Research Kayaks in the Buyers' Guide!
Select Kayak to View in Buyers' Guide
I am very pleased that I did my research and I believe chose the ideal boat. I am 5'3" and 120 lbs., so the cockpit is a good size and love those thigh braces.
Before buying it I noted someone complained that getting back into the kayak after it flipped is hard because of the seat back being too high. I recently practiced this and after admittedly failing on the first 4 attempts I was able to comfortably get back in the kayak despite the seat on the 5th and all subsequent tries without using a paddle float. So the seat is not a safety issue and it is amazingly comfortable. To be honest, the main reason I bought this kayak is because it is SO comfortable.
The only negatives about the kayak are that the hatches are not water tight if you roll the kayak. A roll will likely result in a significant amount of water in the hatch. Also, the skeg box and cable in the rear hatch take up a lot of room which can be irritating it you need to pack gear for a multi day trip. I much prefer the skeg to a rudder though but I feel like it could have been designed to use less space in the hatch.
I am not sure that the seat back was adjusted properly and so it was a bit uncomfortable. I am not sure that it will adjust any tighter for more support. Other than that, I really like it a lot and can't wait to give it a really good workout.
I still enjoy this kayak and have decided to purchase a replacement seat and backband that Necky has on their website, to the tune of about $130.00, but it will be worth it. Even though it's inconvenient, I will still enjoy my Manitou 14.
My wife has a brand new Manitou 14 and mine is more than two years old. (Her Old Town Cayuga 13 was stolen during the past summer. Bummer!) We had few problems with either kayak. Necky has made a major design improvement on the hatch covers. They used (mine) to be a pain in stretching the neoprene inner cover to secure the hatch. Now...it's easy (hers). Nice going Necky! However, prepare for a little leaking in the rear hatch of either model. So...just make sure to use dry bags. The skeg plays a role in this. I personally love the skeg, as does my wife, who chose the Necky because it does have a skeg and keeps the Manitou on track in high winds. But...it takes up hatch space. And...when I recovered my kayak at the end of the trip from the shuttle operator , guess what? The skeg was gone! Yikes! Somehow through dragging on the sand or getting caught on rocks in some the of the lower water rapids (class one) it must have broken off. So, I'll call Necky next week and find out what can be done.
Otherwise, I love this kayak as it's a good all around kayak. Now that we have used it for small and large rivers, streams, and lakes, we will take it to B.C. next year and kayak the ocean bays. Also...we carried 10 days of food and camping stuff, took along a MSR water filter for drinking water. This kayak carries an amazing amount of camping equipment including a small tent. A bit like backpacking on the water. Two hatches are very, very important if thinking of camping with a kayak.
I give the Necky Manitou 14 a thumbs-up and recommend it strongly. (Personally I was disappointed to learn they moved their operation from the Northwest to Old Town, Maine.) It seems that when a larger company buys out a smaller one such as Necky or Old Town by Johnson Outdoor Products, there is a lot of enthusiasm lost in the process. Old Town factory in Old Town, Maine, is a shell of what it once was and their spirits (IMHO) have dropped significantly. My motto...keep it small and personal! But it's better than building kayaks in China. So a strong salute to Necky and Old Town!!!
Like others have said, it's quick but only to a certain point, you can paddle harder but it won't go any faster! I hardly use the skeg but packing the rear hatch is more difficult because of the room the skeg box and cable take up. I've used other 14 ft boats that had bigger rear hatches and room to store a second paddle in which is nice on trips; with this kayak, it won't fit - I put it on top.
The only other thing I've noticed is the skeg box drops down at the back, so if you slide over river logs, the skeg box will catch it at the back instead of sliding over smoothly. If I drag it across sand the skeg box will dig in, so I drag it backwards.
In the last 4 years, I've owned 6 kayaks. What I've found through experience is that for the conditions out here, what is required is a kayak with a large enough cockpit for easy entry and exit so I can launch the boat and literally jump aboard before the next wave swamps me or throws the kayak back onto the onshore rocks. Tricky! When coming back to shore, essential to be able to climb out quickly as soon as I get into the shallows before the kayak bottoms out on the rock bottom. When the wind blows out here (which is most of the time) the waves build and usually what we get is a chop. Steady winds also beget some goodly swells. Depending on the wind direction, we also can get some good size waves breaking both offshore and onshore. So, these conditions call for a kayak which will handle both big waves and short chop equally well while retaining good stability, whether heading into them head on, quartering or broadside, or having them pushing you along from dead astern. Another prerequisite is a kayak that tracks well in all the above conditions without need of a lot of correcting and thus tiring strokes of the paddle.
I'm not into rolling kayaks. If I want to get wet, I'll put on a bathing suit and go for a swim. My reason for being in a kayak is the same as it was for being in a canoe, the experience of being on the water (and not in it!). At my age (67 fast going on 68) with a bad back and knees that have seen better days, comfort is a big factor. So is ease of paddling because I just can't push a paddle like I used to 30 years ago. Those days when I could paddle full tilt for 14 hours a day are but a fast-fading memory...
Admittedly, I haven't had the opportunity to try out every kayak on the market but thanks to the internet, have managed to read specs and reviews of many boats. After hours and hours of research, I decided that the Necky Manitou just might be the boat to fulfill all my needs and so I started searching "for sale" ads on Kijiji and Craigslist hoping to find one at a reasonable price. As luck would have it, I found one a little over a week ago and bought it, Best deal I've ever made! This boat meets all the criteria outlined above in spades and as an added bonus, looks real good, like a "real" sea kayak. What more could a man ask for?
Very, VERY efficient hull design. Glides through water with minimal resistance (parasitic drag). Very comfortable seating position/composite seat. Surprisingly so, to be more specific.
Dry bay stays mostly dry (few drops of water) even after complete submergence of the dry bay. I was surprised with this little fact.
All in all, I love this kayak. I would, however, exchange this for a pure carbon fiber kayak ($5k) as an even exchange, but that is pretty unlikely
One thing I don't like is the seat. I hate it. I first removed the back cushion and rigged the nylon strapping to where it would still support the seat back. A whole lot more comfy. The plastic that's under the cushion has a nice flex to it while still being firm. I still hate how bulky the seat bottom is and will eventually figure something else out for it. This is the 2008 version. It looks like they've done some work on the seat for 2010. Another note is that the hatch covers are not hard to put back on. you just have to roll them up and then roll them on.
I would recommend this kayak to anyone who is just beginning and wants something a little more serious to grow into. I myself am going to sell this and stick to poling my canoe. This is a roomy kayak and I am just 5'8" and still feel cramped. legs and lower body falling a sleep for hours is not good for you at all. Next time I want a small boat with speed and beautiful handling characteristics I'll get a solo canoe. that way I can sit and kneel; a lot more ergonomic. Just some food for thought for those considering a kayak.
The Necky 14 tracks very well, especially with the skeg in high winds (better than the Cayuga 13 which has no skeg). It turns well for a boat of this size, better without the skeg in use. The Cayuga at 13 feet turns faster and easier, which is what I would expect. The Necky cuts through the waves, especially when laden with extra gear in the bow and stern...fun on the large lakes when wind comes up.
I find it takes more effort to go from medium speed to higher speed with the Necky as compared to the Cayuga 13. The Cayuga is more stable with a wider cockpit but that's no big deal as both are very comfortable. Since I use my Necky for fishing as well as paddling (mostly), I have stayed in the boat up to four hours at a time. So, in summary, the Necky 14 is a great boat, especially for the money (sale with REI).
To be honest, if I had one kayak to buy for doing everything (streams, rivers, and coastal bays), I would choose the Old Town Cayuga 13 because it is sooooo easy to paddle, very stable, extremely comfortable, and moves out easily. In the future, I will demo the Tsunami 14 and make a comparison. I've heard many good things about that boat as well. We are on our way to the Oregon coast for the month (with RV) to try out the coastal bays and lakes there. What we are finding as long time canoers but recently converted kayakers, is that it would be nice to have two types of kayaks: one like the Cayuga 13 for smaller bodies of water (streams, rivers, and lakes) and another larger kayak about 17 feet that does well in the ocean bays, large lakes, and open ocean.
Overall very pleased, and will soon take basic courses to improve my enjoyment.
The composite boat weighs only 42 pounds and that makes it really easy to carry. It is a very stable boat and tracks well in most conditions. I like the skeg, since it is out of the way until you use it, unlike a rudder. I engage the skeg about half way down in strong following seas or confused seas and makes going straight easy in these conditions.
While it is easy to paddle at its cruising speed of about 3 MPH, it takes a lot of effort to step it up to 4 MPH. It is also not very good in strong headwinds. Because of the design of the chines, it is hard to edge and get a quick turn. That can be a pain in the twisty bayous of the Houston Bay area. The seat is hard plastic and is a true pain in the butt. I am adding a foam seat pad recommended by Necky and will see if this helps.
The seat back is a band, which is great for me with my bad back. I make sure it is in my lumbar region and I am fine. I thought I would miss having a full seat back, but I was surprised at the comfort. Because the back band is lower than the coaming, it makes it easier to put the spray skirt on than the extrasport seat back on other Manitous.
I do not know how to roll, but took classes in rescue, having the boat upside down many times. The hatches allowed a small amount of water, but with dry bags, you should be OK.
All in all, this boat is a well made, stable, light, but not real fast or easy to turn kayak.
They track exceptionally well. I only find the skeg to be necessary if the wind comes up. That said, turning just requires proper paddling technique (which I'll admit I'm still learning). And it is light enough for those smaller of us to easily manage out of the water too. It's also not a bad fishing platform, and I intend to add rod holders to mine soon. Not so sure on the watertightness of the Neoprene Hatch covers as others have said... I practiced rolling mine, and had it upside down for several minutes... while there wasn't a pile of water in the fore and aft hatches, there was certainly enough to soak your gear.. dry bags are probably a good idea! Foot Peg system is easy to operate and seems much sturdier than others I've looked at. The ExtraSport seat is really very comfortable, but you HAVE TO adjust it right, or it will totally suck. BTW, attempting to figure this out for the 1st time WHILE on the water has a high likelihood of NOT going or ending well...
I only give it an 8 because I've not tried any similar craft to compare. (Just my Dirigo Tandem plus and Manitou II Tandem.. and those are barges in comparison!)
Can you roll her? yes you can, seat doesn't allow you to go all the way on your back but she snaps right back up anyhow, re-entry requires a bit of toiling & moiling for you to get the drill. didn't find any water in the hatches & just a bit of it in the cockpit.
Excellent tracking, good stability both primary & secondary, good pace to cover some distances, all packed out in a very stylish craft. I don't agree with her being sluggish to turn, proper paddle strokes get her to turn fairly easy.
Happy as a clam with this girl and the color conceals a lot!
All in all a very good boat for someone who wants to flirt with sea kayaking without hitting the really big water.
Other than that, on calm weather it glides and tracts like a dream. I find the seat and thigh braces very comfortable, though I can see how some may not like it, it has a larger then most kayak seats out there. The skeg seems okay but you do lose a bit of space in the rear hatch. However, if you pack right it should be okay. I like the skeg slider it's nice and easy to use. The weight, for a poly boat is quite reasonable. Oh and the price is great, if you can go for the recycled, the color sucks but you get the Manitou 14 Select for a cheaper price.
I suggest that you go to a dealer where you can demo, everybody's different and you may not like the Manitou or you may love it. Find the boat you love and keep on kayaking!
Most of my paddling is done on day trips lasting 10-20 miles and 4-6 hours in length. The boat has been great in waves and chop up to 3 feet and tracks extremely well. I have not tried to roll it, but normally I don't wear a spray skirt.
The cons associated with this boat are: Hatches are difficult to attach (but have never leaked), foot pegs are small, and knee braces are pretty much non-existent (corrected on new models). I would recommend this kayak to anyone wanting to upgrade from a starter boat. It is forgiving to inexperienced paddlers, but has enough performance features to keep up with a developing paddler's skills.
However in self-rescue situations the high seat back can be a bit annoying so try and stay in the boat, if you turn turtle then carry a paddle float or use cowboy scramble method of re-entry. Solo re-entry can be tricky in heavy seas and the seat complicates things. However on long trips it more then makes up for it. Comfort at my age is everything.
I cannot recommend this boat enough though, it's a great work horse, stable, reliable, strong and relatively light so I can get it on and off the car solo.
Pros: Tracks well, relatively stable without being a barge. plenty of storage, very durable. Fast boot, can take moderate waves.
Cons: Skag knob doesn't always stay in position. I've hit my hand on it a couple of times (mentioned in another review), foot pegs could be a little more comfortable (they are small bars, that after a long trip eat into your foot.)
The hatches are really only accessible on land. Anything I want to get to is on the deck. Getting the neoprene covers is not easy either.
Good points are that it's a fast boat, and tracks incredibly well. I had it out in very windy conditions, and could go at 45 degrees into the wind without getting off course. Not a very maneuverable boat though for the same reason. I had planned to take it on rivers when I bought it, but there's no way this boat would be responsive enough to avoid trouble.
If you're going to be on the ocean or a lake, have a low paddle style, and are only doing day trips, this is the boat for you. After I grind off that knob I'll change my score to 8 or 9.
This is a very good boat. I am very happy with it. It's a great boat and you wouldn't regret having it in your fleet. I picked it up after RAPIDLY outgrowing a VERY cheap and VERY beginner's rec kayak. See, that's the thing about kayaks when you are starting out (I'm in my second year)--if you are addicted to the sport (like me) and you go out a lot (again, like myself), you can outgrow your boat. Well I had my Manitou out for almost a year twice a week and loved every minute of it. It's a poly boat so it is tough as nails. The cockpit is wonderfully comfortable and spacious so it's great on hot Florida days when you want to put your legs out on the fore deck and sunbathe or paddle it like a sit-on-top (!). I've also had it out in 2 foot storm chop and 3 foot ocean swells (I admit it-- I got rolled/dumped -- BUT I LEARNED HOW TO WET ENTRY AND PUMP HER OUT!).
It is a very stable boat with excellent handling characteristics. Good for cruising and hard core paddling alike. Then I got my 17 foot sea kayak and left the poor thing in the garage for almost 8 months. THEN my sea kayak developed a leak around the skeg box (very typical and no biggie). So after my re-sealing and repair I needed to let it cure. Long story shorter: I paddled my Necky Manitou 14 for a while again while the sea yak was healing. I missed the Manitou. When you look in the aft hatch and see the simple but nearly-impossible to go wrong skeg box (molded as part of the hull) you can see that it is doubtful IT will leak.
Bottom line, it is always good to have more than one kayak and I would never sell my Manitou 14. A good solid stable friend that always provides a nice paddle.
The Gannet tracked straight as long as I had the skeg down. The Manitou tracks like a train with or without the skeg which I use mostly now to counter wind effect. The boat moves beautifully in flat water but has also handled some significant chop and confused seas on Tampa Bay. It has a good turn of speed and allows one to cover ground quickly with a minimum of effort.
I like the seat for comfort and the drink holder but the seat adjustment straps seem needlessly complicated. The skeg that retracts into the hull is an improvement over the Gannet skeg that was hung off the stern. I do day trips so the hatches have not been of much use to me but I like having them.
In all this is a fine boat for its intended purpose of day touring and rec kayaking. It's a "9" only because so few things are perfect.
The speed has also been more than satisfactory. I don’t have great form and can cruise at 3.5 knots without much effort over 8-10 miles. The cockpit is roomy and the seat is very comfortable. The drawbacks are minimal. It would be nice if a hatch were readily reachable while underway like the Tsunami 14.5, which I also considered. The second time I removed the front hatch cover, the neoprene started to de-laminate. Necky customer service was phenomenal and sent a new one asap with no questions asked.
Overall, a great boat that I would highly recommend.
I would also highly recommend www.mountainmanoutdoors.com. Great product knowledge, customer service and the best price I could find anywhere.
The seat is very comfortable, but the seat back is too reclined and too tall for me personally. Maybe because I'm short, but it hits the back of my pfd. I like to paddle sitting upright and don't lean against the back too much, though as the day goes by and I get tired, the seat's reclined position is kind of nice then. There is a bit of fumbling for the seat adjustments when trying to find the right strap to adjust. There are little hooks on the end of the seat straps to hook them out of the way, but one hook nearly caught in my pfd straps one time. All that being said, once you're familiar with the system and everything is adjusted, it is a comfortable kayak.
The cockpit is rather wide and tall for me, a short paddler. I can barely get my knees up into the bracing (which are just little pads glued under the cockpit area). Someone taller or with longer legs might not have a problem with the cockpit area. I think real thigh braces would be a nice addition to this kayak. (Necky says they can be added.)
Selecting a kayak was very easy: I am 6'7" (2m) tall with a 36" inseam and this was the one that fit me best. The seat is very comfortable and the yak tracks great, is fast and very stable. Being a near-beginner I fully expected to flip this 24" kayak on my first trip, but in spite of 2' waves I still haven't made my first dump. I'm sure it will happen someday though...
In case Necky or any other manufacturers are listening, here is my improvement list:
- a waterproof "glovebox", i.e. a small compartment for keys, wallet, permits etc. I cannot believe no kayak has this!
- longer or moveable tracks for the footbraces. When a boat is 14' long there should be no reason that a 7' person would not fit.
It's a great, great boat - tracks really well, and handles the choppy water that we get here really well. I seem to be able to paddle past most people without working too hard - the cruise speed is definitely higher than the 13 etc and the Perception boats which I also tried.
I'm 6 ft. and I find I am just about nearing upper limit for the foot bars - any taller and I think it would be a squeeze - that said, my 6'5" mate had a go and managed to sort it...
Very smart machine.
I've also ventured out into the ocean with my Kayak for the first time. THAT was an experience. The boats length does make it want to turn parallel with the surf and I found that to be how shall we say, undesirable? Short of that and as long as you maintain a perpendicular orientation to the waves while heading out, you will poke through and get past the surf zone. Having only paddled wide rivers (1/2 -1 mile wide) the ocean swells took me some getting used to. All in all, it was very exhilarating and I think I've made an addict of myself. If this kayak is considered tippy by some, then I've been getting some good balance training. I don't have many kayaks to compare this against but so far it has performed exactly as it was designed to. The only thing I would change is possibly more storage but that's it.
If you want a recreational boat get a old town loon 138 what a gem of a boat I might still buy one as a second boat for my gf or for someone to go along with me. If you want a step up with some performance get a manitou.
120,000+ people can't be wrong!
The Paddling.net Newsletter is a must if you like to canoe or kayak! Each week it is packed with great articles, photos, product reviews, and special features. Better yet, we promise not to sell your email address to anyone; that's right ZERO spam! Sign up today and find out what you've been missing!