Necky Looksha IV or CD Storm GT?

Hello, I’m new to kayaking having just finished my first outing using a friend’s WS Tempest 170. It was so great that I’m now looking for my own. I’m on the Southern Maine coast, so most of my trips will be island hopping in the Casco bay and similar waters. Lengths of trips will be anywhere from 3 hours to 3-4 days.

I’m looking at a Necky Looksha IV ($750) and also a CD Storm GT ($600). Both in excellent condition (per the seller, but I will check them out thoroughly). I will not be able to paddle either of them before buying. Any thoughts on which would be a better kayak? I’m 5’10", 175# with a medium build.

I liked the Tempest 170, but I had a terrible problem keeping it straight. It might’ve been my stroke, but boy was it annoying trying to keep it straight, even in areas with not much of a current at all. Other than that, it was fine. I think i’d prefer a rudder over a skeg, but that preference comes from my issues keeping the Tempest straight despite the skeg being deployed.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. thanks!

CD Storm…
IMHO, The CD Storm is a roomy stable boat, and it looks great in the water.

When I guided it was first choice to put clients in as it was stable, and with the rudder very easy to control.

As your skills improve you may find a tighter fit more to your liking but given your two choices I would vote for the Storm.

Good luck, GH

you can sell either one when/if you want to without much of a financial loss.I like the Necky over the Storm but ymmv

My votes for the Necky

Weathercocking, rudders
The Storm does less of that than the Looksha, but both are solid boats even if older designs. I wouldn’t try to make any decisions right now about rudders based on that paddle you describe - frankly, if you had a hard time keeping the Tempest straight you need to look first to your paddling. Your area has tide, some current flow around the islands and wind coming over a long fetch if you are in a clear spot between islands. You will have to learn to paddle straight thru all of that rudder or not if you want to be solid for the waters of Maine.

Thanks! What about Chatham 16?
A Chatham 16 has become available as well? Is 16’5" too short for my purposes? Any thoughts on how these three boats compare? Thanks again

Enter Chatham 16
Any thoughts on the Chatham 16 compared to the storm and looksha IV? Will a slightly smaller boat affect things for me?

Chatham 16 vs Tempest 170
The Chatham 16 an Tempest 170 are similar in design, but actually more different than you would expect from a 6" difference. I personally can’t fit into the C16, as the cockpit and seat and too narrow for the butt on my 200 pound body. But I fit in the 170 (or in a Chatham 17).

I had a Looksha 4 (and also a Looskha Sport) and thought it was a great boat.

As Tsunamichuck said, these are at prices where (assuming they are working) you can buy as a long term demo. If it works, great. But if the boat doesn’t work for you, you should be able to resell for basically what you paid.

Chatham 16
is by far my favorite of the 3 so far, and my first sea kayak was the Storm’s little sister, the Squall. I like CD boats. You would need to sit in the Chatham 16 though - the cockpit felt fine on me but I am a good bit smaller than you. On the specs, it may be narrower than is comfortable for you.

But it is my favorite, maybe not yours. The boat has a fairly low rear deck and some other design elements that fit it in with the newer, currently more popular sea kayaks. It is a great rough water boat.

However, it is designed to be more of a playful boat, sacrificing hull speed to get more maneuverability, than a general purpose go-distance boat. The other two older boats you are looking at are general purpose expedition boats. The one that is a match to them in the Chatham series is the Chatham 17.

A boat like the Chatham 16 as a first boat will make you be a better paddler in some ways than the Storm or the Looksha, because it is high on maneuverability. Paddling a playful boat, that may get kicked around a bit in waves and wind, will teach you a lot about boat handling. There is much to be said for that - the question is whether it works for you.

Speed and storage
With th C16 it sounds like it would be a challenge keeping up my paddling group in their tempests. Also I just noticed that there is far less storage capacity in the C16. That is a factor for me.

Looksha IV
I love this boat! It used to be my favorite kayak. Are you looking at a fiberglass or plastic model?

It’s a very well-rounded kayak, imo. Quite fast, a joy to paddle in rough water, quite stable, easy to control. I would jump at the chance to get a Looksha IV in good condition for a good price.

The Chatham 16 is much less stable, less stowage for gear, lighter (I believe), and quite fast and nimble. We had one at our club with 150 members, and only 2 members would paddle it (both instructors), so it may not be a great beginners boat.

As you paddle more, keeping a kayak straight will become almost 2nd nature. I found it quite easy to keep the Looksha IV tracking straight without the rudder when I was paddling it, and I was a beginner back then.

If its this Chatham

Get it. Even if you do not like it at first. Hold on to it and try it later and then sell it if you do not like it.

Cd storm
For your size and weight I think the storm has way too much volume in the cockpit.

  • mike

Thank you everyone for the great information. It sounds like any of the three would be a decent boat provided it feels good when sitting in it. The significantly reduced stowage area in the Chatham 16 has me shying away from that boat simply because I did a 3-day excursion using the Tempest 170 and it was a tight fit in there. I dare say I would not have fit it all in a boat with 25% less space.

In all reality, I will use the boat probably a half dozen times per year. some day paddles, some 3-4 day paddles.

Too much stuff
If you are barely fitting 3 days of camping gear and supplies into a boat like the Tempest 170 (and I know that includes carrying water for the islands) you need to rethink your packing for kayak camping. That boat should carry a week’s worth before you have to think hard.

Kayak camping is different - prep and how you think about the shapes and sizes of what you bring. It usually comes down to maybe getting a smaller version of a few things and making aggressive use of compression bags and smaller, varied dry bags including the pointy end kinds.

FYI, our kayak camping experience is mostly on the Maine islands - similar situation to yours just a bit further up on the coast.

Not too much stuff, but too big
I agree with you that kayak camping requires you to think more about what to bring. But the fact is, I don’t have all the high-performance gear that packs down to nothing (bag, pad, tent, stove, etc) and as a father of 3 young ones, I most likely will not go buy it. Is that ideal for a 3-day kayak camping trip out on Jewell and Little Birch islands? Not at all, but it’s unfortunately the way it probably is so I need to find a kayak that can handle what I have.

I appreciate all your thoughts, though. where abouts are your Maine islands excursions?

Midcoast, Muscongous
Have camped on Black, Thief, Hungry and one I forget, Thief on the southern camp site that is quite private (and a haul if you use the landing beach).

Am I remembering correctly that Jewel has fresh water? One of them in Casco Bay does… it would reduce the load.

If you can plan decently on the weather, and Sept/earlt Oct is the easiest time to do that there, you might be able to grab any old tarp that you use for other purposes and rig a shelter out of it. Less space than a regular tent.

Also - I really should have mentioned this earlier - get over to Peak’s Island and see the Maine Island Kayak folks. You will have to call ahead - I think they used to do demos on Tuesdays but check - and arrange to get some butt time in a variety of boats. You can get a lot of exposure without having to buy anything that way, and a chat with Tom Bergh would be a good thing as you are getting started.

Learn navigation with a paper chart and compass BEFORE you head out to the islands, and even a very basic GPS unit that give you lat/long can be a lifesaver. That way you can check your location on a paper chart and see if you are someplace dangerous. You can be overtaken by pea soup fog that leaves you totally blind - you cannot outpaddle the Maine fog. In Casco Bay that means you can end up in the path of a ferry or large commercial ships coming into Portland.

Or Cape Horn 17?
So I’ve been sitting in some boats, thanks to good advice from good people on this site, and another one that is for sale is the Wilderness Systems Cape Horn 17’. Does anybody have any thoughts on the cape horn 17 vs. the Storm Gt vs. the Looksha IV?


Chatham 16
First off the fit: Designed by two guys who weigh 200-220 lbs! They fit fine, as do many other big, muscular guys. It’s a purposely designed snug fit for outer coastal paddling. That same snug fit helps one retain the boat while getting trashed in surf etc.

So, it’s a matter of what one is used to. I’m a big guy with a muscular build and easily fit the 16 with no issues but, I’m used to very tight surf kayaks etc. I find most sea kayaks very sloppy.

I say this to encourage you and others to try for yourself.

Capacity: I would paddle one to Alaska with no capacity issues. I have done extended trips in the 16 and it’s a matter once again of what you’re used to. There’s a ton of room. I never understood the need for kayakers to pack soooo much crap!

Speed: Another myth. Most who say it’s slower than X or Y boat have probably never actually qualntified that. The differences in real word speed among most of these popular kayaks in this range are soooooo slight they are mute! That is a fact. The 16 has won outer coastal races! How can that be???

Intended use: The CH16 is NOT the best kayak for a flat water tourer. The things that make it excel in outer coastal seas, rock gardens, surf are things that can be perceived as bad for flat water. It’s high volume bow does create a bit of a wake gurgle at speed on flat water etc, and that is instantly deemed by internet experts as slow. The boat was designed for the designers and their taste and style. Nothing about it was designed around average customer needs or desires. How it made it to market through JOI management at the time was a function of timing and luck.

The CH 18 is another great hull and the only thing I don’t like is the bigger cockpit, which was market driven by sales reps who wanted a fat guy hole in anotherwise awesome hull. The 18 is a very playful hull for it’s dimmensions and efficient. But, less than very skilled paddlers don’t benefit from this kayak and folk either love it or hate it. The CH 17 is the commitee kayak designed around focus group input, revised, and re-tweaked a couple of times until the committe of expert BCU coaches and other types liked it. It is the most popular of the three by far and what most paddlers like in a touring kayak.

The 17 is my least favorite of the Chatham’s but still a great all round boat,and the 16 my absolute favorite market available touring kayak to date.

That doesn’t mean anyone else should like it!

Funny thing: Looksha IV among Necky designers isn’t a favorite kayak at all! It was probably the best market performer in Necky’s history and the marketing hype around the hard edges etc really worked wonders… It’s all bullshit, but it sold boats.

Ultimately this sport is about being on and in the water and enjoying Nature. The kayak is just a tool and it’s about one that feels right for you at whatever stage you’re in. It may be the last you’ll buy or need, or one in twenty you’ll own over the years?

Buy what fits nice and is comfy to paddle, and isn’t too big and long. Outfit it as needed for safety and fine tuning, then go use it. Be wary of internet reviews.

Forget the logo’s. Provided it’s a decent reputable brand it will be a fine enough kayak for you.

Great info
Thanks. I need to sit in that Chatham 16. Sounds like experienced kayakers really like it.