Touring kayak advice

I know what you are saying Peter. I’ve seen, lifted, and paddled the originals and wasn’t going to consider one however, the new layup is reasonable light. I did weigh mine - took a base weight of myself, then picked up the kayak & took that weight, then did the math. I came out in the range of 54 lbs 10 ozs as I recall.

Rudder v skeg

Suffice to say you could go thru older posts and see this has been beaten to death.

Both are tracking devices. Both have pros and cons. Racers tend to prefer rudders from what I have seen here, and traditionally long haul expedition folks. More of a mix towards skegs in the day use/ a couple of nights camping bunch.

The biggest determinant you will hit is the age of the boat. Skegs predominate in newer sea kayaks, rudders in older models. Just get the boat that works for you and take it with whichever device it has.

Personally I am a day paddler, short camping trips, and found that the rudder was more bother than it was worth in my first sea kayak. Skegs since then, combined with trimming the boat right when I load it.

Rudder vs Skeg

I started with rudder and switched to skeg. I just liked its simplicity. Nothing sticking up on the back deck catching wind. If you get a boat that’s difficult to turn you might prefer the rudder. I found I like a boat that’s pretty easy to turn and deal with the wind with a skeg. Good luck in your quest.

It sounds like speed is not a priority for you. If so there are touring kayaks in the 14 foot range that are manageable and maneuverable but a little slow. (Fun in the wind and waves). Worth a look.

Thanks for the info. Just joined LOAPC.

Thanks. I just may take you up on your offer

Great … and hope to see you at a LOAPC event.

On the tippiness question, even if you have a chance to demo some kayaks it can take a couple of hours to start to feel comfortable when you’re used a stable, recreational kayak. But if a kayak feels a little unstable at first, deploying the rudder or skeg will provide resistance to the rolling motion - like an unweighted keel. You could use that, sort of like training wheels on a bike, to get past that initial uncomfortable stage. That is one advantage of a rudder. Since you can steer it, you could keep the rudder down whenever you want that extra bit of stability. Note that some might frown on this suggestion as it uses the rudder to compensate for proper kayaking skills.

To muddy the waters a bit, my wife has a Venture Islay 14LV and is very pleased. Her boat is reasonably light (especially after lugging around my Jackson Journey or P&H Hammer), and the plasticware is excellent. I think the only kick against it might be that compared to my boats (or a Stratos or Alchemy), there’s less play potential.

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I’ll also give a thumbs up for a Venture boat if you can find one. Great quality and design (made in the UK). I love my 15’ Venture Easky 15LV. For your size it would be the standard volume Easky 15 (my ex boyfriend liked my LV so much we got the standard for him – he was your weight but a few inches shorter – though you might fit an LV if you don’t have overly large feet). Well fitted-out cockpit, nice seat and thigh hooks, comfortable boat that performs very well as far as speed and handling. Most come with a skeg but mine did not and I have never felt it needed one. ( It does have the molded in fitting slots to add a rudder if I wanted.) And all of the Easky models are lighter than comparable boats of similar dimensions – mine is 46 pounds. Venture is the “economy” line of P & H Kayaks, who make some of the higher end composite sea kayaks.

This is one of the great debates. It often ends up being personal preference, but very few manufacturers offer a choice of one or the other.

A rudder is normally deployed using a control line from just behind the cockpit and steered by foot pedals. The older designs used sliding foot pegs, but almost all boats with rudders use a gas pedal design now. Although a rudder looks complex, they are generally very reliable. The most common failure, after a lot of use, is a broken cable, and there are solutions to make a temporary repair. A rudder can also be used to steer the boat, but is not its primary purpose. The disadvantage of a rudder is that it is on the rear deck and can interfere with some self rescues and when not deployed can catch a bit of wind.

The primary purpose of both a rudder and skeg is to aid in tracking in strong crosswinds, While various paddling techniques can work to track straight in a crosswind, it’s not as efficient. I very rarely use a rudder with my boat, maybe a few times a year. I gain at least 0.5 knots using one with a strong stern quartering wind as opposed to edging, adjusting paddle stroke, or paddling on one side. The necessity of either can depend on the boat. I’d rather have one or the other and not need it than need it and not have it.

A skeg is adjusted using a slider alongside of the cockpit. Although normally reliable, the day will come when you land on a beach that has the perfect pebble that will lodge in the skeg box and jam the skeg. If you try to forcefully deploy the skeg you risk kinking the cable. This is not so easy to repair on the spot. Many people drill a small hole in the bottom edge of the skeg and use a piece of line to form a loop that can be used on the beach or by another kayaker to hopefully free the skeg without damaging the cable. .The advantage of a skeg is it keeps your back deck clear. The disadvantage is that it takes up a fair amount of space in your rear hatch. This may be a consideration for kayak camping. For a skeg to work properly it requires a boat that naturally turns into the wind (weathercocking) rather than turning downwind (leecocking).


On lee cocking v weather cocking - you have to look fairly hard to find a sea kayak that prefers to lee cock. Kayak designers generally build in a preference for a kayak to weather cock because it is a safer problem to have when things get messy. You will figure out why the first time you encounter more wind than you expected, and such a day will likely come within the first season of your paddling.

There are boats that I have known of which will do that, but I am looking at the face of an old fart in the mirror. And you are not likely to end up with a 30 plus year old boat.

Thanks everyone for your input. Truly helpful for a rookie

Many years ago a group of us were heading out on a day trip into a fairly strong wind. One person, probably more experienced than any of us was trying out a friend’s boat. After going a little ways, we looked back to see him heading in the opposite direction. We stopped and wondered where he was going. We watched him struggling with the boat until he finally paddled backward out of the wind, turned around, and headed back to the launch. The boat absolutely defied being turned into the wind. I don’t remember what the issue was. Likely a weight distribution problem, although it was just a summer day trip. This is more common in an unloaded canoe paddled from the stern.

My boat with no extra gear tends to turn broadside to the wind if I stop paddling. It makes it easy to turn up or downwind, but is not that desirable if I want to stop paddling in windy and rough conditions.


There are boats that don’t “cock” in either direction. But for those that want to turn off center designers of newer boats will bias it to weathercock.

I have been at least one boat that lee cocked however you trimmed the weight, but it was an older design. I have a boat in the basement that will lee cock in very high wind if you load it too bow light. In higher wind the same loose bow that helps with its maneuverability needs some taming. But this is just stuff you learn to handle in living with a boat.

The boat with the loose bow did exactly what l referred to by the way one time when my husband came over the top of a wave with it in a day with 29 mph wind. Grabbed the bow, swung the boat around hard and put him in the water. And no, we should not have been in that situation but we never made that kind of mistake again.

rstevens15 has top notch advice.

I’m 74, same height ~190# my boat is 18 foot, wife (smaller, younger) has a 16 footer. Both Stellars, Advantix construction, cheaper than carbon and mine only weighs 6 oz more than their carbon model. Wife’s boat is 38# mine a couple more. We do some Maine Island trail over nights and lots of day trips. You will get waves. A couple of weeks during summer you may be able to go without a wet or dry suit. Bring a marine radio and a pal or find a local paddling group. Maine has many good outfitters for guided trips.

 There are numerous kayaks; brands and models available.  Your weight parameter precludes root-

molded boats. Many fiberglass kayaks will fit your weight requirement. Of course Kevlar and Carbon
Fiber are on the market but at a higher price. Consider which hull design would be best for you. Con-
siferable rocker, little, or none. Do you want a rudder, a skeg, or neither? How many hatches? Now that
you are sitting there scratching your head take the easy route. Visit dealers and demo different boats.
Talk to kayakers at put ins. Ask a lot of questions. Welcome to the sport. Good luck. Robin.

You might consider the Eddyline Sitka LT. It’s 14.5 feet with a 23.5" beam, weighs 47 pounds and comes with a skeg. Stellar has a 15’ low volume ruddered kayak that weighs under 40 pounds, but it’s likely not as stable as the Eddyline with its narrower beam.