What is a great, light casual gentle river kayak?

I have 6 boats – various canoes, a couple sweet high end sea kayaks. I’m all set. I like my old kevlar Wenonah Advantage for solo paddling on any of our inland downstate Michigan rivers. I could stand something better for the twisties. I wouldn’t mind adding a Northstar to my fleet!

…But that’s me.

I have a small friend who enjoys spending a day on the water. She’d also like to paddle some twisty up north rivers. She’s inclined to one of the typical kayak-shaped things that people buy from Dick’s. She’s borrowed those from friends. But she wonders. They’re fun but clunky. She likes stuff that works well.

This is a type of boat I’ve never looked at. I like a 25-lb boat that goes pretty fast and carries a buncha junk easily.

I think she’d also benefit from a 25-lb boat! She’ll be rooftopping it on a little sedan. Most of our rivers are slow moving. A boat that actually glides is nice. But she enjoys how easy kayaking is. She hesitates at the 4 strokes per side that she sees me doing.

Is there a newfangled boat that would impress her? Are rotomolded boats actually pretty light? She’s 5’4". Would a generic 10 or 12 ft rental type boat be just fine? I’d like to help her avoid crap, that’s for sure!

She just got her Stimulus Check…


If you hadn’t said kayak, I would say Placid Rapidfire. Be hard to get one for a stimulus check though.
How about a thermoformed boat like an Eddyline Carribean or a Hurricane Skimmer? Closer to budget but weigh a bit more.
A WS Pungo in that length isn’t terribly heavy and are fine boats

Jeff, have her hold off until things start to open up. Then she can stop off at The Power of Water & talk with Trey. They rep Hurricanes & some of those would suit. She could also try one of their classes, again once things open up.

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A splendid idea, The Power of Water. She could even get a jump start by contacting Trey by email: info@thepowerofwater.net

There is a wide range from cheap junk like a sundolphin to super expensive boats because of the costly matterials and manufacturing process. Around 800-1200 range you can’t go wrong with a Wilderness Systems / Perception Kayaks. I would reccommend going for a 12 footer though because it will give much better tracking should you decide to use it on open water lakes and you don’t pick up too much weight going from a 10 to a 12 footer. That said my first kayak was a Sundolphin Aruba 8SS (8 footer). It’s about as cheap as you can get…I believe at one point Walmart even sold them for around 200-300 range. What i will say if your looking for something that will be used just a few times a year to float down a lazy river something like that might be okay but you dont get comfort or quality in that price range. If you want a boat that will last forever check out the WS / Perception lines as I mentioned above… they are the top selling recreational brands. A pelican is decentley durrable as well and around 500 bucks but not quite the quality of a WS or the comfort though. I would HIGHLY reccomend checking out Face Book Marketplace, Craigslist, Offer Up, Let Go and sites/apps like those. You can find smokin deals on those types of boats all day… or you may be able to get into a more high end boat for less money. I’ve been on the river a ton and am just branching into sea kayaking but truth be told for me on a lazy river I believe comfort is number one.

I would suggest the smaller but highly capable Eddylines like the 41 pound Skylark or 35 pound Rio. Or a pack canoe, which she can use with a kayak paddle and not have the “4 strokes per side” to which she is averse. I added a vintage Curtis Ladybug to the fleet last summer and enjoy it with both a double end paddle (Bending Branches wooden 220 cm) and a single blade. I’m 5’ 4" now (lost an inch in the past 20 years) and despite being 69 can still easily lift the 32 pound canoe onto the roofrack solo.

For even lighter weight there is the 24 pound Pakboat Puffin Saco, a 12 foot folding kayak. I have had one of those for years. Nice to have a kayak you can lift with one hand. And quite a nice little boat for gentle rivers and streams and even some class 1 and 2 white water. If you leave off the optional deck it is only 20 pounds.