Smaller paddler?

Ok, I am researching kayaks because I want to trade up my beginner model to something better. I keep seeing the term “smaller paddlers” …what exactly does this mean? I’m a 5’10" female weighing about 165 …I wouldn’t classify myself as a smaller paddler but I want a lightweight boat because I can’t lift too much on my own. Most of the boats that I’m attracted to have this designation as being ideal for smaller paddlers …are they then no good for someone my size?


– Last Updated: Jul-06-09 10:23 AM EST –

You're close to the mythical "average" size. I'm very close to your size(5'9", 160), and I generally prefer boats aimed at "smaller paddlers". I like a snug fit, I don't like high decks, and I like a boat that responds quickly. For example I'm much happier in a Tempest 165 than a 170, or in the "LV" version of most boats.

If you're primarily doing day trips, many of the "smaller paddler" boats should work for you.

small paddler
My wife is 5’2" and weighs 102. When looking we decided on the Wilderness Systems Tsunami 135, which is geared to a smaller person.

We opted for the Tsunami because we were told about the many people who get a recreational kayak and outgrow it. We were told getting a good tourning kayak is the way to go.

You might want to looke at one of the Tsunamis.

smaller paddler
Depends alot on where you paddle and the conditions there. The abs boats tend to be pretty light (also less money than glass) but arn’t real abrasion resistant. If you normally paddle deep water this won’t matter.

Bill H.

Get the boat you like to paddle. Weight should not be an issue. Don’t try to muscle the kayak on and off your vehicle or to and from the water. At your vehicle never lift more than one end at a time. To and from the water never lift above waist level. You’ll be fine. Don’t buy a crappy boat just because it’s light.

sounds like
You need to find a local paddling shop and hop into some kayaks. Looking at pictures and reading descriptions only gets you so far. Ultimately to figure out what fits you you’ll need to demo a boat. Sounds to me like most “smaller paddler” or LV boats would fit you just fine.

what’s your inseam?
Sorry, I just noticed that you’re female and 5’10" - which is great - but you probably have a pretty long inseam since women tend to have longer legs and shorter torsos. In my limited experience I’d make sure you have the footroom and leg extension. Having said that, I paddled a nordkapp low volume and the footpegs had plenty of room.

Best option is to try them out, but I’d echo what angstrom said.

Check into the Hurricane boats

The have several very light boats you might like. They are also only slightly more $$ than RM boats weighting much more.

I have a Tracer (16’) They also make a Tampico which is 14 feet, plus many others.


Another echo in here. What angstrom said was right on target.

You are not a “smaller paddler"
Compared to most of the young women in my university classes you would be regarded as taller than average. My wife is 5’6” and weighs less than you and is larger than almost all her friends. I use her as an example because she paddles a QCC 600X. If fits her just fine and I am sure it would fit you as well (I can fit in and I am 5’10" and 185). The 600 is an excellent boat and you can get them that weigh from 38 to 50 pounds depending on material (and, of course, budget). But I agree with others that weight should not be a consideration.

Boat weight is a consideration for me.
I prefer to be able to carry and load my boats without many gadgets and gizmos or elaborate techniques. I certainly paddle my lighter boats more than the heavier boats and it’s not always because I prefer paddling the lighter boats more, but because they’re easier to load, unload, carry and store than the heavier boats.

It seems that I’m a minority with this opinion in this thread.

Of course, if your heavy boat is plastic and not composite, then setting it down on the rocks in a parking lot or setting it down a little bit hard because you lose your grip or balance is less of a concern and weight is less of an issue.

Good luck in your boat search. I’m still looking for a kayak that just thrills me.

some descriptions are a joke
I agree with the poster who said you’re not really that small and will have a nice range of boats to choose from. The thing is not to believe all of the descriptions you read – you’ve gotta try before you buy. Specifically, I read a description of the Avocet as being for smaller paddlers. When I tried one, the forward end of the cockpit and under-deck seemed the size of a bathtub! What a joke! The good news, though, is that today there are plenty of boats for smaller bodies. That was certainly not the case 10 years ago. Anyhow, go to a lot of boat demos and ask to sit in your friends’ boats. When you feel a good one for you, you’ll know it! (How about the Impex Force 3 or Force 4? Eddyline also has a great smaller person’s boat, the name of which I forget. And there’s the low-volume Romany, soon to be replaced by the Pilgrim.) Good luck!

Smaller paddler?
Thanks for the advice all! I am definitely planning to try before I buy but since I live in New England, the season for demos and such is relatively short.

lighter boats
Two boats come to mind but you will have to build them.

Pygmy Boats Artic Tern 14 (stitch and glue mahogany)

Cape Falcon Kayaks F1 (skin on frame)

google them both during your search.

The F1 can be sized to your body. It is gloriously

light, stable and responsive.

The joys of paddling are all about moving under one’s own power which I agree include simple loading and handling of a kayak off the water.

ginger, you might be talking
about the Avocet RM (plastic) coz the composite one ain’t no bathtub.

I can squeeze into the Force4 (but not the Force3) and can’t fit into the Avocet LV.


– Last Updated: Jul-13-09 8:30 AM EST –

IMO, the composite Avocet has a larger cockpit than the Avocet RM. The composite Avocet LV is smaller than either of them.