Larger Cockpit Efficient Paddling Kayak

I have a great sea kayak - 16’ fiberglass Swift Bering Sea - but my 68 year old knees are having troubles bending to get into the 31-inch cockpit so I’m looking for a comparable boat with a larger cockpit for paddling calm waters efficiently. I’m 6’2", 200# and size 13 shoes. I’d like a comparable kayak but with about a 40"+ cockpit, weight about 50# or less, and 14’+ length. Any suggestions?

one possibility
It’s a little shy of your stated cockpit length, but we’ve had a Pakboat XT15 for about a year and find its 36" long semi-flexible cockpit easy to enter (we’re 61 and 63 and can relate to the protesting knees). Even straddling the kayak and sitting down butt first in the seat, it is quite simple to swing one leg at a time over the gunwale and under the deck. At 39 lbs, 15’ 2" by 23" it has very similar specs and waterline to your Bering. We’ve found it to be a great performing boat, tracks well and moves quickly and has a very comfortable suspended inflatable seat with thigh supports and adjustable rake (we nicknamed it The Barcalounger). It performs quite favorably compared to the similar sized hardshell touring boats in our little fleet.

An added benefit is it is an aluminum framed folder with inflatable sponsons so you can store it in a closet or haul it in a car trunk or as checked baggage. (Since we plan to retire soon, that portability was a factor.) Set up is simple and doesn’t require the torturous pretzel yoga of most other folders’ assembly (I have owned Feathercrafts and dread that process with them.) We’ve left it set up, suspended from the rafters in the den by slings, just for convenience sake.

It’s great for touring because the entire deck peels off for loading. Very versatile, tough and enjoyable kayak for the money. There are several YouTube videos of the XT15 in use if you want to check them out.

REI has the XT15 on sale this month. Unfortunately, they don’t stock them in the stores so you couldn’t test the cockpit accessibility. But per their warranty, you can get a full refund on any boat you buy from them if you use it and find it doesn’t work for you.

I have long gangly legs
and have trouble getting into short cockpits. With some kayaks what I need to do is sit on the back deck and slide my legs in, then slide down into the seat (and the reverse for getting out).

The only downside is a moment of less stability while you’re sitting on the back deck. You can use a paddle to stabilize the kayak, or hold onto a dock if one’s available, or get a friend to help stabilize the boat.

Have you tried that technique?

It’s a mystery to me

– Last Updated: Jul-13-11 12:20 AM EST –

why big-boy boats like the Bering Sea and QCC Q500 (or Q400 for that matter) have smallish cockpits. The target paddlers are big, so why the medium-size opening?

The CD Solstice GT Titan has a pretty big 35" long cockpit - same as the shorter Pachena, now discontinued. The CD Whistler has a 37" cockpit, but it's plastic and pretty heavy. It looks to be the same design as the composite Pachena, which paddles nicely but is not very fast.

PS - you could look for someone to enlarge the cockpit of your boat and put a new coaming on it - an iffy proposition, and no doubt would be expensive....

sit on top?
How about a beginner surf ski?

CD Kestrel 160

– Last Updated: Jul-13-11 12:55 PM EST –

Kestrel 160 has a 39" cockpit. I think Current Designs is phasing this model out.But, I saw a new one today at a local shop for around $2000.

You might take a look at the Eddyline Equinox or Journey. They have a 35" opening. I am taller than you and find that my legs will fit through the opening without having to either saw my knees off or do the 2 legs at once trick (which is a bit of a challenge at our age).


Ditto on the Surf ski idea …

I rented a Zephyr once and found it the most knee-friendly / shin-friendly sea kayak I ever paddled.

Ditto on the Eddyline Journey
Plenty big cockpit opening and deck height, yet an efficient hull design. And it has a skeg. The Journey is a bit shorter and is a “balanced” hull design if you don’t need the skeg. I paddle a Nighthawk 175, probably a bit large for your specifications (I’m 6’3" about 275), but I can fit in a Journey just fine and it paddles nicely.

Wenonah Canak

– Last Updated: Jul-13-11 10:14 PM EST –

Saw one at Campmor a couple of weeks ago, caught my eye! Combo canoe/kayak, paddle it with single or double blade. Prism hull and sliding seat! 41" cockpit!


i want one
I hope they make it long enough for the numbers of available used ones go up.

Ryan L.

“Efficient” and “Light”

– Last Updated: Jul-13-11 10:26 PM EST –

Are unfortunately 2 things the Zephyr is not (even in composite construction, save for the discontinued 39lb carbon version that is at least light-weight). Great long cockpit though and for slow (4mph or so) paddling the kayak may actually be efficient enough.

Also, size 13 feet will feel crammed in there with any shoes, I gather. But I'm size 15 and 2" taller than the OP, so may be my guess is wrong - the deck is fairly low at the end of the foot rails...

Epic 16x is a decent choice too, though the OP may be at the limit of the leg room in it (I could not fit - too short for my legs and feet but the cockpit was good enough).

Surf ski - I have not taken out my Zephyr since I got the Epic V10 Sport ski a couple of months ago. That probably has a lot to do with the 90+F temperatures around here lately... And at sub 30lb actual weight it is a joy to handle off the water too. The Epic V8 may be the ticket for slower and more relaxed paddling days -;)

K-Lite Assateague - Awesome boat.

New Keweenaw has the room you desire
Your Swift is a fine kayak. Our new Keweenaw would solve your footroom requirements and getting in/out very easy with the angled thigh braces. Weight 40 lbs

Not ditto on the deck height
The thigh braces on the Journey are angled down in a way that some people find confining. Also the ends are fairly low, so shoe size is a question.

Otherwise the Journey seems to fit the poster’s needs.

The cockpit is listed as 32" in length. How will that help the OP?

I’m intrigued by your kayaks but what’s with the photo quality?

You are correct about that.

– Last Updated: Jul-18-11 8:32 PM EST –

I cut off the apex "points" of my Nighthawk 175's thigh braces, only about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch inward at the point, following the contour for a inch or so along each side, and it made a significant difference. With the Journey having a 13" vs. 14" deck height, it may be a factor if one has large thighs. I understand that if you heat the coming material up to a certain temp (I believe it was around 160) they become pliable enough to bend up, then will set when they cool.

calm water, efficient, not so limber. It all adds up to surf ski if your balance is okay. Beginner ones won’t take too long to get used to on calm water. And easy to load on car too.

I did something similar
I cut the thigh braces out completely and finished the cut edge with neoprene. Much more comfortable.

I seem to recall that I asked Eddyline about bending the braces up and they didn’t recommend it, but I can’t swear to that. In any case their kayaks can be ordered without the braces. The problem is not only the angle of the brace but the sharp edge.

The problem I have with the low deck isn’t due to thigh size, but lack of hip flexibility.