is in no way to large for you. Pay attention to the fit of the seat and thigh braces and make modifications if needed, but I am sure 14 footer would be good for you.

The Looksha Sport is a great around kayak. Its great used on lakes, rivers and the ocean in our experience.

We had the plastic version of the Sport for 12 years and sold it two years ago. It is a heavy boat at around 65lb and my wife found it to be a bit big for her.

Since you are looking for a sea kayak to go into open water conditions, i.e. you said ocean, recommend you ONLY look at kayaks with at least two watertight compartments - forward and aft hatches. Many of the Looksha Sport friends have had only had one aft watertight compartment. You will need a forward and rear watertight compartment for inherent safety.

Ideally you can find something like a used Dagger Alchemy 14S (S for small) or one of the many other small newer kayaks which have a day hatch just behind your seat.

Another good feature for open water paddling is a skeg which many kayaks have. I would hold out for a boat with both at least two compartments and a skeg.

Happy searching!


Thank you!

Thanks all! Here is the ad (thanks for that suggestion). It does appear to be a non-plastic boat, but it’s hard to tell about the number of hatches (I had thought of that and couldn’t tell - haven’t seen it yet). I would agree that 2 hatches would be what I want for storage. But how does the number of hatches affect safety?

Older style kayaks had no compartments (or hatch accesses) which meant when water gets into the cockpit, it sloshes around the whole kayak which makes it very unstable. Imagine it now filling with water, almost impossible to recover from that situation even with lots of experience - air bags can help, but that impacts stowing gear you may want to carry.

The more compartments you have in a kayak, the more inherent buoyancy you have should one compartment fill or partially fill with water. This assumes that your bulkheads do not leak allowing water to enter adjoining compartments which are separated by the bulkheads.

You will learn more about this if you take an Introduction to Kayaking class offered by the ACA or similar courses by BCU or Paddle Canada. Highly suggested.


Others have offered solid advice. It looks like that one has the rear compartment and it appears there is a bulkhead behind the seat. Not a bad boat, but I think you can find better for $900.

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I agree that you could find a better boat for $900. Those pictures aren’t very good, and it’s hard to tell what it is.

The hatches serve mainly the function of providing buoyancy, by being sealed off from the cockpit with watertight bulkheads. They also are storage compartments. But the buoyancy is what makes them seaworthy.

Worry less about the length snd more about deck height, boat width and cockpit fit. At 5’1" the Looksha Sport may leave you swimming. Sit in it, or any boat, to make sure the thigh braces are easily reached without lots of gyrations. If the cockpit fits ok likely the hull will get to where it should for 115 pounds.

I wouldn’t want the Hulk in my kayak.

Just to very clear… It is not the hatches that add safety. It is the watertight compartments. You can almost always tell how many and where the watertight compartments are by seeing where the hatches are.

The folks above are saying is that for ocean use you need a watertight compartment at the front (bow) and one at the back (stern). Some older and/or shorter kayaks only have one, usually at the back.

You are looking at used boats and potentially composite (e.g. fiberglass, kevlar), which is smart. Composite is typically lighter once off the water and that will become significant to you. Stern and bow watertight hatches are important for flotation, if swamped.

The fit of the boat is also very important, definitely don’t get anything too large. But length doesn’t equate to fit. There are even 16’, 17’ boats that would fit well. On the other hand you could find a 14’ kayak that was too big and seemed like a barge.

As you find potential purchases, run them by this forum. You’ll continue to get good advice.

kayakhank suggested that you take at least one kayak course from a competent instructor. That seems like an extra expense, but is very likely to save you money in the longer run.

Thanks everyone for all of the great advice! I’m learning learn a lot about kayaks that I didn’t know as user of them.

So glad I found this forum!

My wife is about the same height and has been paddling a16’ QCC for years with no problems, so you aren’t necessarily limited to a 14’ boat. In fact, for the waters you are interested in 14’ is the bare minimum I’d consider.

For open water I’d recommend a 16’ or longer boat with fore and aft waterproof bulkheads. Not only will the waterproof compartments make it safer, but it also makes the possibility of kayak camping more practical.

Composite boats have the advantage of lighter weight, but are more susceptible to damage and are more expensive. Plastic boats are nearly indestructible. They do better with rocky rivers and shorelines. Lighter weight is good for getting the boat off and on to your vehicle and to and from the water. However, for the same model of boat once on the water, there is not a huge difference in speed and handling for plastic vs composite.

For a first boat, I always recommend buying used. Few people stay with their first boat, unless building a fleet, and you can almost always sell a used boat for about what you bought it for. After paddling your first boat for a while and you know exactly what you want, then is the time to consider a new boat if you can’t find that one used.

The price seems a little high. A quick search turns up Lookshaw Sports that have sold for around $400. The original Lookshaw was an 18’ boat first built in Canada before Necky was bought out by Johnson Outdoors and was available in composite builds or rotomolded plastic. But as far as I could find out the 14’ Lookshaw Sport seems to be only available in plastic and weighs about 58lbs…

I, too, would look beyond a 14 foot boat. Those are not really seaworthy, they tend to get caught in the wave valleys.

I also have never met a hatch that didn’t leak, I prefer float bags when playing in the surf. There is also the fit, that is adjustable with mini cell foam.

There is also the option of surfskis. There have always been some for smaller people and they usually resell for pretty cheap. They will always be longer than 14’, but might be better for a beginner if you find a Fenn XT, or something similar.

Ya - there was another post that was an incredible deal, which I missed - two boats for $500! One was a plastic Looksha.

Curious to know why you sy it’s smart to be hoping of r a composite? I know it’s lighter…