Need advice on buying a 13-14 ft kayak

-- Last Updated: Oct-13-06 6:03 PM EST --

I am(was) an avid cyclist and have been having knee problems for about 2 years and have been unable to ride and run. Since my knees are out of commission, kayaking sounds like a great sport for me.

I plan on kayaking fairly long distances. I'm 6'1" and 150 lb male. I want a fairly effcient kayak since I will be paddling fairly open, navigable water most the time. I've been looking around at 13-14 ft long kayaks with about a 24 inch width. Would there be any benefit for getting a longer kayak for a person my size? Also do you guys think a rudder is worth getting?

I'm looking for kayaks under $1100. The kayaks that I'm considering are the Perception Carolina 13.5, Necky Manitou 14, Hurricane Palmetto 129, and the Wilderness Systems Tsunami 140. Right now I'm leaning toward the Carolina 13.5 since it is on the lighter side and I found it on sale for $830. Does anyone have a Carolina? Is there much difference between these kayaks? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

recreation boat versus touring boat
The boats you are looking at are mostly considered recreation boats or light touring.

As compared to a full touring boat (which are usually about 16-17’), they are more stable, not as fast/efficient, and can’t carry as much (the last point only matters if you plan to do multi-day trips). Rec boats are also a little bit cheaper than touring boats. Often the rec boats won’t use a skirt to seal the cockpit while you are in it.

No matter what you decide on, get on the water in different boats before buying. Many places allow you to rent boats and apply the rental fees towards the purchase of a new boat.

Rudder vs. skegg vs. no-rudder - rudders and skeggs help you stay in control when winds or waves are affecting you. At least that is how they are meant to be used (many people use them as a way to offset not paddling in a way that makes them go straight). It is best to learn the skills well enough that you rarely use the rudder - but if you get in a situation with a strong side wind, you may find the rudder to be very useful.

We bought a Tsunami 12 and a Manitou 14

Hubby & I do a lot of cycling, & have started kayaking this year. We paddle flatwater rivers and lakes–no open water at this point. We rented and demoed several boats. I’m just a newbie, so can’t offer any great advice, but I’ll share my perceptions of some of the boats we tried.

Dh settled on a Tsunami 12 and I have a manitou 14. I like both kayaks, but prefer the manitou. It seems to track a little better, and the cockpit doesn’t feel as tight as that on the tsunami. Personally, the longer length/better tracking is nice, especially on more open water. The tsunami has knee braces that extend from the edge of the cockpit, which makes it a nice fit, but made me feel a little too enclosed. That’s just me, though, My husband loves the tsunami. I prefered the skeg over a rudder, but I don’t really use the skeg on my manitou. For myself, I wouldn’t spend extra for one.

Another kayak I demoed, and really liked was a current designs Squall. I think it’s a little over 16’ and 22" wide. It was fairly easy to manuever, and even though it was narrower than other kayaks I tried, it didn’t feel tippy or cramped. The only reason I didn’t get it was that for our type of kayaking, it was more boat than I needed. I think it would make a nice boat for open water. It’s a little more $, but maybe you can get the store to give you a nice, end of summer, deal.

Good luck & have fun looking for that perfect 'yak!

where are you?
Your profile doesn’t say.

I started kayaking for exactly the same reason, and love it: no knees required. Absolutely fit the bill.

Get out of a big box store if you can (if you’re on either coast) and go talk to the people in a kayak shop. You’ll be glad you did.

(And my recommendation: a Merlin LT. check out )

The Carolina is a great boat
We recently were on a long paddle, and there were six composite boats all between sixteen and eighteen feet long, and one plastic 14 foot Carolina.

All the paddlers were competant and about equal, and the Carolina who had a big man in it stayed right along with the others.

I don’t know what our average speed was for the trip, but each time I glanced at my GPS we were above 4 MPH.

I strongly recommend getting it with the rudder.

Learn without it, but then when you need it in strong quartering winds you will have it.

My son and law recently bought a Carolina, and I advised him to get it with a rudder.

He took the advise of the salesman who told him he didn’t need a rudder, (the boat was on a clearance with no rudder) and he is already wishing he got it with the rudder and is planning on a aftermarket one.

With all that said, if you can find a longer kayak in your price range, (possibly a used Eclipse) you will be happier in the long run.

Longer is faster, and since you are a cyclist, you will probably have a need for speed.



ditto JackL
who are you kidding?

cyclists need speed!


– Last Updated: Oct-13-06 8:25 AM EST –

You aren't by any chance Lance Armstrong are ya?

Minimum for what you are about to do should be the Carolina 14.5, also see what you can find a Wilderness systems 170 (Poly not fibre) for.....

I paddle open water..(Large Lakes and Navigable rivers)...and I own the Carolina 14.5...a great boat for it's use, but when I go off shore or touring with folks that have longer boats, I tend to rent.

I bought my Carolina for less than 700 (WITH rudder) don't get in a hurry, look around, boats can be had for a reasonable price...try and look for a package deal that includes pump, sponge, paddle float will need all that plus...

Open Water - Where?

– Last Updated: Oct-13-06 10:18 PM EST –

Skip it all - I should read more carefully. Will try again.

which kayak…

– Last Updated: Oct-13-06 7:58 PM EST –

Thanks for the replies. I live in Northern California about 5 hours away from the coast. I plan on kayaking mostly in a local lake(2-5 miles wide in some sections) and the Sacromento River (fairly wide) but also want to be able to paddle in the ocean ocasionally.

Since I'm concerned mostly with straight line performance a 15-16 ft 22-23 inch wide kayak seems like the way to go. The only bad thing is trying to find a place to store it; maybe the basement. Is it pretty easy to get used to a 22 inch wide kayak? I've read they can be a little tippy but I have pretty good balance so it probably won't be too much of an issue.

I went to the local kayak/bike shop today and the main kayak person wasn't there so the person trying to help me knew pretty much nothing about kayaks. Sometime next week I am going to go down to the big Kayak store in Sacromento. I guess I'll have to raise my price limit a little. Right now these are the kayaks that I'm concidering:

CD squall/squalmish,

perception avatar

P&H Capella 166

Wilderness systems temptest 165

Perception Eclipse

“The only bad thing …”
"… is trying to find a place to store it; maybe the basement."

No SuperTroll, it’s not Lance Armstrong.

Is it pretty easy to get used to a 22 inch wide kayak?

I think it depends - To me the Romany (21.5" wide) feels more stable than the Avocet (22" wide), both 16 foot boats.

If you’re used to balancing on top of a moving bike for long periods of time, you’ll probably be fine in a narrower, longer sea kayak. I’m no expert by any means, but conventional wisdom around here would seem to point you in that direction.

I came from cycling too, also with knee problems. I feel for ya man :confused:


depends on kayak
Is it pretty easy to get used to a 22 inch wide kayak?

As said above, it depends on the boat. The way the hull is formed determines its primary and secondary stability (the two together determines how tippy it is). But most every boat built out there for non-race use will have a decent amount of stability.

two other alternatives …
that some people swear by as excellent compromises between speed and stability are the Eddyline Equinox (14 ')and QCC 400 (15’3). They would certainly be easier to store too. These boats are a bit pricey however.

Just another idea.

Hey Biker
I’m a road biker who took a spill and decided to play on the water some. I started out with a Cape Horn 15. The Tempests weren’t developed when I started. Then I paddled the Tempest 170 and really liked it. Then I paddled the 165 and fell in love with it. That’s what I paddle now.

If you’re going to be out in wind and open water, I highly recommend a skeg or a rudder. You’ll do fine with with a width of 21" or 22". Hell, a bike tire is only an inch wide.

Good luck.

Second try
Sorry I confused you with someone else in thge earlier post. As to the boats - while 6 ft or isn’t short you are definately on the lean side. I doubt that you’ll have trouble getting used to a narrower boat.

You list a bunch of decent boats. For overall flexibility, like supporting more advanced skills etc should you decide to go there, I’d move the Tempest to the top of the list, mayhaps the Capella or if CD the Squamish. As much as I loved my Squall, those old fashioned high decks didn’t make life easy when I decided to go for a roll. You might as well get a boat that’ll allow you to move into more stuff should you decide it interests you.

Don’t count out the Current Design Models…They have several day touring models…I personally own A Rec. Kayak that is 10.5 feet and wide.Its Nice for Slow and Stable .I also have a Current Design Breeze, 13.5 feetwith a single bulkhead and only 24" w. I love this Kayak… I also go on flat water river,creeks,and,Some Mild rapids. Only One rapid in Fla.…But I can spend 6-7 hours a day no prob. Its Comfortable,and Effecient. I store Both My Kayaks in the Living room of my apt… (don’t Laff)

and the Breeze was under 900.00 poly rotomold.

Keep shopping and Have Fun…Ken

Try Before You Buy

– Last Updated: Oct-14-06 4:20 PM EST –

You are where I was 5 years ago. I was looking at catalogs and specs and I think that's what you're doing now. Go to demos and go rent or borrow boats. I think you should paddle at least 10 different boats before you buy one.

I predict you'll prefer lower volume boats over high volume.

I had passed this thread up with that "13-14 foot" title. I really think you'll be happier with 15-17 foot boat. The bikers I know around here paddle mostly longer, leaner, lower volume boats.

Hurricane kayaks
Well, I know about Hurricane Aqua Sports and their products after doing mucho research as well.

I too am a lean mean person, a beginner, w. the need for speed.

The Palmetto’s last year is this year 2006. It’s the “big Paddler” wide hull option from Hurricane and IMO kind of a barge in the water, and probably the least attractive looking kayak in their lineup with the big humpty foredeck. It will hold more gear, it has that going for it, and it is more stable.

Check out the 13’ 5" Tampicos, S or L, depending on your weight and leg length. They are GREAT for light touring - lakes, rivers and coastal. Track beautifully without a skeg or rudder, never weathercock even in winds like 35 mph, easy to fit with full skirts, will roll, and only 41 or 43 pounds! They are fast if you develop a nice paddling stroke and so light across the water.

If you like to paddle 2-8 hours, or do an overnight, you don’t need to pack a lot of crap anyway. Think light like cycling ;-)The Tampicos both come with two hatches, and two sealed bulkheads, and full deck rigging, anyways.

I have the S and I could not have done better (for me) at any price, although it was very nice to spend maybe a third of what fiberglass or kevlar would cost for a material that looks beautiful and is not so fussy as, say, a gelcoat.

Everyone I know with a Hurricane kayak loves it.

They have their own trademarked thermoformed plastic, “Trylon” and also fabricate for the Canadian company Swift Kayaks.

All their kayaks come with a three year warranty and the customer service is fantastic.

Plus they are a small American company which hand finishes their kayaks. They strive for quality and personal service, which you stand far less chance of getting from some Walmartized gigantic

multiline kayak conglomerate.

If you are doing lakes and rivers, I think your initial lean towards a 13-14 foot kayak is right on. They are much more manoeuvrable in tight twisty rivers than a 16-18 foot sea kayak, and much easier to store and transport wherever you go.

If you crave a sea outing or two a year, just rent a seayak, try it out. That could be fun! I plan on doing that for a trip to the Apostle Islands.

Sea kayaks are noble and beautiful, and I may want one someday, (as may you)but they may not be the best option for what you describe now.

Good luck with your happy hunting!

Got a Tempest 170!
After doing a lot of research on the internet, the Tempest 170 was on the top of my list. I called around and found a store in Sacromento selling their last Mango Tempest 170 for $1100. I didn’t try out any other kayaks since most of demo boats have been sold off since it’s the end of the season. After talking to several sales guys I was convinved that the 170 was a great boat for me.

I took my tempest out to a local lake for its “maiden voyage” and kept thinking “wow, this boat glides.” The cockpit is really comfy and it turns surprisingly well. Being 60 pounds it is a little heavy but I can still load it onto the roof rack without much trouble.

Thanks for all your input and helping me pick out my 'yak.

If you get a chance to paddle the 165, by all means try it.