Submitted: 08-25-2008 by RR
My wife and I have been taking an interest in kayaking, so we have been renting a LOT. We live in north Idaho and there are two very large scenic lakes very close to use, not to mention all the other smaller lakes and rivers around us as well, in short, a kayakerís paradise.
I have had my eye on the Tracer 165 for some time after trying the Tampico 135L, which is a great boat, fast, stable and comfortable. I like the way you can adjust the foot rest on the fly without having to be out of the boat on the Hurricaneís. When I went to pick up the Tracer, having seen it only in small internet pictures, I wasnít sure what it looked like up close. When it was pointed out to me I about fell over. The pictures do NOT do it justice, it looks fast sitting still.
I have paddled six different kayaks before this one and after reading all the reviews posted here, I had a few concerns, after all I still consider myself to be a novice. When setting off, the wind was blowing and the waves were a little on the large size. The Tracer seemed tippy and was suffering some weather cocking so I couldnít get it going very fast. Time to try out the skeg I thought and after dropping it down the weather cocking went away like flipping a switch but it was still a little tippy. I thought I would be taking a swim and practicing my wet entries a few times before the day was up. There are a lot of big boats making big waves where weíre at and some of them like to try to sink you. Once I saw one large boat going out of his way to head right toward me. As he got close, he turned his boat and gunned it and I heard one of them say, "That should sink him." Every time a boat would go by leaving a big wake, I would think, "This could be it." After a half hour in the Tracer I found myself looking for big waves, the bigger the better. My tippy feeling was gone, I feel, thanks to the perfectly placed thigh supports. Itís amazing how much control I had over the Tracer using them. Iíve used them in other kayaks but never with such good results as with this one. I could lean the Tracer over like my sport bike and it would just pop right back up. By the end of the day I was thinking it an impossible task to tip that thing over and if you did, it would probably roll you back up so fast you wouldnít know you went down.
I found the tracking is very good and when the skeg is up it turns very quickly especially when on the top of a good size wave. The Tracer is so light that after stopping at the shore for a quick snack, you can just pick it up and turn it around and youíre ready to go, without any help.
The short of it is, donít just take it out for a quick spin, youíll never have enough time to fully appreciate it. Spend some time in it, but bring your check book, you may not want to bring it back.
The only problems I found with it was the seat, after being in it four hours straight, it became a little uncomfortable. (Was having too much fun to get out) Easy fix with a seat pad. And although it has a 325lb weight capacity, itís very slim and sleek not giving it much room for a lot of stuff. For these two things I deducted 1 point. I think itís a great kayak that anyone would love, unless its your first time out, you may want to try more of a beginner kayak.