03-20-2013Submitted by: Tempest170
Reviews for Whistler Kayak by Current Designs
Based On: 17 Reviews
- Rating: 9 of 10 I had bought this boat as a two boat package from a friend who was moving away. Although I am not the primary user of this boat, I keep it for all my friends and first time paddlers when going out on the water. I cannot say enough good things about this boat. Mine has the rudder which definitely helps keep the boat on course (definitely recommended). Otherwise everyone I have put in it loves how stable it feels and that they can keep up to me in my Tempest. Great boat!
05-11-2011Submitted by: noman
- Rating: 10 of 10 I recently purchased a 2011 Current Design Whistler. This is a 14 1/2' long x 24" wide plastic kayak. The cockpit and seat have been re-designed for 2011. I had my eye on the previous generation Whistler but felt the cockpit was too constricting, and needed more leg & foot room.
The 2011 model is exactly what I expected. A plastic kayak that runs fast, track good, and with the re-designed seat and cockpit fits me real well! The rocker allows me to turn like it's a 12' kayak which is great for back waters. The length and weight (57 lbs) is maximum for what I want to carry & store. This is my 6th kayak starting from 9 1/2' going from 12' to 13 1/2' to the 14 1/2' Whistler. There is ample room in the bow and stern hatches for equipment.
Current Designs may not be as well know as Perception or Wilderness Systems, but you would be amiss not to check them out when you are ready to purchase a new kayak. I gave it a 10 even though I am very wary of rating inflation. Everyone seems to love the kayak they have, I believe mostly from lack of exposure to other manufacturers. It's the best boat in its class from all of my research over the years.
My advice to anyone looking for a kayak is to get the maximum length for your over-all needs, go as skinny as possible, and note the hull design & degree of rocker from one manufacturer to another. It all effects tracking, efficiency, maneuverability, and rough waters.
01-11-2010Submitted by: titansnfl
- Rating: 10 of 10 Purchased 2 CD Whistlers in January of 2008, for my wife and myself. After 2 paddling seasons we are extremely pleased with the Whistlers and Current Designs. My wife was a novice paddler when we started and now is an excellent paddler.
When looking for kayaks we wanted a boat that would track well for lakes and flat water and have enough maneuverability to handle class II/III rivers. The decision came down to the Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145 or the CD Whistler. We purchased the Whistlers because most things were similar but the Whistler construction and design was nicer. The Whistlers have molded recessed holders for the deck lines. This eliminates the bolts and nuts that extend into the underside of the deck. I liked this because it eliminated getting dry bags caught and ripped not to mention the possibility of snagging clothing on a wet exit. The Whistlers have met these requirements without a problem.
We elected not to add the rudder and so far haven't missed it even though we often paddle on large lakes and have been in some strong cross winds and whitecap waves. A rudder would have been nice in these conditions but a little edging and a sweep stroke keeps it tracking.
The seat is comfortable for even with long paddles of 4 hours or more. The thigh pads aren't adjustable and mine fit just right. I modified them on my wife's by repositioning and drilling new holes in the thigh bracket. CD has since added a different seat back that is more ridged and adjustable. I like the adjustable band system we have because it doesnít extend above the rear deck (easier to get in and out) and provides support to the lower back (sit up straight). The seat is an important consideration when selecting and test paddling a boat. Make sure it is adjusted for you. The cockpit opening is larger than most touring kayaks so you can pull your knees up and adjust your resting or leisure paddling position. With the skirt on water will puddle a little in it but this has not been an issue.
The top deck bungees are well designed and I like the perimeter grab lines. Not all kayaks in this class have these. They are handy for grabbing another kayak while on the water or holding the kayak after a wet exit. I use the line as a paddle holder when stopped by slipping the blade under it near the bow. The Whistler has a unique rough matt finish over the top of the decks. This grips whatever is under the bungees and gives it a little different look. I do like the height and angle of the front deck especially in front of the cockpit. This provides plenty of leg room and sheds waves nicely. Also the front hatch has a molded cover with 2 tie down straps over the rubber hatch cover, unusual for this class of kayak. This adds additional wave shedding protection and helps to keep the front hatch secure and dry.
I have contacted Current Designs on 2 occasions and their customer service people have been great to work with. One time I requested the specifications for the trim accent tape, a few days later 2 rolls of tape showed up. The second time the rear hatch cover developed a small tear and between our dealer, Quest Outdoors in Louisville KY and CD they replaced it. I also like the thought of working with a smaller "family" type company that excels in kayak design and production.
09-26-2008Submitted by: DB
- Rating: 9 of 10 Have owned the Whistler for six weeks...have had it out on the river in moderate current....have had it out in Georgian Bay in 3-4 foot swells...love this boat...I have wanted to step up from my 11 foot rec boat for a few years now...realizing I would still paddle in the river and on in-land lakes quite a bit, I decided to limit myself to 14-15 foot range...
Current Designs is a seakayak company who know what they are doing... this boat in one of their more rec oriented models but compared to any I paddled or looked at -- Necky Manitou, Wilderness systems Tsunami, Old Town Cayuga (my very close second choice) -- it just looked, felt, and fit me better (6'2, 200 pounds)... mind you I need the foot pegs placed right at the end...
My concerns in buying this boat have been totally put to rest...first, I wanted to be able to tour in open water with my friends who have 17' footers...at a consistent touring speed I can keep up no problem (although I am a strong paddler)...not only that, when my friend and I ran into choppy open water hitting us from the side as we circled White Cloud Island I was having to wait for him as he was having more difficulty than I...secondly, this boat (like most of Current Designs boats is 'fish form' meaning that it's widest part is slightly fore of the cockpit thus in theory giving it (in theory) less acceleration that one that is symmetrical or 'swede form'...I haven't felt this to be a problem...in fact I have come to believe that this feature gives it more buoyancy, maneuverability, and storage space.
One comment on concerns of oil canning - if you strap the boat cockpit side down there is no problem...I bet this in the norm with plastic boats....
In short this is a durable, rugged, good looking boat that I would recommend to anyone who is looking for a boat for the same reasons I was... however, as one reviewer has already stated... it does wet your appetite and curiosity for the next level if you love touring... for me this might mean buying the CD Storm... you can never have too many boats. Carpe Paddlum!
01-24-2006Submitted by: theyakfisher
- Rating: 8 of 10 I've had my Whistler for a few months now and have paddled open water, flat and slow moving rivers so I feel compelled to write up something in hopes to help a would be buyer with their decision. I've paddled recreational type boats for about 10 years now and have no need for a long skinny composite touring sea kayak. For me paddling is a means to an end, like fishing or camping so stability takes precedence over speed/efficiency. My criteria for a new boat was a polyethylene hull to be able to handle oyster bars without complaint. A cockpit big enough to fish from but small enough to keep the ocean out if need be. A high enough volume to be able to pack a week's worth of gear into. A rudder to provide a little hands free control while fishing. And stable enough to stare straight up at the sky without tipping over. The Whistler fits the bill pretty nicely.
It handles like a '74 Buick Electra 225. Heavy as heck but glides forever once you get it moving. Maneuvers well enough for small creeks, and seaworthy in open water. Hard to control in a following sea but manageable considering the wide beam that's carried far forward. That's where it gets its high volume so everything's a trade-off. You can really pack a lot of gear in the hatches and it stays dry if you keep water out of the cockpit. Hatches don't leak, bulkheads do.
I have to consciously try not to drive it too hard because one of my previous boats had accelleration instead of glide. This boat has glide and once moving only takes minimal energy to keep it going. Overall considering my needs, I feel good about my decision. This will be my primary boat for slow rivers, salt water estuaries, large lakes, ponds and open water sounds. Oh yeah, the seat though unpadded is quite comfortable even over long periods. Rating scale, 10 is perfect and doesn't exist. 9 cannot be improved upon. 8 means very happy with decision, haven't found better considering my needs.
08-12-2005Submitted by: kyksteve
- Rating: 9 of 10 After reading a lot of reviews and deciding what I wanted in a boat I bought the whistler its been about 6 months and I couldn't be happier I was paddling a 16" tandem Old Town 160t so its like going from a truck to a sports car. The cost, quality, length, weight, tracking and stability were all factors. I found a barely used boat for $700.
Current Designs seems to be of very good quality, there web site is informative and customer service was very responsive when I requested an ownerís manual. The storage compartments are roomy, the covers and bulk heads do not leak the covers fit tight and go on kinda hard. The plastic remains firm and does not oilcan, the deck rigging is of good quality, I wish the seat back came up a little higher.
At 14'6" 25" width 58lbs it fits nice in the garage and I can put get it on and off the car and to the water without trouble. I am 5'10" 200lbs and the boat fits me nice with foot room to spare. It tracks like its on rails without a skeg or rudder. I've fished from and paddled in 3'waves with good stability. Although I have not tried a lot of boats the whistler does everything I want.
06-21-2005Submitted by: kbf
- Rating: 10 of 10 This is Pacific Northwest styled plastic kayak with a rudder. This boat is designed for the medium to small paddler; my wife uses it and loves it. Sheís 5í5Ē and can get in it cowboy style. This boat has a huge cockpit opening so skirts were a little tuff to find. She now has a snapdragon neoprene size XL.
This boat has good outfitting and kajaksport hatches. We have not experienced any oil canning.
My wife has used this boat on ocean swells and lake wind chop and she has only praise for her Whistler. She never uses the rudder and I am actually proud of her for that but the other day it was so windy that I was concerned because she was weather-cocking. I convinced her to use the rudder, she did. I couldnít believe the smile on her face. She likes it even more now.
She could easily use a much narrower boat but she prefers that rock solid initial stability of the CD Whistlerís 25Ē beam.
I would consider getting her a Pachena DX but she likes to run her boat aground. So as long as she keeps doing that weíll stick with the rotomold Whistler.
05-24-2005Submitted by: Ed
- Rating: 7 of 10 My wife and I bought two used boats last spring(2004), I believe the one boat is a 2002, and the other is a 2003. The 2002 seems to have a thinner hull since it oil cans when strapped to our car roof rack much quicker than the 2003. But the 2002 also seems to be a bit lighter, however Iíve not actually weight either one.
We bought these boats to take on our extended cruise on our big boat. Our priorities were; Cost, weight, length, stability, and load capacity.
Cost, we bought them both used from Patuxent Adventure Center in Solomonís Island MD. I donít have the exact cost but Iím pretty certain we walked out the door for under a grand. That included the two boats, new Wave paddles, and a bilge pump. All in all I was very happy with the transaction.
Weight, I would always like something lighter, but lighter costs dollars. And at this stage dollars are more important. I can put them on the roof solo but itís a lot easier with two.
Length, I would have liked a longer boat. But storage on our big boat limited us to about 15í. The boat tracks well and neither of us has wished for a rudder.
Stability, I would have liked a narrower boat. But we needed to board these from our big boat so these are a nice compromise. We both enter the boats from our swim ladder without problem. If fact we had some true novices board them from the swim ladder. Now that Iíve gotten used to these boats, I like the stability very much.
Load capacity, I canít really comment on this yet. We have only taken half-day trips so far.
Every boat, big and small is a compromise. Iím happy with these as, non-extreme, general-purpose boats. But only time will tell if they are as much fun on our cruise. I only give then a 7 in order to resist the grade inflation that seems to be present on this site.
02-28-2005Submitted by: BIRDZONE
- Rating: 9 of 10 I purchased a new Whistler to replace an Advanced Elements inflatable. We had purchased the inflatables anticipating only occasional use. We soon found that we wanted to paddle often, so we wanted hard kayaks with greater range and seaworthiness (along with less maintenance). I paddled a Necky Manitou, Current Designs Kestrel, Dagger Catalyst, Current Designs Breeze, Whistler and Necky Zoar Sport LV.
I am 6'0", 170#, shoe size 11. Of all those kayaks, the Whistler and Zoar Sport LV are in an entirely different class. The Breeze is nothing like the Whistler. Although similar, the Whistler tracks MUCH better, faster, no loss in stability, etc. - no downside. The Zoar Sport LV is actually similar to the Whistler and will also fit guys my size and larger.
Fit wise, my only complaint is the Whistler isn't very comfortable for my feet. With its high foredeck, it seems odd. I'll keep working on the foot comfort problem, but, it seems to be a matter of hull shape and peg placement. Peddle adjusters similar to Necky would be nice. Pivoting foot pedals would be much better,
Performance wise, the Whistler is everything it should be. We paddle in lakes, bays, estuaries and sloughs. I wanted a kayak I could develop my skills in and be happy for a few years. The dry compartments fore and aft and hull design seem to provide a margin of safety when the water gets rough. I always feel comfortable in the boat. I also like the handling. I don't use the rudder much. Open water with wind and/or current makes it nice to have though.
We also bought a Zoar Sport LV which my wife is using. I know she likes it a lot. We'll post on that later.
10-05-2004Submitted by: HTS
- Rating: 9 of 10 I'm primarily a whitewater boater but I've lived in SW Wisconsin for the past seven years w/o any chance of getting to an area with steep rivers. I therefore decided I'd get into flat water boating since there seemed to be a lot of it around, but I wasn't going to get the $2500 kevlar Layup sea kayak. I tried a couple of boats at Rutabagas and the Whistler looked to fit the bill: tracks well, but maneuvers well enough to paddle windy narrow rivers without hitting the banks. The plastic is rigid and once it gets moving, it stays moving. The 58 pounds and 92 gallons give it plenty of room to be comfortable and move around, as well as be much more stable than a whitewater boat. 2 storage areas are handy but I only store equipment in them when hanging it in the garage. The covers are difficult to get on but I figure if you want to keep something dry or maintain flotation, you don't want it coming off. I'm 6' 1" and my feet are just a couple of inches from the front bulkhead. A 6' 4" friend touches this when his feet are off the foot braces.
I quickly tired of the small rivers and now spend most of my time on the Mississippi, where wind, barges, and cabin cruisers can put up some good-sized waves. This is the only place where the boat has some shortcomings. Certain frequency waves have a pull-push effect that can throw off paddle strokes. A 17' 6" boat I've paddled in similar conditions seems to just slice through these waves with only a rolling sensation. I've also put it a half mile from shore in moderate to strong winds (25mph) with no noticeable weathercocking. I could just be adjusting with small leans and sweeps but course corrections were easy without a rudder. Compared to paddling a whitewater boat to the inevitable 2-mile lake paddle takeout, this tracks effortlessly.
I like the seat. It's more comfortable than any other boat I have. I've been in it for 4 hours non-stop with no problem. I sometimes wish it had a bottle holder, but there's space behind the seat for a sponge and small items. The back brace seems OK once it's adjusted. Once there, I haven't fooled with it since.
I paddle with a spray skirt out of habit since a roll without one would fill the boat up. It also keeps drips off and on cool days, it stays warmer.
This boat was manufactured in July 2004 and I take it out at least once a week.
It seems to be a perfect boat for short paddles. However, it really only whets your appetite for a Solstice GT to see what touring performance is all about.
05-17-2004Submitted by: madsam99
- Rating: 10 of 10 I first paddled the Whistler last July as a rental. I was immediately impressed with it. This boat offered everything I'd been looking for. Its length (14' 6") and width (25") suit me perfectly, both for my size and the type of paddling I do. I am 6' tall, and rather "broad" (i.e. the nice way of saying I weigh 250 lbs). I typically paddle on lakes and on slow moving rivers. I like a stable boat that allows me to stop and take pictures without worrying about stability. However, just because this boat is very stable (one shop owner I know referred to it as "a rock on the water"), don't assume it's a dog. It tracks very well, and turns with no trouble. I first paddled it on a very choppy Susquehana River, and it proved plenty sea-worthy. I've since had it on lakes and rivers where I had to contend with the wake from large motorboats; again, I had no problems in the Whistler. I'd been shopping around for a new boat all summer, and had settled on the Dagger Charleston 14.0. Although the Charleston is every bit as pleasant to paddle, and priced the same, the Current Designs construction just seamed better. I believe this "better construction" is mainly due to thicker plastic, and this does add a few pounds. I am still able to car-top it by myself though. Although it is equipped to handle a rudder, I do not believe you need one for this boat. I reccomend purchasing it without the rudder; you can easily add one later. I did have to remove the thigh braces, and outfit the cockpit to my liking. I simply added strips of foam padding to where my thighs make contact. I am also considering adding foam to the seat (molded plastic, and very hard). I do think that all of these boat makers could learn something from Wildernes Systems when it comes to seat design. I was able to pick-up this boat for $725 during an end-of-season clearance sale last year. I felt I got a lot of boat for the money, considering the length, two bulkheads, and great outfitting including a "hurricane cover" for the front hatch, and extensive deck rigging. Even at the list price of $845, you'll be hard-pressed to find better value. If you are a big guy/girl, and you're looking for a solid day-touring kayak at a reasonable price - check out the Whistler.
04-29-2004Submitted by: ---
- Rating: 8 of 10 I have been a canoeist for 30+ years, and have been in to kayaking for only a few years. I have been using the Whistler for about 8 months now. I tried several other models, and found them to be too slow and heavy, and could not keep up with others on a paddle. They had great initial stability which reduces fear in a beginner kayaker. But, I could see that I would rapidly outgrow such need for safety, and sluggishness.
The Whistler is still a heavy boat, and compared to fiberglass, kevlar, carbonlite boats, takes more effort and muscle power to keep up with them. But, for recreational touring of a few hours, it easily meets the need. The initial stability is still high, and now that I'm learning how to carve turns, I find that it still has plenty of secondary stability as well.
The seat back, like virtually all others that I have tried, leaves something to be desired. I replaced it on the day I bought the Whistler, and it was a minimal expense, and quickly solved the problem. Storage space is also ample.
Overall, it's a good first boat. I'm sure that in some number of years I'll outgrow it, and want something faster and lighter, and with still better performance. But, its an effective compromise. (I also hear that Current Design is coming out with a Whistler next year in carbonlite or the equivalent, which will shave an appreciable amount of weight off it.)
02-02-2004Submitted by: Glenn
- Rating: 10 of 10 I have paddled for many years always in rental boats. Usually would end up with some form of Solstice/Storm. When it came time to figure out which one to buy, I started renting the lower priced boats so to not get in too deep right away so to speak. I rented the Breeze many times and was almost settled on that. Then once, the rental place didn't have a Breeze and put me in a Whistler instead. I knew they had this boat available but I had not really even noticed it before because it really is identical to the Breeze in all respects hull-wise with the exception of a one foot longer waterline. Wow! What a tremendous difference. It is amazing how that one foot extra improved tracking. The Breeze needs babysitting to maintain a straight line while the Whistler seems to go straight even if your paddles aren't identical strength! As I have a bad habit of breaking my concentration to look at landing floatplanes above me, I wanted a boat that could handle itself when I wanted to focus attention on something else. Very stable boat. Still a short boat though at 14'6" it fits perfectly across two parking spaces for storage at the apartment too! It is also the exact same length as the Jetta so I just match the bow with the hood and know I can fit anywhere the car can go normally.
The only qualm I have is that I guess because the bow doesn't curve up like the longer ones, it does tend to be a little wet. This is only when paddling into a faily strong wind though... maybe 1 out of 10 paddles I would get splashed a bit. Well so much for my "budget" though. I liked this boat so much I boat another Whistler to take friends and family out in as it is an easy boat to get comfortable in right away. Fit me like a glove. Now to be fair to other people who like their different similar boats, I didn't try too much outside of current designs. But you know what? I felt like I found the girl you want to marry... why keep looking when you are completely satisfied and excited that you have something I am happy with now and know I will be in the future.
01-06-2004Submitted by: louc
- Rating: 9 of 10 I am primarily a canoeist but bought the Whistler for lake paddling. This is one of the few non-recreational kayaks that will comfortably fit tall people. She has good initial and excellent secondary stability. Tracking is effortless and she turns well when leaned (I do not have a rudder system). Listed as a light touring kayak, the Whistler is fast enough to keep up with longer touring kayaks. The workmanship and quality of the plastic seems better than the competition and I looked at several before finally buying the Whistler. The only negative is the seat. It has a standard hook & loop closure adjustment. You will need to replace this with a cockpit ratchet type for on water adjustments. Overall this is an excellent high volume, light touring, plastic kayak. Compared with others of similar specs you can't go wrong with the Whistler.
10-31-2003Submitted by: jshribbs
- Rating: 9 of 10 The Current Design Whistler ended up being my second choice for my first kayak. I bought the Current Design Breeze instead after much research and trials at various paddlefests. Both Current Design boats seem to be a cut above the competition in hardness of plastic, speed, comfort, looks, and maneuverability in this price range and boat length. I read SteveMís excellent analysis below and found him to be on the mark. The Whistler was the best of the 14 footers I tested and I concur with his comparisons. I am 50 years old, 5í 10íí, 200 lbs., with thick, strong, short legs and wanted a stable boat for exercise on a slow river system, the Petaluma River in California, where I could bird watch, cruise, etc. on a regular basis (90% of my expected water time) and still have enough boat for intermediate paddling situations such as the SF Bay and overnight camping (5-10% of trips). I particularly liked the keel system with the solid, easy-in rest and large beads for raising and lowering the keel. I also liked the larger cockpit with an extra inch of room for my toes, knees, and thighs. I found all the other brands a tad tight and slightly less comfortable. I had to make adjustments on other brands, but I fit right into this one. The greater amount of webbing on both the front and back decks are more convenient and hold more gear than the other brands. The Whistler had great stability and tracking with an adequate cruise speed and is a great all around hybrid boat that is not that much more expensive than recreations boats and can be taken into higher levels of paddling.
So why did I buy the Breeze instead of the Whistler, especially since it has less cargo space with only one hatch in the rear, and 1 foot shorter? I will be day tripping over 90% of the time, so I felt the added space was not essential or even necessary. For the few longer trips I can use water proof bags stowed in the front. The $100 savings was not a critical factor since my total cost for an all gear package was in the range of $1700. Being a few pounds lighter did not seem to be much different for loading and unloading. The cruise speeds did not seem that different.
The main factors for going with the Breeze were: 1) greater comfort and 2) greater maneuverability. Even though the Breeze has less depth than the Whistler, it feels like it has more room for toes and knees and just seemed to fit my body better. The Petaluma River system has marshes with sloughs that are narrow so maneuverability became a major factor, especially after I saw a 17 foot racer get stuck trying to turn around. I decided short was better. The cruise speed is similar, but I gave up a lot on tracking and have to constantly correct and consciously maintain good paddling style or tend to drift off course. However, I can turn on a dime and move the kayak in a new direction with a single stroke without having to tip much.
I recommend trying the Breeze before buying the Whistler, but both are excellent boats, superior to the competition in their size and price range. If it werenít for my slough passage, I would go with the Whistler.
10-23-2003Submitted by: Frank P.
- Rating: 10 of 10 Buying your first kayak is a big deal if you want to get the right boat for the money. So I did my home work. I read everything I could get on the big names: Perception,Wilderness Systems, Current Designs, Necky and Dagger. While each company had some very good boats for a wide variety of paddlers. I always kept coming back to the Current Designs brand. It is just personal but their boats seemed to have the best hardware and features for my personal use, relaxed kayaking on ponds, bays, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay inlets.
As a 59 year old beginner wanting to enjoy early retirement this was the boat for me. Stable, manueverable, and tracked like an laser on the water.
Before buying the Whistler I tried several of the competitions boats at a variety of paddlefests but nothing seemed to hold a candle to this boat for the beginner who wants to grow into an intermediate paddler with time and experience.
One final thought on the search for your perfect kayak. Enlist the help of a good kayak shops expertise. Make sure they can sell you any one of the top five brands so they will give you unbiased information on the market leaders in the business. They can help make your search easier bbecause they know the boats and can help eliminate boats that don't meet your personal requirements. My wife was so pleased with my mango Whistler that she ordered one in turquoise.
06-09-2003Submitted by: SteveM
- Rating: 9 of 10 I recently purchased my first kayak; a Whistler by Current Designs and I feel like I should write something about this boat since I see no one else has. Having only recently taken up kayaking Iím certainly not qualified to write any kind of serious in depth review but I would like to throw out a few comments about why I chose this model and what I like about it. After spending only one day last summer on Lake Keuka in the finger Lakes region of New York State, paddling a rented Old Town, Loon 138, I fell in love with kayaking. Since then I spent a lot of time studying these long skinny boats trying to figure out exactly what it is I like about them and what Iím looking for in a kayak.
At my age, (40 something), Iím no longer looking for thrills and spills when it comes to outdoor activities but rather something just the opposite, freedom and relaxation. I live at the Jersey Shore and have always been around water but Iíve never had any real fascination with boats. What does appeal to me it the idea of paddling over a quiet lake or pond, cruising the shoreline of a bay or spending a day exploring a salt marsh. So when it came time to choose a kayak to fit my needs I was able to narrow my search to type, size and fit. I first considered a recreational boat. Something that would give me plenty of stability and room to stretch out, such as the Loon I had rented last summer. The problem with that was I didnít want to tie myself down to a boat that I might soon find too slow and sluggish just for the sake of stability. I also knew I was not ready to take on one of those long pencil thin boats built for speed knowing I would not feel comfortable if things got rough.
After spending a day at a local paddlefest climbing in and out of kayaks and talking to a number of manufactureís product reps I was able to narrow my choices to four boats I felt would give me what I was looking for. Here are the boats I picked out: The Carolina 14.5 by Perception, The Cape Lookout 145 by Wilderness Systems, the Charleston 14 by Dagger and The Whistler by Current Designs. All four were similar in size, weight, and price. All four claimed to offer a combination of stability, maneuverability, comfort and quality. A few weeks later I looked them over again at a store and ended up eliminating the Wilderness System. Although it had the most comfortable seat of the four, I couldnít help but to think the plastic they use looked and felt a little cheap. It might not seem like any big deal to some but after only a few minutes I felt like I was sitting with my legs inside a Rubbermaid trashcan.
When the weather finally warmed up a bit I went back and took a test paddle of the remaining three at a near by pond. This is where the differences really showed themselves. As I said, Iím still very much a novice so keep in mind this is only my humble opinion. Right from the beginning there was something about the way the CD Whistler looked and felt that attracted me to it. Its basic construction had a certain significance that appealed to me .The boat felt sturdy and somewhat more rigid then the Perception. The plastics used seemed a little better then most and the overall quality was good. I know Current Designs makes about 20 different kayaks, mostly higher end and this model was one of their entry-level boats but that didnít bother me. Up until this point I had been leaning toward the much popular Carolina by Perception, which I also think was very well built and a good value.
Out on the water the Carolina was a breeze to paddle and I had no trouble with tracking or turning. It handled well and was fairly easy to maneuver. However, after only a short while I was starting to feel a little bit uncomfortable. The deck seemed a little to low for my knees and for some reason no mater what I did I could not get the seat back to adjust right. Of course this might have just been a little thing but I was feeling something just wasnít right for me. I then took the Dagger, Charleston for a while which I was also prepared to like. It was fairly stable and paddled easily but almost from the start I had trouble keeping it straight. The drop down skeg seemed to help but the boat still felt like it had a will of itís own. Iím sure this had more to do with my lack of experience then any defect in the kayakís design. When I pushed off in the whistler it felt a bit more tipsy then the other two but after only ten minutes I felt comfortable. It paddled as well as the Perception and was the easiest to turn once I got the feel of it. At 25 inches wide and just over fourteen and a half feet ití generally referred to as a light touring kayak. The two hatches (bow and stern) are large enough to carry a dayís worth of gear including a small cooler if you can get it through the round opening. The seat back was easy to adjust and gave me good lower back support. Even after two and half-hours I never once felt cramped or uncomfortable. My whistler came with a rudder system, which didnít interest me much at first but I managed to get it for the same price as without. After using a few times Iím glad now I got it, although I do feel like Iím cheating a little when using it to turn. I have to say that over all this boat fits my needed perfectly and Iím very happy I took the time to compare before going right out and buying the first one I found. I canít say this will be the last kayak I ever own but for now I could not be happier.
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