Looking for a SOT for camping

I would like a little help narrowing down the selection of SOT kayaks for camping. We are looking at doing some island hopping in some TVA lakes, some salt marsh trails, and a few quiet river trails. Prior to this, we used canoes, but would like to switch to a kayak.

My wife found what she wanted, but I need some help. I am a heavier guy at 230lbs. I would carry between 30 to 70 lbs of gear with me depending on the length of the trip, and on some short overnighters, my 3 year old daughter will be along in my boat. Other times, a small dog may be riding shotgun.

I need something stable, but I want to be able to move it fairly easily and not have a barge to paddle around. I assume some of the fishing kayaks would be great for this, but I have never used one, and do not know where to begin. Max budget is about $1200.

I am wide open to suggestions of specific boats, and also things I need, would be nice to have, and to avoid.

Thank you for the help.

I was having a hard time with the search bringing up what I was after, so if there is a thread on this, and I am sure there is, could someone point me to it?

Stick with a canoe. For what you are describing you want in a boat, a good lightweight tripping longer solo canoe will be far better for everything. Let your wife keep her SOT but you (and the gear, child and pup) will be much happier in the canoe. There is no fishing SOT that will be anything but a barge with those kinds of loads.


I would look at a feel free fishing kayak, they are very stable, you can pack a ton of gear in them and while they are not super fast they are confront able w a great seat that pops out so you can use it when you get to camp.

For a flexible, growing family sit on top, I like the Malibu 2 kayaks. They can be paddled as singles or doubles, with seat positions for both. Max capacity of 425, so work with you and the little one for quite while. Commonly seen in rental fleets, which is a good example of how they think they are study.

All SOTs for you plus kid/dog are going to be somewhat bargy. Not much you can do about that.

If you used to pack thinks in your canoe in barrels, you will want to start buying dry bags to use instead.

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I am a SOT user and fan but I agree, you need to stick to a canoe.

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I’ve been eyeing the Ocean Kayak Tetra 10/12 for exactly this.

I find this forum is full of SOT haters. Canoe would obviously work well… but they are a pain in the wind and i personally like being able to jump out into the water and get back on the boat easier.

@Redman2006 Keep in mind, the Tetra 10 is for “small to medium paddlers”. The Tetra 12 does talk about 295 lbs of usable capacity, which is below what you talk about needing. This may be a decent boat for @shortyski13 , but doesn’t meet the specs you are looking for.

Crap i missed the part about the daughter. If you can find a tarpon 160 you’ll be golden, but they no longer make it. A tarpon 140 will just barely work probably.
Otherwise get a wider fishing one, but it will be slower to paddle.

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Thank you for all of the replies. I was hoping to find an alternative to the 14 ft Bear canoe that I have. It paddles fine, for a canoe, but keeping up with the wife, especially in the wind, is a real problem. On our last river trip, she was having to wait on me a good bit. When I say “not a barge” I really do not expect them to compete with a purpose built touring kayak, but I also need to be able to paddle in a straight line well enough to not hold back a group.

My personal experience with a kayak is almost solely limited to my mamba and class III or less rivers. I tried to use that on the lake …once.

The kiddo will not be along on longer trips, but just short overnighters when the load is lighter. She is used to being in a boat, and is not a wiggler, so extreme stability is not really a concern, but just enough to give a little security and not feel too top heavy with her and a load.

At this point, I use a combination of a barrel and bags in the canoe for the camping trips.

Part of the issue is two bad knees, kneeling all day is getting hard and 51 years of beating them up is catching up with me. I have never been comfortable with paddling a canoe from the seat for some reason.

I would like to find a few to paddle with our load out before I buy, but the ones I have been interested in, don’t seem to usually be in the rental fleets.

Thanks again for the replies. Would bumping up the budget help at all, or is it just what it is?

Your budget is good for the used market. As mentioned above, a used Wilderness System Tarpon 160 (or maybe140) would fit you, be a gear hauler, and is an ok paddle too…probably with room for a small child/pet on short day trips. I see them on CL frequently and you have to move swifty to buy it…they do not stay available unless overpriced. PS: I prefer sea kayaks, however I paddle a Tarpon 140 also & bought it used.

There is a shop that has several Tarpon 160 near here for close out. I am going to run and look at them tomorrow. $995, so under my budget.

Any others to look at?

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Just some thought on what I have figured out this year with my 14’7” canoe that came with standard tandem seating. With solo usage even with some gear or a small one in with you there is no seat position that works all that great to paddle seated and with some wind it gets worse. I stripped everything out of mine including the yoke and thwarts and put a seat with back in the center where my balance point was correct and the seat bottom lower than conventional canoe seats but higher and more comfortable than flat on the bottom. A compromise for my old knees. I then switched to a long kayak paddle. I added back in new thwarts making cargo/kid space ahead and behind the seating so when I bring on more weight I can chose the end to put it to stay level in the water.

Wind and tracking became less of an issue and my back and knees were happy. :canoe:

I will keep the canoe regardless, what seat did you add? I usually just use a dry bag across the back of my legs and kneels with it supporting my butt. I have tried to flip the canoe around and use what should be the back of the front seat, and it was close, but not quite far enough forward.

Thank you

Yep I did the flip thing and then I moved the bow seat even and I was still not level with the new bow too high. That’s when I ripped it all out and started from scratch. I found a stadium seat back at walmart that I chopped all the junk off the bottom made a low platform hung off the gunwales and I’m using that. :canoe:

Here is a photo of it converted.

Looks good. You might want to look at adding some foot braces.

I think a canoe would suit you best for what you’re talking about. The thing is that it is going to pretty hard to carry a kid, or especially a dog on a sit on top. If it was just going to be you you could make one work. A big fishing kayak that is flat on top like a barge almost would probably be your best bet. For a camping SOT if you aren’t going going to bring a kid with you, I would look at the Ocean Kayak Trident 15 Angler. I have a ocean kayak prowler 13 angler, and like it a lot. For your size and weight of gear you will need a bigger one though. The trident 15 Angler has three different hatches which would be great for storing gear. If you are bringing a kid or dog you really should stick to a canoe though.

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I like what you did with the canoe, and I need to do something similar.

If I solo, I have a little Jack Russell that goes with me. My lab has in the past in the canoe, but he is getting old, and does not have as much fun as he used to. When I say a dog, it is only about 17 lbs and included in the weight of the heavy load out.

I like my canoe, but I was really hoping to find a sot that would work. I did not want a sit in so it would be easier to take Hattie or the pooch. Maybe mods to the canoe will help.

The ad for the tarpon 160 was old, so that is out of the question for now anyway.

Thanks for all of the help. I have some reassessment to do.

Sounds like you are like me the odd man out in the canoe and also the one that gets tasked the job of bringing a lot of the gear because well I have the canoe and it fits better.

I don’t worry about others waiting even on day trips for me as I have the food and drinks and if they want to load it in the kayaks that’s ok.

Before I made the changes to the tandem canoe to get it level and tracking and not so tough to turn into the wind I thought I made a big mistake. I was thinking put it back like it was and sell it and get a rec-kayak or a SOT.

I’m glad I stuck with it now. You will likely never be as fast, but you might be surprised at how close you can get.

String…How are you likeing the Stellar 14?

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I have a Nekki Vector. It is a sit on top it’s 13 feet it’s easy enough for me one single old woman to get on and off my van. It handles exceptionally well in the water especially if I’m camping because there’s extra weight which gives it more stability. My suggestion if you don’t have much experience with sit on tops is that you go to your local kayak rental place and ask them if you can try some boats out. Not only did my rental place allow me to take the boats out to try them out for free but they sold me one of their rental boats which was a year old $1300 boat that I got for $700.