Touring kayak for small paddlers

My husband and I are looking at adding a couple more kayaks in the 14 to 18’ range. We are 5’4" and 5’7" and both under 150 lbs. We’ll be on large rivers mostly but on the coast occasionally.

I’d like some speed but stability would be nice, too.

Any recommendations are appreciated.

The question comes up a lot – try searching the archive for “small paddler”.

A few of the usual suspects: CD Squamish, P&H Vela, Impex Mystic, WS Tchaika, Necky Elaho Sport or Zoar Sport LV, Perception Sonoma 13.5. A bit larger would be the Eddyline Nighthawk 16, Necky Chatham 16, WS Tempest 165, VCP Avocet, NDK Romany LV. if you like to build, the Pygmy Arctic Tern 14 or Shearwater Merganser 16.

These work for us!
I am 6’ 2" and the wife is 5’ 4". We have Dagger Charlestons 15 and 14. Nice roomy cockpits, comfortable seats, adjustable thigh braces, good dry storage, DROP DOWN SKEG, reasonably fast and excellent stability. We bought the 15 for $810 and the 14 for $765. We have been out on windy days and these track great while others were having problems.

small paddler
I searched the archives for small paddler kayak and got no results. We are building the Georgian Bay currently and have great hopes for that but will want something that we can travel with without worrying so much. After all the hours of building a strip kayak I don’t think I’ll want to be dragging it along rocky beaches. My husband tends to run into things when he’s taking pictures, too.

Worrying about damage
Well, since you are building a wood boat (for day trips?) and just want to add some reliable, worry-free kayaks for camping trips, check out the review I just posted about my CD Squall. You and your husband would be in the size/weight range for this model.

I think 14-footers would be too short (slower) for lakes and ocean but if you do more river kayaking you might prefer them.

Use only “small paddler”. Search message, not subject. Search “all messages”. You will get a large number of hits.

My Wife likes her…
My Wife likes her “Hurricane Aqua Sports”, TAMPICO. It is 13’ 6" long,and about 23" wide. It is made from the Thermo Formed plastic, so it is lightweight (38 Lb). She is a novice Kayaker, and she really likes it. Her weight is in the range you mentioned.

It is decently made, and decently priced!

Check it out on the Internet.

a few more
Impex Montauk, CD Slipstream, NDK Explorer LV…

My wife (5’4") loves her Explorer LV and also likes the Slipstream.

You couldn’t go wrong…
with either the Impex Montauk or the Eddyline Nighthawk. I’m 4’11" and I love my Montauk and Nighthawk. Both of them are great boats.

Tempest 165
I’m small to medium, I guess. 5’9" and about 160 pounds here lately. Very nice boat.

Same size
I’m the wife (wilsoj2) and am also 5’4". 135 pounds, usually. The Nighthawk comes in more than one length now as I recall - the 16’ is the one I tried that seemed a good fit. Can’t speak for the others. Among the three that Jim mentioned (Nighthawk, Explorer LV, Slipstream), all have good to great secondary stability and are trustworthy in seas, which is what you most care about in the ocean. I’d place the Explorer LV as easily the boat requring the least of your attnetion of the three, though it is a 17 and a half ft long boat and you may be looking for something shorter. (I have the LV.)

In terms of primary stability, the CD Slipstream seemed to have the most active hull.


I am a very tall but very light paddler (6’4, 160 lbs). I went through a number of boats before finding ones that I could handle well. One you might consider is the QCC line. I have a 600. It’s very fast (or efficient, if you prefer), handles very well, is only 16+ feet long, has excellent secondary stability even with my height, and weighs only mid-40’s pounds.

short boats
"I think 14-footers would be too short (slower) for lakes and ocean but if you do more river kayaking you might prefer them."

A few years ago group of us were out is 30+ mph winds on a large local lake, let’s call it “Squall Lake”. We had all sorts of boats out there, Gulfstreams, Sirius, Explorers, etc… the guy in an Artic Tern 14 had no trouble keeping up with us, and he was twice our age!

Night Hawk 16 Is for Small Paddlers
The 17.5 is designed for larger paddlers.


Wilderness Systems Navigator

– Last Updated: Aug-13-04 8:51 PM EST –

I think it is the the reincarnation of the Alto at 15'8" and 22". My local shop has new ones at $579.

CD Sliptream
Slipstream rather than Gulfstream; the Gulfstream is a bit wide for a “small” paddler.

Touring kayak for small paddlers
I would suggest to demo the Eddyline Nighthawk 16 foot. The Carbonlite is affordable, but it’s worth the extra dollars to purchase the Modulus.

I am 5’1 and weigh 140 lbs. and this kayak is a wonderful fit!! Also the Carbonlite weighs 50 lbs. and I’m not sure how much the Modulus Nighthawk 16 weighs, but it is lighter than 50 lbs. Tracks great, easy to lean and has a skeg when the winds come up that you can trim with!

Good luck, and demo!

Prijon Catalina
Perfect for smaller paddlers, and your speed wish is granted. I found mine a little tender at first, but now am comfortable in any conditions.

Best of all, it weighs 49lb in plastic.

Dagger 15’ Cortez
Love my new Cortez - great for smaller paddlers. Bottom line, I demo’d a lot of kayaks and it all comes down to the fit and feel. Any of the other brands listed are good too. Nothing beats actually sitting in a few choice models and comparing them. It isn’t so much the length as how the cockpit feels and your comfort level while paddling around. Good luck on your quest. Liz

Lots of good suggestions.
Thank you one and all. We’re going to have to travel a bit just to find somewhere to demo the kayaks mentioned, but we’ll have fun trying them out.