sit on top kayak for Great Lakes

Hi everybody, I’m new here. In my profile I put “intermediate” and thought I was until I started reading here and realized I am probably closer to a beginner even though I have been paddling for 5 years.

I am looking to buy a sit on top kayak for summer use on local lakes and possibly some use on Lake Erie and/or Michigan for paddling and light surfing. Of the ones I have tried I like the Tarpons best but even they seem really wide and sluggish. I want something with rocker so its good on waves, reasonably stable without being downright sluggish, and would prefer a slightly deeper one so my center of gravity won’t be so high. No need to carry a lot of gear, I have another boat I use for camping. I think the surf ski by Futura (15’ x 24" beam, can’t remember name) is close except my budget allows for about half of that, AND is has no rocker. But that’s the best I can explain what I am looking for.

I am 5’8" and 155 pounds if that helps.

I agree
you are pretty small for a Tarpon. A Scupper Pro (RTM Tempo) would be faster and better out in the waves, but you can probably do even better in the smaller RTM Disco. The new CD Zone is pricey, but also worth a look.

Cobra also has a couple of boats you might look at like the Eliminator, but it is more of a flatwater kayak for training/fitness paddling and might be terrible on a big choppy lake. Their Tourer is also a possibility, but might be a big boat for you as well.

Also, check out the SOT search tool at


Cobra Revision -
Check it out on their webpages.

RTM Disco
Its a pretty slick little boat. I have one, but it hasn’t had much use. It is not a big guy boat. It would be perfect for someone your size.

It is plastic. It is 14’ long by 26" wide, and weighs about 50#

They are imported from France. Contact Dave at Action Sports in Florida. He can have one shipped. FedEx to California was about $190, but the boat only cost about $700, so it can be had for less than a grand.

It has a low center od gravity, but it does have a wet seat.

Revision Better Than Disco For Surfing

RTM Disco on eBay
For $499 with free shipping (Lone Star Kayaks) and you can pick the color you want. Great deal!

One warning though – Forward Air is notorious for killing/damaging boats. Inspect it before you accept it and refuse delivery if there are damages. Do not let the truck driver leave until you are satisfied.

The Cobra Re-vision is much lower profile and looks like a big plastic surfboard, so if surfing is the real goal, check that on out – it’s in the $600 range online.


SOT for consideration
check out the Hurricane Phoenix 120 in the Pnet reviews.

I think you’ll find many sit on tops are really heavy to load and carry and the Phoenix 120 might be a good choice. I had a 140 for a summer and enjoyed it as did the rest of the family. Should have kept it but selfishly traded for a new bicycle. I own a Hurricane Tracer and love it.

I have heard that the Hurricane
Phoenix is basically the same design as the Tarpons, just a different material and manufacturer, so for now I am ruling them out unless I learn something different here on Paddling Net.

The RTMs sound interesting. I have seen the Cobra Revision on the website and it does look like it is strictly for surfing. Does anyone know how it paddles out on a flat lake or a choppy lake such as Erie?

Thanks for the replies so far, I appreciate it.

Revision is a good compromise

– Last Updated: Jan-09-09 2:11 AM EST –

it will paddle fairly fast for a shorter boat. It will handle chop well, surf and big waves. Fast enough on flat water to compare with the other boats you are looking at.

The boat was actually designed for surf rescue, it has a little bit of surfski character. Think about it. It's fast enough and stable enough to break out through bad conditions to go get somebody in trouble, but will paddle fairly well on flat water. It does surf pretty well, but certainly is not a surf specific boat. It will surf much better than the other boats mentioned.

Phoenix v. Tarpon
Similar looking maybe - the same design I think not.

The weight savings, appearance, and durability of the Trylon boats shouldn’t be overlooked.

Try as many different SOTs as you can and pick whichever appeals to you.

I’ll agree with others
regarding the RTM Disco. I have one. Got it from David at Lone Star Kayaks and it is a great SOT boat. See my review for more details.

My decision
I think I am going to seek out a Cobra Revision to test paddle. It looks like the best choice for the places I paddle. Thanks to everybody for their input!

Hope it goes well
Thanks for letting us know what you decided on.