Q:

Which enclosed touring kayak can hold a very tall man?

I have a canoe right now but would like to try kayaking, as it seems more forgiving in wind. Do they make a starter kayak that fits a man with a 38-inch-long leg? I don't want an open boat (I might as well stay with my canoe). Tom Port Charlotte, Florida

Oct 16, 2006
Outside
Outside Magazine
Current Designs Solstice GT High Volume

Solstice GT High Volume

A:

I tend to agree—kayaks ride a bit lower and show less profile to the wind, so are less apt to get blown around than a canoe, particularly in side winds.

You certainly would top out the capacity of most enclosed kayaks, though. Kayak’s aren’t made to “size" like pants or shoes, however, so about the best you can do is try several large boats. I’ll assume for the sake of discussion that you’re after an all-purpose touring boat, one for knocking around the Florida Keys on a day trip, or hauling you and some gear for a multi-day adventure.

You might start with Dagger’s new Euro-X 16.8 ($1980; www.dagger.com). It’s a big boat, with one of the roomiest cockpits around and the ability to safely haul 400 pounds. It also has two gear bays plus a small “day hatch" for compact items, a rudder, and a comfy gel seat.

Or, take a look at the Tsunami 175 from Wilderness Systems ($1550 with rudder; www.wildernesssystems.com). Like the Euro-X, it’s a roto-molded boat that’s designed for touring and general use. Its cockpit is a touch longer than the Dagger boats, and is billed at 36 inches, very close to what you might need. Capacity is the same, based on weight, and the Tsunami has two deck hatches for storage, plus lots of lashing points.

Lastly, if the budget can stand it, take a look at Current Designs’ Solstice GT High Volume ($2848; www.wenonah.com). It’s a fiberglass boat, so a little lighter than the Tsunami or Euro-X. It’s also a big boat, designed for larger paddlers such as yourself. It’s also a very stable boat, and one that tracks extremely well.

You’ll want to try several boats for fit, as fairly small differences can mean a lot to your comfort. But I think you can find one to squeeze into, or one that at least comes close enough so that you can adapt.

Check out this year’s more than 400 must-have gear items, including a comprehensive paddling section, in the 2006 Buyer’s Guide.

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