Need advice on what kayak...

I now own a 10’ kayak I got from Dick’s for $150. I use it several days a week to paddle for an hour in the nearby Erie Canal, just for exercise. It’s only virtue is that it weighs 38 pounds; it paddles rather poorly.

I also have a 14’ kayak (Necky Zoar Sport). I know it is not a great kayak, but it works fine for me a couple times a month when I go someplace more interesting than the canal for a few hours. It weighs 60 pounds and is a chore to load on my car, and miserable to carry very far.

I am looking for something to replace both of them, with something under 40 pounds that paddles well. Guy at the local shop recommended a Current Designs Vision 130 in kevlar. It weighs 33 pounds and he assures me it will paddle better than the Zoar because it is much stiffer.

I was concerned about the capacity, as I am 190 pounds, but CD says it will be fine.


  1. Would you expect the 13’ Vision to do better than the 14’ Zoar? The Vision is 1" narrower than the Zoar.
  2. Does the Vision seem appropriate for my size.
  3. The Zoar is extremely stable; I would have to help it to ever capsize. Would I also find the Vision stable? I have never capsized, but doing so in the canal wouldn’t be fun; filthy water and perpendicular sides.
  4. The Vision does not have a rudder, unlike the Zoar; but I don’t have any trouble with the 10’; so I don’t think I will miss it much. I never go in big lakes or such, so am I correct in thinking I can live without the rudder?
  5. The kayak in the link above has a fancy seat that is adjustable for angle, but weighs 5 pounds. The salesman says it is great for taking pressure off the legs on long paddles. I haven’t had a problem with that and can’t see it is worth 5 pounds. Am I being foolish about that?

    If you have any suggestion for other kayaks (under 40 pounds and not obscenely expensive) I would appreciate that also.

One possibility is…
…to change your roof rack arrangement. My rack has a roller on the back and it’s easy to get the nose of my boat up to the roller and then shift to the stern of the kayak and slide it forward.

Once your boat is on the ground you could try a two wheeled kayak caddy (I really need to get one of those things).

As for the replacement boat, you gotta try one out before putting down any coin.

Sorry if this wasn’t much help.

demo demo demo
Without a doubt, anything you are considering - get time on the water in it before buying. What we say here may or may not be useful for you. You should paddle the boats yourself to see what works for you.

That said, longer boats generally paddle better than shorter (if by paddle better you mean tracks better and goes faster). But longer boats generally are heavier than shorter boats.

On materials, rotomolded plastic (what both of your boats are likely made of) is heaviest, but cheapest. 60 pounds for the Zoar is about right. Thermoformed plastic can take 5-10 pounds off, but adds $500-1000 for a new boat.

Next up is fiberglass, a type of composite. Another 5-10 pounds for an additional $1000.

Beyond this is carbon or kevlar, which takes off another 5-10 pounds for an additional $500-1000 or so.

This is rough guidelines, with lots of variation based on how thick the material is that the manufacturer uses. Thicker is heavier, but generally stronger.

As an alternate thought - what about selling the boat from Dick’s and using that money to get a dolly to help you move the Zoar around.

And BTW…
…Even if you end up with another extremely stable kayak, plan on tipping over. If you kayak you will flip at some point so make sure your rescue skills are up to speed.

I’ve managed to flip in the usual places (surf) but I’ve also managed to capsize on perfectly calm water while messing around.

And today, just for fun, I tried it in 33 degree water. Okay, maybe it wasn’t so much fun :slight_smile: I probably won’t intentionally do that again…

Seats - Paddling properly

– Last Updated: Feb-23-12 5:54 PM EST –

Leaning back in a seat means you aren't paddling
- it basically tells everyone you are just floating.

Notice the angle of the back in this clip

If you paddle properly, you alternate butt cheeks

Locate the foot pegs and adjust them so the
balls of your feet rest comfortably upon them.
You should sit up straight and be able to
touch the pegs with soft pressure.

Now look at your arms, all the way up and down
the wrist, forearms, biceps, triceps .
Those muscles are much, much smaller than the
ones you see in your legs…right ?

By combining the large muscle groups of the back,
abdomen, and legs along with the little ones
in your arms, you’ll engage the entire body
to propel the kayak.

Zoar Sport Replacement
I went through the same issue. I paddled my Zoar Sport for 7 years. I was fine with this boat but it was just too heavy. After a lot of looking and testing demo boats, I replaced it last year with an Eddyline Equinox, which only weighs 45 lbs. My wife paddled my Equinox and immediately wanted to replace her Perception Carolina 14.5 Airlite, which we did! The 45 lbs. is light enough for me to carry alone without any issues. The Equinox tracks very well without a rudder and is faster than the Zoar Sport.

Different Ideas -
A nice lightweight 12.5 ft boat (30 lbs), was designed for surfing, but actually is pretty quick for day touring, and it has a rudder… Hunt Johnson Wave Witch

It’s a sit on top, but faster than most SINKs of the same size. It will seem tippy at first.

Also have you thought about making a Skin on Frame boat? You could make a very light boat, and if you are just paddling on a canal it would last forever.

i own cd vision 120 composite
I had what I think is the same Dick’s 10 footer as you – the ES100 Potomac. I had tons of fun paddling it on the Susquehanna River, around Harrisburg, PA, including overnight camping over 20-mile distances. I really enjoyed it. For two seasons I have been paddling a Current Designs Vision 120 in composite. Mine is 26 pounds. The current model year is heavier because they put in a new overly complicated seat, which I think adds unnecessary without much benefit. See if you can find one of the models from pre-2011, since it will be lighter. I live in a condo right on the banks of the river. I carry my boat over my shoulder out of the storage room in my high-rise condo building, across a busy road and walk down the steep bank of the river, plop the boat in and off I go. It is a wonderful boat. I have gone solo from my front door to the Chesapeake Bay, and from about 75 miles north back to my front door. I can easily paddle many miles upstream. It handles odd river currents well. It is lovely on local lakes and local streams. I am an ultralight backpacker so my multi-day gear weighs about 8 pounds, plus the weight of food. I weigh 155. The composite material is easy to repair with JB Weld or PC7 if you chip it on rocks. I made a reasonably significant repair during a multi-day solo trip, on shore as I was cooking my dinner before camping out. See if you can spend some time paddling the CD Vision. I think you’ll love it.

CD boats are generally really good. I have an earlier transitional boat (CD Pachena) that I’ll never sell. It’s comfortable, predictable in its handling and paddles very easily. I’ve added more boats, and the Pachena is now the loaner that anyone can paddle, but I still take it out fairly often. The Vision is similar in design and dimensions, so I would expect it to be good as well, plus it’s 20 pounds lighter, a huge bonus. At your size, you might consider the Vision 140.

Demo days are good, but won’t tell you everything about how a boat behaves because one demos a boat on a single body of water on a single day. It is very good for deciding if the cockpit is comfortable, which is very important.

OP’s reply
I can load my Zoar by myself by putting a towel on the back of the car, putting the bow on it, picking up the stern, and loading the boat. Unloading is the reverse. I could buy a cart, which I have to run back to the car twice to get and return.

If I had to do all that several days a week, I would give up kayaking.

I want to buy a lightweight kayak. I can get a decent price on a 2011 demo. So my big question is whether the Vision 130 is suitable for my purposes.

Three stores on line have posted their paddler weight recommendations. One said 215 max, one said 135, and a third said it paddled surprising well at 210. I was taken back by the 135 so I emailed CD. They wanted to know who it was that said 135, and said it was fine for my weight.

I have gotten two replies that were on point. One said it was a great boat, but he only weights 155. The other said I ought to consider the Vision 140 at my size.

If I got the V140 I would probably get it with a rudder (and not a demo, since none are available); which puts it 6 pounds heavier than the V130 and $400 more; which is not a great deal if it is a better boat for me. Still I would prefer the V130 because it is lighter and shorter (the canal dock has switchback plankway with railings, and a shorter boat would be easier), but not if it won’t work well.

Yes, I can wait and try them in a few months, but the demo V130 might not be available. In fact, the 5 pound lighter 2011s might not be available. And demo area is open water on a large bay, while I want it for creeks and the canal, so it might not tell me anything.

So you see my dilemma; you might not be able to help me, but you see it.

But thanks for all of your advice.

Are you “Toller” because you have one?
Just curious. We have one and there don’t seem to be many around.

Go for it

– Last Updated: Feb-25-12 2:29 PM EST –

It sounds like for your uses the slightly shorter boat would be better - and if CD says it's big enough, then it will be. I missed the inexpensive/demo part of the equation - with that in mind, I would pull the trigger on the 130. I predict you will be very happy with it.

PS if for some reason you think the 130 is too short or too low capacity after a season, you should be able to sell it for nearly what you paid, so it's a pretty low risk purchase in my opinion.

Those Wave Witch’s look interesting.
I’d like to try a Classic.

Actually it is our second toller.