Length: 12′ 10.5″
Weight: 45 lbs
Weight Capacity: 325 lbs
One might say that the Manitou 13 by Necky is the most versatile fleet kayak available on the market today. Built from Necky’s durable polyethylene plastic material, the Manitou 13 is a kayak designed to take a beating. Whether operating a kid’s kayaking clinic, a kayak rental shop, or an adult instructional program, the Manitou is forgiving not only on the water but forgiving to damage. It’s minimalist design and simple rudder/skeg-free hull bring the Manitou 13 into the category of having minimal moving parts. The Necky Manitou 13 handles rougher water like a touring kayak, but provides the stability and price-point of a recreational kayak.
At only 45lbs, the Manitou’s weight is manageable both on and off the water. Its symmetrical design provides a great carrying weight distribution and makes it easy for car topping or securing on your favorite Thule roof rack system.
Both the primary and final stability of the Manitou 13 prove to be forgiving for even the newest, most timid paddler. A combination between its spacious cockpit and rock-solid primary stability make the Manitou 13 the keystone kayak for any beginner. Why would I recommend the thirteen foot model? There is a simple answer, and it all comes down to versatility. At thirteen feet and just under twenty-five inches wide, the Manitou 13 is a great light-touring kayak that is willing to take its fair share of coastal paddling and inland recreational boating. While 25” may seem like a wider beam than average for this class of kayak, its extra beam width contributes to the Manitou’s stellar primary stability.
Its “Active Comfort System” seating is a staple in many of Johnson Outdoors’ kayaks. You can also find this seating system in the Necky Manitou 13’s cousin, the Old Town Cayuga 130. While the ACS seating design provides both comfort and support on the water, we have found that its hard plastic components can be problematic. With pegs becoming dislodged and the foam seating loosening from the seat back, the ACS seating requires frequent maintenance. While Johnson Outdoors has made great improvements to their seating system over the past several years, the overall ACS seating system could use a little boost in durability. Seat replacements can be costly if needed.
The Manitou 13 only has one rear hatch and bulkhead, but this feature is typical in many polyethylene competitors in this class. If you are looking for a similar kayak with both a fore and aft bulkhead/hatch combo we would recommend the Old Town Cayuga 130 (2012 or older) or the Necky Manitou 130 R (2013 and newer).
Pros: primary and secondary stability, durable material, versatile length, minimal moving parts, no need for rudder/skeg, affordable price point, ease of transport
Cons: less durable seating system, one bulkhead/hatch
Kayak Dave’s Take:
I’m going to echo Alex’s sentiments about the Necky Manitou 13 being a great choice for many fledgling kayakers. I was first introduced to the Manitou 13 during my full-time instructing years when we bought a half dozen of these kayaks to serve our adult programs. This craft has also been the cornerstone of our rental fleet at the Billington Sea Kayak shop for many years. Needless to say, we’ve launched hundreds of first-time paddlers from our docks in Manitou 13s and most of them have returned with a big smile!
The reason why the Manitou 13 is great for beginners is because it’s a very forgiving craft. It has excellent primary stability, tracks well, and is fairly lightweight (45lbs) for a boat in its class. Beginners love primary stability and the Manitou has plenty of it along with a soft transition to a rather friendly secondary. Overall, at 13ft long and 25 inches wide, this kayak moves along fairly well in light and moderate conditions. (A word of caution for taller paddlers (>6ft): you may find that the primary stability of the Manitou 13 is less than desirable. If this is the case then try the Manitou 14 which offers more cockpit space and stability.)
The cockpit outfitting of the 2012 Manitou 13 has come a long way from its elder years. Originally, the cockpit outfitting was rather shotty with a flimsy seat back and hardly anything in the way of thigh braces. These issues have since been addressed and the Manitou 13 now sports the standard Johnson Outdoors seat and thigh braces which I find to be very comfortable and adjustable!
One final thing that used to drive me nutty about the old Manitou 13s was the way they configured the back hatch. The hatch cover consisted of two parts: a plastic outer cover and an inner, neoprene cover. The neoprene cover was a beast to put on and would tend to pop off or get lost thus rendering the hatch permeable to water. The 2012 model has incorporated the standard Johnson Outdoor hatch cover which is a one-piece, plastic cover with a rubber seal. This is a much better system but far from watertight in my experience. Make sure that you stow any gear that you want to keep dry in dry bags!
In summary, the Manitou 13 is an excellent choice for most beginner paddlers with much improved outfitting in the newer models. Other, similar kayaks to check out include: Old Town Cayuga 130 and Wilderness Systems Tsunami 125
Pros: great primary stability, tracks well, affordable price point, much improved outfitting.
Cons: hatch only marginally waterproof, only one bulkhead (add forward float bags).
Kayak Dave Rating: