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A few comments to my negatives and positives to add on to this kayak review.
1. The neoprene cover is MUCH easier to put on as I've figured out what to do and how to do it! I don't use it frequently but can now get it on in the first or second attempt.
2. and 2A still an issue but the strap on works fine as a stop-gap. If I ever go on an extended trip with this I'll probably find that it's more of an issue than it is right now.
3. The drain plug would be great but I find that it's not really an issue for me.
1. I still find this one of the lighter kayaks that I've had to lift and move those times that I've been in a group.
2. Turns out I had the foot brace set too far forward on the leg that fell asleep. Since I've adjusted the braces to the correct length, I've had no issues, even after a 6 hour paddle. The seat is fine although a little bit of padding would make it a bit more comfortable.
3. I have no problems with tracking or maneuverability. Turning is a piece of cake (nothing too sharp and nothing in fast moving water so can't comment on those types of turns). Those short wide ones that some of my friends have purchased make some pretty wide turns and if the wind is strong, it makes it that much harder for them to turn. I haven't had that problem at all.
4. Stability is just as good as I mentioned a year ago. I've been out in 3 foot swells now (not big but still big compared to most of the flat water we have in Indiana) and am not concerned about capsizing. I've been out in strong winds as well (20-30 MPH gusts) and have no issue with possible capsizing or drift. I did purchase a spray skirt after that trip to minimize the amount of water I got dosed with as well as the amount getting into the cockpit.
6. As I've gotten better and stronger, speed is better but I'm not racing anyone. I'm usually enjoying the time by myself on the water.
As of right now, this is the perfect kayak for what I'm doing and I feel no need to upgrade or look for a better boat. I still consider myself a beginner and this is one that I would recommend to my friends if they're on the market for a kayak.
I went to the local outdoor specialist store (NOT a box store) and told them my requirements - something that I won't want to upgrade within a year, light and portable since it's just going to be me, tracks well and easy to maneuver. They sold Wliderness System and Perception kayaks (to name two in particular) but I didn't want to spend the money they were asking for a new one. The one thing I DID get from them was to not settle for something less than 12' in length (although I looked at quite a few smaller ones anyway). I started to look at Craig's List and then checked this site for reviews of the kayaks that were being sold. On a drive by, one of the smaller outfitters had a kayak on a saw horse. Called and found out it was the Necky Manitou 13, it was used and was still for sale. Almost every review was a positive one (8 or higher) so I pulled the trigger and bought it.
I took it out for an almost 9 mile paddle for my first trip out (and second time ever kayaking) and really enjoyed the experience. I'm glad that I ended up with this one but I'll start with the negatives first. Also, I'm just shy of 6', have size 10 shoes and weigh 175.
1. The neoprene cover for the hatch is a bear to put on. This has been mentioned by multiple people. Once I get the hang of it I'm sure it will be easier to deal with but that first time was a struggle.
2. This is probably due to me being new to kayaking but the rear storage hatch, while great for putting stuff into isn't the most easily accessible thing while in the water. I ended up keeping my drinking water in front of me the entire trip (it was a larger 2 liter type).
2A. Lack of a small front storage area. Me nitpicking but it would be nice to put the keys there instead of in my pocket. I ended up buying a small Pelican watertight box this week with a carbiner to attach to my webbing so it can hold my phone, wallet and keys.
3. No drain plug. I never capsized but I did get in and out a few times. I turned it over and lifted either the bow or stern and got most of it out but a plug would make it just that much easier I think.
4. The rear paddle "storage" area isn't really that user-friendly while in the water, although for dry storage I'm sure it would be great!
That's it. Mostly small things.
Now for the positives.
1. Extremely light for it's size. I helped some others carry their kayaks down to the launch and I could tell the difference between the weight of theirs and mine. At 13 feet this weighed less than all the 10 footers (with the exception of one). It was a breeze to carry by myself, although my arms, tired after the long paddle, protested the lift up to the roof rack!
2. The seat was great! I got it as upright as I could but even after four hours I felt no discomfort. I had been told that you'll want to move around a bit to keep your butt from being uncomfortable, but I never had to. My back never complained either. The only issue I had was that my left leg started to fall asleep at the end of my paddle but I'm attributing that to the fact that the leg usually doesn't stay in that position for that long a time.
3. Maneuverability/tracking was great. After the first ten minutes it was pretty obvious that my right stroke is the stronger of the two but it still tracked pretty straight. Small corrections were quick and easy. There weren't that many tight turns involved but the few turns I did make were pretty easy to do I watched some of the smaller kayaks (but much wider ones) and they were struggling to turn around. There was only one place where wind was a factor but I had no issues whatsoever. Some of the other ones did. The couple of touring ones on the water in the paddle were fine as well.
4. Stability - The kayaker that put this event together was concerned that I might capsize since my kayak was one of the narrower ones and I had only been out once before. It was never an issue, either on the water or getting into or out of it from the shore. I never felt concerned about going over, even with the occasional 1-2 foot swells from the passing motorboats. It cut right through the chop when I met them head on and I never wobbled when they caught me from the port or starboard sides.
5. Foot braces were easily adjusted while in the water. The first setting I had them too far and getting them to the length I needed was easy and fast. My size 10 feet never felt cramped.
6. Speed. I never had to strain to keep up with the more experienced and/or faster paddlers. The boat seemed to glide over the water. I never really tried for top speed but the GPS I had with me had me just over 5 mph a couple of times on a few of the longer straight-line stretches.
I'm very thrilled with my purchase. I don't know if I'll ever use it for camping excursions or not, but I'd feel pretty comfortable with the Manitou as my kayak for the tour should it happen. Storage and comfortability seem more than adequate. There seems to be room in the bow leg area for extra gear should I need it. I highly recommend this kayak for beginners as it's stable, lightweight and easy to maneuver.
I sold the Perception, at a huge loss and couldn't be happier--I was going to buy a Necky Manitou 13. Since then, my husband sold his Dagger and bought a Manitou 13 as well. We both kayak Boreal Design kayaks for our big trips, but the Manitou kayaks are just as nimble and for 1/4th the price.
We initially purchased them to take to Florida for the winter. We thought we would leave them there to alleviate bringing them back and forth every season. We can't do it. We love them so much, we bought 2 more, and are going to have them both north and south. We love them that much. I am small 5'0 and 115, my husband is 5'10 and 190--the fit and comfort of paddling is the same for both of us. They are responsive and track really well. And they are relatively fast if you need speed. The seat is amazingly comfortable, and easily adjustable. They are easy to transport and durable in both fit and finish. The only downside is the hatch cover. If you use your knee to hold one side, the other side slips on easy enough.
All said, we now own a fleet of 4 which we will transport back and forth in order to introduce all of our friends to the wonderful sport of kayaking. We highly recommend these kayaks!
The Manitou is not designed for speed but it can easily keep up with its longer and sleeker compadre (Old Town Cayuga 130). Weighing a mere 45 pounds, the Manitou is well balanced is just as easily carried by one person as two. Constructed of highly resilient polyethylene plastic, the Manitou is extraordinarily durable and virtually indestructible under normal conditions (note: the only enemy of plastic kayaks is the sun, please store your boat away from direct sunlight).
Because of the its ease of paddling, high stability, and responsiveness the Manitou is a great entry level kayak and proves to be a great fit for all paddlers of different ages and sizes. Outfitted with a generic ExtraSport foam seat with seat back, the kayak is comfortable after long paddles and the seat is easily adjusted. The Manitou is designed with a relatively large cockpit which makes entry and exit easy both on and off the water. The Manitou 13 is outfitted with only a rear bulkhead and hatch unlike its fourteen foot big brother which has both a for and aft arrangement. An inflatable flotation bag is highly recommended for the bow since the Mantou's lack of a front bulkhead (like most rec kayaks in that class). The one hatch on the Manitou is not watertight and is secured only by a neoprene cover with a top plastic shell. Dealing the the neoprene hatch cover is a headache to reattach after it's been removed and should be redesigned by Necky. Other than the outfitting flaw of the rear hatch, the Manitou is a fantastic light-touring sea kayak and is highly recommended to anyone looking for a stable and very durable recreational kayak at a reasonable price tag.
Recommended Skill Level- All
To start with the pros, I purchased it on REI-Outlet.com site for an exceptional price when you factor a 20% discount coupon. The glide is smooth and it's relatively fast though have yet to race with it. The stability is forgiving and have yet to come close to tipping it. It's a manageable kayak, weight wise for portage and easy to get in and out.
On the con side, at 6'3" size 12 shoe, I've reached the comfort limits of the pedals and the height. I highly recommend that if you are interested and similar in shoe size to try it before you buy it. I also have had a challenge with the Neoprene hatch as noted in other reviews. I'm told it takes awhile to get the trick of securing the cover but time will tell.
With all things considered this is wonderful kayak and I rank it at 8 other then a 10 which it deserves due to the hatch and shoe/leg limitations.
I expect to enjoy this lightweight kayak for many years to come. Add me to the long list of satisfied customers who have previously given this kayak a good review.
The Manitou is fast for a boat its size and tracks very well. I never have any trouble paddling it straight, and I'm a newbie. It is also very stable and I've never come close to tipping it over. The seat is very comfortable, although I sometime get a little sore on longer paddles, possibly due to bad positioning on my part. The Manitou has plenty of shock cords to lashing things down and a rear hatch, but a small hatch in the front would be really nice for storing day-use stuff. It's also a nice looking boat with graceful lines like a British sea kayak, and I love the Fire (yellow-orange-red) fade of mine. The Manitou is also very light (45 lbs.) for a poly boat of its size and easy to load on a rack.
I don't have any strong dislikes, but quickly regretted not buying the Manitou 14, which is slightly longer and has a front bulkhead and hatch. I have paddled the 14 and it performs almost identical to my 13, but the front hatch/bulkhead is an important feature for sea kayaking that I was ignorant about when I bought my 13. The 14 is also a little more buoyant and faster for someone my size, 5'11" and 190 lbs. However it is less maneuverable than the 13. The 14 also has a skeg, which frankly I don't think would be needed very often since the Manitou tracks so well without it.
First, 12 feet, 10+ inches is both shorter and longer than I imagined, even after eliciting the help of a tape measure. At 45 pounds, the Manitou is almost a joke to pick up and move solo (I'm 27, 6', 145 lbs., swimmer's build), and really doesn't seem like an object nearly 13 feet long. That said, two inches longer and there'd be no way to get it up the stairs to my third floor apartment. It fits so-so in the back of my regular cab Colorado (6 foot bed). Being bright red on the prow means I don't need to tack on a flag, but even with the tailgate down, 5 feet of kayak hangs out (I have a hard tonneau cover, so there's no other way for me to transport it).
As far as performance goes, I've only ever used an inflatable tandem before (and that, only twice), but the Manitou feels fast, fast, fast. According to the GPS, I got it up to just shy of 6 MPH in short bursts, and my two 1.5 mile circuits of Park Lake took a little less than an hour, including time spent goofing off, watching people fish, and back-paddling to look at this, that, and the other. The Manitou tracks straight as an arrow—so straight, in fact, that I think it might be a little difficult to navigate any particularly twisty rivers. It's also very stable—the only way I came close to tipping it was when I was getting out. The foot pegs are nice to push against, easy to adjust, and help you keep your knees pressed against the knee braces. The seat is couchy, but I need to make a few adjustments when I have time to figure out all the straps (none of which seemed to get in the way of paddling, etc).
Regarding the hatch, follow the advice posted below about using your knee as a third hand. Simply hook one end of the neoprene seal under the lip, hold it in place with your knee, and stretch it over to the other side—takes all of five seconds. The guy I bought it from said the hatch is water tight—unless you roll it—even without the seal, but I've not tested that.
My only complaint—and this may simply be due to ignorance on my part—is that the slot for securing the paddle to the boat is behind the seat, rather than in front. I can't for the life of me figure out how to put the paddle in there while under way (if I wanted to, say, stop and have a sandwich).
I loved that Perception Catalina/Carolina, but have come to the realization that at my weight (185 lbs) the boat is more unstable, uncomfortable, and "plows" through the water. By contrast, the shorter, wider Manitou 13 actually paddles faster, is more stable in rough conditions, is lighter weight (for car topping), and is way more comfortable overall. I have to admit that it isn't as attractive as other day tourers and I hate that neoprene hatch, but it's like an ugly Subaru, with more practicality and performance value. In the future, Id like to upgrade to a composite Manitou 14!
I test paddled a Manitou a few years ago and the added thigh and knee braces, more complete deck rigging, paddle float recess and improved foot braces make the recycled/select a major improvement over the more recreational oriented original. It's still by no means a touring boat, but boy is it fun. I've taken it out twice so far, once in some rough conditions in Jamaica bay, nyc right after I got it, just to try it out. Couldn't help myself! handled the 5 footers and major boat wakes no problem, I'd wear a skirt in those conditions though.
It's one of the fastest boats for its length I've ever paddled, the other day went out with my friend in his 14+ footer and I kept up with him no problem. Even in a 20 knot headwind it cruised. This thing literally dances on the water. light as a feather compared to my Tsunami, I can carry it one handed and car top it solo no problem (I'm 5'5" and drive a Cherokee).
Incredibly stable, and tracks excellent, though for novice or beginner paddlers it may take a little more time to perfect your stroke. for a more experienced paddler lookin to fill out the stable with a fast fun day touring boat that has all the features of a full sized touring yak this is definitely a good choice, haven't tried rolling it yet but seems like it wouldn't be a problem, paddle float re-entries are really easy too. I wanted to wait to post a review until I'd tried it out a bit more, but I know there's plenty of other people like me who want to know the difference between the select/recycled and the basic Manitou, so hope this is helpful.
Only complaint I have that keeps it from being a 10 is the hatch, and cover, if it was a dual density plastic one I would be much happier because those are rock solid, and this neoprene with plastic strap-on cover is hardly sufficient for keepin all your gear dry if going on an overnight. simple solution obviously, use dry bags, but i'm picky :)
Great boat, after I've had it in some more diverse conditions (ie rivers, tidal streams and a campin trip or two), I'll put an update if my thoughts have changed. if anything, the rating will go up! Happy paddlin, Necky nailed it with this one.
Necky has corrected the only gripe from owners of the Manitou series. Adjusting straps for the seat used to be attached to the sides of the cockpit where they got in the way of your legs. Necky listened and corrected this. The Manitou is a fantastic boat.
The only complaints I've got about it are: 1) the paddle float system is pretty lacking - could go for some buckled straps 2) the seat gets in the way when doing a re-entry 3) very little flotation in the bow...
I recently spent a three day weekend on the Grand River in Ontario, Canada and enjoyed every minute of the journey. I truly would not trade my boat for anything and would highly recommend this craft for anyone who enjoys a fun paddle.
Only feature I do not like about the kayak is the neoprene cover on the hatch. It is impossible to put on. Even the sales rep could not get it on without my help. I cut my own rubber gasket and glued it to the inside of the hatch and do not use the neoprene cover.
Necky needs to address this issue and redesign.
Now days, I only paddle once a year on my two week vacation up at Cape Cod which I've been doing for many years.. So, I was anxious to see wether this Manitou would be a folly or fun. This time it took me about ten minutes of paddling it to realize that I had made a wonderful choice. And, what I noticed was that for some reason, I could tilt the Manitou with my hips with each stroke, which made it a pleasure to paddle. The hip stroke actually made the tracking even that more easy. And, even without the hip action, it tracked just fine.
What I didn't like about the Manitou was the storage compartment covers which were a pain in the rear to secure. And, it seems that a lot of other kayaks have the same ridiculous rubber covers. They're simply too stiff to try and secure on... And, the cockpit back seat could be a bit more comfortable for this heavy guy. As for the skeg.... I don't do any rough water paddling, so I'm glad it's there, come time when I need to use it.
This boat tracks perfectly, and turns easily when required, I detected little if any difference from my old glass boat (glass boats are over-rated). Comfort is excellent, footpeg adjustment very neat, I have not quite figured out all the seat adjustments yet.
The Manitou feels a bit heavier than I expected solo loading on my car roof bars (maybe its just that I am short and the roof bars are high!), however I can't complain too much on that count as the Manitous weight is very reasonable for a plastic boat. The one complaint I had, and the reason I gave it a 9, is that shouldering the boat on its cockpit, was painful due to the relatively sharp inside edge, something that I imagine could be easily sorted, ok but this is being picky.
Overall top marks for the Necky Manitou, :-)
I even took my brother-in-law to Wolf River in Wisconsin and we paddled the Manitous in solid class III white water without problem. He tipped over a few times initially but once he got the hang of it he paddle well. The kayaks have big scratches from the sharp boulders, but are very sturdy and well built.
I am very pleased with the Manitou and will definitely buy more as my kids get old enough to paddle them.
At 5'11" and 150 lbs, the cockpit opening is perfect size. I have size 11 feet and they are not cramped. The seat adjusts easily. The kayak is light enough to load and unload with ease.
The Manitou tracks very straight, I was very surprised. And stability was much better than anticipated. For a recreational kayak with a width less than 25" I'd say Necky deserves an award for stability.
The bulkhead/hatch... The rear bulkhead is a plus, with the rear hatch that opens for room enough for a full day. I have had it out three times this past week in windy and rainy salt conditions, and I take it to the car wash afterwards for a bath. The rear compartment stays BONE DRY. It is truly waterproof. I really want to give this kayak a 10 but the reason for the 9 is probably why it is so dry back there... the neoprene cover is tricky to put over the opening.
All things considered, I highly recommend this kayak. Necky you did an excellent job with stability and overall design!
The boat can also take a beating. I have run it over lots of submerged logs, a few hard landings, and been careened off a number cypress trees in the black water systems I am usually in. None of this did anything to the Manitou.
Only one complaint - the Extrasport seating system. This is a real Rube Goldberg system. The ratchet adjusters kept knocking on my knees, and there were far more adjustments than I would need. I have been working on re-doing that set up. So far I have removed the ratchets.
The boat has earned my confidence. I would have given it a 10/10, but for that seat system.
Once out on the water I found that it would glide nearly as well as the longer boats, but turned easier. I decided that it matched my value point and purchased one. That was June of 2004. Since then I've paddled countless miles on lakes and rivers. It still tracks as straight as the day I bought it.
Once I was cutting the mouth of a small bay up the Door Peninsula (Wisconsin) and a terrible storm swept up. I wasn't skirted and the waves grew to nearly 5 ft. The Manitou was completely swamped but kept me high enough out of the water to successfully paddle inland to take cover. Had I been in a boat without the sealed stowe in the stern and the float beam in the bow, I wouldn't have made it to shore with the boat. I owe my quick learning curve and skills to the exceptional behavior of the Manitou. The extra $200-$300 cost to get into a Manitou over a short purely recreational boat will pay for itself quickly because the experience will be so much more enjoyable and rewarding that you'll be out on the water more getting more use out of your kayak.
I highly recommend this boat to anyone who is a beginner looking to learn true kayaking skills. The rating of 9 is a result of two gripes I have about the kayak. 1. There is no drain plug. 2. The hull is curved deeply at the point where my feet rest and after a long day out on the water my ankles become fatigued. I can eliminate this fatigue by wearing water sport shoes and in cooler weather I just wear my mid-top hiking boots.
The Keowee is rather slow on flat water so I was looking for a faster kayak, without having to spend $1200 or so for a dedicated touring kayak. I also didn't want to sacrifice all the maneuverability that I am used to having with the Keowee.
That said, I attended an REI (thank you REI) paddle day here in Milwaukee where I now live and tried out several kayaks. Keeping in mind the above, here is a short review of the ones I didn't like:
I ended up buying the Manitou (the 12'10" version) because it had the right combination of attributes that I was looking for. It's much faster than the Keowee, turns better than the Carolina(and costs a lot less), its way more nimble than the Dirigo and it only cost me $540 because I bought the discounted demo boat!
I also bought a seal spray skirt and so far have not had the problems that I've read about here in the reviews. I've been out in Lake Michigan (no further off-shore than 100 yards) and felt very comfortable in the Manitou, gently riding the easy swells.
I probably will never use it in those rock gardens of w. Pa. but it's a great counterpoint to the Keowee, and I look forward to paddling it on larger rivers and lakes.
I give the boat a 9 because I don't like the intrusive seatback adjusters that jut into the cockpit opening. I'll probably take them out, it seems like adjustment overkill to me.
Hope this is helpful.
I "replaced" my Manitou this year with a kayak which competes with the Manitou that is almost 3 times the price, but I kept the Manitou just in case, and I'm glad I did so.
The Manitou has a seat back angle adjustment that can be adjusted on the fly (just like your car seat), the footpegs can be adjusted while you're in the water, it cuts through the flat water as though it's traveling in air, it tracks divinely, it is friendly, and it is sublime.
I spent 1800 dollars to replace my Manitou but this coming Wednesday I'm taking out the Manitou. We have a date. I love this boat. The designers did well. When you outgrow the Old Town offerings, the Necky Manitou is your next step.
The following day (2 days ago) it went into the water and performed exactly as I had anticipated after reading all I could find on the Internet...especially the reviews on this site. I guess that I was a bit surprised (pleasantly) that it turned as well as it does without a rudder (with a lean). Regarding the hatch arrangement, I was not surprised at it being tricky to seal and that the fabric gets wet if water splashes on the top. I don't envision using it much but still, it will be a minor "pain" to take it off to dry after an outing on a choppy day. Regarding the ease of placing the seal, the dealer suggested using 60 grit sandpaper to rough the edge and underneath side of the lip. I did and he was correct.
Thanks for all of the reviews ..... I really am glad I made the purchase.
Several local kayak sellers suggested the Necky Manitou, explaining that it was a good recreational kayak with modest sea-keeping qualities (in other words a hybrid--not quite a sea-capable kayak, but able to track well, handle modest chop and weather within reason, and good for close-in estuaries).
I have found my new Manitou to be everything my 'kayak consultants' claimed it to be. Crafted of sturdy superlinear polyethylene material, it is built well, with great initial stability for my 160 pound 6 foot tall frame; underway, it tracks exceptionally well and enables fairly fast speeds on smooth water without much effort. A comfortable seat, adjustable, supportive backrest, and a rear sealed bulkhead (foam block bow flotation) all add to the utility and enjoyment enabled by this boat; of further benefit is the slightly larger cockpit, allowing easy access and egress.
At a weight of 45 pounds, it is an easy lift to stow on a cartop (even easier on a Honda Civic station wagon!), and shows promise of lasting for a good number of seasons.
My impression is that the Necky Manitou is a great kayak for beginners who want a boat that will 'grow' with their kayaking knowledge to accommodate a variety of still-water kayaking experiences, and provide many seasons of pleasure on smoother inland water. My only complaint is that the poly material is a bit too translucent--I'd have used a brighter, more opaque poly material (such as is used in the Wilderness Systems 'Pungo" series), since their deeper yellow is a bit more aesthetically pleasing than the slightly 'washed out' Manitou yellow. A small complaint, perhaps.
In summary: money well spent for a great all-round recreational type kayak.
For my wife's 40th birthday, I arranged time off work for both of us while the kids were in school so that we could take a formal kayak introductory lesson together. The instructor outfitted both of us with Manitous for the day and we both really enjoyed the experience and purchased one shortly thereafter. Other reviews have expressed concern about rescue re-entry with the high seat back; when we were performing paddle float rescues during the class, neither of us had particular difficulty getting over the seat and we represent a size range from 6"1" 210 to 5"7" 130. Our instructor did say he had drilled new holes to lower it slightly more than the factory fit, but I still don't think the lowest available "stock" position would be a problem for re-entry.
We purchased the Manitou for ourselves, but our instructor assured us that our older kids would enjoy paddling it as well. We wanted to get a good intro boat for them, but were concerned with the width and lack of tracking length found in typical beginning rec boats like the Swifty. My 8 year old paddled the boat for the first time with me yesterday and has now foresworn her previous affection for the America 11. She really loves the boat and had no trouble beginning the outing by paddling one mile upstream in a somewhat slow but by no means still river. When I told her I would be posting a review, she said, "Be sure and tell them that it feels really fast and I like the way it leans but won't roll over. It's easy to turn, but I had no trouble keeping it straight." It sounds to me as if my 8 year old is getting a good lesson in tracking, carving turns, and secondary stability from the Manitou. We will probably wind up with another Manitou in the near future.
Some notes about the Manitou: the high seat back is very comfortable, but does make fitting a spray skirt problematic. I had to return the initial skirt I purchased because it stretched over the seat back creating a seam of fabric that dug into my back. It was no trouble finding a skirt with a more relaxed fit (a Gull), but I would recommend testing the fit in the boat before purchasing. I don't let my daughters use skirts yet and they have no trouble staying dry. The boat is very well made and is the only "rec" boat I know of with perimeter lines and good paddle float rigging. My rear compartment has stayed dry and the Manitous from our lesson also stayed dry despite a lot of wet side up time during the course. Despite a boat weight of only 45 pounds, the plastic is high quality and does not seem to scratch and scrape quite as readily as other boats. All the deck fittings are recessed into the plastic within the hull: a really nice touch for an entry boat. There is no paddle park, but I added one with a fitting just behind the front bungee.
The neoprene hatch cover has a bit of a learning curve, but goes on easily with a little experience. The plastic hatch cover is tethered to the perimeter line, but the neoprene one isn't. I used 2 mm cord to tether mine and keep it from getting lost. The foot braces are metal and feel more secure than plastic ones I have used; they also adjust easily while in the boat thanks to tabs that are in front of the braces themselves. The seat and seat back are very comfortable and both my wife and I can adjust for good fits with the thigh braces. The bow and stern handles are on the ends of the boat where they should be for easy access while in the water. The handles themselves are quite comfortable and, unlike rubber handles, do not chafe with car topping bow and stern lines. I did have a little flaking of the bow foam flotation, but that was easily fixed by duct taping the corners while I had the float out to install flotation bags. Bags are probably not absolutely necessary with this boat, but I am neurotic about installing them wherever there are no bulkheads.
This is a great boat for my kids to start off with, but I must admit that I enjoy paddling it as well and have spent very enjoyable hours in the cockpit. The Manitou is much more of a true kayak than other entry level boats. It is fast with good tracking for its length. It leans well and carves into turns and is stable without being stodgy. While I look forward to a bigger boat sometime in the future (Elaho?), I am thrilled to be starting our family's kayak education with a Manitou.
Prior to taking delivery, I was a little concerned about the cockpit size - literature states 16.25" wide. Being 6' and 195 pounds, I had visions of shoehorning myself into the boat. Worse yet were the thoughts of dying a slow, agonizing death as I squirmed around in an inverted kayak. Thankfully, my concerns were totally unfounded. The cockpit size is really very comfortable and a nice balance - provides protection from spray while still offering enough room to move around a bit. Perfect. High back seat with ratchet support adjustments makes for a comfortable ride for sure.
Stability is as other have written - very good initial stability - inspiring confidence for us new paddlers. Tracking is very good for a kayak with such reasonable length (~13')- not sure how the design enables this, but it works well. Kudos to Necky design team.
Manitou paddles very easily - I don't have much to compare with, but I took my GPS out with me on the lake to see what I could do. Easily maintained 3.5-3.8 mph and with a little extra pace, kept the hull moving along at over 4 mph. Max speed - wasn't able to drive the boat over 6 mph on the lake, but that was less a reflection of the of the boat's design and more related to my physical design.
After completing my "sprint" and regaining the feeling in my arms, I hopped out of the boat and easily loaded it into my truck. Fantastically light and easy to handle. Again, perfect.
The good far outweighs the bad, but I have noticed some negatives during my short stint with my Manitou - know that I don't have much experience with other kayaks and may no tbe being completely fair.
The bow floatation appears to be a rectangular chunk of low density foam which easily sheds when kicked lightly or nicked with paddle during transport. Thinking this block of foam will need replacement or additional floatation purchased sometime within a year or so. Not sure if this is similar to other kayaks in this price range, but I would think it could be improved. Second observation, the hatch is a sealed bulkhead with a neoprene cover stretched over the access port and a lightweight plastic cover over the neoprene. This would explain the water "resistant" nomenclature used by Necky - not sure if the rubber (Old Town style) hatch covers are better, but these could easily leak in my opinion. As with many kayaks that clain waterproof, a dry bag probably makes sense.
Other than those two (what I consider minor) complaints, I think that the Necky Manitou is a FABULOUS boat and I look forward to many more trips to the lake and Delaware River before old man winter closes the door on the 2004 season.
Now for the nitty-gritty- We've had the Manitou's on big, slow rivers, sometimes going up river and against the wind and the low profile/high draft made challenging conditions a peice of cake. I've gone through tight, swampy areas and the 12'10.5" is incredibly nimble and manueverable. We've also taken the Manitou's out on Long Island Sound which is a wavy 15 mile wide inlet from the Atlantic Ocean and they handled the small waves with ease. Our first fast river experience (very little white water, but some swift sections) was really fun and the Manitou's felt very stable. In all conditions, the Neckys track fast and straight as an arrow when cruising and turns quickly just by thinking left or right.
These are our first kayaks, so we don't have much to compare, but we give the Necky Manitou four thumbs up. Every experience we've had with them has been fun and enjoyable.
Stability is excellent. Good initial stability. Performing some braces showed up a comforting secondary stability. I felt very stable in this boat. Seat is exceptionally comfortable. Very cushy; I could sit in it all day. The high back is nice. Although I do wonder if its height might cause difficulties getting back in after a wet exit (not that I tried! . Very comfortable. Foam padding for knee bracing is also in just the right spots.
This boat tracks like it's on rails. I was paddling it in light winds and light swells, and it just pointed straight ahead. Neither the breeze nor the small swells moved it around at all. Super easy to keep it on heading. The hull is suprisingly fast. I had no problem moving it along at 6 or 6.5 km/h (according to the GPS). It was very quick for a boat of its dimensions. Turning was no problem. Lean it over, or use your paddle as a rudder, and around she goes. It tracks very well, but that didn't seem to really get in the way of turning when need be.
Beyond all that, it has some nice other features. The rear hatch with bulkhead is nice. A block of foam in the bow gives you confidence it'll float properly in case of a wet exit. Bungy cords on both front and rear decks, and perimeter lines as well. Someone was thinking when they designed this boat. And at 45 pounds I can easily cartop it.
I really can't fault this boat. It was a delight to paddle, and it's set a very high standard for the remaining boats on my "demo list" to attempt to meet.
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