need help picking a kayak

I am at a disadvantage because my location limits what kayaks I can easily purchase. I live in South East Alaska and have great paddling opportunites but not a lot of purchase options.

In any case, I have found some boats that most likely fit my needs. I am 5’10", 175lbs. I want a fast boat that can be raced in, but also want to use it for some touring trips.

These are my current options:

  1. Romany Explorer - glass
  2. Wilderness Tempest 170 (maybe 165 for my size?)- plastic
  3. Kajak-Sport Viviane - this may actually to be too high performance for my everyday touring needs
  4. Necky Chatham 17 - Looks like a fun boat, but it may be too slow for my race needs.

    I reckon in a few years I can get a race specific boat, but for now can only afford one boat. I know it is tough to find one boat for all occasions, but what do you think of my options?

    Oh, you should also know that I really don’t have the option of trying out these boats due to my location. Shopping for a kayak on-line ain’t easy - I hope you can help.



Chatham 18

@ 5’7" / 170lbs., my T-170 fits
very nicely. KUDZU has a 165 but I don’t know what his ‘dimensions’ are. I think you’d probably fit well in either, though you will have a bit more storage in the 170 and a bit more length.

Kudzu is a bit smaller than either of you. you are sorta in the middle of the 165-170 range.

the 170 will give you tons of room, both body and kit and the 165 will be more sporty and tighter fit (might be good or bad???)


Explorer, Speed
I haven’t seen the rated speed of the Explorer compared to the other boats listed, but having one I suspect it won’t do you for speed. It has some rocker, and its most significant talent is all around handling in messy water. My husband’s VCP Aquanaut is definately faster up to a few knots.

If an NDK boat is in the pack, you may want to consider the Greenlander Pro instead of the Explorer.

Just to note - some boats are easier to get up to a certain speed such as 4 or 5 knots, but have more resistence past that point than others. Fast is not necessarily a straight line run.

A QCC 700x ?
I assume they ship to Alaska.

The Kajak-Sport is probably the fastest of the boats you list. Though it is pretty high volume.

The Explorer is the most trusted and confident in challanging seas of the boats you list – though it might be the slowest.

Yeah, I heard the Aquanaut’s were pretty fast. Is his plastic? Would it be good for general touring too?

Chatham 18

– Last Updated: Mar-02-05 4:05 PM EST –

I read a review saying the chatham's weren't known for speed. Though, the 18's might be different. I'm not sure there is a plastic 18??

Yeah, I am thinking the 165 may be fun - and as I am a white water convert, it may be close to what I’m use to.

Though I reckon I will fit right into both, the 170 will most likely be faster.

How’s their plastic?

AK delivery
yeah, but it cost :frowning:

Jim’s Aquanaut is glass, don’t know about any speed diff’s in the plastic version. But it has a pretty long waterline for the boat’s overall length. Has a lot of the strengths of the old Nordkapp but is lower profile and a lot more user-friendly.

The NDK Greenlander Pro is a pretty fast boat, but it does want an involved paddler. Single hard chine, so it isn’t going to turn until you lay it over on that corner. It was really too big for me so the point was moot, but since I was mostly looking for a boat that would handle major stuff and still let me watch birds the Explorer LV was a better fit. One thing that was way diff from my Squall was handle in following seas though - enough rocker that all of a sudden I actually wanted to use a tracking device.

I love my LV, but it isn’t a race boat. It is a fabulously kind boat for rolling and other skills development - are these kinds of things as important or less than finding a boat that’ll help in racing?

All the boats you list are solid in their own right. It may be worth considering looking for a used kayak for racing - get the paddle dings etc worked out of your technique on a boat that has already been scratched up.


plastic or glass?
you mentioned the Explorer and Kayaksport boats so I assumed composite was in the picture,I think the Chatham 18 is faster than the T-170. It’s very nice handling in beam wind and waves from the stern.

RM Aquanaut
The poly Aquanaut is 7" shorter than the composite model. When one considers the shorter waterline and the greater flex of plastic, the RM version is undoubtedly slower than the composite.

You did not list any Valley boats among those to which you have access - if you have any ability to demo a few Valley models, it is more than worth your time.

testing kayaks
Well, I reckon the only way to make this decision is to paddle them. There are two draw backs to this:

  1. It’s a 2 day drive from where I live (Alaska is a big state).
  2. I have to wait until May before I have the time to do it.

    Woe is me :frowning:

    Thanks for all the feed back. I am learing a lot on this website.

don’t worry
there’s enough good boats out there that as long as you’re honest about the use then you can get something good sight unseen. I’ve bought a couple boats on recomendations and it’s turned out good. Looking for racing+touring+all around use covers too wide a range that you’ll honestly not cover the extremees well but that puts the focus on you as a paddler which is where it’s at anyway.

Speed and touring
The Aquanaut is fast for a Brit style touring boat. The only faster, thus far tested by Sea Kayaker, are Foster Legend and Azul Sultan.

It is designed as a touring boat (17’7"x21.5") and is among the best mannered boats in a range of conditions. The Aquanaut has quickly become a favorite boat of guides, coaches, and dedicated paddlers.

I bought mine after demoing scores of boats. Mine is Pro-Lite (carbon/kevlar) layup. Valley’s quality control is very good.