Need a kayak for my 70 year old father

I am looking to buy my 70 year old father a kayak. He is a fit man but not a big guy(5’5") so I am worried about the kayak being to heavy for him to load on his minivan. I would like a solid kayak but one that is easy to use. This is a very open question and very subjective but I would like any suggestions that you might have and help point me in the right direction. Thanks in advance and sorry for being a complete novice. I just want to make my dad happy.


a few questions
are in order to assist all posters with suggestions. Also expect a few more along the way.

What type of water(s) will your Dad paddle in? Rivers, protected lakes, open waters, etc?

Has he paddled anything before?

Do you have access to an outfitter where Dad can sit in and try out some boats?

Do you have a budget for boat, PFD, paddle and a few other bits of suggested gear?

I think it is way cool of both of you!!

if you can
find an out-fitter that has a selection of boats he can try out before buying, this would be great. Your Dad can get a boat he will be user friendly with, and you both can have a great day out together. There are lots of boats, and each has it’s own personality. Have fun, it will be an exciting time.

Excellent Kayaks
I am 70 and my wife is a few years younger so we’re about the age of your dad. When we started kayaking 5 years ago, we purchased the Santee XL from Hurricane AquaSports. My wife now paddles a HAS Tampico (37 lbs.) and I paddle a WS Tempest 165. We went with the Santees because of weight and stability. Check them out at the below website.

Good luck.


I am closing in on your…
dad’s age, (six months shy) and possibly can help, but you need to give more info.

Has he kayaked before?

Has he canoed before?

Can he swim?

Is he athletic?

Is he looking for a recreation type kayak, touring kayak or white water kayak?

Does he live in the deep south or the north, (thinking of sit in or sit on type)?

There are many more questions, but these are the starter ones



Good questions, I answered
dad’s age, (six months shy) and possibly can help, but you need to give more info.

He just turned 70.

Has he kayaked before?

He has boated around in a canoe. Not a kayak.

Has he canoed before?

Yes, he has canoed.

Can he swim?

No a strong swimmer

Is he athletic?

He has lots of energy but I do not consider him athletic.

Is he looking for a recreation type kayak, touring kayak or white water kayak?

He won’t be on a rushing river. This will be for recreational use in lagoons, taking pictures of nature etc. He does not care about racing. He will be along most of the time.

Does he live in the deep south or the north, (thinking of sit in or sit on type)?

He lives outside of Chicago Ilinnois and will kayak there and in Missouri.

As far as sit in or sit on, I believe he wants to sit in but not to snug. Does this make sense? The ones I tried, you to scoot inside and you put your feet on foot rests.

Thanks for all the great questions.


With those questions answered:
a Perception Carolina might be one for him to look at, and I am sure that others will chime in here with other makes.

That is a good all around kayak

But the most important thing is for him to try a kayak out before buying it.

Get him to a outfitter where he can try different models out, and let him decide for himself which one he wants.

It is nice of you to be looking out for dear old Dad.

My kids can’t keep up with me although they give it a good try.

If you have any specific questions on the kayaks ask them here, since everyone here is very helpful.



Here’s a couple to look at…
A couple of very good smaller/lighter/easier to manage rec kayaks you may want to look at are the Necky Sky and Manitou Sport:

I have a Necky Sky I bought about 4 years ago. It’s a lot of fun and very comfortable to paddle. It has really good speed, tracking, and maneuverability for it’s size - 9.5ft long, 26 inches wide, and 41lbs. I’m 6ft 175lbs and on a typical outing I’ll paddle 6-10 miles and can sustain ~3.2 mph on flatwater in calm conditions. It’s also fun to paddle in rough conditions and on slow moving rivers and the ocean. I love taking it to Mexico and exploring beautiful coastal sections of the Sea of Cortez.



– Last Updated: Sep-14-05 12:43 AM EST –
Or a used one here
I had a Klight for a few years, my first sea kayak. Took it all over Asia and the US.

Try the WS Pungo First
Jane…I am 73 years old and my Wilderness Systems “Pungo” has taken me everywhere I want to go (except the Gulf of Mexico…which I wouldn’t try anyway). It’s the perfect kayak for slow rivers and smaller lakes and lagoons.

The open cockpit is easier to enter and exit and the seat and backrest are quite comfortable. The Pungo is very stable (ideal for photography or fishing), tracks in a straight line, and is easy to paddle and turn. Be sure to try one before you decide on anything else. Pungos are very well made and also reasonably priced.

Get a trailer…
That’s what I plan to do if i’m still kayaking at 70, no sense trying to lift it on top of a minivan when a small trailer will eliminate the weight problem.

Or you could buy him a $24,000 Dogde magnum, they are pretty low, easy to put a boat on top. :^)

How about?

– Last Updated: Sep-14-05 2:45 PM EST –

You might want to consider a sub 10 foot recreational kayak. If he is going alone, and using it as a platform for photography, a smaller, stable, recreational kayak with a larger open cockpit might fit the bill. The added bonus is that, with the car seats folded down, it will fit INSIDE his minivan, thus getting rid of the issue of cartopping alone. (After use, a quick wipe down of the kayak before sliding it inside the car will only take a minute, and keep his car interior clean) Entry level and widely available Perception Swiftys, Dagger Zydeco or Old Town Otters may be all he needs.

Here is an article from AARP about the rise in interest in kayaking among the over 50 set.

Pungo gives me a safe reliable feeling
This boat is forgiving, roomy, and seems to not mind to much getting jerked about by some jet ski waves from close range. I’m glad it found me. The Sonoma 10 I bought for its light weight and ease of transport turned doesn’t like the length of my legs or the weight it says it will carry.

I travel the local rivers with 4 friends who have the Pungo 120’s. I’ve always canoed, but have been impressed with the stability, of the Pungo’s. They are very easy to re enter if one wants to take an occasional dip in the water. Track very well and have been used on Class II ww. I wouldn’t advise any higher class, tho. A good all round kayak reasonably priced with a very fine adjustable seat and rear bulkhead and dry storage. Excellent accessibility to footrest adjustment, too. One of my friends is a 5’2" woman who loads hers on a Ford Explorer by herself, when alone…(a small, folding stepladder helps her get it on the rear rollers of the cartop carrier.)

A kayak for your dad? Nice trade.

I agree that a trailer would be the way
to go. Before I had my trailer I found myself not going kayaking because it was a pain to get the kayak on my mini-van and I’m not even close to 70. Closer than I am to 20, but still, a few years to go. Anyway, I really think how he transports it will be as important as what he transports. The trailer is easy and convenient and requires very little strength to get the boat on and off and puts everything at waist height for securing the boats rather than trying to climb onto the wheels of his minivan to attach straps, etc.

Maybe a Phoenix Poke Boat?
12’ long, 32" wide, very large cockpit and weighs 17 lbs to 28 lbs depending on the layup. There was recently a lady in Morton, IL with a kevlar version (22 lbs) in very good condition for $800. I could probably hook you up with her if you are interested.

I have an older, much used and beat up Poke Boat with a spray skirt and find it to handle very well on rivers and lakes. A great boat for birdwatching and photography. Extremely stable. Goes straight when you want it to and turns easlily when you want it to. The weak spot for me is the factory seat. I strapped a GCI Sitbacker canoe seat on to the stock seat and now it is reasonably comfortable.

forget the kayak
Why does he need a deck?

Try a canoe designed for double bladed paddling. They are far more easier to enter and exit.

There is no need to inflict the Pungos weight on him. I have several octogenarian friends who enjoy the above boats especially as the boats are less than thirty pounds. The Hornbeck Lost Pond is seventeen pounds.