sea kayak for small paddler (woman)

Hi all,

I’m a 5’2" woman, 125 lbs and am looking for recommendations for a sea kayak 16ft - 17ft fit for someone my size. I am typically doing day trips in SW Florida, no interest in camping though I can see an occasional overnight trip in my future.

I’d like a kayak 50 lbs or lighter.

I bought my first kayak, an Eddyline Samba just a few months ago, but quickly discovered I need more speed and would love a kayak I can grow into and keep for many-many years.

The Avocet LV is at the top of my list. I am also researching the Pilgrim LV. I’ve seen Eliza mentioned but it’s not catching my imagination.

Let me know your thoughts. Let me know also what are some good sites for used boats, though my preference would be to find a new boat.


Best overall
If you want speed, light weight, easy paddling, extreme seaworthiness and just plain good looking, look at what NC Kayaks has to offer.

Take a look at a QCC-10X
My wife who is your height, and few pounds lighter wouldn’t part with hers.

She always wins her age group class in races, and it handles rough water with ease.

You just might not like the plumb bow, since usually paddlers who like the 'Elfin bow" don’t like a plumb bow

Jack L

What’s your average paddling

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speed now and how fast do you need to travel to keep up with your group? Do you use a high angle stroke or low?

Also, what were your impressions of the Avocet LV when you test paddled it? If you liked it and the weight of the boat is holding you back, Valley's new Sirona LV weighs 45#:

You do have the benefit of living in FL, so there should be plenty of opportunities to test paddle various boats within reasonable driving distances.

Boreal Designs Baffin
Also take a look at the smallest Baffin, available in poly, thermoformed or composite. It’s 44lbs in the composite build.

My wife is 5’ 0" and 120lbs and we’re looking at two Baffins in poly. We have composite, soft-chined transitional boats for local waters but are interested in adding two longer sea kayaks with the hard-chined, Greenland(ish) design of the Baffins, and with skegs and back bands. We want them in poly as we’ll be taking them to Maine and Nova Scotia with very rocky coastlines.

some options
My girlfriend is 5’1" and 110# - below are some options that worked for her. Sounds like you are willing to do composite, which opens up a few more options - we play in rocks, so needed to stick to palstic.

  • Valley Gemini (she has the plastic one as her boat now)
  • Valley Avocet LV (composite is a better fit than the plastic - the 2 materials are different sizes)
  • Sterling IceCap

    Sterling Progression likely would be good also, but we haven’t tried one yet.

    Dagger Alchemy 14.0S kind of worked for my GF. Cockpit opening was too big for her, which made it hard to roll (she’d fall out). Beyond that, it was Ok. I suspect there may be similar issues with the new Dagger Stratos small.

    Chatham 16 also worked. The plastic one we had was too heavy, but maybe composite would be good.

    A friend of similar size (maybe 5’3" and 120) loves her P&H Scorpio LV.

    Necky Eliza likely is probably too big for you. More made for someone in the 150# range from what I have seen.

SOF for speed and lightness
I ddon’t know if there are any builders in your region, but a custom Greenland style skin on frame would be not only fast, but lighter than any composite. I have an 18’ SOF that only weighs 31 lbs. Of all the dozen or so kayaks I have owned over the years it is by far the fastest and is a pleasure to paddle in flat or rough water. These are generally made to order to suit the size of the paddler. I lucked out finding a used one for $800 that was made for someone close to my size. Custom built SOF’s average around $2000.

drive up to Juliet n buy the lot from Wal.

Cannot go wrong
With the Avocet. Tempest165 could also be a great candidate. Both capable rough water boats.

Valley Sea Kayak

Avocet LV

Sirona LV

Etain 17.1

Gemini SP

Gemini ST

North Shore

Atlantic LV

Good availablity of the options stated above:

They ship kayaks too

If you want light weight…
See for the Shrike.

My granddaughter is about your size. As her first woodworking project she has built an LV variant which weighs 28 pounds:

If you don’t wish to build one from the free plans, then Clearstream Custom Watercraft will make one of the many variants of Shrike for you:

I designed the Shrike non-profit project for just your requirements.


2nd vote for QCC10x
Hi, I’m 5’3", 100 lbs, small-framed, and really like my QCC10x. We did remove the original forward bulkhead and positioned its replacement about 5-6 inches for aft because I wanted more sealed storage space. There is still room in front of my feet for a mid-sized dry bag. Should you decide you’d like to try multi-day trips, you’ll have plenty of room for gear in the QCC. When I purchased mine, a skeg option was availabale (no longer the case after Winona purchased QCC - only rudders available now, I believe). The boat does weather cock, so a skeg or rudder is a good idea. Even so, the kayak is such a pleasure to paddle. Mine is Kevlar, and well worth the extra cost for the lighter weight. Good luck with your search!

Thanks Jack and Dorian. I’ll research the QCC10x.

I’m new to kayaking, so still learning. Doing my best right now with a low angle stroke. I can get to 3+ miles/hr easily, just not sustained for long periods of time.

The Avocet LV is supposed to weigh 45 lbs as well (in fiberglass), but it doesn’t. But yes the Sirona LV looks interesting. Of course, being brand new it will cost a small fortune.

datakoll … excuse me?!

mid winter
availability maybe a problem in new kayaks or high prices for used kayaks. I did not look here in Paddle nets for sale.


if paddling inside, not thru oyster beds, a very light relatively long for your size, stable hull is the ticket.

Advertize here and online.

Try the Collier Seminole loop with tide out tide in timing n paddle out from Flamingo with inbound wind and tides out then in using the boat channels. Around to Cayo Costa from St James. Excellent paddling environment. Super. Read Foster Nigel’s Florida book and the Burnham’s Keys manual. B&N

if you are boatless

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wanting to paddle then Walmart supplies the package at lowest cost and immediately. Heavier hulls.

But are on the water.

North Naples Wal is on Juliet.

5'2" is best done with a light CF hull, a low roof, and a set of kayak wheels, and appropriate stretching ex so noting is pulled or broken. Wheels can mount on a floating hull if there's storage for carrying wheels on water.

Finding a CF hull over a year is possible. Shipping a CF hull is problematic.

Wow, what a coincidence !
We moved the front bulkhead back just about the same to accommodate two more gallons of water for our long camping trips.

For what it is worth, my wife was in on the design of the QCC-10X, and got the first one made.

She raced it in the Old Bogey and Bacall races on Key Largo, and the following week QCC had orders for ten.

She wanted the boat to be 20" wide, but they said it wouldn’t sell if it was too narrow, so she was out voted

jack l

very interesting!
A (Canadian) friend of mine was telling me about Boreal Design just today. Just looked up the specs and the smallest one in the Baffin Series, composite looks very interesting. I’ll research it further. Thank you.

That’s pretty good, Tess.
Last May I posed a question here about distance training so I could maintain over 3 MPH for long paddles. Received some terrific responses; the ones that helped me most were by Greg Stamer (who has some major long distance trips on his resume). That thread is here:

I took his advice, got a Forerunner, and did a lot of LSD training. It paid off as by August my speed had improved considerably, but more important, I could maintain it. Will be back at it as soon as the water thaws here.

BTW, I paddle a Samba as well. Love it and intend to keep it, but also looking for a composite LV in the 15-foot range. It’s a challenge.