After owning three other kayaks, and paddling even more, I have finally found the perfect kayak for me, the Swift Saranac 14 Hybrid Fusion! This kayak meets all of my needs.
I first found Swift kayaks when looking for a light-weight kayak that I could transport on my own. At 5'5" tall, with a damaged neck, weight and portability were my first priority. I can easily load and unload this kayak from my car and carry it to the shore or dock.
The Saranac 14 turned out to be a great fit physically as well. The seat is comfortable and the cockpit is designed with plenty of room for entry and exit, but not too high for hours of paddling. My typical trip is about 3-4 hours, with occasional day-long trips. The padded, adjustable seat and foot peddles allow to go on comfortably as long as I wish.
I have taken the Saranac on large and small lakes and tidal rivers as well as coastal ocean waterways, frequently in changing winds. In light winds and/or small swells, she handles well as is. In heavier winds, larger swells, or strong currents I find that she immediately tracks well with the skeg down. I have taken her out in some true waves just for fun and found her to be quite stable. In fact, in a recent rescue class I found it rather difficult to get her to actually tip, and much more stable than the other boat we were using in the class, making assisting with rescues much easier.
I was initially concerned about the durability of the boat and the finish with the number of shore landings I do and the rocky nature of the New England coast and lakes. Now, after paddling this boat frequently for the past 3 months, she does have a couple of light scrapes in the outside finish only, and none that appear to affect the function or durability of the boat.
I cannot imagine a more suitable boat for flexible use for light touring, coastal excursions, meandering along a river, and independence! Thanks to David Yost for designing this kayak, and for Bill Swift and Company for manufacturing it! I love my kayak! I can't wait for my next outing!I Love This Boat!
As an avid paddler for the past 10 years, I finally saved enough money to buy the kayak of my dreams. I test paddled many, many boats at dealers and paddlefests before deciding on the Swift Saranac 14 in carbon fusion.
My prior boat was very heavy, so weight was a main concern. I also wanted a boat that would work well on lakes and rivers, but also short enough to explore smaller streams. 14 feet in length and about 33 pounds fit the bill perfectly.
This boat is a pleasure to paddle. It gets plenty of glide so it can be great for a leisurely trip. But on those days when I want to race across a lake, the Saranac is fast and responsive. It will carve turns sharply, although I had to get used to the initial rockiness. Secondary stability is good and the seat is extremely comfortable.
I've paddled it in heavy winds, from many directions and with 3' swells, and in waters surrounded by many power boats with wakes creating "confused waters". The boat handled everything that came our way with ease. Since having a skeg is new to me I often forget to drop it, but when I do she stabilizes beautifully. Tracking is great, and waves and wakes handle with ease.
I am only 5'3" and weigh over 200 pounds. This boat fits me well, since the sides of the cockpit are lower so I don't feel like I am sitting in a hole and I don't bang my knuckles on each stroke. The hatches are very roomy and comfortably fit all my gear for a 3-day trip.
I did have a problem with the boat initially (hairline crack in the skeg box that leaked) but Bill Swift took care of it. His customer service was wonderful and he made several trips between his factory and where I live near Albany NY until I was completely satisfied.
On the downside, when you have a boat that is expensive you worry about it more. I saved my money for a long time to buy this kayak and so I have also invested in a good cable lock for it. The carbon fusion is strong, but if I go on a trip where I am apt to cross a beaver dam I take my plastic boat. The carbon fusion construction requires a little bit of TLC...but I am so happy with this kayak that I am happy to provide the extra care!In many ways, this is a terrific boat. It is lightweight, good-looking, and handles nicely in flat water. In waves and surf, however, the boat almost seems too light, becoming harder to handle and bobbing around (tracking is not what it could be, though perhaps a rudder would help?).
Furthermore, for a $2500(+) boat, the manufacturing is sketchy. For one thing, the bulkheads leak, which means that dry clothes, gear, and food become wet very quickly. In addition, the material is rough and unfinished, showing raw edges on the hull and cockpit, the latter of which actually scratch the skin of the paddler (a very irritating little problem).
Unfortunately, Swift isn't stellar in terms of customer service either, and concerns about these issues are received with hostility rather than interest in satisfying customers.
Overall, this is a company with good potential, but apparently slip-shod practices.