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Bottom line: a great beginner kayak!
The seat is comfortable, changing seat and foot pegs while moving on the water is easy and fast. I take it out on large lakes and slow rivers 2-3 times a week. I've taken it out on windy days when there is 1-2 foot waves and it handles itself well though does get pushed around a bit. This is a great kayak and I would recommend it to anyone. If it helps I'm 5'6" and 145lbs.
I transport my kayak with a THULE Glide and set kayak carrier and have never had any problems. I've gone down the highway at 65 mph and never feared loosing the kayak (only down side, no way to lock the carrier or kayak).
This kayak has some nice features for the low price such as the comfortable seat and the bungees. The weaknesses of this kayak for me are the weak initial stability, only one storage area (though large) and lack of a bottle holder. Also, the cockpit edge is sharp, not rounded smooth, so you need a towel on your shoulder for carrying.
The boat is 38lbs and 24" wide and a perfect fit for me at 5'5", 26 years old, and 135lbs. I can carry it decent distances easily and I can lift it above my head. The proportions and lines on the boat are nice and itís a very "pretty" boat. My fiance is jealous.
I got the deluxe package with paddle and cockpit cover. DEFINITELY worth the extra $50. The paddle is a $40 paddle and the quality is equivalent to a $50-80 paddle at your local kayak shop. The cover is made by Harmony and fits perfectly, although a little too tight at first. The hatch cover is difficult but gets easier in the sun.
Tracking: almost perfectly straight. I can paddle as fast as I can and the nose barely moves more than an inch or so left or right. The keel in the rear keeps it straight but makes turning a little more difficult than in my fianceís Dagger Blackwater 12.0. You can still turn around within an extra 2-3' of the boat.
Stability: this is not the most stable boat. I am just moving from canoeing to kayaking but grew up on the water and I think I have great "sea legs". I haven't turned it over, but almost did a couple of times. It's definitely a light touring boat instead of recreational in that it doesn't have that extra flat area that keeps you from rolling a little bit. I plan on rolling it on purpose when it warms up some. If you are a beginner or the least bit uncomfortable/unstable on the water, I would consider something else.
Seating: The Zone seat is great. Itís super adjustable, easy to adjust on the go, and the back part moves up and down. Itís a very comfortable seat even with the minimal padding (actual ergonomic fit versus just squishy, kind of like Toyota versus Ford seats). It would be nice to have some thigh supports for long trips.
Leaks: so far so good. The drains/gutters move the water away from the cockpit and hatch very well. I havenít noticed any leaking screws and the hatch seals well.
Summary: This is a great boat for women or experienced teens. This plus LL Beanís amazing customer service and unrestricted return policy make this a perfect fit for me knowing that if anything goes wrong I can just send it back, no questions asked. You donít get that with any other kayak dealer as far as I know.
A++++ would buy again
First problem, it was advertised as having adjustable thigh braces, but in fact it has none at all. May or may not be a big deal for some people, but it was at best misrepresented. (This has now been changed on the llbean.com website, probably in response to my wife's complaint)
Second problem, it does not track well at all. The thing is just all over the place. I tried paddling it, too, and had the same problem, so it's not just my wife. She can paddle my Carolina straight as an arrow.
On the plus side, it does seem pretty stable, even for me at 5'11" and >200lb. However there are probably many better choices for a smaller paddler, which is the target. My wife may go with the smaller Carolina, or similiar boat.
Some have guessed that this is a re-branded Acadia. I'm not sure about that, but it is made by Perception. In addition to the LLBean logos, it has the Perception logo on the seat and hatch cover, etc.
Since this boat is exclusive to L.L.Bean, you can't go into your local kayak shop and look at it or demo it, so you just have to order it and hope that it works for you. It didn't work for us.
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