Ladies, help please

Last year I advised my fiancee’ to buy a Prijon Marlin.

It was a bad call.

The boat is way too big for her.

She’s about 5’8 and 130 lbs.

Since we’ve been taking lessons and she’s had a chance to try other boats (last time a W/S Tempest 16.5) her feeling that her Prijon is too big has been confirmed.

She has difficulty bringing her knees and thighs into play.

Also the volume of the boat (compared to her body size) makes it hard to control in the wind.

What do ladies out there recommend?

Have any men here experienced this type of boat problem?

She has liked the Tempest 16.5 Pro and my Eddyline Raven (kevlar), I mention this for reference.

my girlfriend is a bit smaller
My girlfriend is a bit smaller - 5’1" and 110#. She paddles a plastic Chatham 16, but it is a littler big for her still as she has trouble getting it to edge (which we think is mostly due to its weight compared to her weight - she has to lean, not edge).

She likely will be getting a Dagger Alchemy 14.0S. She has found she can edge that boat better.

Boats that fit her well are the Valley Avocet LV composite (but not so much the plastic version) and Sterling IceKap. Both are a bit pricey for folks like us who normally paddle plastic.

QCC 600x
Would be another option. I’m not a small lady (6’ 165lb. male) but I’ve sat in a Tempest 165 and other than their not being enough leg room for me I think she’d find a similar fit in the QCC 600, which I owned, paddled a lot, and liked a lot.


at her height and weight
lots of boats will fit her. Literally 50 or more. The more practical concern is what’s in her area so she can try them.

if she likes the Tempest 165, look for these general features in boats to demo

15-17 feet for a typical seakayak.

A 14 footer like the Dagger Alchemy or

the North Shore Shoreline, or the Impex Mystic would also be worth a try and is easier to handle on rivers if that’s in the picture.

20-21 inches beam. she has a lower center of gravity, and will adjust faster.

foredeck 11 inches or lower so the boat is less affected by wind.

a low rear deck say 6.5-8.5 inches makes it easier to climb onto for rescues, and helps w. getting a roll.

cockpit 15-16" wide by 27-29" long as a general guide. She doesn’t need a huge cockpit to enter and exit and a big cockpit won’t scale down to the fit she needs for good contact at hips, knees, butt and feet.

If she is slim, she will fit in most seats. What she thinks is a comfortable seat is personal. As in the fit of her thighs under the thigh braces.

If she would like to be able to handle the carrying, carting and racking, keeping weight < 50 lbs is good, under 45 lbs even better. A lighter boat will also accelerate better and will be easier for her to keep at speed once her technique is there.

Other ppl will list specific boats. This is just a framework to decide which boats to try. Happy hunting.

another female paddler’s choice

– Last Updated: Jul-16-12 3:04 PM EST –

Some good options already listed. I'm a little shorter (but have very long legs) and 25 lbs heavier -- my favorite "bang for the buck" is the Venture Easky 15LV (made in the UK by P & H) if you can find one.

Very similar to the Tempest 16.5 but low volume, which is what she needs. 15' long and 22' wide, Brit style hull with slightly Greenland characteristics (low stern deck), excellent seating and thigh hooks for good fit and control. Medium primary stability and high secondary -- surfing and rough water are fun in this boat and it tracks like a dream even without a rudder (mine doesn't have one but is outfitted already to add it). I have had no trouble keeping up with other paddlers in higher end boats with it on group trips.

Also at 44 lbs it is much more manageable solo for the average women than most other boats -- even the lightest version of the Eddyline weighs 48 lbs and the Tempest 165 is 55 lbs. And at less than $1200 with skeg or rudder it is a good bang for the buck. I've got 7 kayaks at my disposal, several much higher tech than this one, but it's the boat I reach for most often. Nicely finished too, a good looking kayak. it would not look dowdy beside your sleek Eddyline. The only drawbacks are that the hull is a bit thinner than some others (if you do rocky coastal touring where it could get smashed) and it has fairly small storage (though I can pack it for camping with enough of my lightweight backpacking gear).

Every small to medium sized person I have loaned this boat to or let try out on trips has loved it, so I know it isn't just my bias.

That’s Easy
For all the gals I know love paddling their 16 and 17 pound solo outrigger canoes. Expensive yes! But worth it, because no complaints, for they can car top it by themselves on the highest SUV and carry it w/o help in very windy conditions. These canoes level the playing field and many of the gals can kick butt too! Paddling anything heavier than 20 pounds is ridiculous when you have a choice of paddling something more enjoyable and comfortable. No wonder she’s complaining. You’d be better off getting her a modern lightweight SUP with carrying handle in the middle and super light carbon SUP paddle?

Same weight here just shorter

– Last Updated: Jul-16-12 4:23 PM EST –

Tempest 16.5, or Whiskey (Nigel Foster design), or P&H Vela (only available used likely), or NDK Pilgrim, or Valley Avocet LV, or WS Alchemy, the smaller one or Necky Eliza. And probably more that I am forgetting.

Some like the Alchemy focus on maneuverability over speed and tracking. The boat is more fun than a barrel of monkeys for playing around, leaky hatches and all.

Where do speed and tracking fit compared to maneuverability in her needs?

Also - I strongly suggest that you just drive to places for her to try boats for the next one, skip being the advisor on what boat it should be. You may want to beef up your own skills though. If she gets into one that fits her well, she could be spinning circles around you.

Fewer guys run into the problem of boats being too big for them than women due to the obvious diff in average size.

But if you are asking how many guys have suggested a woman into a boat (and/or a paddle blade) that is too big for them to be really enjoyable.... you are in a rich company. I can usually tell when the guy chose the boat for his significant other when our local paddle group goes out because the poor SO is trying to manage a boat that is halfway up their torso with a blade that is twice the size they should be using. The usual result is that over time the guy is paddling alone. If your SO is still interested enough to want a properly fitting boat rather than telling you to go it alone, you are doing better than most.

not appropriate
It sounds like they are paddling (and possibly kayak camping) in Wisconsin, not Florida or Hawaii. I’m as big a fan of lighter craft as anyone but I kinda doubt an SUP or ultralight outrigger would serve her purposes at all.

boyfriend choices
Yup, too often boyfriend’s choices are boats that THEY hope to borrow.

Let Her Try and See?
I’ve paddled outriggers in Wisconsin along with pro boats and sports canoes. So it isn’t exclusive to Hawaii and Florida. Most gals won’t give them up after they’ve tried them, like my favorite Badger paddler who reluctantly loans me her’s when I visit Wisconsin.

In this case,
the OP will do well by exchanging boats with his girl friend, since she likes his boat!

I bet the larger Merlin will be fit him better than it fit her.

The OP has paddled . . .
her boat and there will be no swap in that direction.

My Raven will be worn into dust and then I’m going to try to find a boat as close to it as possible.

When we got our boats (last year) neither of us had dipped a kayak paddle into the water. I had owned a white water canoe (very old school-fiberglass deck) for over 20 years. [Thanks Clyde but we were not discussing canoes]. In picking the Prijon I think I erred on the side of paddle camping and durability and overlooked day paddling for the fun of it. This is the kayak activity we engage in most frequently.

As to the Prijon, I’ve paddled it once and I didn’t care for it’s characteristics. I’d read (prior to buying it) that the Raven lacked good initial stability. At this juncture I can’t imagine why anyone would say that. Sitting at rest I can’t imagine a more stable boat. The Prijon on the other hand is as twitchy as an epileptic hummingbird and I find it barge-like.

According to the Prijon salesman I wouldn’t be able to keep up to it with the Marlin with my Raven. It’s almost like he was trying to talk us into the Prijon (imagine that). I was being facetious if you can keep the Raven on track it’s very quick and I stand by my barge comment about the Prijon.

Plenty of models to choose from

– Last Updated: Jul-18-12 2:09 PM EST –

At her size and weight, she should have plenty to choose from. Since she likes the Tempest 165 I'll list a few I've paddled that she'd probably also like:

SKUK Romany (I paddled Romany LV but that'd be tight for her)
SKUK Explorer LV
SKUK Pilgrim Expedition
P&H Capella 161
Valley Avocet
Necky Elaho (not sure if it's still being made)

The following boats might also fit her; I have not paddled them myself:

Valley Anas Acuta
Impex Force 3
Valley Aquanaut LV
One of the Sterling models whose name I can't remember

Just get another Raven then!

Necky Eliza?
I know a similar-sized woman who paddles the Eliza and loves it.

Otherwise… Prijon Catalina (if you still like Prijons) or Prijon Motion?

Tempest 165 sounds like a likely candidate.

Good luck.

Kevlar Perception Shadow 16.5.
I’m 5’6" and about 160 lbs with size 8.5 feet and it’s a bit of a tight fit for me, especially the feet, which always have shoe or booties on.

if her feet are smaller than mine, this boat may work quite well. Tighter fit than Tempest 165 Pro.

I may be selling mine soon, since the foot room is too tight for me and my wife’s a bit too stiff to get in and out of it easily.

It’s a very fun and capable boat.

I bought an Alchemy 14S a couple years ago and love it. I’m a bit shorter than your girlfriend but similar weight. I also tried the Tempest 165, but I liked the responsiveness of the Alchemy. It was also a tighter fit, which I liked. Similar in weight though I can carry it short distances and get it up on my Matrix without difficulty. Never had any problems with tracking. Slightly slower than the Tempest, but nothing severe.

big boat
get another girlfriend that fits the boat…