Tsunami SP

I’m asking this on behalf of a smaller friend looking for her first kayak. She’s all of 4’10" tall and I’d guess 120 very athletic pounds. Use would be lakes and slow moving rivers as well as protected inter-coastal waterways, and with the plan to possibly work on skills such as rolling someday. Also the possibility of an occasional over-night or weekend trip.

I’ve yet to see the Tsunami SP in person but have read good things… Your thoughts on this kayak as well as any other boats she might want to consider (including SOT’s) would much appreciated…

Thanks in advance…


SP a good choice
for a “small” person. I just put my grandaughter in one this past summer. She is 12, about the same height and a little over 90lbs. She has been paddling an Acadia Scout which is considerably shorter and lighter. She has quickly learned she can no longer throw her hips, power stroke and turn on a dime. She’ll now have to learn good basic paddle strokes and edging which is a good thing. The SP is a good, stable and well outfitted kayak that is suitable for your enviroments. Read the reviews on this site. Good Luck!

too heavy
My girlfriend is 110# and tried the SP. It was way too low in the water. I think they say 90 pounds max.

Yeah, agreed
I was going to say, just get the 120 (or 135).

At her height…

– Last Updated: Mar-05-14 7:39 AM EST –

She needs something that is low decked and relatively narrow. I assume her arms are not disproportionately long. I just looked at the specs for both boats and am not sure where some of the above is coming from, unless the web site is in error.

Tsunami SP paddler weight is 120, capacity is 180 pounds. Pushing your luck for heavy camping maybe, but according to what is on the web site it should be OK. Most importantly, the deck height is 12 inches, two inches lower than the 135. At less than 5 ft tall, she needs to think about boats that will make it easy for her to get a good catch in the water.

I am 5 inches taller than her, and still really notice the diff between ease of catch in my two boats. The difference between them is a couple of inches in deck height and 3/4 of an inch in width at the cockpit. It doesn't sound like a lot, until you are putting in thousands of strokes.

Honestly, your friend sits right on the cusp between a couple of boats. I would suggest that she spends NO money on a boat without some seat time to check for things like whether she has a comfortable reach to the water.

We have a couple in our fleet
My wife is 4’11 and also quite athletic, closer to 90lbs though than 120. She fits the boat well, good waterline, the weak point is the size of the cockpit. It’s pretty big and the thigh braces leave something to be desired. We put a set back in one of them to attempt to learn to roll. My wife could force her legs under them but she said they are really really uncomfortable. She can balance brace it and transition to back deck easily. We need to practice more yet. The SP is very stable and a solid tracker.

A similar boat I have only seen on the internet that I’d like to check out in person is the Tahe Lifestyle Solo PE. Very similar dimensions but triple layer, a rudder and it appears (in pictures) to have a better cockpit. It would be nice to see a poly boat on the market 19.5 inches wide and 14.5-15 feet long.

Tsunami 135
Bill, she may also want to look at the Tsunami 135 as well. It it a nice small person’s kayak. It should fit a person of the stated size.


There is someone in Clayton NC, that has one. She bought it from us last year for her daughter. I sure she would let the interested person check it out.

Camille of CKC has a few T 135s, she maybe able to check out as well.

Not the best skills boat
If she’s interested in progressing with skills I think she might want to look at boats with less of a transitional hull design. The Tsunamis are good boats for some purposes, but they don’t behave like a true sea kayak for someone interested in learning edging, bracing, rolling, etc. Plus it’s a heavy boat.

I’d encourage her to look at the Current Designs Raven. It’s an economically priced Fiberglass boat (about as cheap as most plastic sea kayaks) with good lines, and the fit is precisely her size. It weighs less than 30 pounds.

Downsides for true coastal kayaking are that is has no skeg, no day hatch, and a small forward hatch (opening), but for most users these are probably not deal breakers. To avoid those shortcomings she could look at the Valley Avocet LV, or the Valley Gemini ST. The Avocet LV is more expensive (only available in glass) and the Gemini will fit her a bit larger than the Raven or the Avocet. But the Valley boats both have day hatches and skegs, and the Gemini ST is in the low 40-pound range - even the plastic version.

Two kids have used the SP
I have had two kids work their way through an SP. Your friend’s 4’10" height is fine for this boat, but her weight is getting close to what I think is the realistic limit, due to the very small freeboard at 120 pounds. However, if she is willing to wear a good skirt at all times, that is less of a concern and the boat performs well. What I mean by that is: fast for a short boat, tracks well (ours had no rudder), reasonable behaviour on waves, hatch features of larger boats. It certainly is very light and the kids had no difficulty carrying it.

cusp fit

– Last Updated: Mar-05-14 1:43 PM EST –

I agree she's on the cusp, and the smaller SP could limit her options. There are boats intermediate to the Tsunami 120 though. At 25.5" it is beamy for a person with short arms and upper body. A good friend has one and I find it uncomfortable and kind of barge-like in performance -- I am 5' 5" but have short arms and upper body (am all legs) so I function more as somebody 5' 2" in the boat. My preference is for a narrower boat and among the favorites in my "fleet" is the Venture Easky 15LV (for "low volume") made by P & H. It's a plastic boat in the same price range as the Tsunami series but at 15' and 22" beam with a lower deck I find it very comfortable to paddle and control. Also 5 pounds lighter, with the added benefit of being 3' longer and better tracking.

Unfortunately, they seem to be phasing out the model to be replaced by their Islay series, which seem to be more akin to the Tsunamis. Perhaps it is because some beginners find the Easkys to feel a little unstable (they are not, having excellent secondary stability, but you have to get used to the feel.)

Dagger Alchemy “S”

– Last Updated: Mar-05-14 3:30 PM EST –

I've confirmed my friend is closer to 125-130 but still a solid 4'10", which most likely means compromises somewhere...

Any thoughts on the Alchemy-14 "S"? Higher deck and all but how easily might it be padded down to fit...?

I wish we could build her a properly fitting SOF but no space at the moment.



Not sure you would have to pad it down
The Alchemy S is a true sea kayak cockpit and a very, very friendly hull. Comforting for newbies and easy to turn and edge as well, more aggressive thigh braces than the Tsunami line and I think a smaller cockpit. I can’t say without seeing it, but you should put her in one. I think there is a good shot that the fit would work. It is likely to be more quickly responsive than the Tsunami line due to the hull profile (what Nate was talking about), so a looser fit still gets a good reaction.

If you did want to pad the thigh braces down it isn’t tough, just some minicell foam and glue.

I looked at the specs
I looked at the specs also, and you are right. It does say 180 pound max. But I do remember my 5’1" 110# girlfriend trying it and the end result was it was too small/low volume for her.

Hey Bill
You’re welcome to borrow my Alchemy S. The problem is I changed it all around for a bigger person!

Let me know if you ever start building these:


I’d like to try one some day. Maybe pay someone to build one for me.


The CD Raven
Is indeed small and light, but doesn’t it have a rather high rear deck for a small person to do layback rolls?

Thank You
Thank you Bill for helping me out! I am officially stalking this thread for continued help and guidance…


GF bought, and sold
First, those that know me know I love my Alchemy L. Great boat.

As we searched for boats for my girlfriend that met our requirements (plastic, under 15’ as that is how large our storage is, fits a 5’1" 110# woman), we ended up buying an Alchemy Small for her. But she found the cockpit opening just too large, and would sometimes fall out when trying to roll. That large opening may be good for someone a bit more novices, though.

She has since sold it and now has a Valley Gemini RM. But, she has the foot pegs set as close as they can be, and her legs are pretty long for someone of her height. So the Gemini may not work in your case.

5’1" and 110 pounds…

– Last Updated: Mar-05-14 8:46 PM EST –

On the thin/skinny side I suspect. 4'10" and 125-130 lb may have some body mass in a convenient place for anchoring inside the boat.

But leg and thigh length could still be an issue.

Hey Rex…

– Last Updated: Mar-05-14 9:41 PM EST –

I've downloaded the plans, but you know me... I'm already pondering on how to turn it into a Skin-on-frame...

I'll happily go ahead and add your name to the queue.... : )


– Last Updated: Mar-05-14 9:42 PM EST –

Hadn't thought about that, inseam might be a bit short, only one way to find out...

Thanks for all the responses so far, keep your thoughts coming and add any additional boats you might think of as well....