I bought a Old Towne Camden 106 and need a second kayak. We are looking for a recreational kayak. We plan to paddle on calm lakes and slow moving rivers. But we want something durable, comfortable and lighter than the 51 lbs the 106 is.
Additionally, since it is for my wife, it would need to track well and not veer off, or get pushed sideways by the wind, etc.
We have ruled out SOT, want only sit inside. Suggestions?
What is your budget?
Why the tracking focus?
Is your wife a tiny person that won’t sink a boat much, or is it just that she is likely to want an easy time paddling? It might inform boat choice.
My wife is only 5’2"
She’s small and not much upper body strength. She only weighs 130 lbs.
Good question. Between $450 and $800. Prefer the lower end, but will not be penny wise, pound foolish.
With her, comfort is the key.
didn’t answer your question fully
Why do we need to be a good tracking kayak? otherwise I will leave her way behind! Kidding. Well, not really, but ok, she’s a long way from being a good paddler, so the more help the kayak can give, the better.
Tough in your price range
especially with the light weight. Look at used boats and try to find a demo days near you. Also, if you have the time & space take a look at the Pygmy kits. The Osprey 13’ fits all of your criteria except for price. The kit price is $839 but there is shipping & you should consider the hatch kit as well.
To hit price point and size…
You may want to be open to the possibility of used boats. At 5'2" and 130 pounds, your wife will not have a pleasant paddling experience in the typical rec boat due to its width and depth. She could literally be banging her knuckles as she paddles.
The kit idea is a nice one - I've known more than one couple where it was a Pygmy boat that got the spouse on the water. But if that is not practical for you -
What you are in is a rec boat, so not a speed demon. If you are paddling it that way you could choose to back off when your wife is along. I've seen a lot of guys become solo paddlers when they focused on getting their wife to paddle as fast as them.
One option is to try out something in the rec boat range that is tuned for a small paddler. I have no idea if this boat would work, I've never even seen one, but I found one offering that says it does this in the Perception line. It is the Prodigy XS. So there might be some inexpensive rec boats worth at least finding to have her sit in it in person.
The other option is to go longer for her, again in a small person's boat, to give her some amount of advantage once on the water. You'd probably do best going used there. A boat like the Current Designs Vision 120 SP would give her a boat that is both pleasant to paddle and lightweight. CD boats tend to be available from a lot of outfitters and you might find one of these around.
One final comment on the paddle - do not get a big blade in the mistaken idea that it'll help her go faster. It actually will make her much slower, and be unpleasant to use. Go with a smaller size blade, and figure that she can get her speed via a faster cadence if she wants.
perception tribute 12…
I paddle with a group of people who do slow rivers and creeks. Very casual trips - our oldest is 90! Many of us have the older style Dagger Zydeco, which is light weight, around 9’6" long and around 27 1/2 inches wide. The new Zydeco model is a bit shorter and much wider, so as a short person, I’d avoid that one. (I am 5’3"). With my boat, I have no problems with knuckle banging.
LLBean is now offering the same boat under the Manatee S name.
You might want to look into folding and skin on frame kayaks for her. They weigh nearly half what a plastic rotomold does and many perform just as well. HAving a kayak you can lift over your head with one hand (25 to 30 lbs) is very liberating for us smaller folks. Pakboat makes the Puffin Saco model (formerly called Puffin Sport). REI sells the 20 lb Saco for $755 though for some reason they don't list the optional deck that makes it a sit inside kayak (it can be paddled open or with the deck). The deck adds anothe 5 lbs and runs around $200. But I see them for sale used for under $600. I have one (a Sport) that I bought on Ebay for $500. And here's a guy selling a Puffin for $450:
At 12' the boat paddles as well as any hard shell rec boat I have seen. I mostly use it for a loaner for friends but have paddled it myself. A comfortable boat that tracks and moves along nicely. The adjustable inflatable seat is great and the inflatable sponsons give it more security -- it handles waves and boat wakes well. Here's a YouTube of a guy using one. He is a little heavy for it -- your wife would not weigh down the middle like he does and it would track better:
You might also find an older used Feathercraft K-Light in your price range, especially if you don't care about being able to dismantle and fold it. Sometimes people store them set up without lubricating the metal frame joints and they become "frozen" which reduces their value considerably. But if you treat it like a hard boat and store it set up that will not matter. They weigh around 32 lbs. There's a paddler on here selling one used (that still folds):
Another option is traditional skin on frame boats with wood frames and urethane coated nylon decks. These are way tougher than people think -- I also have one of them and can testify you can bounce a claw hammer off the shell. Here is a guy selling one for $300 in Texas. Note it weighs 22 lbs, and is designed for a lighter person (and described as fun and fast). At 23" wide it would be good for someone her size:
You can get kayaks shipped for a few hundred dollars.
These may not appeal to you but I thought you might be interested in exploring an option a lot of newcomers to the sport are not yet aware of. There are even sites from which you can get plans and directions for building your own from scratch or in a class, like these:
Then there is the new "origami" 12' folding kayak at 25 lbs and under $900 (though they have only recently begun to ship these).
Old Town Vapor
It tracks very well, and is extremely stable. It does not, however, go very fast.
I'd second the Tribute 12 as a possibility.
I've paddled one -- it's much better than a typical rec boat for a small paddler.
Also agree on the small-blade paddle. Smaller/weaker paddlers don't need to be wrestling with something that's too big and heavy for them.
Thank you ALL for the helpful advice
Very good advice. You all made me think long and hard.
As tempting and interesting as it sounds I think I will wait for the time when I can consider building my own -a great retirement project.
Will get a smaller blade paddle, and you know? maybe speed and tracking is only 2 of many other variables as some of you pointed out. This doesn’t have to be the last kayak we will every buy, either.
But thanks to you all we now have a short list. Will post back results/experience.
Emotion makes good rec boats
I use their Glide, which is 9.5’ long and 28" wide. I can push it to nearly 4 mph. Very stable and fun, and only weighs about 36 lbs. It comes with one rear float bag, but they’ll sell you another for under $30 that you can put in the front. If you buy a rec boat without bulkheads, do get front and rear float bags.
Meantime, I’m much larger than your wife. If she needs a narrower front end because of shorter reach, consider their Bliss. Similar length, width and weight, but narrower from the cockpit to the bow, which probably tracks better too. Their longer (12’) Avant-Edge would work well for similar reasons.
These boats are really great for flatwater and can handle reasonably well in most conditions. They’re not for Great Lakes, open ocean, nor for whitewater.
Well made, BTW, and cost usually less than $450 retail if you shop it.