I canít say enough about this little kayak; itís by far the favorite to paddle in our rental fleet. Itís fast, tracks strait, very maneuverable, and easy for beginners to hop in and start paddling. I consider it my SUV of kayaks, carrying extra camping equipment, a small child, or family pet (95lbs Lab-St. Bernard mix) is no trouble at all. Its large, open cockpit eliminates the fear some have of being stuck inside if they roll. Many of the people looking for sit-on-top kayaks have come back to me and said how much they enjoyed the ride and stability, much more than their previous SOT experience.
The only two drawbacks I see in this kayak are:
First, a lack of security lock point, second, its made to move, the faster you paddle the more comfortable it gets. Overall, the workmanship and quality are great.
If you are looking for perfectly smooth surface and perfect appearance, go spend 2500 to 4000 for a glass or Kevlar boat, but you wonít have nearly the fun in the water as with this kayak.I bought the Iqaluit as my first boat. I am 5'10" and 160lbs. I found this boat quite manageable for my first few trips and rather enjoyed its initial stability and speed. You will get very wet without a skirt when using this boat. However, due to the size of the cockpit, the skirt is also large and after paddling for about 15 minutes, you will lend up with a rather large puddle sloshing around on the skirt. I recommend the Seal Spray Deck if you are going to use this kayak.
Anyhow the seat is very comfortable but if you use the inflatable backrest, you will have to adjust it every so often. The rear storage compartment is mostly watertight but I would recommend you use dry bags for any gear.
Paddling in open water is risky business, this boat is suited for wet exits only and takes on a lot of water very quickly once tipped (poor secondary stability). If you plan on paddling on anything other than flatwater, bring a bilge pump and paddle float or you will have a long swim ahead of you.
In summary, it's a great, inexpensive, beginner boat but plan on trading it in if you decide to stick to paddling. That said, if you have the money to but a better boat, don't buy the Iqaluit. The plastics are inferior to what you will see in the bigger brands. I noticed some buckling and bulging in my hull in the first few months. The boat always tracked to the left regardless of who was paddling it due to a large divot which formed on the bottom of the hull. (My boat was stored properly indoors on kayak holders and transported car top on its side in a Yakima rack. - there was no reason for the defect to form.)
If you go to a store that carries Clearwater boats, take a moment to run your hand along the ridge of the cockpit. You will notice that it has a very rough finish. Now compare that to something by Riot, Wilderness Systems or Perception where you will find smooth finished plastics. For the extra $150, buy the better boat.First kayak, intermediate paddler (canoeing, overnights, whitewater) Bought w/out a demo (I know I know) based on specs, from Joe Signs Equipment on eBay, a great experience. Other kayaks demoed:
Otter, Pungo 120, Perception Swifty, Wilderness Tsunami 140, Squamish 15,Hurrican Aqua Sports Tampico 135L and 135S. My next (dream kayak) will be the Tampico 135S but that's another review and an extra $1000 ;-)
Why I chose the Iqaluit: for small paddlers (I'm 5'4" 115 lbs, female size 6 shoe) not so wide or tubby as some of the other intro rec boats. At 46# I can cartop it myself. Five year warranty on a triple layer hull. At just under 12 feet it stores nicely in my small condo yard & can fit inside come winter. At this price the adjustable footpads, sealed rear bulkhead (still bone dry) & for and aft deck riggings cinched it, as did the remarkable amount of storage. Can easily overnight this w. a 2 person tent, bag, food, ministove, etc. I added front floatation just to be safe & still have plenty of room.
Now for the test - after 8 hours of actual paddling: the long bottlenosed dolphin prow cuts the water silently without splash over the bow, unlike, say, the Dagger Zydeco which I almost got. That with the extreme primary stability makes it great for photogs. From a dead stop to 8 strokes I can generate four wake lines at the prow. Moves much faster than I thought, other rec kayakers just stared and a few small engine boatowners out panfishing were intrigued what with the price of gas and all. The Iqaluit moves & tracks well owing to the widest part being behind the paddler, different shape entirely than the bigger Inuvik. Turns, backs up on a dime. At 11'8" you can explore well branched shorelines, narrow creeks and river channels. On a medium sized lake w. boats it handles chop very well using proper technique. Footpegs adjust very easily on land or out there which is important if you need to change position slightly. Coaming smooth topside & above, nice on the legs. And the adjustable seat w. the inflatable lumbar pad is *way* better than kayaks at twice the price! My back and butt thank Clearwater Design for this innovation!
This is not for whitewater, it'll not roll,too wide for that at 28 inches. It'll do anything else for a novice kayaker looking for a few features over basic & a little more zip than the pumpkinseeds. Plus, at $473 shipped I could get two excellent paddles,(Sawyer Orca & Bending Branches fiberglass Infusion) a removable cartop system, half skirt by Paddle Stuff,kayak cart for those long portages or when I am lazy, two NRS dry bags, a Pelican Box and a quality Class III PFD by Liquid Force (the Venus, which I highly recommend to kayaking women). I give it a 9 cuz I wish it were narrower so I could foam fill & brace it. But for what it is and what it's designed for,it's kickass. Vive les Canadiens!