One Boat Quiver? (Sea Kayaks)

-- Last Updated: Sep-22-11 7:48 AM EST --

This post is partly in response to my Cetus-Etain comparison posting. Following that posting it reinforces the fact that when discussing boats, many thoughts and opinions are going to rise that may vary extensively, but are often rooted in reality for that paddler. One thing that is most evident is the fact that no matter how well a boat is designed and built, that particular boat will still only serve a cross section of the paddling community because watercraft that is this small in volume is simply going to be body size specific to function best for its' designed purpose.

Because of their cost which is still going up, for many, owning just one is probably their reality. So if one was to only have a single boat in their quiver and probably looking for it to have multipurpose traits then it is best to break the possible answers down to boats that are paddler size and paddler weight specific.

That said and I arbitrarily pick three groups of body sizes ...

Group One -- 5' to 5'6" and or 100lbs. to 150lbs.
Group Two -- 5'6" to 6' and or 150lbs. to 200lbs.
Group Three -- 5'10" to 6'5" and or 200lbs. to 250lbs.

What boats fall into one of these three groupings as a one boat quiver pick and why?

The Valley Aquanaut LV RM will work
well for all three of these groups with the some minor owner mods (seat, coaming trim, minicell work). It is an incredible performer and will last a lifetime in any environment. I have seen it on sale for as low as $1299. Bill

Group Three
When I first switched from being primarily a fresh water canoe paddler to a lake kayaker to a sea kayaker, I was 6’ and as high as 250lbs. so the bigger boats seemed to just work better for me. Even though I have dropped a fair amount of weight and hope to loose more, it still seems like boats 17 ft. and longer work the best for me. The two that have offered me the best fit have been the Explorer and Cetus with the Explorer being highly predictable in various conditions and the Cetus more playful giving it an edge on the multi purpose use as it will day play reasonably well for being almost 18 ft. because of my height and weight. I have heard that the Etain might be even more maneuverable then the Cetus, thus piqued my interest. Of course there is the true value of my lottery ticket that will dictate all of this.

Can’t be that simplified
Sorry, but that’s like asking which hiking boot is the “best” for anyone of a certain shoe size. There are far more variables in boat fit as well as performance and features than just rough height/weight guidelines.

I sold outdoor gear of all types for a number of years and have fitted thousands of people in boots, skis, backpacks, climbing gear and even boats. Fine tuning any equipage choice is highly personal. Per your stated range, both my boyfriend (5’ 9" and 190#) and I (5’ 5" and 160#) would fall in the same category 2 and we definitely don’t feel the same in various kayak models (and we own 7 between us). He’s long waisted with large muscular thighs and I’m a short-armed midget from the waist up with long slender legs.

Sure it would be great to have a “Matrix of Perfection” for selecting that “single arrow” for the quiver, but it doesn’t work that way.

It would, however, be interesting to see a kayak preference survey (similar to one that went around last year by one of the Greenland paddle makers, where individuals reported their own body metrics and those of their favorite paddle.) It would be useful if everyone who reviewed a kayak would state their body size as they do in the magazine reviews (many reviewers do already) and their experience level.

Personally I find that claim of “universal fit” for th Aquanaut to be highly suspect. I don’t care how much minicel wedges me into an overly large cockpit. I am shortwaisted and shortarmed and I hate paddling a boat where I bang my knuckles on the gunwales.

Might I suggest a more constructive approach here would be to ask kayakers to each post their metrics, self-assessed skill standing and type of paddling in which they participate and state what boat they would keep if they could only have one.

OK, so it’s the LV
OK, so I re-read and see the Aquanaut LV model is being recommended as a “broad spectrum” boat. It would likely fit me (has specs similar to boats I have now.) But I know my 5’ 9" sweetie is unhappy in any 21" wide boat with a 12" deck height.

This makes sense as well …

“Might I suggest a more constructive approach here would be to ask kayakers to each post their metrics, self-assessed skill standing and type of paddling in which they participate and state what boat they would keep if they could only have one.”

My intent wasn’t to anoint a particular boat as the be all for all as we often see on this board, but to simply identify a variety of hulls that might meet the one boat only quiver, but to do that, body size is extremely relevant. Your addition of skill sets and paddling conditions is also a major factor. From my perspective I was looking at this as boats for big waters such as the Ocean or Great Lakes etc.

It depends for me at 6’, 185 lbs

– Last Updated: Sep-22-11 10:42 AM EST –

For a few years I used my standard Aquanaut as my everything boat. I did my BCU 3*&4* training and 3* assessment in the boat. It remains my 'go to' boat if an array of paddling is envisioned especially if it will include notable journeying and bumpy seas. It is the best mannered boat in challenging conditions of any I've paddled.

For short paddles, surfing and skills practice, I often choose my Romany. It is also the boat that I can give to novice paddlers and have them smile. After my 3* (old scheme) work in the Aquanaut, I got the Romany and realized that all of the skills would have been much easier in it than the 'naut. Sometimes I think that every paddler who fits and is interested in skills development & play should have a Romany at some point in their career.

For thrills and fun I use my Nordkapp LV. It is amazingly quick and responsive. I love the boat, but do not recommend it to many paddlers. It is a fairly unforgiving boat and, if I am fatigued or lacking confidence, the boat's demands can overwhelm me.

My Elaho DS was my first sea kayak and is still great fun. The times I take it out, I am reminded that it is a wonderful playboat.

I am fortunate in having 4 sea kayaks and 2 ww kayaks. I can choose which boat to use according to the type of paddling I will be doing and how confident or playful I'm feeling.

height and weight classifications
The problem with these height/weight catagories is many people that would like to try kayaking don’t fit in any of them. I’m 5’7", 230 lbs. On top of that I’m going to be on a budget yet want a boat that’ll last for some years for me. This is where the one arrow quiver idea really would work. At the moment I’m considering a Necky Manitou 14 and a Perception Expression 15 since they appear to offer the stability a newbie needs yet characteristics to be decent boats for general paddling for years to come. No way can I swing spending more than a grand on a boat considering I need to get the rest of the neccesary gear too. Sure, I could get a rec boat but none would do well on a big lake and would require too much paddling effort in some conditions. The otherwise suitable boats I’ve seen on Craigs List in my area have too small a cockpit. I would also rather have a skeg than a rudder for two reasons, simplicity of the system and solid foot pegs.

quiver of one?
The whole idea of identifying a quiver-of-one kayak is a bit tricky (for numerous reasons, but I’ll point out the following one), because the one boat that might work reasonably well for someone might not be the one boat that works reasonably well for me based on our location and preference for type of water to paddle. The spectrum of paddling that anyone’s quiver of one tries to cover will vary. (For example, I don’t live by the ocean, and I don’t go on ocean expeditions; but someone else’s quiver of one might need to cover that.)

Prijon Yukon Expedition
I think if there were only to be one kayak, I’d go with the Prijon Yukon Exp. with a few different paddles and skirts.

You need to add the “compromise” factor
(btw, where did the “quiver” idea comes from, are you a skier?)

The vary idea of “one boat fleet” is you’re compromising! It’s a matter of which is your priority and which you’re willing to compromise. I bet for any random 2 paddlers, their preferences are orthogonal to each other!

Location is one of the external factor biasing where that preference will be placed. People living on the coast will inevitably prefer a boat that has decent rough water ability and some speed. They’re likely to willingly give up tight turning ability and/or stability as a compromise. Still, they would like a boat to be ok even in flat water or slow river. But just about 90% of boats on the market WILL do ok in 90% of conditions.

Basically, take away those 10% “niche” boats specifically designed to do one thing very well and other things poorly, you got your “list” of 90% of the boats out there all as general purpose boats! Any one of them would do as “one boat fleet”. :wink:

In the “single boat” selection, naturally there would have to be a compromise or two. Mine would come down to versatility. I

n my own “quiver/fleet” I would have to choose my Feathercraft Wisper. It is not as fast and light nor handles big rough water as well as my 18’ Greenland skin-on-frame, doesn’t have the cargo capacity and the rudder of the Magellan or Chinook, and is not as much fun (or durable) for rocky rivers or as lively in open water as the shorter Easky 15LV. But overall the Wisper performs at least 90% as well as any of the other boats in those categories where each is 100% plus it has the advantage of being very light and completely portable, either fully set up and carried on my shoulder, or packed down in its backpack and hauled onto a train or flight.

I suppose I have been habituated (spoiled?) by having started kayak touring with a Feathercraft but, for me, overall weight and portability are very large factors in my selection of an “ideal” boat. I recognize that this isn’t practical for most people, being as even a used Feathercraft in reasonable shape costs more than most high-end rigid sea kayaks (over $2000).

If I had to limit my choice to under $1000, it would be the Easky 15LV, though I would add a rudder to it.

Of course, I’m only a rather klutzy and still relatively cautious intermediate paddler. I’ve been dazzled by the performance during brief outings in borrowed Eddyline and Valley boats (in moderate waters), enough to know that as my confidence and skills improve I will no doubt lust for something more along those lines. But I love the Wisper so much I can’t imagine not having one in my life forever. If doing so did not mean depriving some heir of enjoying the kayak, I would want to be buried at sea in it.

Are you looking for a kayak
or more just sharing ideas on whether or not a one boat principles?

Group 1 & 2…
Nordkapp H20 is the one boat quiver.


This might be a history making day
Salty, I agree with you 100 percent!

jack L

if the thread bores you…
…nobody is forcing you to follow it.

…nobody is forcing you to follow it.
Exactly, thank you!

To be honest
I am not looking for the perfect boat. The last two years I put far more emphasis on skill sets so they will work from boat to boat. That said, I did find some boats better suited my needs, body size and paddling skills versus other boats and the volume-size as well as hull designs did factor in this.

It seems that when a particular boat is discussed here, the postings sometimes offer thoughts about that boat as if they were universal to all paddlers. What I thought might happen, but obviously didn’t with this post was we would see a number of good hulls presented with an emphasis on whom (body size?) and what conditions they might most be beneficial to. My setting up categories was arbitrary at best. Not trying to prove anything. No more, no less.

you did prove something
That many paddlers got tired of dumb “perfect boat” threads.