light weight kayak for small person

-- Last Updated: Dec-08-04 12:17 PM EST --

Could anyone recommend a kayak for a small paddler (me), 5'3" - 128 lbs. I am looking for a boat that will be suitable for extended trips (1 week max. Additionally, I plan to paddle lakes, rivers (mostly) and ocean on occassion. Ideally, i'm looking for a boat that is suited to "all-around" use.

Thanks for your responses, certainly gives me a lot to think about.

more than you can imagine
small boats are all the rage. mind you kayaking has mostly been for smaller folks anyways.

check out this months seakayaker magazine for a small kayak review.

seaward costa grande is in there.

many British boats are for small people.

so many, every maker has a few models that would likely fit, but size is only the start, fit, comfort, design, et al will complicate the matter wonderfully.


Are you a small person?
Just curious. Your statement that sea kayaks are mainly for small people floors me.

As a small person myself, and having read many threads in this bbs alone from small people trying to find even a short list of suitable kayaks, I disagree with that statement, to put it mildly.

The Cosma Grande (which I have rented) is 23" beam and just under 16’ long. While the cockpit is small, the beam is on the wide side for a small person. Depends how small a person we are talking about.

The poster wanted a kayak for expeditions, which makes things harder. Tough to find a kayak that is narrow enough and responsive enough for a small, lightweight paddler yet still has enough room for more than 1 week’s worth of camping gear and food/water. While the gear itself is the same whether 3 days or 3 weeks, the quantity of food is nowhere near the same.

Then there is that “sitting in a barrel” feeling that small paddlers are all familiar with. It’s something that average-sized paddlers simply don’t have to worry about, because their elbows are always above the top of the coaming. Not so with small paddlers.

I’m not complaining about being small (in fact, I like it). But your post sounds like one made by someone who is not small him/herself.

I sorta agree with the small statement

– Last Updated: Dec-07-04 12:36 AM EST –

I'm a relatively small guy (5'8", 150 lbs) and it seems that from a whitewater perspective I'm at an optimal size/weight. For whitewater at least, many of the pro kayakers are smaller guys and as they design boats that fit them, the market was tailored toward that body type for a long time. From that standpoint I do agree with kayaking having some bias toward smaller men. However, from a woman's standpoint, it is only in recent years that kayak manufacturers have begun marketing and creating boats that are tailored towards women. In the opposite end, kayaks are also being made to accomodate larger paddlers and it is not uncommon to see a boat series come out with 3 or 4 sizes.

Of course this is for whitewater and I think the opposite may be true for sea kayaking (agree with pikabike). Perhaps the designers of sea kayaks were larger people as I'm usually too small to fit well in many sea kayaks without significan outfitting. That being said I could imagine that smaller women would have even more difficulty than I.

Eddyline Nighthawk 16

– Last Updated: Dec-07-04 12:43 AM EST –

I'm about your size, whistlerbc98, and really like mine. There are lots of good threads in the archives regarding kayaks for small paddlers. I know, I asked the same thing before I bought the Nighthawk 16.
It doesn't have as much room as some others for gear because of the skeg box but it weighs in at 49 lbs. in the carbonlite and is a dream to paddle.

WW vs. sea kayaks
I have paddled a whopping three WW kayaks, but in all cases they worked well for 5’2" me.

To find three sea kayaks that fit me as well would require more planning and research. Not sure if this is because their concept of “average” is a bigger person, or if WW’s tighter outfitting plays a role. And the boats themselves are small in the first place.

cockpit storage
with creative underdeck rigging, forward bulkhead, and floor rigging you can put a fair amount of stuff in the cockpit.

Extended Trips…

– Last Updated: Dec-07-04 5:34 AM EST –

for smaller person (I'm biase towards skeg models)

For up to a week with good packing:
CD Slipstream
Impex Montauk
Eddyline Nighthawk
WS Sparrow Hawk (if you can find one)
NDK Anas Acuta or Pintail
NDK Romany
NDK Explorer LV (low volume)
VCP Avocet (with extra outfitting for your size but extra storage)

For more than a week:
Impex currituck
VCP Aquanaut (maybe)
Tempest 165
Chatham 16 (haven't seen this upclose)

For more daytripping and occaisonal overnighters (what folks MOSTLY do) and thus smaller, lower volume and more fun for smaller paddlers:

PH Vela
Impext Mystic
WS tchaika (?)

All the boats above are composite (except for Nighthawk's "carbonite" plastic). Even then, the bigger the boat, the more you're in the mid 50 lb range. You are going to have demo and narrow down what characteristics you like, i.e. playful with more rocker vs. tracking with less rocker and longer waterline. The extreme end of playfulness/rocker would be Anas Acuta/Pintail vs. against tracking like the Aquanaunt or Currituck. Make a shorter list and demo. Since you're talking about extended trip, bring empty gallon jugs, fill with water and demo with these in the bulkheads.


My wife is about your size…
…My wife is about your size, and she has a “Hurricane Aqua Sports”, “Tampico”. It is a light weight thermo formed plastic Kayak, that is about 24" wide, and 13’6" long. It has two bulkheads with hatches, for flotation or storage, and is fairly stable. She is pretty much a beginner, and really likes the boat.

… If you have a dealer close by that handles these, check them out. They are fairly priced also. The plastic is pretty rugged, and this boat was reccommended to us by a friend who has had one for about 4 years.

Good Luck, happy paddling, and DEMO before buying!


We would need to know about the type of paddling you intend doing. River, Lake,Ocean. Additionally, what is your defination of extended. Weekend, week long. These details will help us assist you in getting into the right yak.

Excellent Questions…
since I know I jumped to conclusions about the venue. Could be totally off base and my posts doesn’t apply to squat. :slight_smile:


Uh, did I miss something here?
for smaller person (I’m biase towards skeg models)

For up to a week with good packing:

CD Slipstream

Impex Montauk

Eddyline Nighthawk

WS Sparrow Hawk (if you can find one)

NDK Anas Acuta or Pintail

NDK Romany

NDK Explorer LV (low volume)

VCP Avocet (with extra outfitting for your size but extra storage)

I thought the questioner asked for a LIGHTWEIGHT kayak. None of the above are lightweight, unless you can bench press 200+ pounds. I would steer more towards a kevlar, fiberglass or Aralite recreational kayak with or without bulkheads for starters.


– Last Updated: Dec-07-04 1:24 PM EST –

long time no see.

Like I said, my bias is for the skeg models in composite (if she is in fact looking for a touring boat. Not sure yet.) The above models, except for the Avocet, are available as glass. I know the glass models are lighter than plastic. And, kevlar is slightly lighter than glass. Some of the models are available in kevlar. Person has to narrow down the boats and see if the ones she is interested in have a kevlar option and whether she values it enough to pay a premium for.

Airlite models. I don't have suggestions along that material line. Feel free to throw in your suggestions. That's what the poster wants. Jump in, the pool is open. :)


custom built boat?
Have you thought about building, or having someone build you a S&G or Woodstrip kayak? You could then have a 35-40lb. expedition kayak customized for you.


Ultra light not for all kayak

– Last Updated: Dec-07-04 7:09 PM EST –, known for his ultra light pack canoes now makes an ultrlight 24 pound kayak with bulkheads but little else. This boat may be totally inappropriate for you, but depending on your intended use, check it out. (The kayak may not be shown on the site, but a communication with the builder will allow you to learn about it if so). He has a fine reputation as a craftsperson.

I believe that epic kayak makes a 27 lb. touring kayak also.

for a straight tracking fast boat

– Last Updated: Dec-11-04 11:02 PM EST –

surge marine's surge is light, very very strong, requires no tracking aids and $$$

Lincoln Canoe and Kayaks
have some very light models if that is you primary criterion.

like i said…
lots of boats out there for small folks.

jbv (6’5" 210)

Same size as you
about. 5’4" and 135 pounds. Trying to get a good fit for this size person, very lightweight and really ocean capable all at the same time is not easy when you add in other characteristics that you will find you want. For example straight tracking (so that you aren’t killing yourself correcting the direction all day), limits of stability etc. As another post above indicated - they are still making touring boats mostly for small guys, not leaner average BMI-sized women.

I found that I had to deal with heavier boats than most looking for “lightweight” want to consider. That said, if you work out a system you will find that you can heft a 65 pound 17 foot boat onto and off of the top of a car yourself.

On Sing’s list, my comments from having paddled them or been close enough to know how they operate:

For up to a week with good packing:

CD Slipstream - I loved this boat when I tried it a couple of years ago, but it is definately more twitchy than a lot of the others. Storage is very tight, only 16’ long. Take the good packing part seriously. Tracks great.

Impex Montauk - Allaround performer, will accomodate a smaller person though I wouldn’t say it was made for us. Was not superb on tracking as I recall, but not awful either.

Eddyline Nighthawk - The 16’ version of this fit well, at least what I was looking for a couple of years ago. Good tracker. V-hull so it may feel a little twitchy at first but has good secondary stability.

WS Sparrow Hawk (if you can find one) - Great boat by reputation but no one has ever said it was a beginner’s boat. Last I heard there was still one for sale in Connecticutt.

NDK Anas Acuta or Pintail - This boat is really a play boat - neat but it ain’t about going straight. Know a couple of people in our club who have them. Haven’t sat in one so I can’t comment on fit.

NDK Romany - Shorter version of the Explorer, same hull. It is a standard small cockpit as I recall, may be a little big but could be fitted. More about manuverability over tracking than the Explorer but pretty nice on handling windage considering.

NDK Explorer LV (low volume) - This is my present boat. Takes care of the paddler very well, and has some length to make up for the low deck in terms of storage. 17 and a half feet, approx.

VCP Avocet (with extra outfitting for your size but extra storage) - 16’ boat, I’d agree that the cockpit would need some padding. It’ll be wide for you. I’ve tried this boat and it manuvers very well. Not as strong on tracking as others in the VCP line, but much better than the Anas.

For more than a week:

Impex currituck - I have tried this but forget now. Sorry - if it’s the longer one than the Montauk I think it tracked much better. I also thought it was kinda big - would need some fitting.

VCP Aquanaut (maybe) - My husband has this. I have heard of it being fitted to someone my size but I bet they used a storeload of foam. I would be seriously concerned about the depth too, at least when you get solid enough that you want to start really wanting to manuever it.

Tempest 165 - Haven’t tried it.

Chatham 16 (haven’t seen this upclose) - Tried it - the cockpit is surprisingly large. It has adjustments, but it may be at the bleeding edge of “fittability” as you advance.

Other boats to consider:

Nigel Foster Silhouette - It’ll make a paddler of you, but it was designed for someone more our size. And it is fast. Don’t know weight.

Nigel Foster Legend - with fitting - I tried this and, while it was strictly speaking big, it also felt narrow enough that it could be fitted without the contortions of a wider boat. And it has a little kinder primary stability than the Silhouette.

Oh - and the Impex Mystic is quite shallow. I suspect it’d fit you fine, but as Sing said it’s a day boat.


But it can be lighter
Just reread my post - the 65 pound refers to my prior plastic touring boat. You can get most of the boats on the Sing’s list in an alternate layup that’ll come in at 40-50 pounds. My Explorer LV is 45, for a 17 ft plus boat. Impex boats come in lighter.