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Submitted: 08-17-2011 by Silverback

Wow, after all the positive reviews I was expecting more.
As compared to something like a Swifty 9.5 (I consider that the prototypical small rec Kayak, small, cheap, light fun... I don't see the point in comparing it to a longer or more $$$ kayak):
    Pros:
  • cheap
  • carries me well (I'm 6'4, 250, in a Swifty I'm buried in the water, plowing through more than gliding over, I'm jealous of my wife that kind of floats along in hers, if I was >50lbs lighter I'd probably just get one for me)
  • Glides better than a typical short kayak.
  • tracks better than an early swifty, not as well as the current model

    Cons:

  • There is no way to stay dry, I get wet in something with a smaller cockpit, got soaked in this in less than an hour- I had enough water in the bottom of the boat that my backside was getting wet through the seat just from drips off my paddle (and I was using a better, dryer paddle than I was in the swifty)
  • tracking, yea, better than some short boats, but since it does glide a little it's definitely insufficient. If you give it a few hard strokes and let it glide, you make it a second or 2 before it starts veering off to one side or the other. No real pattern, I experimented and found that sometimes it was to the left, sometimes to the right, didn't seem to be the wind or current (it was calm and I tried it facing both ways in the same spot and couldn't find a pattern)
  • the seat sucks. It felt good in the store, but in use it's not rigid enough, the adjustment seems to stretch and the plastic that it's made out of flexes and pokes you. It's so low in the bottom of the boat that just a little water and you're back side is sitting in a puddle. You long for the simple molded bucket of a seat in the Swifty, which keeps you up off the bottom, is stiff...
  • the whole shape is tall and awkward. I have long arms and it still felt like i had to do a lot of reaching to prevent from smacking the deck (really the combing) with my paddle, there is no real put your feet over the top and recline or dunk them in the water over the sides to rinse off some mud, it's just too tall and big, even for someone as tall as me with disproportionately long legs
  • You almost have to use the foot pegs- with the v-bottom it's a little uncomfortable to just leave your feet sitting in the bottom like in a flat bottomed kayak and none of the other positions that you try when out for a day on the water really work in it either
  • The foot pegs/adjustment are a great design, easy to adjust, seem to lock in well... why a con? Who do they fit? I want them about 2-3" past the end of the rail. With them all the way down, with my feet on the pegs my knees are up over the top of the cockpit, maybe 3-5" over the padding on the sides.
  • more about the seat- I think it's an inch or 2 too far back. I was definitely sitting with the nose up higher than the back. My wife commented on the wake I was leaving and the nose up attitude I had, kind of like a v-hulled motor boat with it's trim not set right.
  • The cockpit is just too large, it actually makes it harder to get in and out of, well not actually harder, just awkward, it kind of becomes the same maneuver as getting in and out of a canoe with a big dog with you, it just seems like there is no good way to do it
So with all this, why a 6 (I almost gave it a 7)? I can see why some people might want it:
- you want a lot of room to put a dog or a kid in front of you, maybe
- you're going to use it with a spray skirt
- you have a really shallow stroke that never gets the opposite end of the paddle over the kayak
- it might be faster than a swifty, while almost as maneuverable, if one of the above keeps you dry it would be fun in fast moving water and better on the flat stuff that you might have to go across to get to the fast moving stuff that other kayaks that do well on one don't like the other.
- in a lot of ways it's like a jeep, which some people love- wildly impractical in many situations, but it will get you there, it will get you in to places that something more normal will not, either because of it's relatively small size or maneuverability, and it will get you out, I get the impression that you can abuse this thing constantly and it will come back for more.

I may try to return it (I just bought it this afternoon and dropped it in the water for an hour on the way home), but if I don't I'll try to remember to post an update after a few longer trips with it, maybe my opinion will change...

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