Kayak Suggestions

I’ve been looking for a kayak for a few months to do small lake paddling, lake erie, and rivers. My thing will be distance, and I will do camping out of the kayak. Next summer I’ll be camping out of it for 100 days, just for reference. I’ve been boating and canoeing for a while, and have water experience. I’m looking for a touring kayak and have seen perception eclipse 17s that look good, with mostly good reviews. Then there are some $1000+ kayaks, but I’m looking for around 6-800 used, since I’m getting two. Suggestions or what to stay away from would be great. If it matters, I’m 5’7", 170, and very athletic/nimble.

Thanks for any input on the matter.


just for starters
since you plan on doing 100+ days of camping w. a loaded boat you need durability.

if going plastic look for exceptionally rugged plastic. Prijon has the reputation for bomber plastic. It’s blow moulded instead of rotomoulded as are most plastic kayaks. There is a cool video on youtube about it. P&H Corelite (used in the plastic Capella series) has its fans, too, as do the plastic Valley boats. Prijon is somewhat harder to find on the used market than the other two.

plastic seakayaks are the ones in your preferred price range. You might find the rare composite seakayak at that price but it will likely be more than 10 years old and perhaps need work (nothing wrong w. a fix it up bargain if you have the time & are up for it). Composite boats are lighter for length than plastic. If you favor bony rivers or rocky lakeshores they will get dinged and scratched but are highly repairable.

At your weight you are in the sweet spot for a lot of kayaks. At your height you are more of a medium sized shading to small paddler. As such I would avoid boats w. a very deep cockpit and/or very high foredeck as your paddling position will inhibit a good forward stroke as well as good edging and bracing, and rolling.

17 feet is a good place to start. But don’t overlook a packable foot kayak under 17 feet that will handle open water and be even easier to move on rivers. There are ppl who can use 14-15 footers for camping too but for those expeditions over 10 days a longer boat is generally good not only for additional pack space but for the mile eating pace possible to achieve.

Any candidates you locate be sure to consider hatch sizes. The ones w. the “platters” make it easier to slide in gear. Bring your sleeping bag or something of similar bulk to test. Skegged kayaks offer a little less free space in the stern than do ruddered boats… this can be overcome w. good packing.

Thanks for the quick reply. I found a couple boats, eddyline night hawk, perception eclipse sea lion, that are right at the upper edge of my price range (around $1k with extras). I’m wondering if the extra will be worth it in the long run. I’m not too worried about rocks, my camping will be along the Ohio and Mississippi to the Gulf and would do little if any smaller waters/rivers (not to bore you with BS, I’m sure tons of people make these claims and never do them). Does $600 seem decent for the eclipses, 2002 models if they are in almost perfect condition?

here’s that you tube video

I found this while I was considering the purchase of a 2008 very gently used Prijon Catalina. I bought the boat at an estate sale for a very nice price and am glad I did. Plastic is very tough, very well finished. With eyes closed it feels like a fiberglass boat in terms of its composite-like flex and rigidity. Hatches are hard plastic over a neoprene inner cover. They go on easily and keep things dry.

I have taken this boat on Lakes Michigan and Huron, and many larger inland lakes. It’s fun on rivers in Class 1, 2 and 2+. I suppose it might do 3 but I have other boats better suited. Easy to roll and with the trihedral hull you can hold edges forever. The one detriment was the newbish high hard backband. I took that thing off right away and replaced it w. a Snapdragon backband. I also installed a toggle on each end - very easy and better for rescues or catching the boat in the surf.

At your size you’d have a nice snug fit in the playful “Cat”. It’s 15’3" and depending how you pack up to 5-6 days is doable. Certainly a long weekend. For more length and much more packing room look at the Prijon Touryak or Seayak. I have heard high praise for the capacity of the Yukon as well.

Great Vid
Thanks a lot for the suggestion. All I need is 5 or 6 days anyway, I’d be stopping for gear/goods along the way where possible.


you’re welcome
glad to be of help. Since 5-6 days (or less) will be the usual trip that opens up even more choices for you.

I’m not a Prijon rep or dealer or anything like that. I looked into their seakayaks and I’m glad I got one. Their plastic is unquestionably tough and with the right fitting boat they can be skill friendly too.

I know a handful of longtime Prijon owners who are very happy w. theirs.

There will be others along to suggest other boats which are worth your consideration. Demo the top candidates and check them for unusual wear and tear (a whole separate discussion). you should have no trouble finding a good used plastic boat for what you want to do, at or close to your price range. Good luck.

For a really bombproof, nice tracking kayak with those specs, if you can find one in good shape, is the Dagger Magellan. They have not been made for quite a few years but well-preserved ones turn up. I had an older one for a few years that I paid $400 for – I kind of regret selling it. Here’s an example for sale in NC:


It was a popular sea kayak in the 80’s and 90’s and they turn up regularly for sale around the country for under $800. The seats in some of the earlier ones are lousy so that would need an upgrade, but the hulls are tough, lots of room in the hatches and the boat is stable but moves nicely even in rough water.

I had one for a number of years (actually still have it, just don’t paddle it as my main ride - gets loaned to visitors) and it worked well for exactly what you want to do -several nights camping. It’s a seaworthy boat, commodious, and tough. But it’s heavy, and while it doesn’t seem to matter all that much on the water, it sure does getting to and from the car, and to and from the launch to the car.

Also -I’m 6-0, 205, and it was plenty big enough for me -5" longer and 35 lbs bigger/fatter/girth-ier than you! I just wonder how 5-7 and 170 would -or more importantly, would not -fit, and while just about all else makes it a good candidate, I’d hesitate to recommend it to someone your size, over the course of several days, and perhaps “in conditions”, where you might rattle around in the cockpit as you


-Frank in Miami

craigslist in Ohio
since the OP is from Ohio…

a barely used 2007 Current Designs Squamish:


Asking $1000 & since he says can no longer get in it he’ll likely listen to offers.

I paddled a Squamish years ago and found it to be a surprisingly quick kayak w. a shallow V hull. A nice fit for slim person of the OPs height. Cockpit 29x 16 s/be easy for you to enter/exit yet give enough fit for performance.

Two hatches, including a goodsized aft hatch. Skegged. 15’8 is a good “do it all” length. At 54 lbs water ready it’s not a heavy beast.

here’s the CD blurb on it:


if Wyandotte Michigan
is not too far away for you (downriver in SE michigan pretty close to the Ohio border) Riverside Kayak Connection can arrange a water demo for you of the versatile Dagger Alchemy. This boat is winning a lot of fans.

They have a red Demo Alchemy L for $799 + 6% sales tax. Pretty good deal as the MSRP is $1299 + tax.

The Alchemy is 14 feet and rigged out in full seakayak fashion. It’s turny and great for rivers and acquits itself well on lakes. Two bulkheads, two hatches and can pack for those 5-6 days you want. Skeg. Has the Dagger Zone seating which is highly adjustable, performance oriented and comfortable to many.

p.s. the Alchemy is often the teaching boat of choice for Wilderness Systems designer Steve Scherrer and his lovely wife Cindy when they give instruction.

At 170 you could go w. the L version or the smaller S version depending on body shape and personal preference. I tried the S more than once and loved it (i’m 5’3" and 125 lbs) However I also paddled the L and it was not all that much bigger.

If I had not found the Catalina last may I’d have an Alchemy S. I was that close to getting one.

for more info and to arrange a water demo (no charge)

(734) 285-2925 or info@riversidekayak.com

If you buy a paddle and other gear you may get a discount from RKC.And they will stand behind the boat since they are a Dagger dealer.

Someone is gonna buy it. Why not try it.

The usual disclaimer that I’m not in any way affiliated w. Riverside Kayak Connection or Dagger.

What Frank says or …
even a Perception Shadow.

I camped out of mine for many years, and it will handle rough water great.

Older used ones should be about $500 or $600

jack L

Consider 14’-16’
There are several 14’ kayaks that are considered seaworthy. My all-time favorite was the Old Town Cayuga 146 in Polylink 3 (a two-layer plastic with a foam core). It’s no longer made in this material, but last year I bought an unused one on Craigslist for $700 including a fiberglass Werner paddle and other accessories. This is a very seaworthy kayak and a great buy if you can find it on Craigslist. I don’t recommend the current Cayugas as the plastic is inferior.

Anyway, think carefully about the length and have a good reason for buying a 17 footer.

Looked at the Eclipses
One was in very good shape, the other had a couple deep gouges and no hip pads, a crappier seat. I might go give him the $600 for the good one if I don’t find 2 other ones, I just haven’t been finding much too nice in the 16 foot range for under $800. The fit of the eclipse was very good for me though; I couldn’t do too much smaller, if any.

Thanks for the replies so far!


Other possibilities

Wilderness Systems Tempest 165 or 170

Wilderness Systems Zephyr

Valley Aquanaut

Necky Looksha IV or 17

Current Designs Squall


– Last Updated: Jun-06-13 7:53 PM EST –

Thanks, does anyone have any input on the Scirocco? I found a really good deal on a new one for $850 with carbon paddle and spray skirt. I read they're kind of tippy til you get used to them, and just wondering if this could be suitable for my purpose of traveling long distance. Also found a nice Looksha and Tempest 165, but they're around the same price without any gear.

is the plastic version of the very well regarded fiberglass design the Gulfstream by the late Derek Hutchinson. He was a a large, burly man and designed the Gulfstream for his body type. I’ve never heard anyone call either tippy, but given your height and weight they may feel kinda cavernous for you.

You may as well try. I agree on it being a good package deal. One of the best things about buying a used boat is you stand a good chance that if a sprayskirt comes w. it, it may actually fit the boat. If the carbon paddle fits you all the better, otherwise sell it and get one that does.

Magellan or Tsunami
So I ended up with the Sirocco, which suits me pretty well and is fast But it lacks just a little bit in storage. Anyway, I have 2 others that I’m considering - 1. Wilderness Systems Tsunami 175 $900 with only a cockpit cover 2. Dagger Magellan $650 with spray skirt and paddle (probably cheaper paddle)

Both stored indoors and in almost new condition. What I’m asking is if either brand is better, considering all else equal such as my preference. As I said, the sirocco is fast, but less storage. I could easily handle a larger kayak with more gear and keep the same speeds as my girlfriend.

Thanks for the input.


six of one, half dozen of another

– Last Updated: Jul-10-13 1:46 PM EST –

I'm not a huge fan of Tsunamis, though I know they are well respected enough that some top sea kayaking schools use them in their classes and they are one of the most popular US models. I find them a little bargelike, though it could just be the 140 model which is the one I have used a few times. On the other hand I really liked the Magellan I owned and still sort of regret selling it. For a 17' kayak it was easy to paddle and tracked and handled well for a variety of different sized people (I used it as a friend loaner for 6 years but often happily paddled it myself).

Quality wise its a wash -- both are sturdily built and well equipped boats, probably with similar performance characteristics. Though my admittedly biased opinion is that the Magellan would be slightly faster.

I don't think either one would be a bad choice for you. The Tsunami probably has better resale value since it is still in production and has higher brand recognition. So you might want to consider that if you think you might want to sell and upgrade farther down the line.

Back at it…
Alright, so I also got a Tsunami 175, and after paddling both kayaks a while I really took a liking to the Sirocco. It’s faster, thicker build, seemingly much better quality and consistency of contours, albeit a bit tippier. Is it fairly normal for Current Designs to have a better quality build than Wilderness Systems? It just seems like the wilderness systems kayaks have more visible variation in their contours, almost as if you can see the change in geometry in sections (although I’m not sure this has anything to do with handling since I didn’t notice much difference other than that caused by the generally wider profile and entry profile at the waterline.

On a second note, I’m also looking for good paddle suggestions. I got an AT Ergo T4 carbon fiber paddle with the Sirocco, and it’s amazing. I got some aquabound fiberglass shaft paddle (maybe the sunrise) with the Wilderness Systems and it seems so much worse after using the AT paddle.

I’d like another one of the AT ones like I have, but I can’t really find any in stock or for sale. Something comparable would be good too, and I’m also looking for some personal experience (or if anyone has one for sale).