STABLE kayak suggestions for my wife

If any of you remember me…I started a thread a month or two ago asking about a kayak for me. Some people started asking me about wet exit, and self rescue and I had no idea what they were talking about.

Thankfully they did, though, as it gave me more to research and I found out there was a lot more I needed to know.

Since then, my wife and I have taken a 4-part Sea Kayaking class that did plenty of self and assisted rescues and we know ‘the basics’.

We are going to the NW paddle fest this weekend to try out some boats. One of the people helping with the class has a kayak for sale that felt great to me, and I may get it from him if I don’t ‘fall in love’ with any this weekend.

Anyway, we are still looking for one that my wife feels better in. She hasn’t found any that feel comfortably stable yet.

She’s about 5’6" and 210 lbs.

We are definitely leaning toward sit-in sea kayaks (17’ range).

Can you recommend some good kayaks that are very stable? At this beginner level, we’ve learned that we aren’t horribly concerned with speed and handling as much.

Main requirements: STABLE and tracks decently well.

We’ll probably stick mostly to lakes this first year, but plan to get into salt water soon enough.

Suggestions please? What are some good well known very stable kayaks that are good for beginners of larger size?

Thanks in advance. :slight_smile:

Strictly 17’?
If there’s some leeway in that parameter I would recommend the new Venture Jura as a poly option.

Composite options for Stable, North Shore Atlantic or North Shore Ocean 17 could be fun.

Any idea which brands or models will be present for you to try out?

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Dumping out the vendors that aren’t really what we want, this is my list of vendors to check out.










Thanks for suggestions…not ‘strict’ on the 17’, no.

I like the look of those, especially that Jura. Too bad they won’t be at the fest to check out.

Current Designs older Solstice series
You’d probably be looking at the boats for bigger folks in that series to accommodate cockpit fit for your wife - but aside from the Solstice GT these boats just do not like to capsize. Of course all boats can, but they will do so much less easily. In fact, I found out with my first boat (a Squall) that they are a PITA to roll. They have so much of an interest in that secondary stability point that they hate to pass it in either direction, going down or coming back up. The boat for your wife in the Solstice series is probably the Storm. Comes in plastic too, which makes it less expensive.

I have not sat in these boats myself, but the other one I’d have her try is one of the larger boats in the Vision series, CD’s transitional line. It appears that these boats have CD’s older ethic hull (really hates to capsize) with a lower deck and a cockpit made to be easy to get into.

stable boats
find boats you fit in. good contact with feet,thighs and hips makes a world of difference.

Also, be willing to get a boat that feels a little tippy. A boat that feels great and super stable right now will feel like a bath tub in a couple of months. I know many paddlers who started in a boat that felt tippy and after 3-4 outings were 100% comfortable.

If you want a good all around 17 footer and want plastic as a first boat, the Wilderness systems Tempest is a great choice.

I have worked safety boat at the NW paddle fest for several years and watched LOTS of people try boats along with demoing many myself. Be willing to move a boat around,get it on edge and get wet even. Paddling out in a straight line and back as MANY do at the paddle fest tells you little about a kayak.

Since you are in the NW, I highly recommend Rogue Wave Adventures or Body-Boat-Blade for more advanced instruction as you progress.

Stability is in the eye of the beholder
It would help a lot to know what boats your wife tried and found to be uncomfortably unstable.

Also, what boat are you considering?

Finally, outside of the classes you took, how much paddling has your wife done? If the answer is “little” or “none” then this may indeed just be a case of a new paddler needing a bit of time to adjust to sea kayaks, particularly if the boats you used in your classes were beamier types.

Paddling experience
The answer for both of us is little or not. I agree somewhat…I think I’m convincing her that she doesn’t need to be perfectly rock solid because that’s unlikely.

The first boat she tried was a really old Northwest Cadence. Then she tried a Seaward Chinook Tx (borrowed from one of teaching assistants at class).

I think the bigger problem with her was that both were kind of high off the water and hard for her to do the reentry.

The Chinook Tx was the one I tried (only briefly) but really felt comfortable in.

At the risk of bleeding into
the realm of marriage counseling - it might be best to step out of the decision making and let her take charge. She has essentially the same experience as you - meaning none - so she can seek advice from people she trusts and then make her own decision. That way in the end it will be a decision that she made and she will be motivated to make the decision work. Just a thought.

Letting her make decision
Thanks for the advice. I understand where you are coming from.

I’m certainly not trying to make the decision for her. I’m the “researcher” type, she’s not. She’s a bit overwhelmed and appreciative of me doing some leg work to help narrow down her choices. She has few resources to ask, and she’s pretty shy and not the type to seek out advice.

I’m trying to help narrow the selection for her with her definitely making the actual decision. I’m not trying to step on her toes in any way.

Cockpit size
On your list there are at least two brands that won’t fit your wife because the cockpits are small: Delta and QCC. She should be looking for a cockpit that’s about 18" x 35".

I think you should rethink the length. Some here will disagree (vehemently), but I think 17’ is an awful lot to handle for a beginner. Match the length to your intended use. There are kayaks in the 12- to 15-foot range that are seaworthy.

I recommend that your wife try the Eddyline Denali, a 15-footer that’s new this year. I believe the cockpit will fit your wife. I have not paddled it and there are no consumer reviews of it yet. Here’s a review by Sea Kayaker magazine:

And a video:

For stability, Deltas are quite a bit more stable than Eddylines, but Eddyline has the cockpit that fits your wife. The Denali has more volume in the bow and stern than other Eddylines, so it may be more stable (as the Sea Kayaker review indicates). The Eddyline Journey will probably not fit your wife due to the low cockpit, which is quite confining in the thigh area, and it may not have the stability you’re looking for.

Look at used kayaks and do not limit
yourself. I frequently use a 13.5 ft Northwest Kayaks Sportee. Paddled 25 miles around Resurrection Bay yesterday and did a trip down and up a class 2 section of The Kenai River the day before. If you can find an Eddyline Falcon, the 16ft fiberglass model, A Mariner Coaster or Express. Demo it.

The QCC 400X cockpit is deep, which
makes the 16"x30" inner cockpit dimensions less of an issue than on the shallower QCC models (600 & 700).

I’m 5’6" and 160 and my 400X feels too loose in the cockpit and too stable to me.

The challenge for the OP’s wife will likely be entry and exit, not fit after sitting in seat.

Our 400X is the only sit in kayak that my wife will get into because she is stiff and lower volume kayaks, even with longer dimensions, such as the kevlar Perception Eclipse, were less easy for her to get in and out of.

More on deck height/ Solstice

– Last Updated: May-09-14 9:11 AM EST –

Take the CD Solstice boats off your list if you need an easier deck height for re-entry. They will be too tall. But the Visions might solve that from the description on the web site.

I wouldn't get hung up on length. My first sea kayak was close to 17 ft, when I didn't have a clue, and I had that boat offshore in some stuff that was frankly nastier than I should have been it. I always managed to get her to go where I wanted, even the one day where it was a bit of an argument. Higher winds and unusually big rollers - so it just took a little longer. My shorter go-to sea kayak maneuvers more easily, but you said you were more about a predictable experience right now.

I personally never matched the Eddyline boats because their cockpit fit for my size was like a pair of Addidas sneakers on my feet. The shape of things in the cockpit just did not work for how I was configured. But - I demo'd a number of them including some of their more challenging ones, and never found them to be particularly unstable in the water. They have a V-hull that tips around in a driveway. But when you get that shape into the water they are just fine. I don't love the Journey because I find it to be less responsive than I like, but an outfitter around here sold a number of them after they came out to people who wanted a little extra head room on the stability part. No returns.

Actually, if not-fast works for you take a hard look at the (oops on earlier mistake) WS Alchemy for your wife, will need to check both sizes. Newbies have been picking them up from an outfitter around here since they came out, and none of those paddlers has found the water by accident yet.

Xplore, Xtra and Vortex - bombproof and stable (Vortex is a plastic version of Xtra pretty much, easier on the pocket)

vintage used
Occassionally a vintage Dagger Magellan turns up for sale in good shape, made in the 80’s, 17’ touring kayak. I had one for years as my loaner for friends and dates, wish i had held on to it. it was very stable but easy to paddle to decent speed and tracked well, with or without the rudder. i had countless folks of all sizes, mostly novices in it and all felt very secure in it. Paddled it a few times myself and enjoyed the feel and performance. The stock seat is a little funky but the back can be replaced with a backband. It is a little heavy (62 #) but a durable and reliable craft. I bought it for $400 and sold it 8 years later for $450 (actually had buyers bidding me for it when i posted it on Craigslist).

Another very stable and superlight boat is the Pakboat folding kayak model xt-15. Pakboat is replacing it with their new Quest models so you might find a discount on it and the slightly larger XT-16. The XT-15 is only 39 lbs. The inflatable sponson design makes it very stable but the aluminum frame, PVC/poly skin and shape make it perform very much like similar sized hardshells and it is actually more stable in rough water than a rigid boat.

From your list
The only mfg. I carry and have direct experience (recently. I’ll let others weight in on CD, Eddyline, etc. as my seat time is dusty with those brands) is P&H, Valley & North Shore.

In their current offerings;

P&H Cetus, or Ceti - never sure of the plural

P&H Scorpio - the shorty poly Ceti

P&H Delphin/Aries - While a touring surf boat the civil primary stability is very reassuring, even if you’re not in breaking surf.

Valley Etain 177 for you

North Shore Atlantic for your wife

North Shore Ocean 17 for your wife and the Ocean 176 for you

North Shore Atlantic & LV Poly

Paddle this list then have lunch.

Others will have more suggestions I’m sure.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

Here’s one for ya.
The Next Adventure Paddle store in Portland Oregon has two brand new Maelstrom Vaags on clearance for $2600. It might be well worth a drive down to Portland to have a look and see if the fit is right. Check out their paddles and other gear while you’re there. I’ve made some purchases there that are unbelievable.

OP’s wife
5’6" 210 lbs

There couldn’t be a worse cockpit for her than 16 x 30. There is no way she can get in or out of it, so the question of fit once she’s in is moot. Her body shape also hints at a level of fitness that’s not going to allow entry and exit acrobatics.

Longer doesn’t always = easy entry.
The OP’s wife may not fit in the 400X, but also may not fit in a kayak with a 34" long cockpit, unless there is enough depth to go with the length.

I have to hold and balance any boat my wife gets in or out of because of her stiffness. Even her SOT.