More kayak buying advice.....

Hello all, new member but have used the website on a regular basis for reviews.

I’m an avid backpacker but I’m now looking to get into kayak camping. Seems like the thing to do now that I’m getting older and my feet aren’t what they used to be. :slight_smile:

I’m a big fella, 6 foot and 250 lbs. so a kayak capable of carrying me and my gear is a requirement. From what limited knowledge I have about kayaks I know I need a boat capable of carrying 300+ lbs. and something with a cockpit on the larger side for comfort. As I’d like to take it into rivers and large streams so I think I should stay around 14 foot range.

I intend to use it mainly for normally calm lakes and rivers but I would also like the capability to paddle in the Bay of Fundy and handle a bit of swell. I will do a bit of fishing as well. I’m looking for a forgiving kayak with some stability.

My local outdoor shop has a Necky Looksha 14 on sale for $1000 CAD. Would this be a good kayak for a L-XL beginner ? If anyone has suggestions on other kayaks for what I’m looking for please let me know.

Thanks in advance.

Pungo 140
This is a good all around for the larger paddler.

good news, or bad news?
OK first the bad news: you’re going to have trouble finding a boat that lets you paddle all of those conditions safely and efficiently.

Good news is if you’re a backpacker, you’ll have much less of a challenge fitting your gear. Take it from another backpacker who often helps first time kayak-campers who have never backpacked.


– Last Updated: Nov-09-15 12:02 PM EST –

You are looking to do a few different things which would call for slightly different boats. You may find something that would be close enough that could do Ok at all items, but none would be perfect for all.

At your weight you will want a boat which well exceeds 300 pounds of capacity. I'd shoot for 350, especially if you are carrying gear.

A larger cockpit (like in the Pungo suggested) would work for calm areas, but that large opening is almost impossible to seal with a spray skirt if you have waves. In conditions (whether ocean waves or river waves), you will want a tighter cockpit and good sealing spray skirt. If you go to Seals Sprayskirts fit guide and look up different boats, you will find a number size. The smaller the number, the smaller the cockpit opening. The Pungo has a size of 7.0. I would only go as large as 1.6, possibly 2.2 for anything Bay of Fundy (or any ocean or very large lake or even class I+ river). That Looksha 14 you mentioned would fit this cockpit requirement.

But, with your weight and gear requirement, a shorter boat will also be a wider boat to be able to float the weight. Wider boats are less performance oriented. Might be better to get something longer which could be narrower and have a bit more performance.

You definitely want a touring kayak with 2 sealed bulkheads (which along with being somewhat-dry storage for your gear, more importantly are built in flotation).

In general, people who kayak camp use longer boats to cover distance and carry more gear. 16-18 feet. Also very common for people to get composite (fiberglass, kevlar, carbon) boats, which even though they are a but more fragile than plastic, are repairable in the field. Plastic boats are much more rugged, but also much harder to fix if you do punch a hole in one.

If you are gunk holing in small streams and such, the shorter boat would be easier to get around. But carry a lot less gear (and as noted, be wider and less performance oriented). That's the trade off.

Many of us here end up with multiple boats. I have 3 - a 17.5' long touring boat, a 14' daily driver boat for day trips, and a 12' ocean play boat. If I was going to go for one, the day tripper is what I use the most, so what I would have (and then rent the long touring boat for when I do trips). You may want to do the same - think of what you will do 90% of the time and get a boat that matches, and rent when you need something different.

You didn't mention how much kayaking you have done. If you haven't, you should consider taking the intro to kayaking day long class most outfitters offer. It should cover (or at least give you the chance to ask the instructor about) different types of boats and what to look for. Definitely will cover how to make the boat move, and how to get yourself back in to a boat should you fall out.

Yes, as a backpacker I will actually be able to splurge and take more than I normally would. I pack ultralightweight so going totally overboard I would have maybe 30-40 lbs of gear, space will not be an issue.

I know that there is no ideal kayak for all that I want to do so I’m looking for that middle ground that ‘could’ do it all if required. Somebody had mentioned to me that the Necky Looksha might be that boat ?

Too small IMHO
For your size and intended use the Looksha 17 is more appropriate. I got one (an older model but same basic specs as the current one) for my brother who is 60 pounds lighter and 2 inches shorter than you and he uses it in small streams and rivers in upstate New York and New England with no problem as well as in Atlantic coastal waters. The cockpit is spacious enough that he can get in easily, even sitting in it first and then drawing his legs in one at a time. And it will support a standard spray skirt. A 14 footer is far too short and wide for the Bay of Fundy and for you to be doing any overnight trips regardless of location. I’m 5’5" and 155 lbs and would not go out in northern open water in anything less than 15’.

same as Looksha V
The Looksha 17 is the same as the Looksha V. They used to call it the V, but renamed it to be the 17. So you might see them used under that name also.

You might also try the Looksha IV, but the cockpit is a bit smaller than the V, so definitely try before buying to make sure you fit. The I through III versions are mostly smaller, and getting old enough (from i90s or before) I likely wouldn’t consider even if you fit.

I was your size
When I wear cowboy boots at least

I have done most of what you describe in a Tsunami 145, except fishing. Looking at specs I was on the fence between that and a looksha but 3 minutes in the showroom solved that, I couldn’t squeeze my arse into the looksha.

The 145 uses a Seals 1.7 skirt and I have had it out in the gulf with no issues and done several camping trips.

I also have a Pungo 140. I would not take it anywhere near swells and unless you are an extreme minimalist you’ll have a tough time safely hauling camping eqpt.

If you want to fish get a separate fishing kayak

There are better boats but they get way more expensive. 14 ft is as big as I would want for smaller streams and is the shortest I would take on big water.

Dagger Alchemy 14L
Good advice above regarding multiple boats, but if you were to look for one boat only, check out the Alchemy 14L. Depending on how you carry your weight, you should fit comfortably. There are other boats in the category, but that might be a starting point for research.

Match your Weight - Alchemy L Recommend
I match your weight and I’d recommend the Alchemy L. The Pungo 140 is not a good river boat as the deep V will catch on every rock. The Alchemy is a good beginner boat and I know some top level paddlers that like it as well. L in the Case of Dagger is for large not for low volume. You want the L.

Why not a canoe?

– Last Updated: Nov-11-15 12:56 AM EST –

With a kayak you will still not be able to "splurge". You need to fit everything into limited storage areas. You still need that backpacker ethic.

Several times I've encountered new kayak campers at the put in trying to fit all kinds of camping stuff into the hatches and realize they couldn't

Considering your weight and the fact that you may want to "splurge" a bit, why not a canoe? It may be the better tool for what you are trying to accomplish.