Need advie for lighter 16-17 tour kayak

-- Last Updated: May-14-08 9:05 AM EST --

I'm heading up to ADK paddlefest this weekend to try composite sea kayaks. I've been paddling an Enlightend Kayaks T-16 which I like for it's stability, speed and glide and turning ability and it only weighs 52 pounds with the rudder. There aren't any thigh braces or hip pads for the seat. The seat is actually just a very comfortable foam cusion. I don't think it's possible to roll the T-16 without a complete make-over of the outfitting.
However, the T-16 is an absolutely fun boat to paddle. I just finished 200 miles with it on the tidal section of the James River, into Cheapeake Bay and around Cape Henry and I have no complaints other than the above. Mine is for sale on classifieds and I want to be upfront with prospective buyers this is not a sea-going kayak in conditions where you might need to roll. My other touring kayak is a Prijon Yukon Expedition for whitewater camping.

My next trip is on the Lake Superior Water Trail, 240 miles. I'm looking for a kayak I can roll and that is comfortable for all day cruising and carries me and my kit well. I'm 5'10" 190#, and up to 60 pounds of gear. Price is a concern, but not the deciding factor. I like speed but I also like stability enough that I don't have to pay attention to it all day and stay ready to brace. According to QCC I can go either with the 500 or 700 and I'm leaning towards the 700. I'm also looking at the Swift Bering Sea. I really like John Winter's designs, but I want to look at other designs, too. I have two solo canoes of his and the T-16 is his design.

While I'm at Paddlefest which boats do you think I should pay most attention to? The manufacturers to choose from are; Wilderness Systems, Boreal Designs, Eddyline, Current Designs, Impex, Necky, P&H Kayaks.
Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me.

Slow morning so…

– Last Updated: May-14-08 9:43 AM EST –

By a hundred miles in I am guessing that you’ll want a boat that you don’t have to think about… as to the Swift boats, a fellow paddler found that the thigh braces weren’t the most robust for a lot of rolling work. Broke one not a long time after getting their roll, and that could be an issue for a long trip since the Bering Sea becomes a real problem to roll without the braces.

Necky – Chatham 17. It’s their Explorer, does everything boat and behaves quite nicely. I was in training with a guy who had one and it was handling everything very well without any fuss. The Necky seat is apparently quite comfortable – a friend has an 18 and likes it a lot. It’s been comfy when I’ve tried the boat, but since the boat is way bigger than me I may not be giving it a good test.

WS – Tempest, at 190 lb you’d fit the 170 I think, all around boat that rolls very nicely. Just may require use of drybags for everything depending on the specific hatches. Every time that issue comes up on this board the experiences of wet/dry seem to be all over the place. Great seat though, I really like how the cockpit felt in the 165 and hear the same about the 170.

Impex – If you want their newest design ideas, Force boats, probably the 4 for you. Relatively fast on the hull as I recall. Force 4 is longer though, I think it comes in at 18 ft. How much boat do you want to be living with after this trip?

CD – Caribou. This seems to be a love it or hate it boat, and the cockpit fits well or not at all (I don’t). But it’s well-liked by many and proven as a tripping boat. Decent hull speed as I recall, and on a personal note one of the prettier looking boats on the water to me.
Someone will probably point you towards the Solstice series if you mention a long trip, and there is no contest that those boats have earned their stripes in that area. My Squall was a helluva trooper. The thing is, if you want to push your skills when you get home again, a newer design may be more amenable to that work.

P&H – Cetus if you feel it can be padded down for you, the boat turns very nicely for its size. My husband who is taller felt the standard Cetus was a bit too loose. I think it may be another one that comes in closer to 18 ft, but check that out.
Or the appropriately sized Capella – word was that they were going to be moving some of the tweaks they made to the 161 hull into the 173 for this season. I can verify that the 161 is a good all around boat. My only problem is that the P&H seat is actually too shaped and built up for me, gives me a backache after a few hours unmodified. If you find the same, you could probably just cut out some foam to flatten the seat out to resolve it.

Boreal Designs – Lot of people have liked the Ellesmere, I found it to have great secondary stability, rolls great. I also found that it crabs some in wind, this may be something you don’t appreciate. The Saguenay is newer than my last time trying out a Boreal boat, the only thing I saw was that it is awfully deep and again it’s a full 18 ft.

Eddyline – Likely candidates are Falcon and Nighthawk series, but I haven’t paddled either of these in a while so don’t recall the diff’s between them well. Eddyline does have some interesting materials, lightweight and solid.

P&H Quest? NM

Not much attention
but Hurricane Aquasports makes a boat called the Tracer. It is thermoformed and very reasonably priced. Weight in the 45 lb range.

I have a Caribou and it is a very friendly boat except for that hard corner on the back of the coaming. Mine is kevlar and weighs 43 lbs. I will probably hand it down to one of the grandkids when I cant paddle anymore.

Rockpool or TideRace
I think these boats are starting to be available in the US. These are very nice boats, with models in the 17 foot range. I’ve paddled the Rockpool, and I’ts a very well built boat, and it’s a great handling rough water boat.

Any news re Tiderace/east coast?
They won’t be at PaddleFest, but I’d been meaning to ask about the Tiderace boats. Would love to try an Excite S.

waiting to hear from Aled…

– Last Updated: May-14-08 12:13 PM EST –

I emailed Aled a week or so ago asking about TideRace East Coast prospects. I haven't heard back yet. I'm guessing he is buried in early season production/shipping/shows/etc...

Rockpools are not in evidence in these parts.

Neither will be at ADK Paddlefest.

Many options…
If you like Winters’ designs then QCC or Swift are the major options. You sound like an ambitious paddler, so I would think a QCC 600 or 700 would be the way to go. Of course, they will not be at ADK Paddlefest.

Based on your stated desires, of the boats that will be at Paddlefest, I would suggest you try the Tempest 170, Chatham 17, Cetus LV (the standard Cetus is a way big boat), Force 4.

Trying a QCC
Are you aware that you can call QCC and get a list of local owners to contact to ask about trying their boats? For the most part, it seems that QCC owners are more than happy to accomodate prospective buyers.

come by
the Wildy booth and I’ll show ya what we got.

I’m also doing some presentations each day that could be helpful. One on boat design (classroom) and one on boat control (water demo)

see ya


On QCC: If you are looking for "fast"
take the 700. Not the 500.



Thanks for the response, everyone
Thanks for the input, now I’ve got more of a clue as to where to start looking. I asked Bob Foote for suggestions and he recommends the Wilderness Systems Zephyr. He’s getting one for himself later this year, so that’s a good endorsement there. Flatpick, I’m looking forward to meeting you and hearing your presentations and trying your boats.

Celia, thanks for the thoughtful response, all your recommendations sound great, and most of the boats you mentioned will be there. Swift Canoe and Kayak will be there, too, sorry I left them off the list of manufacturers.



New boat so no chance to paddle one (yet) - everyone seems to love it. And it sounds like it’d be a boat that you’d be happy to live with after the trip.

One thing to discuss with Foote - my impression is that it may not have the hull speed of some of the 17 plus footers. Honestly, if you get into it and fall in love that’s really more important. Just something to talk about re your expectations.

paddlefest -adk
hi …i’m gonna be there myself this weekend…weather will be typical as last 2 yrs …chilly and maybe rain. drive safe. Rt 28 will be busy.

It’s bad when…
I know it’s bad when I was out today paddling my Romany and wishing it had been a Zephyr. Seriously, I haven’t found the Zephyr to be a slow boat. Had it out a few times now and it seems to be a bit faster than my Romany. There are definately more efficient hulls out there, but the Z ain’t bad.

For the Lake Superior Water Trail with all the rocks, rocky shoreline, and heavy afternoon chop, the Z seems like a good option.

How about an Aquanaut? Explorer?

Aquanauts/ Explorers

– Last Updated: May-15-08 7:42 AM EST –

Would have been very much on the list - have one of each in the household - but neither of these manufacturers are going to be at Paddlefest. Same reason I didn't mention the Legend.

The more everyone talks about the Zephyr the more I want to get into one. Am told it was based on the old Meridian, which could make it one heck of a nice boat.

The speed thing is tricky on this one - for that long trip I can see wanting something with a real advantage in forward speed, but living with that as an everyday boat back home would be less fun if it compromised playfulness.

Bring a drysuit.
From past years you’ll appreciate it just standing around on the beach where it’s been wetter than in the water. This weekend’s forecast isn’t promising.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Rockpool Kayaks
We are in the process of building Rockpool kayaks in the US. We should have the ALAW Bach in production in less than a month. We are on the West Coast. Info at

similar look

– Last Updated: May-15-08 9:40 AM EST –

Although I'm a different size, it seems I am looking at similar boats for similiar goals:

Tempest 165 composite
Chatham 17 composite
Valley Aquanaut LV composite

FYI on the Z, the meridian was a boat I had very favorable test paddling memories of. House projects are keeping me away from paddlefest. :(

“a bit faster than my Romany”

– Last Updated: May-15-08 7:45 PM EST –

A lot of boats feel a bit faster than a Romany ;-)

I love my Romany, but speed over distance is not the boat's strength. For that I use my Nordkapp LV or Aquanaut ;-)

The only sea kayak in our task force that might be slower than my Romany is my Elaho DS. However, both the Elaho and Romany are VERY fun playboats.