Picking the correct performance speed kayak

Good morning! I’m looking for aome advice on purchasing a performance touring kayak. We’re not new to kayaking. We have several pleasure kayaks and dedicated fishing kayaks.

This past weekend we entered a 50 mike race on the Missouri river. It was an awesome experience and I’m now addicted to another form of kayaking! I ran this race in a Loon 120. This was an OK kayak for this, the current generally runs from 3 to 6 mph.

Next year i would like to perform better and give myself a chance to place further up the list. Ive been looking at kayaks and have a question.

I really like the looks of the Wilderness Systems Tempest 165 and 170 versions. I had a chance to sit in a Wilderness Typhoon 120 I think it was. My issue was when getting in, there wasnt alot of room for my hips and legs.

I’m 6’3 and 290#. Im looking on advice on a kayak that i can fit properly, be somewhat comefortable in and not have to use a shoehorn to get in with my hips. I wear a 38-40 waist pants, depending on my cherry pie intake :laughing::rofl::joy:.

This would be a race pourpose kind kayak for me so i need it to be fast on the river.

Thanks in advance!!

Based on your size, both Tempest’s are too small for you. Since you are looking at sea kayak styles, take a look at the Current Designs Sirocco which you may still be a little heavy for.

The performance touring kayak built specifically for your size paddler is an NDK Romany Excel or Romany Excel Expedition (most just refer to either as an Excel).

Most distance racers prefer SOT kayaks such as the Epic family of kayaks.

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For faster boat, in general look for longer water line boat. A narrower boat would also generally be faster and as a boat gets longer, they are also often narrower.by design.

The boat you are using is a recreational class kayak. Check out the article on page 6 of this magazine to see info about the different general types of kayaks.

The most race extreme end of kayaks would be surf skis or kayaks that fall in the fast sea kayak class. Surf skis are narrow sit on top boats that run up to about 21’ long and as narrow as like 18". Fast sea kayaks are generally just sea kayaks of similar dimensions. These are the extreme end.

2 factors may cause a surf ski or FSK to not be best for you in ths race

  1. the current - with moving water, you often will get eddies and swirls and such. Surf skis go straight fast, but are not that maneuverable. You may want q somewhat shorter, more maneuverable boat to handle the conditions.

  2. your size. Surf skis are generally designed for lighter and maybe even shorter people. you may not fit well.

I am 6’ and 230 pounds. I don;t think I fit the tempest 165. I do fit the Tempest 170 and there is a little room to spare, but I a not sure that would fit you.

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If you want a fast sit-it boat, the Westside EFT is great and has enough volume to hold you up.

A fats sot is the Epic V-8, it also has enough volume that it will hold you up.

Really fast boats have less volume and are meant for lighter paddlers.

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Thank you everyone! I greatly appreciate all the help. Sometimes it stinks being tall and big framed LOL! I just want to go as fast as possible in something that i can fit inside.

Another question i have is how do i “Properly” measure myself and the wife for new paddles? We have a local big bix store here that does OK, but for this we really want ti get it correct.

Thank you!! If ya dont mind me asking, what is your waist size? Im 38 to 40, give or take for jeans. The smaller wilderness, Typhoon i think it was called was pretty tight fit for me. There ni goid dealers around our area that really “know” kayakjng to this level.

The wife and I found a place down in Missouri, its a six hour ride one way but we’re going to make a trip i think.

The wife really likes that Tempest and they have one in stock thats a 170 version. Hopefully i can fit in that OK. I’ll probably buy that on for her to.

Not sure where your are? There is a very good outfitter/kayak shop in Indianola Iowa if you are nearer that city. Jeff is the owner and a very accomplished paddler with whom I have paddled. Canoe Sport Outfitters.

Beware of big box stores for advice or even equipment. This is a very specialized sport once you decide to get performance quality equipment. I’m 6’1" 200 lbs and had lots of extra room in my Tempest 170 . If your wife is smaller, she should be considering the 165 or smaller (something more appropriate for her size). A 17 ft kayak is lots for any new paddler to control/maneuver until she develops solid paddling skills.

Have ya’ll considered taking an Introduction to Kayaking course from an ACA or BC instructor? That is some of the best $$$ spent before spending lots of money on kayaks.

Also, many of us on here recommend you buy your first kayak (or first few kayaks) used as you learn what characteristics you want in the kayak you paddle.

I’m a lot smaller than you but still found the hip pads on the tempest 170 to be too tight. But those pads are just held in with Velcro and a strap, so you can try the fit without them. I rigged up my own hip pads using some 1/2 inch foam sheet held in place with a ball bungee. Also, you’ll see that you can move the knee/thigh pads as well as adjust the seat angle and backband position.

It’s a long shot, but you might keep your eye out for a Swift Bearing Sea XL. While not a race boat, it’s fast for the size and made for bigger paddlers.

The Tempest 170 is a handsome boat. I had one for a few years. At 6’ and 220# I had to accept that the cockpit is comparatively small and narrow for a kayak this size. There mods you can make to move the seat further back to help getting in and out. They also make a Tempest 180, but I think few were sold. It is quite a step up in size. I think the earlier Current Designs Sirocco suggestion might be worth exploring. I was headed in that direction.

At least sit in your prospective boat (even on a lawn) and make sure you can get comfortable in it before committing to buying.

I’m 6’2", 190, 34", paddle an Epix 18x Sport on a much smaller river all the time and average 4.5 mph unless loaded with gear. Only issue with maneuverability is when twisting through downed tree mazes. You might fit in one unless you have > size 12 shoes. A better candidate would be a Current Designs Solstice GT Titan - roomier but also heavier and slower. Neither one is cheap new.

For paddle length, rule of thumb back in the '70s was stand the paddle next to you, raise your arm all the way and you should be able to just curl your fingers over the top of the blade. These days it depends on paddling style and width of kayak as well which is good.

I am quite a newbee as compared to many on this forum, but I have a Chatham17 and from what I read of your wants, I might suggest you look at a Chatham18.

Others chime in please and let me know if I am missing anything here. I also love to learn.

Ditto for a QCC Q500X, another discontinued big-boy kayak with decent speed. Pretty sure both are John Winters designs.

Just saw a Tempest 180 Pro (I think, from looking at the 3rd picture) added on Craigslist in VT. Here:

Wildrness Systems Tempest Composite Kayak - sporting goods - by… (craigslist.org)

I have not seen the boat in question, just noticed the ad.

I think the Wilderness Systems model you sat in was a Tsunami. The models ending in zero (120, 140, etc.) tend to be tighter fitting. The ones ending in five (145, 165, 175) have a bit more room in the cockpit for us larger folk. When looking for a kayak for my girlfriend she tried out a Tsunami 140. It was a little tight on her, and she didn’t care for it. I managed to stuff myself into it and didn’t think I would be able to get out! I have a Tsunami 165 that I’m comfortable in. My girlfriend settled on the same one after trying mine and loves it.

For comparison, I’m a lot shorter than you at 5’7", but also have a 38/40 waist and large thighs, and weigh about 250(ish).

If you have trouble tracking down some of the great choices above, try the larger cockpit sized Tsunami. The 165, or if you can find one the 175, will be much faster than the Loon 120 and should be roomy enough for you. You probably won’t set a speed record in it, but you’ll do ok.

You might be able to find a used Chatham 18, but Johnson Outdoors that bought Necky quite a few years ago discontinued manufacturing Necky kayaks on 6/15/2017.

As far as paddle length, you really need to pick a boat first. The correct paddle length for maximal efficiency is when, with a properly executed forward stroke, the entire blade , no more and no less, will be fully in the water for the majority of the stroke and not hitting the side of the boat. It will depend on your dimensions, the dimensions of the boat, and your preferred padding style.

Big box stores and some incompetent outfitters frequently sell paddles that are too long for people.


Inseam is?

Butt measurement is?

Current Designs Titan possibly.

CD Extreme or Nomad not sure you’d fit. You’d definitely need wide base seat.

CD Expedition but doubtful you’ll find one before a :t_rex::t_rex:

Even a CD Solstice HV possibly.

36 or 38" waist, depending on the cut of the pants. 32" inseam. I have thick legs (bug quads and calves) from years o bicycling. Running 230 pounds now, but has more in the 215-220 range when I was using a Tempest 170 more.

I don;t have the foot pegs as far as they go, so a Tempest 170 should be able to handle slightly longer legs than me.

I have been using sea kayaks for a long time, so might be more used to tighter cockpits than someone coming from a recreational class boat.

I agree with the other comments that each boat should be fit for the paddler. Assuming your wife is smaller, the Tempest 165 may fit her well. Seems to do well for paddlers up to about 175 pounds (above that it depends on person’s proportions).

Looks like these folks have one.

I think tomorrow im going to go try on that tempest again. I got a funny feeling that the seat in there was not ajdusted and set up correctly. The kid helping us said hes not from the kayak department. We put the ole tape measure on my hind quarters and we’re eyeballing 18" give or take. I have a 36" inseam, so maybe theres room for some sime adjusting in there.