Looking for a Fitness Kayak

I am looking for a fitness Kayak suggestion. I currently have and enjoy SOTs Hobbie Maui and Odessey for use with my family. I would like a single kayak that I could take out to a flat water lake in my neighborhood for fitness paddling. I have no preference for SOT or Sit IN.

If appropriate I would take up to Lake Michigan and a once a year trip to Hilton Head Island, SC. but mainly the flat water lake.

Any suggestions are welcome.

Thank you

Being the goal of “fitness” is to get more fit, any kayak can work. Whether you get a fast kayak or a slow kayak, you can put put the same effort (so the same level of added fitness) and just get different distances. So you could use anything you want (heck, you could get fit paddling a log).

So you should think about the next requirement(s) you have (budget, storage space, weight, etc.), and work from there.

Look for 23-24 inch beam in a SINK
narrower if you feel comfortable. “Any” boat will work, but wide hulls typically mean longer paddles and a more relaxed paddle stroke. If your goal is a bit more aggressive fitness paddling, then narrower is better. Yes, I know, for racers 23-24 inch beam is a barge. But for less experienced paddlers, I think a 23 inch beam boat is a good transition boat from wider rec boats. It might feel slightly tippy at first, but they should have no serious trouble keeping it upright, and feel comfortable in it after an hour of paddling.

Lake Michigan and…to Hilton Head…
A SINK makes sense as you already have SOT and Lake Michigan & Hilton Head are both appropriate for a SINK.

Think of how you would like to use such a kayak. How experienced/skilled are you?

Have you taken any training in forward stroke? You’ll get more benefit from your time paddling if your technique is decent.

I started with a 21" wide QCC
that was my first kayak, then after 3 months moved to a 18" wide Westside boat shop Thunderbolt X. That was a jump but in flat water was pretty much good from day one. When I started doing rougher water is when I realized that my skill and no bulkheads weren’t so good. I now have a V10 sport that I feel is a great middle boat. I can go and enjoy myself looking around and talking to paddling partners or go at race pace and really move along. So like others said what do you consider a fitness boat? An Epic 18X is about the same speed as my V10 sport and that’s 22" beam. For me having the open cockpit is such a nice feeling I can’t see me ever using a kayak again. Good luck with your choice. Chaz

What’s fittness?

– Last Updated: Mar-30-09 9:20 AM EST –

As someone else said, if you just want to get a workout on the water, anything would do.

But if you also think you would be aiming at improving your paddling skills in general, I'd look for something that would let you do that. To *me* that means a narrow catch/swede form hull, long cockpit center opening to move your legs and the lightest you can get so that you use it more. And if it is cheap - you'll forget about worrying and just use it ;)

On flat water you can get away with narrow surf ski after some practice. But you mentioned you wanted to do some trips and a ski may not be a good choice there. Rolling is also a lot of fun and helpful skill to have and some "fitness" kayaks don't let you roll well if at all (and most sit on tops don't roll unless you rig them in a way that you would not want for flat water).

Also, while shorter boats will allow you to use the same energy, they are slow. Speed itself does not matter but you would want a different paddle for them than for a sleek fast boat. There seems to be an individual rhythm that works best for paddling and a very slow boat would likely just not let you get in to it: it bogs down at a slow speed and does not glide as well, so if you try to use a large powerful paddle in a slow boat you will have a slow and very strained stroke every time you dip your paddle (as opposed to maintaining a faster cadence with a smaller paddle). You (and your joints) may or may not like that.

Overall width (within limits to allow speed) does not really matter other than for stability. But width around where you feet are does - even a 21-22" boat may be too wide if it is too wide there - great for stability in touring rough water, poor for fittness paddling as it impedes rotation. In such a boat, you would just hit the deck on the side being too wide at the catch even with minimum rotation and you loose a good amount of your most powerful phase in the beginning of your stroke since you start wide instead of close to your feet (not an issue during touring or in rough conditions where you actually do not want to rotate that much every time, but on flat water it is just a hindrance)...

If $$$ is no object, look at kayakPro Nemo/Marlin or Epic 18x or Valley Rapier 18 as a good compromise b/w racing/fittness/touring.

Or look for a plastic boat like the Perception Rhythm or Sonoma 13.5 (different from each other, but both are light, short and easy to live with and offer good ergonomics, with some customization). But these are not good for longer trips where you would need to carry things for several nights...

I'm almost making a case for 2 boats ;)

Going out on a limb

– Last Updated: Mar-30-09 5:39 PM EST –

OK, I'm going to take the leap and actually suggest a specific boat - oops, I'm a smarta$$, just realized kocho recommended the same boat.

Perception discontinued the Cadence and Rhythm, fitness kayaks for small and large paddlers, respectively. They received good reviews, just didn't take off I guess. I sat in one at a boat show and it was quite comfortable. Seemed like a nice light, go-straight boat. The cockpit is designed to allow knees-together paddling to allow leg pumping like the big boys in the K1 boats, but there are knee braces as well. It is reviewed here on p-net:


I just checked and Sierra Trading Post has one for 30% off msrp - you may be able to find one used also.