Looking to go lighter, 12-14 ft kayak

I’m a 5’2" woman, casual kayaker. Purchased a Tsunami 120 4-5 years ago and really like the boat. Unfortunately, I’ve been struggling with some sort of autoimmune arthritis for the last 2 years and finding that I kayak less and less simply because I’ve come to hate loading/unloading the boat; something that wasn’t a problem 5 years ago when I bought it. So, I’ve decided that it’s time to bite the bullet and buy a lighter boat. I’m looking for suggestions.

I want to keep it short, 12-14 feet. Low volume. I’d be happy with a lower deck height than I have now (15.25") and could go a little narrower without any problem (25.5"). The current Tsunami 120 specs say 50lb but I’m remembering it to be 52lb. In any case, I’d like to be close to 40lb.

I’d seriously considered the Hurricane Tampico (140S) back then but I’m not seeing it in Hurricane’s website any longer, and no more “S” small cockpit versions? :frowning:

Any thoughts about the Tribute 12 UL?

Other suggestions?

Keep the Tsunami…

– Last Updated: Jun-29-16 7:18 PM EST –

...buy a Thule Hullavator system your car for loading/unloading?

Having said that, my 4'11" wife really likes her Current Designs Vision 130.

The Hurricane Tampico 140S is straight
tracking and relatively difficult to turn for a 14’ long kayak. Take that into consideration when deciding if it fits your needs.

I’ve never paddled any of the Tsunami boat line.

I’m 5’6" and 165 lbs.

No, she needs a lighter boat in water
so as not to exert as much effort paddling, which makes her tired when it comes time for the re-load, besides, wrestling with a Beast (a good sized tupperware Kayak) held sideways is actually harder than grabbing one end and shoving it up and over something.

Having said, that, shortly there will be along people who can recommend smaller kayaks, but, in the meantime, you are stuck with me saying things like “are you sure you want to stick with plastics, when there are perfectly wonderful composite kayaks around which are much lighter? spp hint hint eddyline’s” Or, "have you tried out the idea of alternate kayak hauling, such as on a small trailer or in the bed of a pickup truck (being the resident non-conformist and the last person on the North American continent using a full length bed pickup) or even worse, “have you ever tried that foo woo A-I-Protocal diet stuff cause for a small group of us it really DID cut down our inflammation enough that we can deal with the whole LOADING RITUAL.”

So I am looking at the Hurricane Tampico 140 S and geez this thing weighs 45 lbs, hardly an improvement if you are going to spend $. The Tribute UL Perception is 37 lbs, but then you have the problem of what lightweight plastic does on a hot day when strapped down, even if it just plastic on the top and I have no idea how this boat actually handles on-the-water. I am always suspicious when someone uses the words “sporty” with a 12’ boat shaped like that because there is no rudder/skeg and it is windy sometimes, or there is a lot of cross current, or tide, AND wind. Also, it is crucial that whatever kayak you end up with have features that make it easier for you to handle, such as you will want a handle to be nice for your particular hand grip or you need more handles than the boat featured, or you want a way to secure your paddle fast and easy without going nuts, or you want your waterbottle or front deck storage to be “just so” so you don’t have to twist around to get to it. All of my kayaks have a handle in the “middle” of the boat somewhere and this is a big deal for me to be able to grab that sucker if for some reason I am about to have it blow off or something before it can be strapped down, (oh look, it just tried a “wind-aided dismount” by itself out of the bed, give it a 9 for the save) or if wrestling it back into the garage was not one of those Optimal Moments In Using Leverage, Not Brute Force. A few times I have helped carry other “stylish” kayaks and … no. Just no. Those are for young people who don’t have issues.

Occasionally you’ll see a Pygmy on Craigslist. The shorter ones e.g. 14’ can be quite light and are respectable kayaks. Not all the kit builders put in hatches with bulkheads, so you’d want to check for such.

Eddyline Samba

– Last Updated: Jun-29-16 10:55 PM EST –

Forty-three pounds, 22.5 inch beam. http://eddyline.com/kayak-model/samba

If you're a Tigers fan, maybe you're in the mitten state? If so, Bill & Paul's Sporthaus in Grand Rapids is an Eddyline dealer and you can arrange a demo with them.

skin on frame or wood
The lightest boats for their relative length and strength are going to be skin on frame (either rigid or folding) and all wooden kit boats.

As a 66 year old, 5’ 5" woman, who mostly loads my boats alone, I definitely prefer lighter ones. My current “fleet” consists of:

  • 12’ Pakboat Puffin (24 lb. folding kayak)
  • 13’ 9" Pakboat Quest 135 (28 lb. folding kayak)
  • 14’ 9" Feathercraft Wisper (37 lb. folding kayak)
  • 15’ P & H Venture Easky 15LV (46 lb. plastic kayak)
  • 18’ Greenland style wood frame with nylon/urethane skin (31 lbs)

    There is a seller in the P.net classifieds right now who is located in Connecticut selling a 16’ 8" skin on frame that is under 30 pounds and that is scaled for somebody your size – only asking $450 for it. This type of skin on frame (SOF) kayak is tougher and less vulnerable to damage than composites and molded plastic boats. SOF’s are light, fast and fun to paddle.

    There is also a seller in Traverse City, Michigan, with a 39 lb. wooden Pygmy Coho for sale for $1500.

I’ll second the Eddyline Samba
Great hull, light, narrow for a 13’ 8" hull so it paddles very easily.

But if you want the lightest possible boat, a 12’ 11" Epic GPX in carbon fiber is available in two build levels at either 27 or 33 lbs.


The Swift Saranac 14 is also available in very light builds.


Lincoln Chebeague
Depending on layup 30-37 lbs. at 14’6".

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY



Other Suggestion

– Last Updated: Jun-30-16 10:32 AM EST –

Have you seen the Shrike? I wish I could tell you how it behaves but I've never paddled one. I just think the specs look great and visually it looks like a piece of art. Hey. I'm retired now. Maybe I'll try to build one.


Another vote for Epic GPX
I have a CF one in the fleet. Its nearly plumb bow & stern make it faster than you’d think for a boat that length. Fun little boat & so light I can lift it with 2 fingers.

Thanks, Kudzu.

– Last Updated: Jun-30-16 2:15 PM EST –

Kudzu, that sort of comment makes all my work worthwhile, thank you. Here's a link to one of my ten granddaughters and her Shrike LV weighing 28 pounds. She built it herself as her first ever woodworking project: http://cnckayaks.com/project/shrike-lv/
Clearstream Custom Watercraft will make one for you if you don't fancy building one.
Lowering the deck-line to produce a rolling version for a 75 year old lady roller produced this 19 pound beauty: http://cnckayaks.com/project/shrike-lv/
A lady coach from Minnesota built this 23 pounder,http://cnckayaks.com/2014/10/22/cindy-petersen-shrike-r/ and another lady coach built this 25 pounder: http://cnckayaks.com/2015/01/24/renee-dufresne-shrike-rlv/
Light kayaks like these transform the paddling experience. A kayak half the weight takes far less effort to turn. (Rotational moment of inertia for the nerds among us.)
The plans are free, by the way.

More info
Exactly what type of paddling are you doing at this time? Lakes, easy rivers? How long are your trips? You have a 12’ boat now that is known for being pretty stable. The Tsunami has two bulkheads and the Tribute has just one. So does the suggestion that I’ll throw out, the LL Bean 12’ Calypso. That is a lighter weight boat that is very similar to the Tribute, both being made by Perception. Assuming you’re in MI, when they open the new store near Detroit, perhaps you could take a $25 discovery course and use a Calypso so as to get a “demo”.

more specific
Per your specs (low volume, light weight) 12 to 14 feet) I would recommend this one:


23" beam, 13’ 9" long, 29 pounds, designed for smaller paddlers, super comfortable seat and stable. I just loaded mine on my car this morning for a trip to a local lake – I can lift it with one hand. Paddling it feels just like using a hardshell and I can fold it down into its duffel bag and take it anywhere in the world with me as checked baggage on an airline.

Hurricane Sojourn 126

14lbs to 18 lbs Hornbecks
A wile back saw a older lady pick one of these up like it was nothing. http://www.hornbeckboats.com/index.php (you will have to copy and paste do not know how to do live link) She had switched to this light weight pack canoe as her SOT and Kayak were just to much for her most of the time with out help. Still used her kayak paddles. She seemed to be able to get in and out easily with out a cockpit in her way and was able to shift around a little.

Sometimes we must make major changes to as one elderly person told me to quote her “to just get out on the water any way I can.” She was experiencing the dry dock version of cabin fever. Do what you can to stay active and out on the water.

Another Eddyline
Eddylines are beautiful, well made boats. Again, depending on what kind of water you’re paddling, the Rio at 11’ 9" long 35 pounds could be a possibility for you.

age and weight lifting/carrying capacity
We too are ‘enjoying’ the advancing limits of the aging process. Out next more it adding SOTs. We have chosen Eddyline Caribbean 14’s; at a supposed 50 pounds they’ll be manageable for a while but we have already made notice of the Hornbeck’s for the next step in our evolution.

Another elderly kayaker story
The folks at Pakboat in New Hampshire had a local customer in her late 70’s who for years would bring her Puffin folding kayak to them every Spring so they could set it up for her. In the Fall she would bring it back for them to fold up for her to store. At 20 lbs she could easily get it to the water herself.

Folders are great for us oldsters because, besides being light, they can go on vacation with us and be stored in a closet if we downsize to housing without a garage. And I figure the exercise required to put them together helps keep me flexible.

how to move the kayak
with the Eddyline s.o.top 14’ they are VERY balanced centerwise off those handles. But their greater surface area makes them vulnerable to breezes on shore when carrying them sideways. When picking it up from the side, using those middle handles, make sure you’ve taken all your stuff off the kayak and the lift is easy. Leaving one full water bottle in the front hatch, with no counter balance weight in the rear, and you will be cussing because she will want to dip down in front - these boats are that sensitive. Then if it dips, and the wind blows hard… harder to coordinate the lift.

Now, if you have 2 people grabbing each t-handle from the end, this is not an issue, but it’s more for when one person is going to grab the middle handles to heft the boat up onto their thighs a second, to just move it around a few feet or get it started going up onto your vehicle.

I’ve made jokes about the Famous Wind-Aided Flying Dismount when my kayak was untied and unstrapped, I was parked on a un- level surface, and the strong breeze suddenly shifted and a strong gust started to blow the Eddyline off my truck before I was quite ready on the ground to receive it. With a much smaller kayak other people can just grab it - but this is a fishing kayak and it’s harder to stop when it gets going on that slick plastic bed liner.

This is why I tend to try to not use steep boat ramps if I have the option. I am still fascinated by how the wind can be blowing one direction on shore and another direction going around the peninsula at the local lake, then everything switches backwards just before sunset when the colder air starts coming down from the mountains and the Delta breezes start kicking up from the southwest, and the result is a swirling mix. Then there is a LOT of uplift when we have "unsettled’ weather and fronts are trying to come through from the west and coming up the first ridgeline.

On the water, a great boat considering it hasn’t got a rudder. On traversing my bed liner on the tailgate… sort of a prankster.

When I bring the kayak back up to the shore, once out of the water, I will grab one end and use the other resting on the ground to pivot the length of the boat, then put it down, go to the back, and pick that up and bring it around. This way I can bring the kayak up easily in a few swings, without bothering with the cart, and don’t have to worry about picking up the entire 50 lbs plus whatever stuff I have in it. (ground surface=lots of sharp rocks) I try to take the “warning: lake water levels may suddenly increase” sign seriously, after seeing a few vehicles sitting in the water where someone was too eager and took off on their ski doos or other boats before moving their vehicles back up the shore several feet. Hate getting stuck… but just letting your brakes and whatnot stand in a foot of water for any length of time is REALLY not good, either.