Youth yak?

Found a sea kayak for a buddy and now I’m on the hunt for one for his son. I’ll get more details but at the moment I know that he’s about 5’ tall.
We’re looking for a SInK that has two bulkheads. I know that I can make one if needed but would like to avoid putting a hatch in.
Definitely poly.
I expect most usage would be SoCal coastal and inland lakes, mostly lake until enough skill to start taking it beyond harbors and the Back Bay.
Camping from it would definitely happen.

So what should I be looking for? Something not too wide like a rec but w/ room to grow into.

Don’t know the current crop of youth/sm paddler kayaks. Two old ones that I know and liked (by paddle testing) were the Peception Umiak and the WS Piccolo. These two are minaturized sea kayaks. You would need one or two float bags in the hull. Another youth kayak that I liked (by look of its Greenland lines) but have not experienced is the Episea. These show up in the used market because kids outgrow them.


WS Tsunami 120 SP also.

What’s the difference between the 120 & the 120SP?

Lower volume for SP (small paddlers). REI had this,


Designed for people that weigh between 60 to 120 pounds

Cockpit is narrower and smaller when compared to kayaks of the same length; thus accommodating kids and smaller-framed paddlers

Slidelock™ footrail system and thigh braces are easily adjustable, comfortable and rugged

Molded-in seat with adjustable backband provides sturdy comfort, even on longer trips

Fore and aft hatches with bulkheads provide plenty of gear storage for extended trips and add flotation

Bow and stern deck rigging for stowing extra gear securely; recessed deck fittings provide greater durability

Retractable carrying toggles allow easy portaging to and from the water

Length12 feet
Width 21 inches
Depth 12 inches
Weight 42 pounds
Cockpit Size 32 x 18 inches
Weight Capacity (lbs) 180 pounds

1 Like

Don’t know how common Venture kayaks (P & H’s mid-price roto-mold line) are on the West Coast, but their discontinued Easky 15 LV and Islay 14LV are narrow low volume boats with good open water features and performance for smaller paddlers and something he could grow into. Most boys who’ve reached stay 5’ don’t stay that size for long.

These Venture models regularly turn up here in the northeast for around $600. I’ve popped friends and family from from a friend’s 4’ 8"/90 pounds daughter to my 5’ 10"/180 pound brother in my 15LV over the years and all were very happy in it. Quite adjustable cockpit rigging, fun and fast boat for the price.

1 Like

An Easky 15 has been for sale here (N. WI) for several weeks.
Now $450. Seller says “excellent”.
Good suggestion if you can find one.

1 Like

Unfortunately that’s not a brand that I’ve seen in the last 9 months of searching this area.

I was just curious to see what is out the in my local used market:

A high-end, high cost approach for a small paddler:


It looks like neither of the affordable ones have any hatches. Does that mean they also don’t have bulkheads and would need float bags or the equivalent?
Not that I’m headed out east to get one. :smile:

Some may have foam flotation.

Yup, you need floatbag (or drybags when packing) just like the old time whitewater boats like the Perception Dance, etc (maybe that’s another option). Hence relatively inexpensive. When I was 15 lbs lighter, I have test paddled both the Umiak (which I got for my son) and the Piccolo. They paddled predictably for me, without skeg or rudder.


I see way more fishing kayaks than ww boats. Even those tend to be short. At least hunting near the coast shows a decent amount of older sea kayaks.

I haven’t seen a Venture yet but there has seemed to be a lot of Neckys and WS around. Also found an Avatar 15.5 that reads like it could be a good fit. Any thoughts on that?

. . . and then there is this Necky Chatham 16 that I keep looking at . . . but I’ll go back my personal hunting thread to ask about that.

Found this Necky Looksha Sport. The reviews I read say that it only has one hatch but this one has two. Did they make a longer version that is still somewhat slim and has two hatches? They’re not stating the length in the ad.

Someone - was it WS? - had a pair of boats that came in bigger and littler size at one point. A guy around here has one but we are past the season for big groups. The shorter one was 14’ and change and the longer one was 16’ and change. and they were remarkable fully capable sea kayaks with dual bulkheads, deck rigging and rolled like a dream.

The smaller one would be fine for this son to grow into and the boat is plenty capable.
Anyone know more what I am talking about?

It seems like the Tsunami was that way. I have a 14 but @Brodie suggested a Tsunami SP 120 that has dual bulkheads, perimeter lines, etc. In the reviews people refer to it as a real sea kayak configuration only for smaller people.

Personally I think the Chatham 16 may be a bit too deep. I am a bit taller than him and I felt that, while it was admittedly very maneurverable, contact was not the best.

Yes, Avatar may be just the fit at the likely price. Decent boat and I am seeing ads for them for $250. Kind of hard to go wrong with that if the hatch covers are all there. If not likely a problem, I doubt they can be replaced…

The Chatham would be a maybe for me. I probably shouldn’t have mentioned it here but I asked more about it in my personal kayak hunting thread,

Titled “I want to play”

The Avatar out here is twice the price you’re finding them for. But then again very little is in that price here.

Snag that Avatar. I picked up a composite Avatar 16 two years ago and it’s a terrific low volume boat for a small to medium paddler. You can check the specs on the third page of this 2004 archived Perception catalog. I’m 5’ 5" and mine fits like it was built for me. The 15.5 is scaled even smaller and only 23" beam.

1 Like

Road trip to San Diego for 2 (or 3) boats:

For the youth boat:

For your long playboat:

For a dedicated surf kayak:

Total cost for all three: $1,125 (400+450+275)!


1 Like