Looking for lightweight SOT kayak

Have been kayaking for about 6 years now on a cheap 8’ SOT that’s so easy to load up in my truckbed or drag up a steep incline. I only weigh 100 lbs. so I need to find another SOT that will track much better but still be lightweight AND comfortable. I have spent months searching every website on the internet. I have only been looking at yaks 10’ in length or less since my truckbed is 6’ long. My question is this - what makes a yak track well and handle Class I mini rapids? Is it more the length OR the bottom design, like with a skag or not?? And does width matter? I’m assuming under 30" wide would mean less water dripping in from paddle? My wants: a flat area with bungi strap for small cooler, cupholder, doesn’t have to be new, good tracking and speed since I sometimes go with groups and am the weakest one at the back of the pack. Anyone ever paddle a Riot Escape 9’? It weighs 40 lbs. and is 28"wide.
Thanks for any advice.

Straight tracking comes mostly from Length and Lack of rocker (bananna shaped hull front to back). Basically no 9-10’ kayak will track well compared to a 15-18’ sea kayak, but thats not the boat for you. I think all you can do is get a boat with a rudder or skeg to improve tracking. More likely a kick up rudder if you’re going over any rocks or anything.

Things that lend a boat to white water are: an inability to swamp the boat, proper volume so you dont nose dive into waves, moderate to high rocker hull for easy maneuvering (note this is in direct conflict with “tracks good”). Inherently, a white water boat does not track well, but you’re looking at recreational boats, not WW boats.

Anyways, I know nothing of rec kayaks, others can chime in, but in general, you have competing needs (you want speed and tracking but also want a short, light boat).

What is the most important feature of your new boat?

Your max length is?

In order to get decent tracking and speed, you will need to go at least 12 feet in length. I’ve not seen any SOTs shorter than that with a skeg or rudder. Unfortunately, the market for shorter SOT kayaks seems to be aimed at fishermen and casual paddlers who aren’t concerned with paddling efficiency.
Here’s a few possibilities - http://www.austinkayak.com/products/5737/Ocean-Kayak-Tetra-12-Kayak.html

If you are willing to pay more. I can definitely recommend an Eddyline Caribbean 12. I have the Caribbean 14 and it’s an awesome kayak for distance paddling and multi-day trips at a lower weight. It is pricey though.

Any of the above kayaks should handle easy class I rivers, but only if the paddler has the skill needed to handle the conditions themselves. I wouldn’t worry about paddle drips…it’s a SOT kayak, so getting wet comes with the territory.

I carry 16’ kayaks in my 6’ bed P/U with a bed extender. No problem if properly strapped.
Another light weight SOT is the Hurricane Skimmer.

There are quite a few kayaks like this one
on the market but I’ve never looked into them. Might be worth a search.

So after a lot more searching and reading reviews, it looks like there are only a few options for yaks 10 ft. or less and 40-43 lbs. Perception “Tribe” 9.5, Ocean Kayak “Frenzy” 9’, Lifetime “Lotus” 8’, Riot “Escape” 9’, Venus 10’ (which is the lightest weight at 37 lbs, but geez, you can’t sit a small cooler down behind the seat and no cupholder). Out of these, or if there are any other lightweight candidates you’d like to throw out there, which would maneuver best on a Class I river ? I will be using it most of the time on lakes or beach marshes, but I do go with a group sometimes and would like to be able to keep up better.
I would love to consider something like a Hurricane Skimmer 116, but it’s got to fit in my 6’ truck bed AND I’m just too small framed to drag anything of weight up and down hills and load by myself. Thanks for all the help guys !!!

A 6 ft truck bed is 8 ft long with the tailgate down. FDOT allows 4ft overhang. So you can do 12 ft in FL. Other states may vary. Diagonally you can do 13.5 ft. Without an extender.

A well made and designed inflatable could work well for you.

Chuck’s suggestion for a high quality inflatable is good advice, but prepare yourself for sticker shock for a decent boat that can handle mild whitewater without fear of punctures. Of the boats you noted the Venus 10 is probably the best for what you are planning on doing. You can carry plenty in the tankwell and hatches. If ice chest and cup holder are essential, I’d probably look into a different hobby. I bought an ocean kayak frenzy for my son’s first kayak, I still keep it around to inflict kayaking on friends and family that visit. It’s not very fast and the wierd rounded hull tube tends to hang up on rocks if you get spun around in whitewater, it’s very very seaworthy and I have paddled it in prety wild ocean conditions and huge surf. If you are having trouble keeping up with other paddlers, I would look at getting some lessons in forward stroke and practice a lot on building cadence with good form. Most good paddlers can keep up with groups in any kayak so make it a goal to improve your paddling. Also your paddle may be slowing you down, sometimes it’s better to invest in a better shorter, lighter paddle than in a new kayak.

No inflatable for me. Since its not possible to demo any of these yaks before purchase, could someone tell me which bottom design glides best with least paddle effort.

In theory, the narrower the kayak the faster it will go and the longer it will glide. The longer the kayak the better it will track and the better a kayak tracks the faster it will go. At your size I’d go with the narrowest you can find. There may be a balance issue at first but you’ll get past it. I paddle a surfski that is 17" wide and 21.2’ long. Fast would be an understatement. They do make shorter ones for your truck.

@SeaDart said:
Also your paddle may be slowing you down, sometimes it’s better to invest in a better shorter, lighter paddle than in a new kayak.

A properly sized & designed light weight paddle was definitely a turning point in my paddling pleasure, comfort, efficiency and trip length, whether canoe or kayak.

Oh… And for gliding, hard chine, soft chine, deep keel will all glide the same. The stiffer the material the better.

Class 1 rapids are no big deal. I’ve taken my 15’ folding and hardshell touring kayaks through those – you can do Class 1 in an inner tube. Any cheapo sit on top will negotiate them so that should not be your compelling reason for a choice. Your main problems to address are weight for loading and launching and your difficulty in keeping up with people in longer and better performing boats. You did not mention your budget, by the way, so we may be wasting breath is suggesting many practical options if you are unable or unwilling to invest in them.

Limiting your optimal boat length by insisting it fit in the truck bed is a big mistake. There are better ways to carry a boat that is the right size for what you need.

Why are you so opposed to inflatables? Do you know anything about them? Most are far lighter than any plastic boat and they can be hauled in any sized vehicle. You don’t have to completely deflate them for transport – you can let some air out and fold them into a truck bed if they are longer than the dimensions. Some of the Advanced Elements inflatables could fit your specifications. Their Strait Edge at 9’5’ has everything you need and weighs 35 pounds. Partially deflated, you could easily stuff it in the truck bed.

I can even suggest a sit on top that weighs only 20 pounds – a Pakboat Puffin Saco folding kayak with aluminum frame and nylon rubber skin. It can be used with or without the optional deck and folds down into a duffel bag. At 12.5’ long and 26" wide you could easily keep up with others in hardshell boats and Pakboats are suitable for moderate whitewater. I just took one to England (checked the folded boat as luggage on the airline) and did several outings on winding rivers with some mild rapids. I can lift the boat with one hand. You can carry a boat like that in a pickup by propping one end on the cab and the other in the bed and tying it off. Plenty of room for anything you want to haul inside of it (you could clip a plastic cupholder to the frame easily)… For that matter you could carry the dismantled boat in the truck cab!


As to “cooler and cupholder”, those are also poor credentials for selecting a kayak if you are concerned about performance features and speed. A soft cooler can fit in just about any kayak and a 99 cent plastic cupholder can be attached to any boat. You could get a 9.5’ Perception Access for under $400 (which should fit diagonally in your truck bed) which has a cup holder and is 42 pounds (which is still heavier than any of my 15’ sit inside kayaks.) Sit on tops are heavier than sit insides of the same length because they use more plastic to make the double shell. But the Access is still pretty wide, which is a drawback for smaller paddlers.

Might want to consider the 35 pound Riot Intrigue. 10.5’ but no reason why you could not prop one end over the tailgate and lash it down.


I agree with Seadart’s advice to take some lessons before buying another kayak. If you’ve been paddling for 6 years and struggle to keep up, the lack of speed isn’t just from having a short boat.

Having improved your strokes will also allow you to demo boats more effectively.

Watch videos on how to paddle online. There are hundreds and some are very good. Save your money on taking a class and buy a good paddle.

@DrowningDave said:
Watch videos on how to paddle online. There are hundreds and some are very good. Save your money on taking a class and buy a good paddle.

While I agree that a good lightweight paddle makes a major difference, I disagree that online paddling videos can replace a class with a good instructor. Video’s can’t answer questions or demonstrate small nuances that make paddling strokes more efficient and easier. Nor can a video look at your stroke and suggest changes to correct/improve it.

I agree about someone analyzing your stroke but as for the class, paddling isn’t rocket science so watching well-done videos is sufficient. Get a friend to analyze your stroke. If your plans are to paddle a K1 in the Olympics then by all means hire a good coach.

I would have to say that Drowning Dave’s advice is not sound. Most people who think paddling is straight forward have no clue what they are doing. A good instructor can show you how to paddle more efficiently and show you what you yourself are doing that can be improved, they can also introduce you to boats that may be better for what you want to do and they can introduce you to other paddlers and serve as a resource for you in the future as you improve as a kayaker. I’ve only paid for a few lessons in my paddling life but they were all worth it and all increased my skills by large amounts.