kestrel 120 vs manitou 13 vs tsunami 120

I am wanting to get my 13 year old son a flat water kayak for his birthday. I own a WS Tsunami 140 that he loves to paddle. He is a growing 5’4" 110lbs we paddle flat water rivers and lakes of North Georgia> I have found some great prices on a Current Designs 120 and a Necky Manitou 13. I am looking for recommendations between these boats. They also have a Tsunami 120 but price is over $200 more (really would have to justify the difference). By the way demo boats are not available.

Kestrel is wide, odd boat out
Being more of a rec boat, the Kestrel adds width, where you really want to be removing width, for a smaller paddler. The Tsunami has 2 bulkheads, so a large safety factor that lends to skills development. Manitou is respectable as a small touring boat, but having one bulkhead is a frustration point for skills development.

If he likes the Tsunami 14, and if you expect rapid teen growth, the Tsunami 135 is really the “sportiest” adult boat of the series, 23 inches wide, and would be worth a look.

Agree about the Kestrel
I haven’t paddled the other two but I owned a Kestrel 140 in TCS. It has a very large cockpit not suitable for your son’s size and the additional width of the kayak itself means he would have a hard time contacting the sides and/or deck for secure control.

Price is an issue
I’d love it if $$ wasn’t an issue but the Tsunami 135 is just more than we can afford. I found a shop that has some old stock yaks I can get the kestrel for $400 or the manitou for $450. There is also a 12 ’ tsunami for $200 more but honestly after tax and a paddle that’s pushing it

The kestrel we’re looking at is a 120

I’d go for
the Manitou, if the Tsunami is too pricey. Yes it has no forward bulkhead, but a float bag is much less than $200 and will achieve 90% of the same effect.

All the Kestrels, regardless of length or material, have proportionately larger cockpits and wider beam - the Current Designs boat that is more comparable to the Manitou or Tsunami would be the Vision series.

The Tsunami is also better outfitted
The seat is more adjustable. I’d seriously consider saving up and getting the better boat. Maybe the dealer will out it in layaway for you if you make a deposit. Then Maybe you son could do yard work around the neighborhood to help earn the difference?

what is the difference between rec and
touring kayaks?

in the 12’ range the Kestrel is actually narrower than the Tsunami. Don’t get me wrong my own boat is a Tsunami 140, I love it. But I’m new enough to flatwater yaks to see a difference in boats with similar dimensions. All three boats have consistent rave reviews.

weight is also a factor
I want something my son can carry by himself. The 12-13’ range of boat seems like a good fit for day trips.

Maybe not as fast as my 14’ but I’m not buying it to race.

I admit that I had looked at the specs for the composite Kestrel 12, which is an inch wider, at 26, than the rotomolded Kestrel 12. So, yes, the Tsunami 12 is actually wider than the Kestrel 12, in plastic. But, the Tsunami is still the better boat for skill development and sea worthiness, because of the 2 hatches and bulkheads.

There is some overlap in rec boats and touring boats, due in part to manufacturers sometimes odd categorizing. All you can say is that, rec boats TEND to be wider, shorter, slower, have bigger cockpits, have higher decks, less useful outfitting, and no front bulkhead (maybe even no rear bulkhead).

I agree with brodie, that for the tight budget and available boats, tending to exclude the Tsunami 12, for the extra dollars (and, moreso the Tsunami 135), the Manitou looks like the best choice.

Same humongous cockpit
and 26" width.

Rave reviews
A kayak has rave reviews from people whose body size and use are a good match for that particular kayak.

You son is very thin. The Kestrel cockpit is just way too large for him. I’m much larger than your son and I sold my Kestrel because the cockpit was too big for me.

Kestrel width
Two things to keep in mind. # 1 - The cockpit of the Kestrel 120 Roto is two inches shorter and one inch narrower than the 140 TCS. #2 - a thirteen year old boy won’t be 5’4" and 110 pounds for long.

That said, the manitou is still the better choice of the two. (The Tsunami 120 cockpit is actually wider than either of them, by the way.)

Lot’s of
good advice so far but one thing has not been mentioned.You said the boat will be used in GA waters.One aspect of comfort that rarely ever gets brought up is heat.It can get mightily warm inside a touring or transitional style kayak with their comparatively small cockpit openings.As such a boat like the Kestrel that has enough space to put your knees up or hang your legs outside for some relief from the heat is IMO a distinct advantage.Years back when I attended my first demo day it wasn’t that hot out.Only around 70 degrees but I found the tour boats uncomfortable to be in just the same.Down your way that would be a cold day.Just something to think about.

Maybe an issue for some. I paddle in Georgia, and don’t feel particularly hot in the cockpit. If I’m hot, I’m hot all over. The pfd is going to keep your torso warm, anyway. But, I paddle less in the middle of the day. Morinings are best. Or, with a roll, it’s less important, since I can cool off anytime. Actually, the worst for baking in a cockpit, is wearing a skirt, without ability to roll. Been there, done that. Even a nylon skirt makes an oven.