request recomendation for new kayak

Greetings to all. I am asking for recomendations for a new kayak. I began the sport about a year ago and am ready to upgrade from my Pelican Freedom 100 10’ recreation kayak to something a little more substantial.

My expected uses are:

70% day tripping on the South Texas rivers such as the Guadalupe in the Victoria area, Colorado in the Bastrop to Lagrange area, Lavaca river near Edna.

10% Overnight trips on the above rivers.

10% Day trips on Matagorda Bay, Lavaca Bay, Lake Texana, and maybe a quick trip out to Matagorda Island. (calm days only)

10% Semi-competitive events. Such as the “Adventure Class” of the Colorado 100. Not so much “in it to win it”, but want a good enough boat to keep up. I know the TWS is out of my league.

I do not want to go over 14’, and would prefer something about 12’. My budget for the boat is about $1,000. I will use my existing equipment or outfit it later if I keep my Pelican.

I have looked online at:

Perception Carolina 12’

Wilderness Tsunami 12’

Wilderness Tsunami 12.5’

These seem to be the type vessels I am looking for and are within my budget. Has anyone ever used any of these kayaks? If so, please let me know what you think of them.

Or, does anyone have any other recomendations?

I am in my late 40’s, 5’7", about 180 and in decent shape.

All advice welcome and appreciated.

Happy paddling and thank you,


too short

– Last Updated: Mar-05-12 12:51 PM EST –

Based on what you want to use it for and your size, 12' is too short of a boat. None of those 12' kayaks has sufficient packing room nor does it have the speed and performance you need for taking it out in the ocean bays or for attempting to participate in a race. They are barely a step up from your current boat and I believe you would be quickly disappointed with their performance in the range of activities you are contemplating. A 14' or 15' kayak would be more versatile.

If weight is a concern, look at the British made Venture Easky 15LV -- at your height and weight this 15 foot 46 lb kayak could be just the thing. It's in your budget (around $1000 or less) and is a very enjoyable kayak to use, nicely outfitted with thigh hooks, two hatches, a very comfortable seat and foot peg arrangement, and comes all set up to be fitted with a rudder if you eventually get more into offshore paddling. It tracks well, is easier to get to speed than those shorter wider boats and handles boat wakes and waves nicely. Compared to the similar size Tsunami and Carolina models, it is about 10 lbs lighter and (at least I think) more enjoyable to paddle. I've used both Tsunamis and Carolinas so I am basing my comparision on experience.

I'm 61, 5' 5", 160 lbs (also in good shape) and have had an Easky 15LV for 2 seasons now. I've owned and paddled a range of kayak models of varying sizes and styles and feel that the 14' to 15' range is the most useful beginner to intermediate kayak size. 10' and 12' boats are mostly suitable for casual lake and small stream paddling. YOu can take a good 15' touring kayak just about anywhere. I have even taken mine through short sections of Class I and II rapids as well as out in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. They also paddle faster and easier in a straight line than shorter kayaks. The shorter the boat, the wider and deeper the hull has to be to make up the displacement volume you need. The Easky 15LV (for low volume) is a lower volume kayak so it can be more slender and low profile, reducing wind resistance and improving forward tracking.

12 feet is pretty short

– Last Updated: Mar-05-12 1:54 PM EST –

To do overnight trips in a 12-foot kayak, you'll need to use a very minimalist approach. I sometimes use a 12-foot, canoe-shaped rowboat for overnight camping, but even with more width and an open top (packs are just dropped into the boat rather than stuffed through an awkward opening), carrying a lot of gear is difficult to do while maintaining trim. That's because there's very little room in front of my feet for gear, so most goes immediately behind the seat. Actually, with a reasonable amount of gear I can trim that boat by putting some gear in front of my feet (it doesn't take much weight out in front of your feet to counterbalance a heavy load that's just behind the seat), but there's many times the volume for storage in front of your feet in that boat than in a kayak. However, if you don't mind strapping a pack on top of your front deck you can make it work (you might need to put some of your main gear load on top of the rear deck rather than beneath it as well).

Regarding adventure races, you won't "keep up" with the pack in a 12-foot boat. If we assume waterline length is half a foot shorter than the boat, hull speed for boats that are 12, 14, and 15 feet long will be 5.2, 5.7, and 5.9 miles per hour, respectively. Hull speed is the speed at which the boat becomes trapped within its own wake and, for practical purposes, can't go any faster (with non-racing designs, hull speed is a pretty "absolute" speed limit). It only takes a small difference in speed to really separate the faster boats from the slower boats over a pretty short distance, so unless there are a lot of other 12-foot boats in the race, you'll really "feel" how slow you are.

I'll leave it to others to suggest models, but that's the lowdown on short kayaks when it comes to camping and going fast.

River Conditions when Racing?
Are you talking about flatwater racing or this down river racing in class II or III?

80% Ok, other 20% though…
Those boats would work fine for the 70% you talk about. And likely the other 10% (though I don’t know the area, but am assuming somewhat protected flat water).

The 10% camping could be tight. I have done overnights out of 14 foot boats (Looksha Sport, Dagger Alchemy) and it worked, but a lot of thought on what gear you bring had to go into it. It is more of a backpack experience than a car camping experience. A little longer or higher volume helps this, but has other downsides (weight, transport, etc.). You have to decide what trade off works best for you.

The race 10% you will be way outclassed. So winning isn’t a consideration. Keeping up with the pack could also be a challenge, unless there are others doing it as you in shorter boats for the fun and not the competition. But if you aren’t doing those often, maybe it is better to ignore that when deciding the boat, and then rent a faster touring kayak to do the race in.

ive paddled
In this area, and raced the 100. You will want at least a 14 ft boat. Look used, you are in a paddling rich area. Also check out the paddle24seven forum. It’s more geared for paddling in that area.

Ryan L.

2 foot usually not enough
This sounds like the start to a bad joke, but it is unlikely that you will feel that you really had a significant upgrade without going to 14 ft. The 12 footers like the above are kind of neither/not - not a pumpkinseed, but won’t have the feel of a more substantial boat over time either. If you are going to spend the bucks on a boat anyway, go towards the 14 foot lengthy.

Thanks for your comments. I had thought that a 12’er would be what I am looking for. But, everyone pretty much suggests going to 14’. So, I’ll just have to save a little more. I sure do not want to buy something that I will be unhappy with or be wanting to upgrade again soon.

It is looking like I need to study the Tsunami 14 or the Dagger Alchemy 14. Does anyone have any other suggestions?

Thanks again!!

New kayak
I like the Perception Expression 15. I recently bought one and it looks like I’m not going to outgrow it anytime soon, if ever.

buy used
for $1000 you can get a reasonably nice used boat of any length and it may even include some extras. Even if you buy a brand new boat you’ll realize a few months later you really bought a used boat.

Tsunami 140 perfect size
I’m same size as you. Bought a tsunami 140 last year and love it. Have day tripped and camped out of it. Plenty of room for equipment and stays dry inside. Lightweight and easy enough to get on and off car alone. Had it in lakes, on rivers and ocean. Tracks well and can easily keep up with other more experienced kayakers. Highly recommend as a versatile stable boat.

High-volume 12 footer: Delta 12.10
There is no automatic direct relationship between the length of a kayak and it’s volume and suitability for camping. The volume also depends highly on the depth, width, and shape at each end. Some short kayaks have more storage space than longer ones.

How much storage space you need depends on your equipment, especially the “big three”: tent, sleeping bag, and mattress. Backpackers get along quite well with around 60 liters in their packs. So if a kayak has anything over 120 liters it’s going to be adequate for several days of camping with moderately light and compact equipment.

I know of at least two 12’ kayaks that have enough storage space for several days of camping: the Swift Kiwassa and the Delta 12.10.

Swift doesn’t give the hatch volume of the Kiwassa at their website, but I once compared it side by side with the Old Town Cayuga 146—which I have used successfully for camping—and the Kiwassa had as much storage space as the Cayuga. Note how wide the Kiwassa is in the rear. I don’t recommend it for big water. I only mention it for volume comparison.

Delta 12.10

The Delta has a fat cigar shape and quite a bit of depth throughout the length. Yet it’s surprisingly nimble on the water, a pleasure to paddle. It’s comfortable and very stable. It has a whopping 159 liters of space in the hatches.

My Eddlyine Journey, at 15.5’, has only 127 liters of storage, due to the low deck and tapered ends. I’m easily able to camp for four or more days with it.

There are a lot of kayaks from 12.5’ to 15’ that would suit your needs. You don’t have to rule out 12.5’, but be aware that some short kayaks will be less stable, depending on their width and hull shape. A notable exception is the Delta 12.10.

However, in general 14’ is a good all-purpose length. If your budget is $1000, your 14 footer is probably going to weigh over 50 lbs.

Second that but I’m a little bigger
I have the 145, If there is a 5 on the end of a Wilderness system boat it’s the high volume version of the same length as the one without the five. Higher deck in front of the cockpit, little more room inside.

Other suggestion
Again, if you are looking in that length range, I urge you to try to check out a Venture Easky 15LV. Though a foot longer than the Tsunami 140, it is 8 lbs lighter, which is significant. My best friend had a Tsunami 140 and I have paddled hers several times. My Easky feels and handles noticably better. Pricewise, the Easky also seems to be a little cheaper, and I like the outfitting better. Excellent adjustable seat, thigh hooks and foot pegs – even has a metal bar molded into the deck to enable you to chain and padlock it for storage security.

The only problem is it is more difficult to find Easky’s in stock to try out. Some independent dealers have them (my local one does). REI sells them but I’ve yet to see one in their brick-and-board stores. However, if you order any boat through REI you can return it for full refund after using it in the water, no questions asked. I believe they will bring one in to your local store without a freight charge also. Plus, on any REI purchase you usually get a 10% credit rebate in the form of your annual co-op share earnings within a year on the purchase.

CD Whistler
Is a wonderful boat and worthy of consideration.

if camping is a primary goal –
the Tsunami has much more cargo volume, plus the convenience of a day hatch which the Easky doesn’t have. Here’s the comparison:

Easky 15LV - 11 gal bow + 18 gal stern (46 lb)

Easky 15 - 12 + 20 gal (50 lb)

Tsunami 140 - 18 + 26 gal (53 lb)

Tsunami 145 - 20 + 29 gal (56 lb)

That’s more space than some 16’ sea kayaks. You can overnight out of the 120/125 too if you’re happy with a shorter boat; just harder to do multi-day trips, though ours have done up to a week.

(Figure 10-20% wasted space off the above numbers just due to the nature of packing oddly shaped compartments.)

Looks like Venture does have a couple dealers in Central TX if you want to go check out the Easky. If you look for used, it should be easier to find a Tsunami or Carolina.

Yup, more cargo room
I fully agree that the Tsunami would be more spacious for hauling gear for trips, but that would be only 10% of the OP’s projected use. I would equate the Tsunami vs Easky LV as mini-van vs sporty coupe. Yes, it’s nice to have that cargo volume when you need it, but if mostly you use the “vehicle” for day tripping and the occasional competitive race, do you really want to be hauling and propelling that extra weight and displacement around 90% of the time?

if you camp once in awhile and are limited to buying just the one kayak, the LV hull will limit what types of trips you can do; especially if you’re a 180+ lb guy with 50-70 lbs of gear and a couple gallons of water aboard. I would opt for the larger size if camping is a consideration.

We have a whole fleet of Tsunamis in various sizes and I haven’t found any negatives to them as an all-purpose day tourer, river/lake tripper & camper. The day hatch makes it easier for packing and accessing the smaller items in your kit. The larger volume is nice for when you get out into some waves fully loaded.

I liked the Easky too but they’re harder for buyers to find in stores and at demos.

Look at the RTM Disco
Available now for less than 1000 delivered and very fast for a 14 footer. Also it is a sit on top which is better for rivers and heat.

Another fast 14 footer is the Pungo. It is wide but the v hull gives it a very fast speed for a 14 footer.

2nd that
Plus the Pachena and Breeze (older models) and the new CD Vision series - all very nice touring boats in the 13-14 foot range.