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I use this in the Yellowstone River which has a lot of tricky water. Very stable and good beginner boat or for younger, smaller built people or petite women.
My height is 5'8"-ish and my weight fluctuates between 170-180 lbs. The yak does have a max capacity of 250lbs. I have maxed it out camping gear and the boat can get sluggish, but it is still a capable sea vessel. The boat does sit low in the water due to the low volume design and I often use my spray skirt if the water conditions are questionable. However, I personally feel that my weight nearly maxes the boat out if one wants to get the best performance out of it. The combination of being low in the water and my weight bringing it down more puts the hull farther in the water. This can make the kayak challenging in taking tight turns even with good leaning/edging techniques. That issue is mine and not an issue with the kayak. Turning aside, the Squamish is an excellent and efficient touring kayak. I've found that I'm able to do long distances without excess fatigue. Keep in mind that this is a plastic boat too.
The kayak itself is well made. The polyethylene used in its construction is solid and has held up to anything I've thrown at it. However, I do have issues with the stern/bow hatch covers and the stern hatch that still plague me to this day. Using the yak in rough water conditions the first few times, I noticed a moderate amount of water in the rear hatch. After some troubleshooting I found that some of the guide holes that the deck lines pass through had small openings to the stern hatch. Water would pool up around these guide holes and drip into the hatch. I solved this problem by sealing these openings from inside of the hatch with silicone sealant. This has nearly solved the leak issue. However, I still have a minor amount of water that gets in the hatch from time to time, which I believe is due to the hatch cover itself. It simply doesn't seal the hatch well enough. The bow hatch has been completely leak proof which is very surprising considering how many times the entire bow of my Squamish has been underwater. The only problem I have with the bow hatch cover is that the rip cord ring that holds the cover on the hatch opening separates from the cover itself just about every time I open it. The same thing happens with the stern cover too. Lastly, the decorative tape that covers the seal line of the boat comes undone frequently. CD is aware of this and has sent me, free of charge, a roll of this tape. These negatives aside, the rest of the yak works great.
Overall, I'm happy with yak and I'll rate an 8. I would give it a higher score if not for the leaking stern hatch and hatch cover construction. The Squamish is wonderful poly sea kayak for the right sized person.
After paddling the Squamish the past two years from calm lakes to slight bay swells, I have been very pleased with my choice. It's light enough to load easily, long enough to track efficiently -- especially into the wind with the skeg down, and narrow enough for good speed and handling. No problem with weather cocking - my old Perception Spectrum was notorious for that. It's cargo capacity is smaller than the Spectrum (so I still use the Spectrum for overnight river trips).
I removed the thigh brace for a more comfortable fit -- I am 5'9"; 165 lbs. Most of my paddling is day trips on local creeks and rivers so the Squamish is an excellent choice; turning is easy, especially with slight edging. But I have no problem taking it into bigger water and bays. It handles swells up to 2 ft with ease and enjoyment -- especially running with the wind and "surfing" waves.
The boats performance is very good. I quickly learned that I could trust it in big water and don't worry about flipping -- unless you count the constant worry of getting run over by the power boaters -- and I generally cross the open bays and the lake itself without much trepidation. I use a Boreal Design Aloonaq paddle, which is a carbon version of a Greenland stick.
The biggest drawback is that the boat turns very slowly in big wind and waves. But I don't possess great skill at edging, so maybe it will turn better for those who are good edgers. It weathercocks readily, so combined with the slow turning, I have to dial in the skeg. (Without the skeg, my boat would be very taxing to paddle in big water.) Again, check my body measurements against the boats specs. for a better understanding of my review.
All in all, still rate the boat an 8 -- a strong 7 for the nit-pickers. One last thing. My next boat will be fiberglass and either a Greenland style or British style. (I really like the Current Designs Suka, Cypress and the Endeavor by Seaward. I'm leaning toward the Suka because it closer matches my body size, but the Cypress is a faster boat. The Endeavor blows both of them away, but it might be too long for me both on the water and especially out.) For those new to the sport -- matching body size to boat specs is the BIGGEST factor to weigh (period).
Can a boat like the absolutely beautiful Seaward Endeavor respond well to this dichotomy? Or, how about a Perception Avatar? Neither will rate a 10 during these combination paddles. Now, if I owned both of the just-mentioned boats, they would each rate very high using them for each specialty-paddle. Still, each boat could only rate a 10 on some of the trips, maybe most... but certainly not every paddle. A kayak can rate a 10 in certain categories, but fall short in others. And, a 10 for a short heavy-set person, might be a 2 for a tall slender paddler each in the same boat.
After MUCH searching I made a compromise and chose the Current Designs Squamish. It wasn't originally the boat I wanted, but it has - for me - the best trade-off of features to suit my main paddling aspect. It doesn't carry much, but I don't need it to. It doesn't have a day hatch, so capacity rates a 6. It's plastic - not the fiberglass I'd prefer, so maybe a 7 for efficiency (compared to a composite boat). BUT, because it's plastic, it cost a full ONE-THIRD LESS than the composite boat I've had my eyes on - a 10 all the way! Being plastic, it will take lots of abuse, but screws and weak points in the plastic may have me chasing problems in the future - 7. It tracks okay, the skeg bringing tracking up to an 8. It turns readily - 8. It's a good-looking craft (based on my preferences, though), but I really wanted a boat with great finish and color. But I also realize the safety-enhancing faculties of an all-brightly-colored kayak. My Squamish is mango. Not as bright as yellow, but better looking I thought - a final aesthetic rating of 8. Design of any kayak rates a 10 using the parameters it was laid out to on the drawing board, so is superseded by build. My Squamish seems to be all in order, skeg works, hatches stay down, foot pegs work, seat is padded, etc. - a 9. Although most of us can lift 54 lbs. over our heads, a long package like a kayak makes it more difficult. I can just car-top the Squamish onto my Grand Cherokee by myself - 8. Add all these up and I give MY Squamish a final rating of about 7.5 - 8.
Using a formula of comparison and objective trade-offs would, in my opinion, render ANY kayak about the same. The largest ratings fall-off would be low-quality craftsmanship or using a boat contrary to its designed intended performance. Fit of kayak to body size and build is probably the largest ratings enhancement.
I must add - to help qualify any objective consideration - my body size. 5'8" 130 lbs., above-average fit and conditioning. I also have a kayakers dream build - short legs and tall torso, which allows me many more choices in kayaks than a lot of people. Almost any kayak fits me on the water. On shore, I'd need help with a boat bigger and heavier than the Squamish.
Rating would be 10 of 10 but for the hatch problem. I'll hold off on assigning a rating until I see whether/how/when CD fixes the problem.
This boat does not have a lot of storage room for long trips, but has plenty of room for an overnight or weekend trip. For longer trips, you might need to either pack light, or share the load with another kayaker that has more room. But if the bulk of the paddling that you do is day trips or weekends you will have no problem with storage in this boat.
Another issue with this boat is the toggles/handles on the ends. They are attached so that they can hang down under the boat. It actually makes portaging much easier but it may get on your nerves to have them banging into the hull with every wave. It's not hard to fix with a little modification though.
I have also seen another review claiming that the stern hatch seeped water, but I have not had that problem. The hatches are sometimes hard to open and close, but it gets easier with use (and a little armor-all).
All in all, this is a great light touring boat for the experienced smaller kayaker that doesn't want/need the extra storage room of a larger touring boat.
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