L.L Bean Calypso vs. Tsunami 120 ?


I’m looking at buying my first kayak (I rent or borrow frequently and would call myself an intermediate paddler). I’m 5’7" 130 lb, and have been looking for an appropriately sized day touring boat. After almost settling on the Wilderness Systems Tsunami 120, I discovered the L.L. Bean (Perception) Calypso (I have no hang-ups about buying “women’s” gear if that’s what fits).

Does anyone have any comments comparing these two boats?



Safety features

– Last Updated: Oct-17-08 9:58 AM EST –

The pics of the Calypso show no perimeter lines, the Tsunami 120 is properly rigged. If those pics are right, you'll regret the Calypso the first time you try a self-rescue. The Tsunami looks like much the more boat before you even get to performance issues.

As to performance, there appear to be some complaints about its tracking. But the import of something like that is hard to gauge. Since a boat like the Calypso will usually be someone's starter boat, the paddler in it is often someone who hasn't learned to paddle correctly yet.

Where do you plan to paddle? If you are thinking something like the ocean or the Great Lakes, you may want to consider looking for something used that is a bit more boat (physically) than either of these. In these areas you should be able to find some good deals right now.

Tracking issues have been resolved
There was a change a few years ago in the hull shape that alleviated most of the tracking issues in the Calypso.

I’ve had a lot of people in the Calypso. For me, the safety things you pointed out are what’s most important - it lacks all but the most simple deck rigging and has no perimeter lines. Additionally, it does not have a front bulkhead- rather, it has that gray thing. And, a friend who owns one told me, even though they have a rear bulkhead, emptying it requires a full- T/X rescue (boat completely out of the water & emptying it that way). Finally, from a comfort perspective, it lacks thigh braces- so your thighs/knees are pressed directly against the deck.

That all said - I still love the boat. As long as you keep in mind that it’s a rec. boat and use it appropriately, it can be a great boat. The cockpit is small enough that a sprayskirt can be worn; yet big enough that you can go knees up for changing things up. Given the right paddler and the right conditions, I’d probably take it a bit further than I’d take your typical rec. boat (i.e. my Dirigo 140).

Me personally - I’m way to big for the Calypso.

(All of that said- I regularly paddle a Tsunami 145 and love the Tsunami line.)


– Last Updated: Oct-17-08 11:26 AM EST –

At your weight, if you're looking at the Tsunami 120, also consider the 135. It's actually a bit lighter than the 120, trading a little more length for a little less beam.

As the other folks said, having front and rear bulkheads makes self-rescue MUCH easier.

Very different boats

– Last Updated: Oct-17-08 3:23 PM EST –

Others have already pointed out a difference in safety features, so I won't really go into that.

Beyond that their design and features are much different. The Calypso is much more of a recreational boat for more relaxed paddling, and more suited to smaller water.

The Tsunami 120 or 135 would be the right size for you, and both are closer to a day touring boat then the Calypso. Both offer more customizable fit, better outfitting, larger storage capacity then the Calypso. Also both will be better tracking, and better handling, especially in any kind of rough conditions. You'll also be able to get both neoprene and breathable skirts for the Tsunami, but not so for the Calypso.

Your original post states you're looking for a light day touring boat, which can be a description of the Tsunami, but does not describe the Calypso.

You should definitely test paddle both the 120 and 135 in the Tsunami and see which fits you best and is more comfortable. I love my 120, it is a great boat, comfortable, stable, easy to turn and maneuver, and very versatile.

Good luck!

If WS is what you like, look at the Tempest 165 too. As far as I remember the Tsunami does not come with a skeg and a rudder is optional I believe (and with a rather lousy sliding pedals at that). I think you would want a skeg or a rudder in these boats if you plan to paddle in chop and wind.

I can’t fit in the 120 or 135 so no idea how they compare to the Tsunami 145 which I owned for a short while, but the Tempests are really much better choices to develop paddling skills down the road and are “real” sea kayaks…

Calypso defined
[Your original post states your looking for a light day touring boat, which can be a description of the Tsunami, but does not describe the Calypso]

LLBean Describes it as such:

“A lightweight light-touring kayak… For full-day tours on calm water, or with a spray skirt on whitecaps”

I’m not saying it’s accurate (I haven’t seen the boat), but that’s what they’re calling it.

Marketing hype
What LL Bean says about the boat is marketing hype. The Calypso is a rebadged Perception Prodidgy 12, which lands clearly in the recreational area http://www.kayaker.com/prodigy-12.

Not true …
the Calypso is a very different boat from a Prodigy 12.

However, it is still a recreational/light touring boat IMO and I think the Tsunami line are better designs. I would also consider the Necky Eliza, Manitou 14 (not the 13) and the Venture or P&H Easky boats. These are all nicely equipped boats with perimeter deck lines and two bulkheads/hatches.

gotta agree
go with the T-165 if you want to stay in the W/S line much better boat for big water conditions than the Tsnunami 12–which is a good boat but not up to the Tempest line for handling conditions or taking expedition style trips. You might also consider the Valley Avocet or the NDK Romany—both of which are now available in plastic–they would be good for someone your size

I agree with all the above posters. Anyone in the intermediate skill category is not likely to be happy with the calypso for any length of time. Have met absolute beginners who feel they have outgrown similar boats in less than a season. Boats like that have their place, but that place is more a leisurely summer paddle around the neighborhood pond than day touring. The Tsunami would be a better choice…if budget and paddling goals fit, the Tempest (or similar)could be even better.

calypso ain’t bad
I resisted buying a Calypso for my daughter, as my experience points to much longer boats, like 17’ min. I was surprised how well it tracks, top speed suffers only a hair (but then I weigh 180), and rolling that relatively narrow boat is easy as pie. That said, it has no bulkhead in front and therefore would be quite dangerous filled with water a mile off shore.

No experience with the Tempest, so I can’t really compare the two.

Tsunami line makes sense
Excellent day touring boat or even light overnights. Optional rudder, excellent rigging and storage. I’ve got the 125 and highly recommend to beginners who don’t want a rec boat. You can grow into lots of paddling situations in this boat. You can get an optional rudder set up after you buy, although I wouldn’t bother. Tracks well, and you should learn to steer/maneuver w/o rudder. If you decide “big water” is for you down the road, you’ll want to upgrade your boat anyway.

Thanks to everyone for your very useful comments!

I think the Tempest is much closer to what I need. I did rent a 135 a while back, and thought it was good, but would prefer something a little smaller if I’m the one who has to store it and schlep it.


Tsunami all the way
Go with the Tsunami. We have the 120 and 125 and they are great transitional boats. Their width makes them a little difficult for advanced stuff but the performance is still very good. Although we graduated to full fledged sea kayaks we kept out Tsunami’s for small water play and fishing :slight_smile: