Newbie would like help picking kayak.

I am 5 foot 6 inches, 125 pounds, size 7 shoe (not sure why someone on the site asked that)and I will take some kayaking lessons this spring but till then would like to do some research. I live on a quiet river , no whitewater and would like to do some of the canoe routes in the area with this kayak so need to be able to store a little gear too and be able to portage. So mainly flat water and portaging. Any suggestions would be appreciated …

shoe size
Shoe size is important for fore deck height fit. My Romany has a low enough foredeck that my size 11 feet fit very snug under the deck. I think someone of my length legs with size 12s might find it difficult to fit into the boat.

solo canoe?

– Last Updated: Mar-11-06 7:03 PM EST –

Have you considered a solo canoe? If multiple portages are planned, it's far easier to load and unload a canoe than a kayak. Solo canoes are often lighter than comparable kayaks. If you think kayaking looks easier, many folks use double-bladed paddles in their solo canoes, and there are some solos designed specifically for use with double-bladed paddles.

See for an example of a "Wee Lassie" -style solo.


– Last Updated: Mar-11-06 8:18 PM EST –

Since you're going to be portaging, weight is going to be a major factor in your choice. For most folks, anything over 1/3 of their body weight starts to be a struggle, so I'd think you'd be looking for something 40-45 lbs at most. That'll narrow the field. The problem is that less weight usually means more money...

If the portages are long, you'll probably want a portage yoke. The one-shoulder carry gets uncomfortable fast.

Given your weight, you should be looking at boats designed for smaller paddlers. Something that's too wide or too deep will be uncomfortable to paddle and more vulnerable to wind. If the cockpit is too big you'll have less control.

You're wise to take lessons before buying a boat. You'll be much better equipped to make a decison. For now, try siting in boats and picking them up, and start getting a sense of what feels right. Catalogs and Buyer's guides -- like the one here -- are useful, but don't get too hung up on the specifications. they can't tell you how a boat will feel on the water.

If you like to build things, you have some interesting options. Here are a few...

sounds like a “sea kayak” isn’t necessary. I’d lean towards a small kevlar canoe like the Wenona Vagabond in Kevlar or thermoplastic or composite CD Kestrel . If you really wanted a “sea kayak” the Pygmy Arctic Tern would be stable, roomy, maneuverable and light. Sticking with shorter boats will eliminate the need and weight of a rudder/skeg.

build a yak
i have built a clc patuxant 17.5, 10 years ago and at 31 pounds, fast and stable and reliable, you cant go wrong. it costs less to build than to buy. you’ll have it forever. good luck, just one mans opinion.

s&g vs production
when the Patuxent was introduced that may have been the the case but since then there’s been a proliferation of models in plastic. the patuxent can be built light, and it is fast, but it won’t be durable at 31lbs using 4mm ply,and as kayaks go it’s awful in waves/weathercocking compared to other designs out there. I built the Patuxent 12 yrs ago.