Lack of Front Hatch ≠ Sea Kayak? - Alto

Greetings All,

In the quest for looking for an used plastic kayak that I can someday take out to the ocean - I have ran across a Wilderness Alto in my area. From the pictures it looks good, however lacks a rudder and a front hatch.

This boat is 15’8" Would stuffing at few dry bags/float bags in the bow suffice?

Providing this kayak is suitable for ocean use (South Florida), what would this be a good match for a paddler around 5’6", 145-175 lbs?



You can get float bags to displace water
and some types allow you to store gear in them as well.

I used to have an Alto years ago and used it in the Gulf a lot. Great kayak, though you might want to replace the seat back with a backband or foam instead for easier re-entries.

Re your paddle length, that’s an individual choice but look up the Epic or Werner websites-they have charts there that will let you narrow down the paddle lengths. Do you have any kayakers around that will let you try a paddle so you see what length works best for you?

Float-storage bags
These are a nice product that combine storage with flotation. They come in pairs, but it doesn’t hurt to have a float bag in a compartment even if it has a hatch, especially on the ocean.

Good choice if it’s cheap

Seller is asking $350

Good price!

Go ahead and get two float bags for the bow, one one top of the other with a line from the end of one foot brace to the other. Get some mini cell to configure comfy thigh braces. Wedge shape might work better than flat pieces.

Just make sure the stern isn’t ground down from dragging, if it is ground down enough that it’s thin and almost a hole offer $50 and learn to repair it.

On second thoughts a brand new Manitou13 is $850, I’d offer $250 unless it’s in pristine condition.

Re: Alto
I have one of these, mostly used as a loaner now. You definitely want some bow flotation - they have a LONG bow. Mine does not have a front foam pillar (I imagine this doesn’t either) and I have thought of putting one in. The long bow is prone to deformation if you aren’t careful. Handles decently in surf, but is VERY prone to weathercocking. If any boat ever needed a rudder, this is one. It DEMANDS full body engagement to get the most out of it. My wife, who cussed the boat for many years over this, finally had something click and now won’t let me sell it. Once you grasp the body engagement issue, it is a surprisingly agile and maneuverable boat.

I also have an old Alto. It does weathercock, and I’m glad mine has a rudder to help compensate when I’m tired. My pricing experience is based on the Maine coast, and unless that Alto is in near-new condition, $350 seems a little high unless you consider the accessories to have much value to you. $350 for an Alto in good shape with a rudder would be about right.

Also, my Alto feels very heavy for its size. All that said though, it’s a nice boat to paddle and should fit you well at your size.