My First Kayak

I’m 5’9" and 130 lbs on a good day and have read as much as I can find on kayaking but still I’m having a hard time deciding which kayak is best.I plan on doing mostly flat water,large lakes and rivers,and maybe some sea kayaking close to shore.

Given my limited budget and knowledge the last thing I want to do is buy a kayak and then later find its not the right fit (too big) or I’ve outgrown its capabilities in a few months.

I’ve narrowed down my choices to the Necky Manitou 14 and the Wilderness Systems Tsunami 140. I’m not limiting myself to either of these two but these so far seem like good choices to me.

I’d really value any ones input on these two choices or suggestions on something that may work better.

Don’t sweat it
Buying a boat and later finding out that it’s not right for you isn’t a big deal. As a matter of fact, if you’re serious about kayaking I can guarantee it will happen a lot more than once.

Just look around and find something used. Don’t get too hung up on particular models, find something in the ballpark for a good price and buy it. Having your own boat to paddle will help you figure out what does and doesn’t work for you. Then when you outgrow your boat you can probably sell it for the same price you paid for it and go find yourself a boat better suited to your needs.

I cringe when I look back on the first few kayaks I owned, I wouldn’t be able to stand paddling them now. Even though they turned out to be the wrong boats for me I loved paddling them at the time. A couple of them I knew were wrong for me in the long run when I bought them but they were a good price and gave me my first taste of sea kayaking. Having them to paddle quickly taught me what to look for in my next boat. I sold one of them for the same price I paid and the other for more.

Good luck,


take lessons
See if any kayak shops offer a basic paddling class and try that. Ussually you get the kayak rental included, and you get some basic instruction on kayaking. I did it and aslo went on several local paddling trips using a different kayak each time. Then when I test paddled the kayak I liked enough to buy I had something to base it on. I personally have a WS zephyr but I weigh 240 and have size 12 feet. So good luck, see if there are any demo’s around, another good way to test out different kayaks. John

Thanks for the advice.
I understand what your saying. It seems its going to be difficult to find a kayak that I like given my size and weight.

All the kayaks I find that I think would be great for me are expensive sea kayaks or kayaks built more with a women in mind :).

You would think living in Maine there would be a decent amount of kayaks for sale on Craigslist. I did find a Necky Tikani 14 ft and in the description it says its meant for medium to smaller sized people. Can’t find much info on this kayak however.

I think I’m going to do just that this weekend if I can.

either of those
is a good starter boat that you won’t outgrow quickly and can handle a variety of conditions; the Tsunami will feel bigger than the Manitou (there’s also the sleeker Tsunami 135 which you would fit in). The Manitou comes with a skeg, whereas the Tsunami offers an optional rudder. The Tsunami has easier to use hatches though, including a day hatch, and more cargo room for overnight and multi-day trips. Having owned both, I liked the seat & thigh hooks and the secondary stability better on the Tsunami, but thought the Manitou was made of slightly stiffer plastic.

I’ll admit
The WS 135, despite being labeled a woman’s boat, appeals to me. I would just need to get over the stigma of using a woman’s kayak. :slight_smile:

Out of all the reviews I’ve read I think I would prefer a more snug fitting kayak, even if it means less initial stability, over a rec style kayak.

any P & H dealers around?
If you can find a dealer who has P & H boats, you might want to look at their Venture Easky 15LV. It’s a little more advanced in design than either of the models you are looking at but it’s a good size for a slender person, being a low volume boat. I just bought one a couple of weeks ago on sale for under $800 (which puts it in the same budget range as the others you mentioned) and have been very happy with it (I’m 5’ 5" and 150 pounds). It’s made in Great Britain, has nice features and fittings, including cleverly adjustable thigh braces and foot pegs. and, at 46 lbs, it is about 10 pounds lighter than those other boats. I’ve paddled the Tsunami 140 (one of my paddling buddies has one) and the Easky feels much better to me.

As others have said, it is pretty easy to trade up in boats. You should be able to get a good price on any decent boat you buy now once you decide that you want something different. The Easky 15LV is the 6th kayak I’ve bought in 9 years – the ones I sold I always got at least 60 to 75% of what I paid new for them, so just think of the cost as a short term rent.

Find a dealer that allows demos, try any boat before you buy it. I’d too recommend buying the first one, maybe the second one too used. If you decide you like the sport you’ll outgrow the first boat and if you decide you don’t like it you’ve not lost a ton of cash on a new one.

It’s like buying a car, would you buy it without even sitting in it?

Bill H.

Small boats
Some smaller boats are specifically designed for women, most are not. You are a bit smaller than average, so look for that size of boat. Make sure you try out the boat before buying, be sure it fits snug enough on you. This is not the same thing as a short boat - some great boats for smaller people are almost 18 ft.

Get over your hangup about women’s boats. Most people your weight are women, many of the same boats will be best for both you and a lot of women. Your problems with a woman’s boat might be leg length (do the pegs adjust long enough for your legs?), foot size (do you have enough room for your feet?), hip width (do you need to add side padding so the seat is narrow enough to fit you?).

Lots of great advice and suggestions
thanks guys.

I’m going to see if I can borrow a friends kayak to try out. Its more thank likely a recreational tub. I’m also trying to find a rental place close by. Not very many places close to me that sell a variety of kayaks and will let you try them.


– Last Updated: Sep-11-10 9:03 AM EST –

I'm your height but 30 pounds heavier, and tend to prefer "smaller paddler" or "women's" boats. I would absolutely take the Tsunami 135 over the 140.

A boat that's too big will be harder to control, especially as wind and waves increase. A boat that's too wide and/or too deep interferes with a relaxed, efficient paddle stroke. A cockpit that's too big means you'll be sliding around, which is not good for stability or boat control.

Given your proportions you may end up padding out the cockpit in whatever boat you choose, but it helps to start with a reasonable fit.

You'll be able to eliminate a lot of boats by test-sitting. If it feels like a bathtub, move on.

If you get the chance, don't be afraid to try boats that are out of your current price range. it's good experience, and you never know what you might find used. This is the time of year that rental outfits and stores start to sell of their used and demo models.

Just saw this in the classifieds here;
(ME) Point 65 Crunch Rocker, 16'3" x 21.6". Polyethylene, rudder. Orange deck, orange hull, 55 lbs. May be the fastest poly sea kayak on the market. Suitable for racing or fast touring. Lightly used. Excellent condition. Great for athletic novice to advanced paddler. Suggested retail (new): $1599. On sale for $1,145.00. -- Submitted by: water_walkerView

And when you test-paddle, bring a dry change of clothes and a sense of humor....

Beginners tend to worry a lot about stability. Most folks here will tell you that their "tippy" new boats magically became much more stable after a few hours of seat time. It's a matter of getting comfortable with letting the boat move under you instead of being ridgidly upright.

On another note, if you like to build things, you could build yourself a kayak. The Tern 14 is a great boat for smaller folks.
Skin-on-frames like the Yost boats can be built very inexpensively.

it started out that way

– Last Updated: Sep-11-10 10:58 AM EST –

but nowadays it's made in unisex colors, it's just a lower-volume design, there's nothing overly "female" about it. a tad under 23" but no stability issues; in fact the secondary stability is fantastic.

my son paddles a 135 but I fit in it too, and I continue to be impressed by it. the 140 might feel too big to you, unless you need the room for camping gear; hip pads are an easy addition.

You might also check out the Native Inuit 13.5:

Wilderness Systems Tsunami
I think the Tsunami 140 would be an excellent choice, or even the Tsunami 145 ( ).

The 145 would be huge for a 130-pound paddler. Even the 140 is for medium-to-large folks.

Paddled the tsunami 160 yesterday…
During a day long sea kayak course at LL Beans. The boat has slightly larger cockpit than the 135 and obviously longer.I have to say the boat fit fairly well but seemed like some one my size was approaching the smallest size you would want to put in it.

It seemed slow to get up to any speed and turning 90 to 180 degrees seemed like a fair amount more work than it should have took.

Another more expensive option I’m considering is the tempest 165 as its dimension seem inline with the tsunami 135 but longer.

Go long
If you are going to be getting out on the water only a few times during a summer then short and wide may be fine. If you will paddle fairly often, you will more quickly grow out of the 135, 140 or similar boats, I believe.

The Tempest 165 will be a boat that will be good for a beginner paddler for quite a while. You might not ever outgrow a Tempest 165. 16 foot or longer, up to about 17’ 6" would be desirable. British style all the way. Skeg, not rudder.

I tried a Tsunami 140 recently, briefly in calm contiditions and it was way too wide and stable. Edging wasn’t happening. It made me think in rough condidtions the boat was going to do what the water wanted it to do and not what I wanted it to do.

As a beginner almost exactly 1 year ago, I’m about the same size 136 lbs, 5’10" and started with a 16’ 5" boat x 22.75" wide. Felt tippy initially but felt secure pretty quick. And would have regretted any short boat in a few weeks.

Price of a new Hurricane Tracer 165 is an affordable $1,600 / about the same as the rotomolded Tsunami 140. And they are not in the same ball park. Many people like the Tempest 165, but the fiberglass version is much more expensive.

Before buying a short boat, try a longer boat.

Used Hurricane Aquasport Touring Kayak - $850 (Morrisville, VT)

And yes it’s a dilema. Isn’t it?

Necky Manitou
I actually like the Necky Manitou, but that’s me. Someone else may have a different opinion. I think the Manitou might be a little lighter, but I’m not completely sure about that. Anyhow, I think it tracks well, it fits me well (5’5" 140 lbs) and I can paddle it easily.