Manitou 14 v. Eliza

Hello - I am fairly new to kayaking, I have been on three 5-day trips off the coast of Maine and in the San Juan Islands, WA. I would like to get more into paddling and am looking into buying a kayak. I am a very petite woman at just under 5 ft. and 100 lbs. I’m looking for a boat that is good for a quick spin, but that also has the room to be able to take out for a few days at a time.

I was looking at the Necky catalog and realized that the Manitou 14 and the polymer Eliza are similar in weight and length, but that the cockpit of the Manitou is considerably larger. This is probably a VERY stupid question for all you experienced paddlers, but if the width of the cockpit isn’t that different between the two, and the real difference is the length of the cockpit, does this matter a lot for a small person? The reason why I ask is because I have found a great deal on the Manitou, but don’t want to buy it unless it will be good.

Also, measurements are given for the hatches, but no storage capacity. It appears that the Manitou might have more storage, even though it is listed as a day tripper?

Are there any other recommendations that you might have? I am not looking to spend more than $1300 tops. The whole rudder vs. skeg thing is confusing too. I have only used rudder, but have heard that a lot of people don’t like them. I like the idea of a skeg, but they seem to be reserved for the pricier models?

Thanks in advance for your responses!

If the Manitou is close
See if the seller will let you give it a try.

I’m a big fella compared to you (225 lbs, 6’1") and I tried out a Manitou 14 last Wednesday. It was a bit of a tight fit, but mostly comfortable for the hour I was in it.

I imagine you would be at the other extreme. You might rattle around a little in the “large” cockpit and it may not feel like you are securely connected to the boat. It really depends on a lot of things, so there’s nothing like sitting in one.

I learned that my feet (with shoes) are a little large for the Manitou 14 and I doubt I would ever consider a long trip with that particular boat.


one vote for Eliza
I can tell you that my wife really likes her Eliza and at the time we thought of the Manitou as more of a recreation boat, and the Eliza as a step up. I don’t know if that’s true or not. As a fairly large guy I can’t even get in her Eliza, but could paddle the Manitou. To me that means that at your size, the Eliza would be a much better fit. The downside may be that you can’t haul as much gear, but you have to decide how many times you will be paddling for extended trips. Hope that helps.

For someone your size…

– Last Updated: May-13-08 11:09 AM EST –

A really big cockpit, which the Manitou 14 has for someone your size, will give you really poor contact for bracing, rolling, a lot of things that you want to be able to do if multi-day trips off the coast of Maine are in your agenda. A good deal on a boat isn't going to be worth it if you go out to take some skills work in two months and realize by the end of the first day that you need a different boat. Been there done that, off the coast of Maine also being where we saw the light.

As to rudders and skegs, forgetaboutit for the moment and worry about finding a boat that fits you decently and feels good to paddle. For the most part, the designers and manufacturers will decide whether a boat will be best fitted with a rudder or a skeg and sell the boat with that device. Just go home with whatever is on or under the stern of the boat you like in terms of fit and allover handle, ie the hull design.

Particularly at your size you are going to be quite challenged to find a boat that fits you well to start with. If you make rudders or skegs a criteria, you risk losing some boats off your list that you really should consider.

Yes there are strong opinions about one being better than the other... but that's more of a luxury for the average sized guy than it is for you.

As to storage... unless you are ready to try and go used and out to at least a 16 ft boat, you probably will find storage for long trips to be challenging in a boat of this length that otherwise fits you well. I'd suggest that you get a boat that'll get you going on basic paddling and that would work for a weekend right now, and as you develop more skills you'll get a sense of what you want to do look for a boat apt for longer tripping.

Some thoughts

– Last Updated: May-13-08 8:45 AM EST –

The length of the cockpit opening does not matter if the width is the same. As long as the thigh braces fit where they should, above your knees, and as long as it is not as big to be unmanageable for a spray skirt for you to put on and off relatively easy.

The rest gave you answers about the fit of each boat - I have no idea as I'm tall and would not fit in either boat. All I can say is that if you do not fit snugly (with or without some padding), you will not like it in the long term. And a higher deck on the front may interfere with your stroke.

On the skeg & rudder. I am a relatively new paddler too and for recreational paddling I see no reason for a rudder. A skeg would be nice to maintain direction in some conditions, but again not mandatory for a couple of hours at a time paddling.

For longer trips I can only imagine that a rudder will be ave ry good thing to have. From the experience I have gained in shorter paddles, I can see unquestionably that it requires considerable effort to control the direction of the boat in some conditions thru the paddle alone. And that is not a function of skill - it is just hte physics of the boat and waves and wind. With a rudder and to a lesser degree a skeg you will be able to control the direction without wasting effort on it and would paddle easier for a longer period of time. But the rudder pedals should be well made (toe control for instance) - some boats have them so that it is hard to use your legs to support you as the rudder pedals move about. And the cables should be made so that they do not kink or obstruct cargo area etc.

You might want to check out the WS Tsunami line of kayaks…they have a great assortment of sizes available. My daughter-in-law is just a bit bigger than you and she loves the Tsunami 140.

Controlling the boat

– Last Updated: May-13-08 3:10 PM EST –

I think we disagree. Edging and the paddler's use of their own weight is a very large part of controlling the boat's direction.

As an example, in certain situations with wind the most effective way for me to maintain a heading is to plop my weight over onto one side of the boat and just paddle normally from there. It often works and is a whole lot less tiring than doing a constant sweep stroke. But in order to do that, it has to be a boat that will respond to my weight enough for that shift the change the boat's waterline. And I have to have good access to the thigh braces in case I need to do a fast correction. If the boat is too big in terms of volume or contact, that stuff won't work.

As to cockpit shape, I respectfully disagree that narrowness can overcome length issues. For someone with a wider posterior, or someone who likes a more froggy leg position, that could work. But if your aging back and hips are better off with a more straight-legged position - and mine are - you need the boat to fit properly in both dimenions. The classic example for me is the Impex Outer island, which does have a pretty narrow keyhole cockpit by many standards. But between the low volume of the boat and the length of the cockpit, there isn't anything resembling a contact point for me in that boat, at 5'4". Believe me I tried - I needed some contact on a slightly windy day in an OI a couple of summers ago. For me, I'd have to get the ocean cockpit to make the boat work.

In the alternative, the original DS Necky Elaho had a longer cockpit than I'd prefer, but very affirmative WW braces that came down below the edge of the cockpit. Those braces overcame the length issue - but there aren't a lot of sea- capable kayaks set up to work with true WW braces.

WW-style thighbraces
This is my hommade mod to an old(single-layer)Avocet RM. I did something similar for my 5’ wife when she had the same boat.

controlling the boat
It is part of the fun of kayaking to control a boat with edging and paddle strokes on short day trips. But if you are doing a 25k crossing with the wind kicking up and you are doing hundreds and hundreds of paddle strokes without any perceivable change in location, having a rudder to keep you on course without expending any extra effort or attention is kinda nice.


No dispute about rudder
A rudder has its place for sure. But I’m not seeing a reason for it to drive a boat choice in what we know here, and as I said above it can become more of a limiting issue for a very small paddler than an average guy.

I’ll chime in as lots of knowledge about

– Last Updated: May-13-08 2:17 PM EST –

both boats in question. The Eliza is legitimately designed for the female body with a lot of female input. News flash:! Most American women are not "tiny" in the lower end, and in fact need enough room for comfort in the lower end, even though they may be small, lower powered engines overall. Previous Necky's designed to be LV versions fared poorly in the marketplace because they were too tight even for smaller women.

Soooo, the Eliza is wider at the hips, but has a shorter cockpit length and the thigh brace area curves in sooner to provide contact for shoter femurs. This also means easy deck install and removall. Someone Celias size typically appreciates not having to reach way out in front to secure or remove a snug spray deck! There's also enough space for smaller to average builds while not being too big.

The hull is likewise designed to be "efficient" at cruising speeds for lower powered paddlers. The moderate V combined with a full chine profile and ample rocker equate to a hull that will react immediately to light edging, and become very turny with aggressive edging.

The poly Eliza is wider than the composite, has the traditional Necky neo / hard covered hatches and a rudder. The design team and focus groups decided that a ruddered version would have more market appeal than a skeg version. The composite boat is narrower, even more efficient, skegged, and comes with Valley ovald for and aft. It is an outstanding coastal play boat, efficient tourer. Both boats have low windage and are well balanced. The poly version works well without the rudder by intentional design. The rudder will help any beginner, and even experts when chosen.

Given the sales figures on these boats the team made some good calls.

The Manitou 14 is a larger cockpit kayak designed to be well rounded for beginners all the way to good paddlers. It would not be ideal for a light or small person, and is not as efficient as either Eliza over distance. It is, however an excellent all round do most things very well boat that has a huge fit range. Handles rough seas superbly and is capable of any water a paddler can comfortably handle.

I have paddled these boats in a variety of conditions.

Tsunami's : Nice boats with outfitting that folk seem to like. Hatch issues seem to be getting better, and the smaller Tsunamis offer more options for the consumer.

In the end you have to paddle all in your short list and buy the boat that you feel most happy in. As always you'll get lots of commentary on the web. Often from folk who've never paddled the boats in question...........

Tsunami SP at most
Others are too big.

But - to the camping thing - kayak camping is more compact than in other craft. 15’ of boat can be a good bit of space, probably more than it seems like at first glance.