trying to narrow down my choices

-- Last Updated: Apr-02-10 12:04 AM EST --

Hello everybody,

I am currently looking for my first kayak and I am super excited.

I have been doing a lot of research in an attempt to find the kayak that fits me the best. I will be using my kayak on lakes, rivers, small streams, and hopefully a little sea kayaking. I want to paddle around and explore and maybe do some fishing.

My choices so far are the necky manitou 14,or the tsunami 140

Can anybody instruct me on which way to go? Are there any kayaks I should also be considering?

I plan to do a lot of paddling so I want a boat I can grow into.


Both great boats
Get the cheaper one – or the color you like.

If you can, sit in them and see which feels better for you.


Get the cheap one
chances are you will want something else in a year anyway.

You could also check out QCC kayaks, a QCC 400x is a similar sized boat 15’3"

Depending on what you call “paddling a lot” you may want something in the 16+ foot range. Bigger will mean easier to camp out of, and long boats are faster too.


– Last Updated: Apr-02-10 8:02 AM EST –

If you want a boat now that gives you good head room for growing into it, especially if ocean is on your horizon, whatever you get right now is likely to feel a little daunting in its initial stability. Like you really do feel like you'll capsize, or maybe better yet you do so a few times. Good way to get relaxed about it.

Above replies echo our own experience. If you really want to grow, it is pretty unlikely that the first boat you get as a new paddler will be the one you want as your skills increase. So - look used and conserve your dollars for now. There is plenty of money to be spent on PFD, paddle, clothing and gear.

If you are thinking paddling solo, two sealed bulkheads and full perimeter rigging.

But all this is about the boat, and the boat is secondary to what you can do as a paddler. This is a perfect time of year to hunt up some demo days and lessons, which will both get you a feeling for some of these boats on the water and be a way for you to learn basic self-rescue skills.

Where are you located? There is a good chance there is someone on pnet who knows of such opportunities near you.

Last, consider spending some of the money that might have gone new for a new boat on a better quality, lighter paddle. Your torso and joints will thank you.

as good a choice as any, I’d say

– Last Updated: Apr-02-10 11:29 AM EST –

I don't have experience with the manitou, but it looks similar to the Tsunami 140, and that felt to me like a good starting place for a new paddler who's interested in lakes, rivers, maybe a little ocean. Definitely get something with 2 sealed bulkheads (for flotation), and perimeter deck lines along the deck of the boat. Without those minimums you shouldn't be leaving the immediate shoreline, even when you gain some skills. Consider buying something that feels just a little tippy to you. Anything that feels rock solid now, will likely be wider than you need after a little practice. Demoing some boats and getting a little instruction first is definitely a good way to start boat shopping, as others have recommended.

If you are actually more interested in sea kayaking as your ultimate goal, then I'd say skip the transitional type boats you've mentioned, and consider full-on sea kayaks. There's nothing to be gained, IMO for a beginner to get a boat that's not intended for the type of paddling they hope to grow into. Get a lesson with a good sea kayaking coach. Talk to them about boats they'd recommend, and go from there. Trying to develop sea kayak handling skills in a wider boat will be more frustrating and less rewarding than in a proper sea boat, so why handicap yourself from the start? (For comparison sake, these boats will probably be a couple feet longer, and 21-23 inches wide, depending on your size.)

On the other hand, if small streams and fishing are your predominant goals, shorter length, and a little more width for stability probably aren't a bad idea.

Have fun!

Both good
I know someone who runs a paddling outfit and he keeps both in his fleet. He has very good things to say about them so it’s really up to you. Paddle them and see what feels right.


How tall & heavy are you?

If you’re average-to-small, consider the Tsunami 135 instead of the 140. It’d be a much better fit.

In the 14’ range also consider the Dagger Alchemy.

Comfortable seat
I’d pick the one with the most comfortable seat.

What I want
Well here is some basic information:

I am 6’ and 170 pounds with an athletic build.

I live in South Carolina and I will be paddling the Catawba River and the lakes around here most of the time.

I have a few friends who are big into kayaking so I want something that I will be able to keep up with them. They do a variety of trips so I wanted a versatile boat.

As far as a sea kayak, the only time I will be doing sea kayaking is on vacation and maybe a few random trips just to have fun in the waves. The manitou attracted me because of how versatile it seems.

I want to learn to paddle correctly before I began using a rudder. So I am fine with just having the skeg.

So do you still feel one of these boats will be what I am looking for?

Comment and question

– Last Updated: Apr-02-10 7:34 PM EST –

As above, these boats are solid all-around boats. Until you get to the keeping up with friends part, you likely can't go wrong with either, especially if you go used.

You'll find that using a tracking device like a rudder or skeg may be a part of learning to paddle in some conditions. Nice that you don't want to come up relying on it too much - that's the ideal thing. But the decision to use a tracking device, depending on conditions, is not always as straightforward a thing as you may be thinking right now. I'd suggest that you keep an open mind on that.

As to your friends, are they go out and paddle like hell in a straight line types, or do they meander a bit more and explore? This could affect how much speed you need to match.

This is a tough decision.

– Last Updated: Apr-03-10 12:57 AM EST –

Thanks so far with all the help. I know questions like these are annoying, but I am trying my best to do my part and research before asking.

I do understand that finding a boat to fit every situation perfectly is impossible. I am just trying to find the compromise. I don't mind spending $1000 to $1500 on a boat I can enjoy for a long time.

One group of friends are probably the relaxed splash around and camp type and the other guy is going to be lets get from point A to B as fast as possible.

The tsunami will be easier on my fishing since its a tad wider and the deck is fitted with bungy cords that will be easily accessible from my seat. The rudder will make fishing a lot more enjoyable from what I have read.

At the same time the Manitou will be a little easier to turn. The river I am on does have some shallow areas that you have to navigate through rocks.

One friend said I should go shorter than 14' while another said 14' would be as short as he would go.

I am not sure if age is a factor, but I am only 19. I do plan to take classes on strokes, rolls, ect over the summer. If only I could find the right boat. This is worse than when I was buying my first car.

Well as you know, both are comparable boats in the same day touring or “cross over” class. Both seats are very comfortable and the outfitting on each is fairly equal, but different. The tupperware type hatches on the Tsunami are easier to get in and out of and the day hatch is something many people appreciate, but the hard cover and neoprene hatches on the Manitou are uber tough and water tight if things get serious. I’ve had 2 WS boats and I’ve owned the Manitou. I’ve since moved on to much longer sea kayaks, but what I liked about the Manitou is that it really was like a genuine shrunk down British sea kayak right down to the hull design, full chines, flowing lines, and skeg. She was comfy, darn fast with good tracking for her size, turned on edge well, and reassuringly stable for novices. I suppose the tsunami 140 performs well too, but I don’t have much experience with that specific boat.

You would eventually grow out of either if you really like kayaking, but I feel that overall the Necky will help you develop better boat control and sea kayaking skills (not that you have to paddle in the ocean), since it mimics a typical sea kayak. You won’t be tempted to rely the rudder as a crutch. In contrast the Tsunami is not a scaled down version of WS’s serious sea kayak, the Tempest. I bought my first couple of rec and crossover kayaks new, but if I had to do it over again I would find the cheapest used beater version of either - maybe on craigslist or a used rental, and spend the rest on a good paddle and gear.

Soo in conclusion
most of you fill that the manitou is the best fit?

As to what fits your intended purposes (plural) - the Manitou rides & responds more like a seakayak. Better for skill development beyond basic recreational propulsion. Still plenty stable for fishing.

Cool - you are 19 & you want to roll - Manitou has the edge there - it has a shallower depth cockpit w. a more gradiated soft chined hull The high flared sides & consequently deeper cockpit of the Tsunamis make them super stable but also harder to roll. At least for most of us mortals.

If it’s between those two it’s Manitou.

If you are going to be doing rivers
and places like Cedar Creek or the swamp, 14’ is a good choice, although one of your neighbors often uses a QCC 700 in those places.

again, my vote is for the manitou if price and availability are roughly the same, but either will probably be fine as a starter boat. That said, you should look for the best used deal since you’ll probably move up to something longer anyways. Ultimately, only you can decide (after a test paddle) which one YOU like more and suits your needs. I seriously doubt you’d have buyers remorse if you got one over the other. Good luck…cough cough - manitous rock…

my 2 cents
Bought a used manitou 14 end of last paddle season. Did a lot of reading of posts like these, as there is a lot to learn on pnet and other forums.

In my humble and not so experienced opinion, i think the manitou is a great starter boat. This past weekend i did a 25 km overnighter on a creek in my area of ontario. The boat handled well with all my camping gear, food, etc. The 14’ 4 inches wasnt that limiting, to me its all about simplifying what i’m taking along. The seat is very comfortable, (steep creek banks make for few takeouts)

I put in on lake erie and went thru a few over the bow waves before entering the creek. The manitou really does inspire confidence. I try not to rely on the skeg as i’d rather practice sweep strokes etc to learn to control the boat. I have dropped the skeg about a third at times in windy conditions and it helps.

As others have said, no matter which boat you choose, why not buy a good used boat and buy better gear which will last thru your next 16 or 17 foot boat?

Also dont forget about how your going to transport the boat, roof racks arent cheap and a shorter boat might be more manageable to start with?

Sorry all for the long post, Ahud, if theres anything at all more specific you want to know about the manitou, feel free to message me so i’m not taking up so much space here.



Here is whats on my mind
Well I already have a roof rack. I bought a Thule system so I am good there.

The tsunami is appealing to me more because it has a rudder. I know it will make fishing a lot more enjoyable.

From what you guys say though the manitou is going to be a better all around paddling experience.

Are there other boats that have the figure of the manitou, but still have a rudder?

well, OK
if it had the figure/performance of a Manitou it wouldn’t need a rudder.

Me, I’d get the Manitou 14 used/demo model/on sale & then later on look around for a cheap (few hundred bucks) used sit on top (SOT) for fishing/floating.

Between the two it would come out to about the cost of a brand new 2010 Manitou + tax.

SOTS are almost always ruddered and are set up nicely to install rod holder, fish/bait coolers, etc. Check out the fishing kayaks forum here or

These are not quite as performance geared as a Manitou,

but they are 14 feet and ruddered:

Necky currently makes the Looksha 14 series in standard, outfitter, and recycled versions.

The previous model (no longer in production) was the Necky Zoar which also came in a 14 foot length. There was also a Zoar LV which might be too tight for you to fish from comfortably - but if you can find one try it out.

The Looksha 14 and the Necky Zoar 14 are both ruddered

w. dual bulkheads, dual hatches, w. full deck rigging. They also have the highbacked seats which are nice for fishing comfort but less so for doing rescues and learning to roll.

The solution is to replace the high back w. a backband, or just tear the back away entirely, or remove the entire seat and make your own from minicell or other hard closed cell foam.

As for the discontinued Zoar:

Boulder Outdoor Center is listing the 14 foot version in a choice of lime green or lime green for $1199 + $150 shipping… or you can look in your area for a used one of a different color LOL.

You may also come across a Necky Sport Angler in dark hunter green basically the same thing as the Necky Zoar w. rod holders added. P.S. You can add rod holders to ANY decent plastic boat so don’t pay extra for that.