Light sit-in kayak for calm-ish waters, 6'0" kayaker

Hi - I’ve always used either sit-on kayaks or pedal kayaks before, and I would like to get a sit-in kayak. The pedal kayak was too heavy to manage by myself, and I’d like something that has more speed than the typical sit-on kayak.

So - I’d love some recommendations for someone who hasn’t used sit-in kayaks before. I will likely be able to take a few of them for a test drive at a local rental place, so I won’t just be buying them on recommendation alone - but this will help me know which ones to try.

I am 6’0" tall with long legs so I’d like to take that into consideration. And since I don’t have much experience with a sit-in kayak, I’d probably want something with a bigger cockpit for getting in and out. And something light enough where I can load it on and off my car roof pretty easy would be great, too - the 70+ lb pedal kayak was too much to manage.

The water I’ll be using it on is the Long Island Sound - not quite as calm as a lake, but no big waves either.

Appreciate any ideas - thank you.

And to add on to my initial post - from reading reviews here, my thought is that the Adirondack 13.6 (Adirondack 13.6 Reviews - Swift Canoe & Kayak |… | could be a good option, so would love any thoughts there as well. Thanks!

What brands and models does your local rental place feature? Just about everyone on this forum will advise to try before you buy so it’s good you already know that! If you can post a list of the boats that are readily available to you, then I can almost guarantee you’ll get a boatload (:grimacing:) of feedback.

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The Adirondack is quite a nice boat (Dave Yost design, I believe) and appropriate for the regional waters for which it is named.

But at that length to width ratio it is not going to be too speedy. My little solo canoe is about the same length and beam as the Adirondack, which is fine for leisurely circuits around inland lakes and mid sized rivers. But the kayaks I prefer for open water (including several trips out on Long Island Sound) are 15’ and up and 21" to 24" beam. It’s not just waves (and they can be significant there too) but wind, tides and offshore currents. A shorter, beamy boat is just more work than I care for to get back to shore when conditions get pushy. And if you plan to paddle with others who will be in more typical touring kayaks it may be hard to keep pace. I found that to be an issue with my first kayak, which was 14’ 9" x 25" beam and 35 pounds (and I am only 5’ 5"). It was a great relief to move to longer and narrower kayaks.

I second the suggestion to test out a range of kayak models and lengths to get a better perspective on what you can expect from them.

Since you seem to be open to spending $3000 for a kayak you may want to check out the Stellar lines if you can find a dealer. They have several layups, all various levels of lightness.

Standard keyhole cockpits found on most touring kayaks are not that difficult for anyone with average mobility to get into and out of. I have longish legs, proportionally more in the thigh and at 73 years old I can still easily plunk my butt in the seat of any of my sit-insides and draw each leg in separately from the sitting position, or slide off the stern deck behind the seat with both feet to get in in one swoop. It’s worth a little wriggling for a minute or two because oversized coamings are a pain all day out on the water because the spray skirt tends to sag and collect a lot of water that you have to regularly knee up to dump off to avoid it imploding into your lap.

Thanks willowleaf. Appreciate such great info.

since you are in the Long Island Sound area you might want to look up @Marshall

The River Connection, Inc.
9 W. Market St., Hyde Park, NY 12538


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Since you are jumping into sit-in kayaks, a hint at what your initial demos might suggest to you. The narrower sit-ins will probably feel very tippy, if that style is unfamiliar to you. As you relax your upper body this feeling will go away … as they say, “loose hips don’t sink ships”. Highly skilled paddlers in rough seas will prefer the narrower kayaks over those that are fatter; the narrower kayaks are ultimately safer. So kayaks in the 21" to 23" beam should be fair game. Having said that you’ll get excellent advice from this forum once you tell us what selection is available.

Don’t know your price point, but one of the longer Hornbeck Canoes, specifically the New Trick line, are pretty fast because of the narrower beams. I have the New Trick 12 model specifically for inland waters paddling/fishing. It paddles pretty fast for its length. If you are looking for even more speed and or more leg room, the New Trick 14 may be more appropriate for you.

BTW, since you’re on the Sound, I high recommend bow and stern float bags for possible self rescue that would be hard without. FWIW.


I think you are greatly underestimating Long Island Sound. That is serious water.

Agree w recommendations to go to Marshalls place. You need to talk w someone who knows more than ypu do about the boat and preparation for those waters.


Re bow & stern float bags for Horbeck boats:

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Yes. That is a “shortcoming” of the Hornbecks – no built in floatation on the ends, although the small built in air pockets in most canoes are insufficient anyway. I put lines and air bags in Hornbeck as soon as I got home. With big enough air bags, the Hornbeck can be self - rescued like most SINKs.

The Hornbeck New Trick model is basically a topless kayak and paddles like one. Unfortunately, folks may mistake it to a SOT when it lacks the built in floatation that provides a safety attribute in the event of a capsize.

Of course, this only works if the conditions are not so choppy that water is consistently coming over the gunwales (Celia’s concern/caution), whether that is on the Sound or on large Lake George (near where Hornbeck is headquartered). However, if the OP sticks to calmer conditions/venues, as he posted as his in intention, then the Hornbeck New Trick would be performing within its capabilities.


I like the perception sport 10ft lightweight,fast cheap.

Hope to try a New Trick next time I’m back in the Adks.

I know you said, “sit-in”, but @string is selling a real nice SOT. It checks all your boxes except SINK.

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