Looking for 2nd kayak- advice needed

So I’ve started hunting used kayaks looking for a more advanced 2nd boat. I was a bit disappointed that my local REI is not doing any demo days this year. Anyway I currently have a perception sound 9.5’ that I have been using for 3 years I believe. I am interested in doing some overnight trips and long hauls. Particularly going from Cable, WI to Hudson, WI about ~200 miles at some point in the next few years. I live near st. paul, MN and plan on getting a used boat. Basically looking for any suggestions, I’ve been mostly watching for perception and wilderness boats. Originally I was thinking a 12’ boat but I’m wondering how much harder a 14’ or 14.5’ boat would be in an occasionally twisty narrow river? I don’t have a lot of experience with longer boats and not sure I have paddled anything over 12’ in the past.


What’s your height & weight?
That information will help with suggestions.

Narrow twisty river?

– Last Updated: Jul-30-13 7:39 PM EST –

Unless it's whitewater, I would not worry at all about a 14 or 15 ft. boat in tight spaces. As long as it's got some rocker and thigh braces, you'll learn to edge it, and make it turn tightly. I've frequently had my 16 & 16 1/2 ft kayaks in twisty creeks and tree-studded swamps. Getting them to go where I want is half the fun. And, it sounds like the extra length-speed-range could be useful for you.

5’8" and ~135lbs

“You need a bigger boat”

– Last Updated: Jul-30-13 8:05 PM EST –

I think you should get something longer than 12 feet. I routinely do camping trips in canoes and rowboats ranging in length from 14 to 15 feet, and occasionally in a rowboat that's just 12 feet long. I kneel in the canoes which means that I myself don't take up much space, but in the rowboats, the seating position is much like that in a kayak, because my legs are outstretched. The rowboats are double-ended like canoes, not what you'd normally think of when you think of a "rowboat". For what it's worth, I pack pretty light, but with the 12-foot rowboat it's very difficult to carry a reasonable camping load and still keep the boat in trim, since there're only a few feet of space in front of my feet and the boat is getting narrow in that region (I should mention that I'm tall, but a shorter person would have the same problem to an only slightly lesser degree). Gear storage and keeping the boat in trim would be a much more serious challenge in a 12-foot kayak than in my 12-foot rowboat simply because kayaks have far less useable volume and much worse access to the volume that there is. Of course, you can stack gear on top of the fore deck, making use of space that I can't use (above my legs) in a rowboat, but it's best to keep that kind of loading to a minimum. I don't think you should consider such a short kayak if you'll be using it for extended camping trips. A longer boat will be a little less convenient on twisty creeks, but not a deal-breaker.

Generally true but . . . one exception
is the Delta 12.10, which is an excellent camper. It has more storage volume than some sea kayaks.

Otherwise I would agree that the OP should be looking at around 14’ since he/she already has a rec boat.

That’s not really an exception

– Last Updated: Jul-30-13 8:16 PM EST –

That boat still has a truly miniscule amount of front storage space. There won't be much you can stow up front, so when there's a lot of gear on board, getting the boat to be in trim will be a challenge. Still, I'll concede that with clever packing and with minimalist gear, that boat would be better than other 12-footers I've seen (though since it's just 2 inches shy of 13 feet, I'm not sure it's really correct to call it a 12-footer).

one short answer
Dagger Alchemy S. 14 feet, fully rigged, stable not boring, good on rivers, lakes or ocean.

well maybe a second short answer: Jackson Journey, the slightly smaller one, at 13 feet.

there are Necky Zoars out there at good prices, capable boats 13-14 feet. The Sport has one bulkhead, put airbags in the bow. Another version has two bulkheads.

Just for starters.

I’ve inquired about a 14.5 carolina with rudder, paddle, skirt, paddle float, and sump pump for $750 which I believe is reasonable. Waiting to hear back from the seller. It is 2 hours away and hoping to meetup halfway if the boat is still for sale which will probably add some cost. I’ve hear pretty good things about the carolinas but how good are they with storage and gear?


carolina 145
well known big volume rec kayak, very popular, very easy to paddle and control. Not real fast or real responsive owing to width and depth but sturdy, stable and dependable, ready to take you where you describe.

Might seem big for you but sitting in it will tell you a lot and getting on the water will tell more. May not be an issue at all. Try to edge and lean it somewhat -nothing extreme, you do want these capabilities on tight twisty rivers.

Coming w. a rudder (a $225 item new in itself) - plus all the extras -makes it a nice deal to check out. Get more info on the age of the boat and make sure the plastic isn’t brittle or sun-worn. UV light kills plastic and if the boat has been left out year after year uncovered it takes its toll.

It’ll haul gear and storage no prob.

Carolinas can be on the heavy side so make sure you’re good w. getting it up and down off on your vehicle rack. Or maybe you go w. a trailer. Depending where you want to put in, a kayak cart could make sense.

btw it’s “bilge pump” not sump pump. Not ragging on ya. We’ve all typed things like that.

It’s well worth checking out. Good luck!

If possible.
I would suggest that you visit one, or more very good kayak shops that carry a wide variety of boats. Do a lot of looking and ask a lot of questions. I think your perception will change.

Dagger on local CL
I see there’s a Dagger Charleston 15 for sale in the Milwaukee Craigslist.



I’m not familiar with that model but the reviews seem fairly positive, though the 14 foot version would be better fit for someone your size. He’s asking a bit much for a boat that old (probably at least 10 years). $500 would be more reasonable. But considering he is throwing in a paddle and Yakima saddles, $650 isn’t outrageous.

Personally, I like a 14’ or 15’ boat for all round versatility and often use one in twisty shallow streams here in PA (a Venture Easky 15LV, which would be an excellent fit for you if you could find one).

another WI boat on CL
This Perception Sonoma 13.5 (on Madison L) has had good reviews for the type of use you are contemplating and is reasonably priced:



I had one of those
One of those pnet reviews of the Sonoma 13.5 is mine, though it may be one that lost my name at one point, not sure why.

I regretted selling it often. But, the seat hurt my butt, and, I didn’t want to destroy the boat to remove the OEM seat, and then maaaybe get a decent seat installed. The original seat may fit others better. I’m very lean, and I’ve had problems with other seats, as well.

I found the Sonoma to be very kayak-y – it fit my impression of all-around usability and nimbleness better than any kayak I had tried, back then. The Sonoma only has a foam pillar in front, and I added 2 small flotation bags, to assist with self rescue.

This year, I picked up a Dagger Alchemy S, which I love. It is what I loved about the Sonoma, and more (except that it is heavier). Now I have quit kicking myself for selling the Sonoma.

a suggestion for distance touring
S16 Stellar


16’ Capella


A skilled kayaker can maneuver a Capella quickly and easily, and easily outmaneuver less skilled paddlers in their shorter boats. So the big question with these 16 footers is whether you aim to become a proficient paddler before taking on your expedition, or whether you’re planning to be an occasional lily-dipper mostly and just go for it. Someone comfortable paddling and maneuvering these 16 footers would cringe at going down to a 12 to 14 foot kayak and paddling a couple hundred miles. So I think the Capella at least fits your need for something nicely maneuverable while maintaining some respectable level of efficiency for expedition style paddling. I can’t see which size Capella that is, but the description suggests it’s a size for a smaller paddler.

I would guess that the Stellar will be a bit less maneuverable, and more efficient than the Capella, but you never know what fits you best without trying.

These look to be a very good price, especially in an area where sea kayaks may not be very common. I can’t imagine losing anything on either of these boats if it came to resale later on. 16’ is getting to the short end of full expedition style kayaks, and for me represent a playful length range. So it wouldn’t be like you were jumping into a fast sea kayak 18’ range.

If you’re really not into skilling up at all, such as comfortably edging and confidently executing proper turning strokes, and you’re really not into developing a strong forward stroke, but really more relaxed comfort inclined than athletically inclined (nothing wrong with that), then what these two offer vs. 14 footers may be lost on you and should probably be left to someone more in line with their performance characteristics. You may never be able to handle them well. The skilled kayakers I know largely seem to be the physically energetic type who get some sense of accomplishment and pleasure out of putting themselves to the test physically. They might go for a walk or a run or a hike or a bike or a swim or a paddle just for pleasure over watching a couple more hours of television or playing on a computer.

Since you’re finding yourself itching for something more expedition capable and daydreaming about a future long distance tour, maybe these will fit you well and you can skip this 12 - 14 foot step. This isn’t necessarily so, so know yourself and the time and energy you’re likely to put into it as a sport. But if it turns out to be your thing, you’ll never look back.

I figured it might be worth a thought.

I want to try one of those.
Haven’t found one close enough to central IL.

My kevlar Shadow 16.5 would work
well for you, but it’s a bit outside your price range and a bit of a drive.


Planning on the carolina

– Last Updated: Jul-31-13 6:50 PM EST –

Decided to go with the carolina. Total cost is $800 for the 1 hour drive on their part. Its an 8 year old boat and looks in very nice shape, stored indoors. Not too worried about speed honestly, it will still be alot faster then my sound.

The last few are way outside my price range ATM and not quite ready for that length yet. I did see the dagger its a bit longer then I wanted I also don't have a roof rack and don't plan on one anytime soon. Currently not worth the cost to put one on my car and I haven't had trouble securing a yak without one. Always been a bit hesitant about them too. My family's durango gets massive wind noise over 55mph no matter what way you put a boat on it. I will likely need one for my next car tho. It will still take me awhile to trust the expensive rack over my $10 worth of rope lol.

Good, you’re getting the airalite model.
That should be a nicer ride than the poly version. A bit lighter, also.

Should do well for you.

NICE pick
didn’t know it was the airalite version til I saw the pic. That fixes the weight issue on land and on water will give you more speed and efficiency.

Go for it.