tracer 165...too much boat??

I got into kayaking last year after i bought a ocean kayak scrambler xt and I loved it (kayaking, not the boat so much). I am looking hard at a tracer 165, although I haven’t paddled one yet. I mostly go on lakes and slow moving rivers for a weekend at a time at the most and I occasionally go to the beach. I am wanting a kayak to progress my paddling skills…like doing rolls, bracing, maybe learn some more advanced strokes. Just wondering if I’m looking at more boat than I actually need, or if there is one better suited for me that could still offer a challenge.

Where are you?

– Last Updated: Jan-18-11 4:36 PM EST –

It's very hard to answer this vague a question in an online environment. Without having paddled with you, there's not a reliable way to figure out what constitutes a minor, moderate or really big challenge for you. And you seem to be looking for something in the "just right" size as far as challenges.

Could you give more info on your location, and perhaps someone here knows of pool sessions around you? Your other post mentions the Guadalupe and access to the ocean, but that's not exactly a tight geographical fix. Starting to learn rolls and bracing - in anything that floats - is really the best way to get a useful feel for what kind and fit of boat will be a good support for learning this stuff as well as be comfortable for you to paddle. You could spend some time in rented or borrowed boats until the weather improves, and by spring you'd be able to demo boats with a little more understanding of what you wanted.

I am
in southeast texas, right on the tx and la border. We have access to quite a few rivers, lakes and bayous but it is mostly flatwater.

My brother demoed a Tracer in a serious
cross wind and said it seriously weathercocked.

If any of these are in driving range…
Probably most of these are too far away, but maybe they’d know of some group closer to you that could be doing winter pool sessions.

Aggieland Paddle Club, College Station, TX 78703

Austin Paddling Club, PO Box 300388, Austin, TX 78703

Dallas Downriver Club, PO Box 820246, Dallas, TX 75382-0246

Hill Country Paddlers Canoe Club, PO Box 3951, Kerrville, TX 78029-3951,

Houston Canoe Club, PO Box 925516, Houston, TX 77292, (713) 467-8857,

North Texas River Runners, Ft. Worth, TX

don’t forget that early Tracers
…lacked skegs.

thank you
Thanks Celia. I called all the places in my area and there’s a place a few hours away that has a tracer available to paddle. Not many options around here to test out touring yaks.

Shot in the dark
Well if there’s nothing local to paddle then here’s one out of left field.

North Shore Aspect RM. Available in Feb. Review in Gear Guide here on PNet.

I still think there’s gotta be some viable contenders closer to you in TX rather than Hyde Park, NY.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

If you are set in stone on this boat - The Kayak Centre of Rhode Island has it on sale -,1405.html

They ship boats within the usa and have great shipping rates.

something to consider
Not sure this adds a lot to the very good advice here to demo, demo, demo. But you may like something that makes you a bit less comfortable with your skills now but gives you the ability to learn those skills and do more with them in the future. Extending that learning curve!

Need the skeg
I had a Tracer with skeg and it weathercocked terribly due to the high profile and huge amount of rocker. It would not track at all without the skeg even in totally calm conditions. If you love a loose and playful kayak it might be okay for you but I found it frustrating. On a good note, it seemed pretty fast. Not a bad kayak for the money I must say.


I have one…
The Tracer is my go-to flatwater boat. With skeg down it tracks like it’s on rails, and does great in wind out on an open lake. I don’t know why anyone would want to paddle a long boat like this without a skeg or rudder, unless they are trying to maneuver through trees or obstacles. Skeg up, it all depends on your paddling technique and loading. I find it does well with skeg up, but like any long boat, there is a lot of leverage for the wind to work against, and yeah, it will weathercock. The thing turns on a dime when you need it to. Skeg down, no problem in wind/waves.

I’d buy another.

Re: deal
Thanks Brei. I’ve already scoped it out and it looks like this is the one I’m going with. With so few options to test boats around here, I figured I’d buy this one on sale and if i absolutely hate it I can always turn around and sell it. All the reviews of this boat seem pretty good, aside for some people who would probably have something bad to say about any boat they review.

While having every boat there for you to paddle is awesome, us land locked folks don’t have that choice. I recently bought a qcc just because I could send it back if I didn’t like it. Otherwise I had about three boats to choose from within a five hour radius. None of them composite and all of them rhymed with bilderness bystems.

Basically I went around and sat in a few boats and noted what cockpit and boat height I was comfortable with. Then I choose what composite boat I wanted from the internet. Yes this sucks but my boat is still awesome.

A lot can be determined about a boat without paddling it. For example I wouldn’t buy a boat with a ton of rocker and a low waterline ratio if I’m going to paddle on lakes and slow rivers. So stop worrying so much about paddling every boat. No one needs a British sea kayak to cross the wilds of your Texas reservoir.

Ryan L.

Wow! Zephyr for $999
These folks also have a WS Zephyr 15.5 for $999 - that I think is a very good price for a new kayak like that. It probably handles differently and is a little heavier (6 lb?) than the Tracer. Less of a handful I’m sure when winds pickup but probably slower. Not sure if that’s on the OP’s list or not …

The Tracer has considerably more foot room than the Zephyr though both have spacious cockpits (width/length) is my recollection. I would suspect the Z is a lot more stable too while being probably even more maneuverable.

Good Deals Page…
Ya… The Kayak Centre has some great deals - here is a Good deals page on their site -