Necky Manitou 14 or?

-- Last Updated: May-02-13 3:43 PM EST --

So I took a trip to the kayak shop the other day and had the opportunity to sit in a few boats, one of them being the Manitou 14. I had initially had my heart set on a Looksa 14 but as a smaller paddler (5'8" 165lb male) I felt more comfortable in the Manitou with the lower foredeck and thinner widith. I like the lower rear deck also and I would probably change out the high seat back at some point for a back band so I can learn different types of rolls.

However, one thing I didn't like was the softer chines compared to the multi hard chined Looksha. Now, I don't know how to put a kayak on edge yet but it is on the list of things to learn this summer. Based on looks alone the Manitou doesn't look like it would edge as well as the Looksha.

This now brings me to my question. What out there is similar to the Manitou that has a more agressive hull design? Perhaps the Dagger Alchemy 14S? I have read that the Alchemy 14S handles really well but it isn't what you'd consider quick within this class of boats and isn't great as far as gear capacity is concerned. It does have a back band as opposed to a high seat back so that is one less thing to buy in the future.

Rudder vs. skeg isn't important as long as it has one or the other along with front and rear bulkheads. Most of my paddling will be day paddles but I am going to do a few one or two night trips so I will need to be able to carry things from time to time. The shops near me sell all of the major brands.

I have set aside a day this week to go do test paddles. So, that being said I haven't had the Manitou out on the water yet.

Hull design
More rocker turns easier, and may turn so well it isn’t a great tracker. Chines don’t matter as much as rocker.

You need to decide on your desired tracking versus turning ability, and hull speed.

Rocker effects vs edging
It looks like the Alchemy has more rocker than the Manitou so it will surely turn better but be slower and not track as well (at least with the skeg up). Does rocker affect edging ability/stability or does it only have to do with flat or semi-flat turns? I was under the impression that edging was all about the chines as opposed to the rocker. I’m sure you have noticed by this point that I am still new at this!

I have a variety of ww boats, lake
canoes, and one lonely Necky Looksha Sport.

Edging is for many things, not just one. My Necky can be steered easily by my leaning a bit opposite to the direction I want to turn. My ww boats are not nearly as responsive in that way, though the effect is there.

Chines are another complex topic. In ww, sharp chines may (or may not) make a kayak “loose” for surfing green waves. Somewhat rounded chines may make a slalom boat carve on the inside or outside edge to turn up in an eddy and through an upstream gate. But even canoe hulls with no obvious chines may carve well, because subtle tightening of a rounded hull may bite into crosscurrent.

Rocker interacts with chine design and edging technique, but the modest rocker in touring kayaks can’t be easily compared with the marked rocker in ww boats.

I think these simple rules apply for paddlecraft. Hulls designed for high cruising speed will be limited in maneuverability. Hulls designed for maneuverability will be somewhat limited in speed.

But in touring kayaks, you shouldn’t be expecting outstanding speed, so if you are content with reasonable cruising ease, you can add maneuverability without giving away much. You might have liked the Looksha Sport, after an initial period of “oddness”.

You filled out your profile, but I didn’t see a location. On some topics, it helps us to help you if we know roughly where you paddle. Your house from space satellite is of no interest.

I updated

– Last Updated: Apr-27-13 2:44 PM EST –

my profile to reflect my location. I spent a good while looking for the edit profile function this morning but didn't find it until a few minutes before this reply.

All of the paddling I do at this point is on wide slow moving rivers (south river, patuxent river, and this summer the potomac) and in the Chesapeake Bay with a few reservoirs thrown in. I wish that I had surf, rock gardens, etc to play around in but I don't and, frankly, my friends aren't interested in that kind of kayaking.

I will be doing some whitewater next summer with a WW kayak. I don't have time to take any classes this summer.

There are a lot of little coves and marshes to explore in the areas I paddle. But, that is all slow speed stuff.

14ft options
I’m a bit smaller than you and looking at the Venture Islay LV and Eddyline Samba as options (haven’t found anywhere to test paddle or even try on for size yet)

You’re well studied

– Last Updated: Apr-28-13 7:19 AM EST –

Couple things from my experience. I'm an inch taller than you, and about 30 lbs. lighter. I just got an Alchemy S, which joins my Tempest 165, among others. Yes, the Alchemy is slower than the Tempest. But, I'll bet you it is NOT slower than the Manitou 14. The Alchemy S is an inch narrower, which would be a relative plus for speed. (And, you're already considering just a half inch of difference in width between the Looksha and Manitiou.) It's been several years since I paddled a friend's Manitou, but, at my size, I found it rather porky... wide enough that I had to work at keeping my feet on the foot braces. The Alchemy narrows quicker, and has the stiffener down the middle of the cockpit, which keep my feet right where I want them.

While the Alchemy's handling is ridiculously fun, it's not at all hard to paddle straight. (Well, not for me. I've had some squirrely boats, and generally don't think much about it.) Save the skeg for wind only. By contrast, I paddle the Tempest routinely with an inch of skeg... kind of odd.

Packing space may be your most significant sacrifice WRT the Alchemy S. You lose relative volume not just from narrower width and pointier stems, but from the 3rd foam bulkhead. I'm not sure if the Necky has foam bulkheads, or welded plastic. But, there's a difference in number, if not thickness.

I have both Dagger and Necky
In my opinion the Manatou is a great beginner/intermediate boat that should not be dismissed as a rec boat only. For a wider boat it has pretty decent speed and glide, and it can turn pretty quickly if really rolled up on its side aggressively. The outfitting is decent, and a back band is an easy upgrade. Two things about the Manatou that keep it in my fleet is that they are very light for a wide poly boat, and the hatches are great, easy to operate and dry.

The Alchemy has a very different feel to it, but has similar speed and glide characteristics (again my opinion). When edged the Alchemy may be a little more forgiving when feeling where the “point of no return” is.

I think that both are great boats, for different uses. For flat water day trips the Manatou is a good boat, if things are going to get a little rough, the Alchemy is also a great boat. The prices are very similar. I do not think either boat would disappoint you, I would get the boat that “feels” the best to you.

For a growing skill set…
The Alchemy is a higher performance boat that is beginer friendly. I use mine to take folks out for their first time, use it in some WW & rock gardening as well as surf. Great all around boat with plenty of storage if you know how to back pack. The quick responsiveness works for corrective strokes as well as turning. It’s cruising speed is plenty fast for the type of paddling you’re describing, it’s suprisingly effecient. I’d recommend putting some time in both the Alchemy S & L as well as the Manitou before purchasing if you’ve any doubts.

If you’re not going to be bashing the boat off rocks you can remove the stiffener and even the pillar,(my stiffener is out but left the pillar), to give some additional storage in front of the footpegs, many I know have also moved the seat back,(improves tracking & ease of skirt fit), & still have room for some small drybags behind the seat. Lap bags,(properly sized), are another option for additional storage & can double as a safety/rescue gear.

As skills are gained the joys of a responsive boat are increased.

All thebest, & have fun, tOM

The wife and i bought manitou 14’s as our first boats. I am 5 11 and 175 lbs and found the boat to be a good fit. At around 24 inches wide its not going to be a rocket but it isnt slow either.

I’ve done a week out in the boat without being uncomfortable or too tight for packing.

The boat always inspired confidence even on several 3 mile island crossings.

My son has paddled the boat on leisurely 3 day trips with me when i have been paddling my 17 foot boat and never had an issue “keeping up”.

In short the boat is a fantastic boat for developing skills. It is more than simply a rec boat. I’ve used it on lakes, streams, ponds, Georgian Bay multi day trips etc. If in a year or two you want to upgrade to a longer, narrower boat you wont likely have a problem getting most of your money back out of the boat.

Try to get an hour or two in the boat and compare with other boats. Fit and feel will help you decide.


I went and sat
in the Alchemy 14s and 14l at the shop yesterday. I was surprised how low the foredeck on the 14S was! I couldn’t really fit my feet in and I wasn’t wearing bulky shoes. Even with booties it would be a tight fit. The 14L, however, fit great. It was good to see it sitting next to a Wilderness Systems Zephyr 155 and Tsunami 145. The Zephyr is a sweet boat but at $1500 it is a little much on the price side of things. The Tsunami looked like a barge compared to both the Alchemy and Zephyr. I may still go with the Manitou being I hear that the shop which carries it is having a mother’s day sale and I can snag it for under $1k whereas the Alchemy would still be over 1k. I can use the extra money to buy a nicer paddle. However, I still need to paddle both boats and see which one feels better on the water.

have you considered used?

– Last Updated: May-01-13 6:06 PM EST –

there is a Venture Easky 15 w/skeg on DC Craigslist right now for just $600, which I would choose over the Manitou any day

I am open to used boats
but nothing has come across lately that I have recognized. There was an ad for two Necky Looksa’s at a great price. However, after sitting in one I decided to go another route. I’ll have to read up on that Easky and contact the seller.

quick 2 cents
FWIW, my first kayak was a Manitou 14; loved it as a first; good for a wide range of uses here (lakes, Snake River – not the class III section, I ducky that). However after a couple of years I bought a dedicated lake boat (16.5 x 22) and then in another couple of years a dedicated river boat (XP10). I now rarely use the Manitou but keep it around for visitors who are comfortable in it. Personally, I have no regrets about getting the Manitou as my first kayak. I hope my experience helps a little in your thinking – it may or may not apply to you.

I can’t find a ton
on the Easky in the way of reviews. Why would you take it over the Manitou? The seller unloaded it to a local paddling shop before I got to him and they want $750 for the kayak, paddle, and cockpit cover.