New Kayak Advice

Hello and good day,

I am currently evaluating Kayaks for a first timer, been researching quite a bit and would like some input on what I have found thus far. I live in North Carolina, and would like a kayak that would work well on the local lakes, and slower rivers, don’t anticipate any whitewater beyond 1 or 2 if that. Perhaps some fishing from time to time. I am 6’1, 180lbs. I’m looking at the following:

Current Designs

Vision 135 roto



Alchemy S

Catalyst 13

Axis 12


Carolina 12 or 14


Tsunami 125 or 135


Journey 13.5

Native Watercraft

Inuit 12.5 or 13.5

I’m of the mind to get a Kayak that will give me room to grow in as I gain confidence and retain versatility to do a variety of things fairly well, maneuverable and fairly light. Please offer insight, opinions and advice on these, I’m trying to lower the list down to a more manageable level before going to the local outfitter for demo.

Thanks and regards!

Your Choices are
all over the map. You have everything from whitewater boats to full touring. Decide what you really want it to do and try some in that class.

The Tsunami 125 is a large persons kayak while the 135 is for small framed paddlers. More research is needed before you buy anything.

If you want to grow into it…
Get something longer, in the 15 to 17 foot range. Lots of choices out there, and try finding something used.

Best bet for growth

– Last Updated: Jun-29-10 7:49 PM EST –

Is a boat that'll mix some moving water and still be tolerable in terms of going straight and having hull speed on the flats. Tolerable is defined by whether you have to kill yourself to keep up with others or handle it in wind, or you find challenges like these to be enjoyable.

As above, you haven't looked hard enough at volume. That'll take some off the list right off. If grow into it means rolling and really learning to make it dance, look more to a boat like the Alchemy (the bigger one) than the Carolina.

Used WW boats are fairly easy to find cheap if you are in a WW area, and will outperform the hybrids in terms of precision. So you may want to look at a boat for the flats now, then handle the WW part used later on. Even class II WW is not to be taken too lightly in terms of your own prep.

Try going to—
From your username it seems like you might be around Hickory. If so, go to Outdoor Supply in downtown Hickory. They carry WS and Perception. Not sure if the have Dagger but they did have Current Design last year. Extremely nice and very knowledgeable people to help you.

Thanks and keep it coming
Thanks for the replies thus far, I know the list is somewhat long, but I have to respectfully disagree with it being “all over the map”. I’ve done quite a bit of reading on this site and others so I’m trying to do my homework. As for whitewater boats from what I have seen the only one remotely qualifiable as that on this list would be the dagger axis. All the rest are 12.5 to 14 foot transitional boats according to manufacturer description. If I am wrong about that please tell me which ones are white water geared and I can take those off the list now as I can say with certainty that is not my main intent.

I am indeed in Hickory and have spoken with the folks and Outdoor Supply but am looking to narrow down my choices further and get a few choices to put in the water. At this point after talking with them the recommendation is not to go less than 12ft so that is what I am looking at. As to the Tsunami 125 vs 135, why is one a “big person boat” and the other not? Do I at 6’1 180 qualify as one vs the other?

I appreciate the help

What I meant

– Last Updated: Jun-29-10 9:01 PM EST –

For example ... the Carolina and the Dagger Alchemy are simply not the same critters, whatever you read on the site. The Carolina is a recreational boat, with big cockpit and the intention that the paddler will want to stay upright in flat stuff and not do a lot of playing. The Alchemy is a hoot for a paddler that'll take it out in rocks and surf and, while it will tend to stay upright, will be happiest in the hands of a paddler that isn't all that concerned about their inclination to the water. It is equipped as a full going sea kayak - rigging all around and even a compass recess.

The reason that the two Tsunamis are different goes to the fit of the cockpit and the volume at which the hull will perform best. The 135 is for a definitely smaller paddler than the other. At your size you are an average paddler, one that will squeeze into some of the smaller person boats but may not get the best waterline or stability.

These details get very clear when you start taking a boat over on edge and really working with it. Unfortunately until you are doing stuff like that, it is unlikely you'll be able to sort thru the manufacturer claims well. This is the reason that I often suggest a couple of basic lessons first - then buy a boat. It tends to make for better first choices.

That said, you are correct re the WW stuff. I thought I'd seen a hybrid on your list, but that was wrong n my part.

Tsunami 125 vs 135
The Tsunami 125 has a depth at the cockpit of like 16 inches, fits a guy like me (205, 5-11) really well. I can get into a 120 but wouldn’t own one - I’d be uncomfortable within the hour.

The 135 is very small - I bought one as a gift, and I cannot get into it. It’s depth is about 12 inches or less. It is perfect for the 5-5, 135 lb owner, however.

If you go sit in a few, you’ll start to understand what we’re trying to tell ya about the sizes.

The only other boat on your list I have paddled is the Alchemy, and it is my favorite boat that I don’t own. If I had been able to own one 5 years ago when I first started kayaking, I probably wouldn’t be the guy with three boats gathering dust.

Join the Carolina Kayak Club
Then come out on the Forth and try all of our boats. Of course as a member I’m totally biased.

I don’t like any of your choice for what you want to do. but if you are looking for a lake boat and are small framed the Tsunami 140 would be good for more room the 145 is a fast 14 footer and comfortable.

If you get a boat shorter than 14 feet you won’t keep up on group paddles.

I see
I need to learn more about hull volume and optimal weight. I’ll look into trying some boats, and lessons, which will be a good benefit on all counts.

Are there ways or rules of thumb when looking at the specs of these boats I can tell without necessarily sitting in it first hand if it would work or be a good match for my build?


Minimal but can help a bit
Look for average paddler size/volume.

Think about how much you are likely to want something that tends to be a tracker versus something that tends to be very maneuverable. The latter will tend to have slower hull speed. One caution though - while new paddlers tend to go for the hard trackers, as skills develop you’ll find that the more maneuverable boats give you back more by making learning strokes and edging easier. Sooo - speed isn’t everything. A slower hull can be overcome to some degree by better technique on your forward stroke.

Look for features that go to safety, especially if you are likely to be paddling alone. Two sealed bulkheads so there’s air at each end, and perimeter rigging all around. You’ll get why the first time you try to re-enter from the water, hopefully something you’ll go and learn early on.

But you really, really have to sit in them. There is no way a web site can tell you how your build will feel in the seat.

Carolina 12
Not sure if this helps, but i have a Carolina 12 for my kids to paddle. They will grow into it over time and its a great boat for them.

I’m 6’3" 180, and i wouldn’t want to paddle it. Too short and not enough volume! I’d agree that you should go for a longer boat.