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Submitted: 01-23-2013 by NewbTastic
Had to spend the day in this boat (rental) and as you can guess from my rating, I didn't exactly dig it. It gets a '5' (which is average in my book, not a slam) only because it probably works fine in its niche.
Here are positives and negatives, with what I didn't like first:
– Pretty low initial stability.
By no means the worst I've encountered (something like the Current Designs Scirocco is considerably worse on this), but low enough to be very annoying. Nor is it a case of 'yeah, it's twitchy, but you'll get used to it in no time'... more like, you'll put up with it and it'll feel a little bit less twitchy after awhile, but still pretty darn twitchy. This was surprising to me considering the Kodiak's width, which is a reasonable 23". My guess is that the hull is pretty rounded, a la something like the Nordkapp. Whatever they did, the boat doesn't let you fully relax, ever, which is a bummer. Not confidence-inspiring.
Uhh... there is none. The Kodiak turns like a tank, especially without rudder, and even the rudder is a bit undersized/not up to the task. I went mostly w/out rudder because I wanted a challenge, and boy oh boy, did I ever get one. Only way to turn this beast was with front and rear sweep strokes, and a whole lotta brute muscle... and even then, the turns were wide. Maybe if I edged hard it'd be a bit better, but the low stability makes you not want to try that too much.
- Main hatches.
These are fussy affairs with dual belts and buckles and a sprayskirt-like liner underneath. Quite cumbersome and slow, you really wish they'd gone for KayakSport or Valley-type 'tupperware' hatches instead.
- Deck hatch.
This is a small screw-top hatch placed right in front of the cockpit. You think it's convenient and neat, until you realize that it isn't waterproof.
- Deck rigging.
Would rather have deck lines than the front and rear nets... they just feel more secure.
At this point, I almost have to wonder if Prijon is being 'different just to be different' in order to differentiate itself from other kayak manufacturers.
- It does fit large paddlers pretty well.
I'm a fairly big boy and it felt plenty roomy to me, and had enough room for my feet (size 10s) which, shockingly, even some fairly big boats don't always (the Etain RM 17-5 for example).
- TONS of cargo room. It is an expedition boat, for sure.
- Handles small waves well.
This is the plus side of the poor initial stability... the rounded hull shrugs off small waves pretty well. However, I wouldn't want to deal with large waves in this thing, because I prefer a more stable platform to brace from than the Kodiak provides. With the Kodiak, you're not sure where the tipping point is, so you don't feel confident leaning hard into a wave and bracing.
The Kodiak has above average speed (probably due to its length and low rocker). It's no super-speedster, but it'll get up and go.
Overall, I'd say the Kodiak might make a decent loaded expedition boat (it's probably more stable with a bunch of ballast weight sitting down low) for large paddlers who are of the mindset that they're willing to learn the boat's quirks and put up with them.
But as a day boat (i.e. 'get in and go'), it would be pretty unwieldy/sub-par for most anybody, and I do think it suffers from a big dose of 'being different just to be different' syndrome.
I hear that Prijon doesn't make this boat anymore, and it's probably just as well as even large paddlers who are expedition-focused can likely find better options out there. But to those out there who might buy one used or rent one, well, you've been warned.
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