Tahe Reval Mini? (for a Petite Lady)

I was curious if any of the resident petite ladies had tried this boat and what their thoughts were? Wondering how it stacks up to the Pigrim, Avocet LV or Force Cat 3?

My better half is 4’11, 95lbs, size 5 shoe.

my wife tiny too
We are rec tandem paddlers so I can’t help you since it looks like you are looking at sea/touring kayaks but my wife in same size class (4’10", 100lbs, size 3 shoe). I never knew that had kayaks geared toward smaller size. It will be interesting to see discussion in case we ever decide to move off the flat water and into higher end boats.

You are in luck
There are a few ladies here in that size range that are very helpful. Another smaller lady on another forum was kind enough to share this link with me the other day.


The Reval Mini I haven’t seen any discussion on but the dimensions are right at 15’10 long and 20.5 wide. We are going to drive out to test one in a couple of weeks and will report back.

Small but not tiny

– Last Updated: Mar-07-12 6:06 PM EST –

I've never paddled the Tahe.

I own a Pilgrim Expedition (love it) and have paddled the regular Pilgrim a bunch of times also.

Length of regular Pilgrim is 15'9", if I remember correctly; beam is 50cm (about 19 and 2/3 inches). I forget what the foredeck height near front of coaming is, but it's not super low (though still lower than most sea kayaks).

Your wife would probably want some minicell foaming under the thigh braces, if for no reason than to provide a nicer contact surface than fiberglass. I put a very thin layer there (1/4") to avoid any skin contact with fiberglass, and I added a thin wedge of foam across as well. The wedge gives me a better fit where leg contact is desired, above my knees.

You didn't provide height stats for the Tahe, but after-purchase outfitting tweaking is pretty common for small paddlers. For the record, I'm just under 5'3", and about 105 lbs. Size 38 shoe (6.5 to 7 in women's shoe sizing).

Also, do you want something for day trips/weekends only or something that can handle more weight for camping? Since my not-untypical camping load adds anywhere from 60 to 80 pounds, this is something to consider.

Not sure
I haven’t been able to find a deck height listed for it anywhere. It’s not a very common boat in North America it seems. We are only planning on day use. We prepaid for a Tsunami SP only to have the shop fold and refund our money. We live a long way from any paddling stores so we intended to pick up a SP when on vacation. We were also planning to get a fit test on a few of the other small size boats while down there. The only small one I can find in stock anywhere is the Avocet LV but then I noticed a Reval Mini in the demo fleet of a place a couple of hours out of the way. It has a gel coat repair near the skeg box from some rock contact and it’s a couple of years old. They are asking $2000 CDN for it which is about 1/2 the price of a Avocet LV here.

In your Tempest 165 review you said it paddled well even empty. If we don’t find any suitable sized boats for her what are your thought on the Tempest as an alternative?

Tempest 165
Mine was a 2005 rotomold; I mention this because there are supposedly differences in cockpit fit between roto and glass versions.

It’s a good boat. She should expect more effect from wind at her weight, regardless. The standard outfitting in Tempests is adjustable, but one thing that’s NOT adjustable is seat height. She may want to add 1/2" minicell foam sheet, like I did. Easy to do: Remove the plastic rivets holding the nylon seat cover onto the seat, glue in the foam sheet, and then put the seat cover back on. Snugs up the vertical fit, provides more height (more leverage when edging), and makes just plain paddling feel better.

It has enough room to haul a week’s worth of camping gear and supplies, so it may be on the unnecessarily-big side for what you’re seeking.

If you mentioned experience/skills, I spaced that out. Hard to recommend something without knowing if she’s scared of “tippiness” or fed up with paddling high-volume kayaks.

First Boat
No experience. Thats why we appreciate this place so much. One thing she was worried about was not knowing what a good boat feels like. By finding similar sized experienced folk such as yourself and reading your comments it gives us something to go on. If she finds the Reval Mini too “tippy” the Tempest is an inch wider without being too wide like Tsunami 135. Although she might need a fit kit even in the Tempest. Thanks for the tip on the foam. What about a sand bag, would ballast help or hinder?

got to question that review
If I read this right it claims the aquanaut LV is a more appropriate kayak for smaller people than the Vela.

Impossible Question

– Last Updated: Mar-08-12 3:16 PM EST –

"One thing she was worried about was not knowing what a good boat feels like."

Do not rely upon anyone to provide an answer to this question unless they are nearly the same size as your wife, their paddling venues and skill set are the same as your wife's, they have the same joys and fears about paddling as your wife, and their aspirations are the same. Seriously. Also, what is a good boat for her now and what she would like it to feel like may well be very different in a couple of years. What constitutes a good boat for any given paddler is something in a constant state of flux for a new paddler of several years in my opinion.

People vary widely if not wildly as to what they like and do not like in a boat and, therefore, what constitutes a a good boat and what a good boat feels like.

There are very few boats designed for small paddlers as in @100# which work well as day boat. For loaded touring its another matter entirely. My wife is in same weight category so I have some appreciation for the problem.

I would suggest trying the following boats although finding one may not be easy.

Avocet LV
Impex Mystic

P&H Vela and Rumor might be something to try. Size is good but these are F1 race cars, not sedans.

That web article is misleading. Many of the boats mentioned are really big load camping boats and suitable for larger persons. I'm 5' 10" and 185#. The Capella 161 is a good size for me and I use it for multi-day camping trips. It is way too big for my wife. She has used the F3 and liked it because the cockpit is actually sized for a small person. However, it was too much boat unless loaded for camping in terms of ease of handling, windage, etc. I know a small woman who loves her Mystic and my wife really likes her Avocet LV. I hear the Pilgrim is a nice boat, but the Pilgrim Expedition seems like a huge boat to me for a small person.

I'm not saying the advice you have received is bad or wrong, just that it is nearly impossible for anyone to provide the answer to the "which boat would be best/good for me" question without spending some time with the person and watching them on the water and even then not easy.

thank you
I think the article needs some proofreading.

Being from Estonia…
…originally (which also happens to be the home of Tahe Marine) I had the opportunity to test-paddle some of their boats. Won’t claim high level of proficiency or expertize, but for what it’s worth, I can share following impressions in Reval Mini (I’m a small-ish fellow 5’7’’/135 lbs).

i) Build quality is pretty solid, price-vs-quality Tahe make excellent boats.

ii) The narrow stern and bow were a big downside to handling in waves. Too small a volume? Also, weathercocking is quite noticeable in moderate winds. Skeg fixes that.

iii) Rudder design is not the best ever out there. Does not work well in swell as it tends to get lifted out of the water a lot (see point ii) )

iv) For me Reval Mini has too much rocker. But that is a very personal issue.

In the end after looking at several boats I settled on Northshore Atlantic LV. I can’t really find any faults in this boat, although sometimes it feels a bit “dull” as in never misbehaving. Atlantic LV is a resurrection of an age-old design called Shoreline. It’s a nice boat, although I sometimes with I’d waited a year and bought a new Tiderace. But it’s not the boat, it’s the paddler, and so far I’m nowhere near the end of potential for Atlantic LV.

Reg. ballast. I glassed-in some “eyelets” in the bow and stern compartments couple of inches apart on both sides of the keel line and if need be can lash small bags filled with lead shot to them. Works really nice, does not shift and does not take much space either.

If it’s the first kayak…
It’s best to rent suitable candidates for a while. At her size, she’ll be able to fit in (sitting on shop floor) in literally all adult sea kayaks made. So she won’t be ruling out any models because they’re too small for her! Instead, she’ll need to try them on the water to find what feels too big.

And with no experience, that’s going to be a moving target. What feels secure at first might quickly feel too big . Yet if she’s scared off right away she may not be eager to go out for more. Without knowing her personality, this one really is impossible to call. The one thing that’s probable is that her light weight isn’t likely to result in her thinking these boats are tippy in calm water. But she still should paddle them before buying.

Can she get by with the smaller of the common models, yeah. Do you want to drop $3K or so to later fall in love with something more appropriate…well…

Another kayak worth trying

– Last Updated: Mar-09-12 1:10 PM EST –

Since you're looking at Pilgrim, also demo a Romany LV while you're at it. Despite the SKUK website implying that Pilgrim is the replacement for Romany LV, it feels different. Close enough to be in the family for sure, but not a Romany LV "2nd edition". Romany LV is super-maneueverable, making it a lot of fun. I'd say it's more turny than Pilgrim, but I like the Pilgrim's and Pilgrim Expedition's balance better. (Not sure if that's the correct term; Romany LV feels like there's too much bow and not enough stern, probably because the cockpit is fairly far back. I have heard of people correcting this with ballast in the front.)

It's wider, at 21.5" beam but still not bargey, and the front and rear deck are both low enough that even I would not add foam for snugging up.

There's also the Explorer LV, which I bought prior to the PEX and still own. The "balance" on it feels good, and once you get it up to speed it cruises decently. It is easier to turn (unloaded) than I had been warned about. The catch is that when I loaded it with gear, it took much more effort to edge and turn--more so than what happened with other kayaks I've loaded. It feels too stable then, if there is such a thing. But yes, it was absolutely reassuring to paddle with that gear when an afternoon mountain storm suddenly whipped up fierce winds on Blue Mesa Reservoir, winds that became intensified when squeeze-funneled through a narrowed area.

I don't think Explorer LV is a good choice for someone her size (at 17.5 ft long, it's a lot of boat to propel), plus it really is meant to carry lots of gear. But, again, if it's available to demo she may want to try it.

She will probably sit high on the water in either of the above, at her 95 lbs!

Capella 161 is interesting. I used one for about half of a 2-week training session in Maine and liked the hull quite a bit. It is surprisingly maneuverable. The problem is that the coaming is very large. While I rolled it without difficulty, including my first combat roll in surf, it definitely felt insecure because of the amount of space between my body and the thigh braces and sides. Nothing that some foaming-out wouldn't fix, though. So that one is also worth demo'ing, if she can, even though it's big enough to take about a week's worth of gear (like the Tempest 165).

I think the 161 hull in some ways is Cetus like and under appreciated perhaps. Actually, if I had to choose between a Cetus LV and a 161, I would pick the 161 even though it has that dowager Capella look to it.

You hit it right about the various cockpit dimensions being on the large side for a small person (which is why I can use it easily), especially the foredeck which provides room for “highknee, leg pedaling forward stroke”. If the one you used was white with blue trim, thank you for being nice to it.

I agree with that sentiment. And I, too, would choose the 161 over the Cetus (LV), which I also paddled.

Yes, that must be the same boat you bought! I didn’t do anything bad to it, and I guess none of the other people did, either.

“aquanaut LV is a more appropriate kayak
for smaller people than the Vela.”

I’d question that as well. The Vela is much lower volume than an Aquanaut LV.

Current Designs Suka is one to try,

– Last Updated: Mar-11-12 11:48 PM EST –

if you can find one.

I tried one yesterday at Canoecopia and it squashed my thighs something fierce.

It would probably be a great fit for the O.P.s wife at 4'll" and 95 lbs.

Thick thighed people need not try it.

Much tighter fit than the Avocet LV, Romany LV, Pilgrim and Current Designs Willow that I also tried on for fit yesterday.

I actually liked the fit of the Willow the best. It fit me nice in the cockpit and had more room for my size 8.5 feet with booties on.

Impex Mystic
I had a kevlar Mystic. It’s a nice boat. Rolls well. Not very fast but I’m not much of a motor. There are Mystics out there to demo and even to buy used. Check it out if you can. It really is a small person’s boat – good contact at butt, thighs, feet, and no cavernous spaces. (I once demoed a regular Avocet, and it felt like a bathtub.) I’m in a Pilgrim now, another good fit for a small body.

G in NC

I would love to find a Mystic for her to demo. Unfortunately there don’t seem to be any around. At least the places I have looked. I phoned a few of the dealer numbers in my area on Impex’s site, one was not in service the other said they hadn’t sold Impex for a few years, the last said he remembered having one a few years ago and could order me one with a decent shipping charge… Which is really a shame since it’s the best priced little boat out there. Hopefully the Tahe fits.