Necky Manitou 14 v. WS Focus 135

-- Last Updated: Aug-28-14 12:35 PM EST --

**EDIT: Focus 145, not 135**

Relatively new to kayaking, got bit hard by the bug and looking at my first boat purchase, something I can grow with and take advantage of the Portland, OR area waters. (Slow rivers, lakes, possibly Columbia River Gorge and light coastal use, small class rapids at most.) I often paddle half- to full-day and would like to do some overnights.

I am a 5'9" female weighing 125-130# with long legs, so tall but slight of build.

My small frame makes me lean toward the narrower Focus, which also seems like a boat I can grow with forever. I like that it seems capable of possibly all the water types listed above. Of course, the price is higher than the Manitou, especially if I get the version with the rudder, which seems like it might be necessary to cross over into all the waters I'd eventually like to go (?).

The Necky I have found a great deal on, and everyone seems to like it. Since I am still a beginner, I question if it's not a better purchase, if the Focus isn't more boat than I need.

Any assistance appreciated. I am looking for somewhere to try both of these out but have yet to locate any place with the demos available. Thanks! :)

I should note I am also considering the WS Tsunami 135 for it’s price comparison to the Manitou. The Focus just seems to overwhelm the Tsunami in my mind. :slight_smile:

I’m glad I know the answers.
But I would go with the Necky unless there were some pretty clear reasons not to.

Not the Focus
Hello, I recently reviewed and started a long thread here on the focus, and most people seem to find the same issues with the focus. I would strongly suggest staying away from it especially if you are a relatively new to kayaks. The amour of effort and attention you need to keep the focus going in a straight line is significant. The boat is rudder dependent, and probably not the best option if you want to practice and become more advanced in the skills. I’ve never tested the Necky, but if you want a WS boat I would suggest the tsunami as a VERY stable VERY straight tracking boat, but with good potential. For a first kayak I really think it’s pretty good!

Take a look at the post below:

I hope this helps!

I would advise Manatou
I have had a lot of boats in my “fleet” but one of the boats that has never been up for trade is the Mankato.

It is an excellent beginner kayak and it will let you try out different skills as you get better on different waters.

One of the major up sides to the Manatou is that it is pretty light for a tough recreational boat. In my opinion it is faster than the WS boats and handles in a similar fashion.

The only downside I do not care for is the seating in the Manatou I do not think a back band is offered from the factory.

I hope it’s not rude to respond with a different suggestion than those asked about? Not up on the protocol here…

That said, I recently purchased for my wife a Necky Eliza. She is slightly smaller than you. But it’s a little longer and narrower than the Manitou, and weighs less. It’s a sweet little boat, and one that I think you could stay with for a long time, and keep up with other paddlers. Rudder was something my wife wanted (I don’t use them), and it is nice if used right, I think.

Just a thought. It’s a little more than the Manitou (we paid $1129), but a nice boat.

And the winner is…
Thanks so much everyone for replying! You guys really helped save me from what would have been a major mistake.

I ended up finally locating a shop in town that actually had both of these boats. Much to my surprise, the Necky cockpits don’t suit my body at all. (Tried the Eliza, too… Thanks, Just-A-Guy. :slight_smile: That good deal on the new Manitou 14 for $900 goes to someone else!

I ended up settling on Wilderness Systems Tsunami 140, which I may still risk and switch out for an unseen Tsunami 135 (love those narrower builds!). I really loved the feel of the Focus 145–it just fit me like a glove–but with all the water reviews Jpicos posted, I don’t think there’s any way.

I am going to be able to water test the 140 and the Focus next week, just to see for myself that the crazy good fit doesn’t translate into a crazy fantastic boat. :slight_smile: Expecting to end up with the Tsunami, and if the 140 still feels a little barge-y to me even after all the retrofitting we did (angled knee pads, added hip pads, switched out for backband), thinking a blind buy on the 135 may be in order… :slight_smile:

Thanks so much for posting this! Sure sounds like you just saved me from some major buyer’s remorse. :slight_smile:

Get your Tsunami, and rent the old movie
"On The Beach". Everyone gone fission.

My wife’s first kayak was a Tsunami 140 – she is a few inches shorter than you and about 10 lbs. heavier. She really liked it. However, she likes even better her Eddyline Fathom LV which is 21" wide. (The Tsunami is now for visitors and for river use where it may get knocked around a bit.)

So, just keep in mind that many folks move relatively quickly to sleeker boats – it sounds like you can’t try the 135 – too bad.

Good to hear…
The more I think about it, the more I think I’d rather lose the good deal on the demo’d 140 and spring for the new 2015 robin’s egg blue colored 135. Sleek matters always, but I think especially when you’re slight-of-build. (Hard to know, I only have the one. :slight_smile: It’ll cost me at least $200 more, but for a well-fitting boat in a color I like and feel safer in, I think it’s worth it.

((Apparently robin’s egg blue is the safest across lighting conditions??.. Rad!))

Tsunami 140 is too big for you
TetonJohns experience is a good one. Only problem with the Eliza is that the archaic push/pull rudder footbraces don’t accommodate long legs but could be changed to fixed pivoting type.

Necky should make three Manitou 14 in narrow, regular and wide for the 125lb, 185lb and 250lb paddler

another suggestion
If you like sleek, and can find a dealer in your area, Venture makes excellent low volume kayaks for us smaller folks (I’m 5’ 5", 145 #). They are competitively priced with the Necky and WS models. I have a Venture Easky 15LV, recently discontinued but some dealers may still have stock. Compared to my best friend’s Tsunami 140 it is a sports car and the Tsunami is a station wagon (kind of barge-like). Their new Islay 14 replaces the smaller Easky – have not tried one but they look to be excellent boats too. I’ve used the Easky in everything from class 2 whitewater to wind and waves on the Great Lakes and the coastal Atlantic. Very quick and maneuverable boat that is great for a beginner but also enables you to develop good technique. Fun kayak with a solid feel on any waters. Great looking too – I have the bright green fade (named it “The Snow Pea”)

Venture is a division of P & H, a renowned British maker of higher end sea kayaks and they use many of the same design features in their plastic boats (which are also made in Great Britain.) They are also lighter than similar models in that length class – mine is only 44 lbs, nearly 10 lbs less than the Tsunami.

Just tested the Focus. .
Squirrely doesn’t begin to cover it. I hated this boat and couldn’t wait to get back to dock. It was all over the place! Really wanted to love it because of how well the cockpit fit me but it was awful to be stuck on a river in this. (I even considered pulling up to shore and carrying it back!)

lot of benefits to narrower boats
You don’t have to reach as far for a stroke. Easier to use an upright stroke. Less drag.

I’d second the suggestion to check out Venture kayaks. It does seem as though the Tsunami would be too big for you.