looking to upgrade to a touring/sea yak

we are relatively new paddlers. husband about 2 years and me about 1. we tried cheap entry level sit ins to start to with but then upgraded to a wide stable rec boat since we were mostly paddling rivers with current. although we still enjoy the leisurely downstream float on the “barges” we are venturing into open water areas and eventually some ocean. we learned the hard way that 30"+ fairly flat rec boats are rubbish on flat still water :frowning:

we are looking to bite the bullet and get a much nicer boat that will go much faster with less effort as our hobby evolves to larger bodies of water.

we have narrowed it down to 3 that we found good deals on used. keep in mind that neither of us are petite so comfort is a factor, but we also want to be able to cover distance efficiently and keep a certain amount of stabilty.

our picks are:

16’ necky eskia

17’ necky elaho

16’ hurricane tracer

thoughts, opinions or advice?


– Last Updated: Jun-10-13 4:16 PM EST –

It all depends what you hit with the boats.
Trylon can crack if you hit submerged rocks.

Scroll down to see the various fix-it-kits

a little feedback on two of the boats
I rented a Necky Eskia a few years ago on a trip to British Columbia and used it for some coastal and fiord paddling. It was a little wide for my taste but certainly a comfortable and decent handling boat. The outfitter also had the Elahos in their fleet and I paddled one around a sheltered inlet for a while just to get a feel for it (I was planning on buying a hard shell sea kayak in the next year and was taking every chance I could to try various models.) The Elaho was more impressive to me performance wise – note the Elaho is a couple of inches narrower (than the Eskia) and has a slightly smaller cockpit, though still a reasonably sized keyhole type. I can see why the Eskia is popular with outfitters – very durable and stable for a touring boat. Both Necky’s struck me as heavier than I would want to wrestle with as well – the 15’ Venture Easky 15LV I eventually bought after all my test paddling is 15 lbs lighter than either. The Tracer you are considering is about the right weight (46 lbs) though I see somebody has warned that the Trylon plastic may be vulnerable to damage. Based on the specs that would probably be one I would prefer to the Neckys.

Can’t help you with how the Tracer handles since I have never been in one. But the Elaho seems a more “talented” boat to me than the Eskia, which I would classify as closer to the day touring range, a little wider and a little slower than suits me. If it helps in comparing what might work for you, I’m 5’5" and about 160 lbs. and a fairly cautious intermediate paddler who is happier with lighter, longer boats that paddle quickly, track well and take rough water with a grain of salt. I don’t mind wiggly primary stability at all, but if you do the wider Eskia might feel more friendly to you.


– Last Updated: Jun-11-13 6:16 AM EST –

I recently sold a Tracer that I had for about 1 yr. The boat was light, well made, and was a fairly fast boat. I sold it because for me it had very soft primary stability (made it feel overly twitchy to me) and the seat was not very comfortable for me when I was in the boat for more than 1 hr. The Trylon mtl seemed pretty durable to me but I try to take care of my boats.

I have a Wilderness Zephyr 160 (which I think is a blast to paddle in rough water or tight conditions) and a Perception Essence 16.5 which for me is a very comfortable and well behaved boat in a wide range of conditions. I have found that the Wilderness or Perception seating and backband just feels best for me. I'm 6' and 215 lbs.

You might really enjoy the Tracer, the guy that bought mine already had one and was adding a second for the family. I would strongly suggest that you test paddle it before purchase to be sure you are comfortable with it.

Thermoformed plastic
may crack if you hit a rock with quite a bit of force in white water, but it is perfectly suited to the poster’s uses. I’ve paddled thermoformed kayaks for the last five years and have had no durability problems whatsoever. Unfortunately, Hurricane’s plastic and/or construction method tends to be a bit soft, but I haven’t paddled the Tracer. Test the plastic by pushing down in front of and behind the cockpit and see what you think.

If you like thermoformed and are "not petite,: consider the Eddyline Journey. Large cockpit, reasonable speed, excellent construction, stable. It costs about $500 more than the Tracer, but I think you will see and feel the quality difference immediately.

Feel free to give height and weight specifics so we can advise you further.

What are your sizes?
Your heights & weights will help guide advice.

male 5’9 190 lb

female 5’5 yo-yos 150-175

If you’re near central IL, …
The female should try out my kevlar Perception Shadow 16.5, which is in near new condition and could be bought for about the price of one of the listed boats new.

Of the boats listed, the Tracer is the only one that I’ve tried on for size and it fit me pretty nicely at 5’6" and 160 lbs. I haven’t had a chance to paddle one, yet.

boats and price
the three that boats that are listed were being considered as they are for sell used in the $700-900 range. we arent able to spend more than that at this time and were excited about the deal we were getting. if we are buying new, we would need to stay under $1,000.

if anyone knows a good transitional type or entry touring in that price range that would fit our needs please speak up :slight_smile:

That helps
In your price range, you will be looking at rotomolded plastic, or possibly a used Hurricane. If you don’t mind the softness of the Hurricane plastic, go ahead and buy it.

There is just one other thermoformed kayak that might be in your price range: the Delta 12.10. I bought one recently for $950 used. Watch the video here and see what you think: http://www.frontenac-outfitters.com/kayaks/one_boat.cfm?ID=645

I have a sense that you haven’t yet grasped the differences in kayak lengths, and this is a really important question. There is a lot of debate about this, as you will see in the replies here. In my opinion, you should go with the shortest kayak that is safe, efficient, and comfortable for your planned uses: size of bodies of water, expected conditions, use for camping, etc. If you exceed what you actually need, you are storing, transporting, and paddling excess length and weight unnecessarily. Like driving a Hummer around town instead of a Honda Fit. IMHO

The Delta 12.10 a transitional kayak. It is unique in that it is the only short kayak I know of that both is seaworthy and has ample space for your camping gear, for up to a week. It is very stable in all conditions, faster than expected for its length, is fully outfitted as a sea kayak, and has huge hatches. It would fit both of you.

The Delta 12.10 is pretty hard to find used, but even the new price is reasonable for the quality. Feel free to e-mail me if I can answer any questions about the Delta 12.10 or thermoformed kayaks in general.

Be careful not to get excited about any one kayak just because it shows up on Craigslist. Have a good understanding of your needs and of kayak characterstics and wait until the RIGHT kayak shows up.

If you tell us your location we can check Craigslist for you.

Softness of Hurricane plastic?
Seems pretty scuff resistant to me.

length and uses
we have actually tried out a few different things and know that we want to stay in the 14-16 range. i am looking at 14.5 15 primarily. husband is looking more 16 maybe 17 since he will do more overnight trips.

we are looking to cover distance with good time and less effort on flat and open water, but also want the ability for sea with out buying another kayak :frowning: hence the choice of length.

i am aware that finding what we want in our price range is quite difficult and is why we are looking at used. we have looked at and/or tried in water several we found on craigslist and most arent going to work for one reason or another.

the necky elaho sold and we are going to try the tracer today, but then will still need a second comparable boat. we mostly paddle together so even though husband will want a bit larger for cargo, i want to be able to keep up during day paddles.

Comparative stiffness
Stiffness depends on the thickness of the plastic as well as stiffening deck architecture. Eddyline is the only thermoformed manufacturer I know of that builds stiffness into the deck architecture, and it makes a big difference.

Stiffness of the top four, in order:

  1. Eddyline

    2 and 3. Delta and Swift
  2. Hurricane

Let us know what you think of the Tracer
I’ve done a lot of kayak camping in kayaks that were 12’10", 14’6", and 15’6". The hatch volume of those three kayaks was in the reverse order, with the 12.10 having the largest volume and the 15.5 having the smallest volume. It is very possible to camp with a 13’-14’ kayak. You definitely don’t need 17’ to camp. I could camp for a week in my 12.10.

Okay, Plan B: buy the best kayak you can afford now, use it for a while, sell it for a profit, and upgrade. That’s how I acquired an Eddyline, which didn’t cost me a single dollar in the end. It took 9 upgrades to get to my goal. Great fun.

Here you go


– Last Updated: Jun-11-13 11:50 PM EST –

I can't speak to your other two candidates, but the Tracer is a good boat. At 16-1/2 feet long X ~22-3/8 inches wide, it's a far sleeker and faster boat than any rec designs I can think of, and equal to or better than quite a few other tourers.

These days the Tracer is skegged out of the factory, and may or may not be ruddered; when we got Sally's, it had neither and was a "turny" boat, with even experienced paddlers working to keep it headed. It became a good tourer, tracking well with some skeg, and quite maneuverable with the skeg up, after we had one retrofitted. Sally finds the boat quite stable (as do I) -and this was her first SINK after paddling a Scupper Classic SOT (14'1" X 26") for several years before switching to a SINK touring design.

The Hurricane boats are made of Trylon, their proprietary brand of vacu-formed thermoplastic, and it hold up well. It looks like glass when cleaned up, and is tough stuff -we've accidentally dropped ours a couple-three times, twice on asphalt (ouch!) and it's none the worse for wear other than a slight abrasion at the contact point. A friend of ours saw one of the other Hurricane boats, a Tampico I think it was, take a header off a car roof rack similarly onto a parking lot. It bounced and then came to rest, with no damage other than a scuff where it "touched" down.

We've had Sally's Tracer about 8 or so years -and we got it used at two years old, and at ten, it still looks great and paddles well. We keep it outdoors under the palms down here, albeit hull up, and the color is still as good as when we got it. The Kajaksport hatches, with a little 303 used 3-4 times a year, have held up well and remain nicely waterproof.

The down side for some is a largish cockpit -exactly what Sally was looking for to escape a feeling of claustrophobia she got in other, smaller, 'locked-in' cockpits. Sit in one and see it it works for you.

All in all, it's been a great boat for Sally, and looks handsome in the water, too.

You could do a lot worse than a Tracer as one of your next boats to


-Frank in Miami

tracer responses

– Last Updated: Jun-12-13 5:09 PM EST –

several things here..

as for overnight camping, yes the tracer is more than adequate but that will be a small portion of what we want to do. mostly long paddles, island hopping, and eventually sea. looking for versatility. plus the tracer is a used boat for under $1000 so its hard to pass up :)

UPDATE: husband bought the tracer last night. its in great shape, looks brand new and he fit in it perfectly. i have not sat in it yet but we are gonna try it out this weekend. if i like it i found a second one for sale.

to the poster who said sally thought it was a bit large... wow she must be tiny!! :)
you also mentioned stability. my local kayak shop told me its one of the trickiest boats to keep upright til you get it going so i was interested to hear you find it stable.

back to the tracer cockpit size, i have wide hips and could stand to lose a few lbs so i am curious to see how i do. as a reference, i tried the tampico 140s and 140L yesterday. the 140S was tight and not comfortable, but it had a touring seat with metal plates on the sides to keep you from utilizing the inside space under the initial opening.

the 140L however i was told had the exact same mold but with a rec seat and without the metal panels i fit super comfy with plenty of wiggle room. so if i fit well in the tracer and can control the "tippy" i will get the other one.

however, if it is too small or too tippy for me i really like the tampico 140L and may look at that. i hear it is pretty fast for its size compared to other 14' boats, but if husband has the tracer i dont see me keeping up...
or would i?

nice… too bad im not closer.

im on the gulf coast and there isnt a very big market here for touring or sea boats. mostly rec and fishing. so we dont get too many used offers for what i want. even the stores dont carry many new, so i am hard pressed to even try one out. one of our best kayak shops in the area only carries 4 models over 14’

so i come here for advice :slight_smile:

Just an example
of what you can find with patience and a willingness to travel a bit.

The Tampico 140S is VERY straight/
hard tracking and doesn’t turn easily.

If the 140L has the same hull, but just different cockpit, I’d strongly encourage you to test paddle before buying, unless you don’t mind working hard to turn a boat.