Short Stout Woman Seeks Compatible Kayak

Hi all

I’m seeking a kayak to accompany me on my journey. Here are the details:

Me: 5’3", proportional but stout (165 lb.) female with 30" inseam and 43" hips; inexperienced but seeking intermediate skills. I enjoy skating around like a water bug and checking out the wildlife.

Kayak: Recreational or Light Touring. Must enjoy everything from creeks/estuaries to medium/large rivers (e.g. the Ohio River). Class I-II rapids max. Stability a plus, but speed is even better! $800 or less

Is there a matchmaker out there who can advise which kayak might be a good choice for me? Sample considerations include but are not limited to the Perception (America 11, Sundance 12, Acadia 12/12.5), Dagger (Element 11.2, Blackwater 11.5/12.5), Necky (Santa Cruze, Manitou), Wilderness Systems (Pungo 120) and Old Town models (Loon 111, Castine).

Thanks everyone!


I have owned an Acadia 12.5 for quite awhile and use it often though we have other kayaks ranging from 9.5 to 17.5. I heartily recommend it for stabilty, reasonable speed, and I like that it has a waterproof hatch. For a short, wide boat it tracks better than most and I can maintain a 4 mph speed for hours. I think my peak speed according to the GPS was 5.5, though a leisurely paddle with photography averages 3.0.

I am 5’4", 125 and use a 220 paddle.

I can’t think of any place I haven’t used it except the coast or lakes the size of the great lakes.

Pungo recommendation…
My wife is about your height and considerably stouter and LOVES her Pungo Classic. I’m nearly your physical match (sex differences apart, natch) and love mine. This boat does everything we want it to: ponds, lakes, and slow rivers (we’re fortunate to live right at the junction of the Hudson and Mohawk rivers). The new model Pungo goes for about $600, I think, but you can find the renamed Pungo as the Victory in places like Dick’s sporting goods for less than $400, which is a terrific value.

Light touring boats
Here are alternatives for light touring boats that might fit you well - the Lincoln Chebeaque (or it’s little sister, the Quoddy) or the CD Pachena. These boats have similar handling characteristics and are good “learning” boats - they’ll act like touring boats rather than rec boats, although I’ve noticed they don’t have the best secondary stability (both have a lean point that “gives” and drops you in the water, facilitating learning bracing and rolling!)

They are also very light, making it easy for a woman to car-top by herself. The Lincoln was my first boat; I noticed the Pachena in a class and remarked on the similarities! Neither is available in poly, but you may be able to find a good used one. (I’m keeping my Lincoln for now - it makes a great “visitors” boat).

You forgot a…
Walden Vista. Very light 38lbs.,but stiff poly construction, large cockpit, 12’ 6" length, fast for it’s size,260lbs capacity, handles up to class II WW. Sell for under $600.00. I have one and I am 6’ ,235 lbs,and fit quite well. Get the expedition model with rear hatch,and bulkhead,if you want to keep some things dry. Any questions E-mail on profile.

Happy Paddling billinpa

Hi Cervinus

– Last Updated: Sep-05-04 4:58 PM EST –

I started kayaking 3 years ago with a Dagger 10.5 which I will probably never give up as it is very versatile. I've used it on rivers with class 1-2 rapids,on our large bay in calm weather and in 2ft wave conditions, and have used it to surf on waves at the beach.I've been in the trough of waves high enough that I can't see over the wave. I like the skeg in ornery winds and find the speed good. The stability lets me get back in the boat cowboy style when I have practiced my wet exits.
My husband has a Pungo 120 which is also a great all around boat for stability and actually for speed and for holding all kinds of day-tripping stuff. I don't like it as much as I feel like I'm sitting in a bathtub. However it is a nice boat and very stable.We'll always keep this boat too as it's a good one for company and for the river.
We now have sea kayaks ana are really enjoying them:-)
Good luck and have fun choosing-let us know what you get!

I’m 1" shorter but near same wt.
I paddle a Carolina, but would heartily recommend an acadia. Acadia’s are stable, speedy, comfortable and can easily handle up to Class II WW. Although, I prefer a Swifty for that as it’s a little more maneuverable in tight spots. Acadia or Sundance are both excellent boats for what you are looking for. And the sizes you mention leave it open for many different adventures.

Thanks and OT Sport Jolt
Hi again

Thanks so much for the suggestions, everyone! I really appreciate the input and advice.

On a related note, I had a chance to ‘dry test’ an OT Sport (Old Town) Jolt 116 today. The seat seems comfortable, and I liked the smaller cockpit size. Does anyone have experience with the Jolt? I’m awfully tempted as I can purchase it new for $375+tax where its MSRP is >$700.

It’s a very nice boat
But be advised before you buy, OT’s tend to be heavier boats than some other brands. Something to consider is whether or not you will have to handle it most of the time alone or with help. Who will be around most of the time to get it onto your car? If only you, you might give boat weight a serious consideration in your decision.

the smaller cockpit could trap ya in a wet exit situation. Yep they are a bit heavier, but still a great boat. Like my sundance but its a bit slower than he longer boats and has a narrower cockpit.

Jolt 116 Weight
>OT’s tend to be heavier boats than some other brands.

Good point - one I’m definitely considering. The lighter end of the kayaks I’ve been looking at seem to range between 45 and 47lbs. The Jolt is only 47lbs, so it’s still pretty manageable for me.

Jolt 116 Smaller Cockpit
>the smaller cockpit could trap ya in a wet exit situation

Hmmm… true. So far, I find that I’m liking kayaks with smaller cockpits because they permit me better bracing opportunities. I’m especially partial to the few kayaks I’ve tried with thigh braces. How do folks with larger cockpits deal with the issue of bracing their knees/thighs?

Noone has mentioned the Swifty.

The Swifty isn’t really on my list for consideration. I’m a short, stout woman; I’m not looking for a short, stout kayak. Just kidding (sort of)! I think the Swifty might be a little too short to handle occasional outings on the Ohio River.

Have you looked at a Necky Zoar
Sport ? Generous cockpit-good boats.

Consider the sundance
If the Swifty is too short for you (I’m short and stout and love the swifty) then consider the Sundance. A little longer, same basic design, but stretched a bit. Great for lakes, touring etc.

Not sure if you’re still considering the Jolt since your message is a few weeks old, but if you are, check out the two reviews I wrote on this site. I’d be happy to answer any specific questions since I have used this boat extensively the past two years.