Research Kayaks in the Buyers' Guide!
Select Kayak to View in Buyers' Guide
Mine is orange. I love the fact that it was fabricated from recycled plastic and also the opening is large enough that I don't feel I would be stuck if I flipped over. 12.5 ft in length and a 24 in. wide cockpit. The storage is great and the adjustable foot pedals allow for the best positioning and leverage while paddling. The Vista also does not tip as easily as other brands when entering and exiting. The seat is a little uncomfortable. I bought a cushion and it works fine. Awesome kayak. I will not be upgrading as this model is perfect for me.
PROS: It is a highly maneuverable boat. It turns on a dime, but is stable enough to handle significant current, wake, and waves for the experienced paddler. The Walden is INCREDIBLY LIGHT - I had no problem picking up the boat after paddling over 20 miles, which really says something because loading a canoe or kayak on the car after a trip is usually a burden for me. The boat is spacious enough (I'm 6' ~185lbs) and I don't feel cramped in it. The seat is moderately comfortable, but I found myself slouching a bit so I will work to find better back support for the boat in the future. The boat is very nimble, and it moves quickly in the water. I found the Vista to be very stable (I haven't rolled yet), but I can definitely tell that as a smaller boat closer to the water it would be easier to roll than the Necky. It handled 3-4' waves in Hell's Gate off the East River quite well. I had read somewhere that the boat has a tendency to let waves roll over the front of the boat - I didn't notice that, although my boat was back heavy with gear, water, and food.
CONS: The Vista tracks OK, but it is beholden to the wind a bit. I found that in brief water/food breaks I'd have to paddle a few strokes to keep her on direction and away from tour boats. Perhaps that only matters on a congested waterway with a significant tidal current, but it was slightly inconvenient. It has a rather small storage compartment/hatch - on long trips I like to take an extra paddle, but it actually doesn't fit in the back so I have to paddle with it in the front between my feet. The interior material is also a bit rough, so I lay a towel under my calves which makes the trip more enjoyable. Comfort is important! Also, there is no convenient place to lock the kayak - in an urban area you DEFINITELY want to lock your kayak on the car, but I actually had to add a U-bolt from West Marine and drill it into the boat. It looks great, but I wish the factory had done that for me. I also had to re-seal the hatch cover and cabin separator with silicon to decrease a small bit of water leak, but that seems to have helped. I think the Walden spray skirt fit isn't great for the boat, so that may also be part of the problem. I didn't take on enough water to cause any flotation problems, but it's frankly not that enjoyable sitting in a puddle of Harlem River water either. Will still have to work on getting this kayak water tight, although again, I think it's a spray skirt issue and there is not a problem of hull integrity.
CONCLUSION: After saying all of that, I LOVE the boat, I'm completely glad I purchased it, it was able to handle a rather long trip in a comparable time as longer kayaks. I give it an 8/10 due to storage limitations (camping equipment would be tricky) and the water problem - which only bothered me because of where I was paddling and not the amount of water that got in. I’m very glad I “traded down” to a smaller boat.
As other posters have listed: Extremely light weight (my wife can lift/carry by herself) reasonably fast, excellent secondary/ultimate stability (yes, I've rolled it), footbraces can be adjusted while seated in boat, good price, recyclable (I wanna see one put through a chipper).
Drawbacks: Seat needs to be padded (easy to do yourself), plastic not as rigid or as durable as Old Town's (but it is way lighter) Compared to Old Town Castine/Castaway doesn't track as well also slower, less stowage space (though plenty for daytrips/overnights...pack light), & the soft chine (rounded) hull shape means you can't steer the boat just by rocking your hips. Also the boat can feel a little unsettled in waves, but can be surfed and responds well to a low skimming brace.
They are LIGHT...really light. The Hull material is not just a single layer of poly like my WS boats. There is a degree of insulation and sound deadening there. Not to mention they are RIGID. You can stand on them and they won't dish. They are fast. Speed is based on waterline length nt overall and they are all waterline. So a 12'6" kayak with a Greenland style bow will have a waterline length of about 11'6" as an example. The Vista cutwater is in the Aleut style and yields a true 12'6" waterline. This is why she seems so much faster than other 12 footers. She has poor initial stability which makes it possible to lean turn her. But secondary stability is good unless you get cocky and nothing a good hard brace can't fix. And she CAN be rolled. But my biggest compliment is that this IS A LIGHT TOURING KAYAK! It is NOT a REC boat. Enough with the snobbery that anything less than 14' is a rec boat. Using that logic my battleship of a yak 160T Pamlico is not a rec boat. Which is completely untrue. The Vista is a "pocket" Touring Kayak. Easy to fit on the roof rack. Carries enough for a weekend if you pack carefully. And small enough to gunk hole into the out of the way spots that a 17' Fiberglass would'nt dare to go. And everyone who has enough time off a year to go on a week long expedition with a 10 mile open water crossing please raise your hand.........yeah that's what I thought. She's the right boat for 80-90% of us. So let's stop bashing her and accept her for what she is. A fine light tourer.
-tracking is very good for a 12.5 foot boat but it is no magic, the boat has no rocker so turns are slow
-the interior of the boat is very abrasive on your feet
-hull strength is very good for a poly boat
-hatch is very cheap on the expedition and always leaks
-bulk head adhesive lets go and heavy loads will knock the bulk head loose
-glide is very good, paddles very easily, but the boat has poor top speed since it starts to generate a wake at higher speeds (what you get from a short hull)
-combing for the skirt is a joke, must be very careful on rolls or skirt will pop
-rear decking loops are molded and stick up too high, hits your elbows funny bone on sweep strokes
-foot braces slip under heavy pressure and nylon web straps stretch when wet
This may sound negative but I would not give any boat a 10 since no boat is flawless. I was a bit disappointed with this boat considering it is classified as a touring boat when I feel its more a rec. boat. With decent combing some thigh braces and a rear hatch that does not leak I would have been very impressed by this boat.
It does tend to go a little to the right at times but tracks fairly well overall. Nothing that would diminish from anyone's flatwater experience. Not sure how it would do in the ocean.
Great bang for the buck. Mine is neon green! I absolutely LOVE my Kayak!
The boat is very fast. Very fast. Tracks very well. It actually performs like a 14' boat, which I've heard others say. Because of its thinness, it might be a little tippy for some, and you are right there on the water. But it is no more tippy than a v-hulled boat, such as the Old Town.
The weight on this boat is great. Very light, easy to carry, easy to put on a car or truck. The 11 lb difference from the Adirondack was extremely noticeable.
I like this boat a lot. I will, however, check back after I've used it a lot. I commend Walden on its use of recycled materials. It was a selling point for us.
I brought it on vacation to the Atlantic coast a few weeks ago. wasn't sure how well it would handle ocean swells and stronger coastal breezes. It performed much better than I expected it to do. Weathercocking was generally not a problem, except for one mile-long paddle out to an island when the winds kicked up to "blow your cap off" levels. THAT was a slog, and keeping it going straight in predictably rough places--like near the mouths of tidal rivers--was work but not an insurmountable challenge. Paddling the Vista on the ocean probably tests its outer bounds--and i would not have hazarded it in rough weather. But I was generally very pleased with its performance.
Other big plusses: it is light and Walden plastic is sturdier than most. My boat gets a lot of use and soem abuse, but I've had no trouble with oil-canning. It is very easy to cartop, and so I don't think twice about loading it up and heading out for an evening paddle.
In sum, this is a great boat for someone looking for fun and exercise on relatively calm water. Longer, heavier boats are probably more than you need, and might prove to be an albatross around your neck.
Primary concerns as we searched out a kayak were: lightweight, narrow, poly (obviously, lots of rocks in N.E.), and storage space adequate for overniters.
Thus far, this kayak has proven to be all we hoped for. My brother got my canoe (which I had for 26 years) as we upgraded to kayaks. It paddles very easily, tracks well in the winds we have encountered so far. The light weight has proven to be the best of the choices we have made so far.
You may any of my further comments due to inexperience, but I am trying to be objective. I know everyone loves their kayak. In fact, after reading every review of 12-14 foot kayaks on this website to date twice, I thought the Vista was going to be great--my first choice, in fact. Nice hull design, insulated, light, decent price...then I paddled it.
The Vista did offer some speed, but not so much more than other yaks that it could be said to be that much faster. (What is fast, anyway? Has anyone timed their speed between two points? If you do, please say so, otherwise "fast" is subjective). My biggest complaint was initial stability. This beautiful kayak felt like a surfboard balanced on a bowling ball. No, I did not tip it, take any water, or capsize; didn't even come close. On the other hand, I didn't plan on swimming back to shore and dumping out water on demo day, either, so the boat kept me honest...when I didn't want to be honest. Scary, but I thought the Scout was just as fast, and more stable--and I'm not in the market for a Scout, either. I had no problem with the cockpit design. The seat could have been better as offered, but if you spend that much time with your own kayak, modification to fit you perfectly really should be standard, so that's really not Walden's fault. A salesman did say I would hear less hull noise due to the Vista's design; I really didn't find this true. I do regret this review of the Vista, because I had its sights set high.
The only dislike I have is in the foot room department. I am 5'10" at 175 lbs. My size 8.5 foot barely fits with my toes touching the underside of the deck. I wouldn't recommend this boat to anyone much larger than myself. Other than that minor drawback, I am very excited to own it and can't wait to get out into bigger waters with it.
It does track very well for a 12'6' boat (we also took a Necky Zoar Sport, which is a 14 footer, and we had no problem staying together) and handles pretty well, too BUT:
The seat was fairly uncomfortable, is very thin and is mounted without any even slight elevation or lip. Any water in the boat goes right into the seat.
My son is 5'9" with big feet. I 5'8" with size 10's. My feet were barely apart, and his feet and legs started cramping up in the boat.
Also the boat seemed to get pushed around a lot more in the wind than the Necky.
Overall, you get what you pay for: you sacrifice some comfort to get better tracking, but this is still an entry level boat that is not good for people with big feet. The seat was not very comfortable.
I am an entry level kayaker, have been canoeing forever. This is something you can grow with and have for a long time... Handles well in rivers and open water, great kayak for the money. Very happy, have recommended to all my friends. ENJOY, do yourself a favor and buy.
I went to a local kayak retailer that advertised a sale. Luckily I talked to a salesman who was also a kayak instructor. After asking him a few questions (drilling him on info I read out of magazines) - he seemed like he knew exactly what he was talking about. He then told me about the Vista. First he told me it was a 12-1/2 ft. kayak that had the speed of a 15 footer. (The longer the kayak - the faster!) I thought ok. Then he told me it was very stable, and very easy to maneuver. He also told me this was a good kayak for the beginner to the expert level. I thought ok! He also told me that this kayak was virtually "unsinkable" even when filled with water. Later I find this to be true with mostly all kayaks.
Last but not least, he told me the Vista is the kayak they use to teach their lessons in. I then tried on the Vista sitting on the floor and it was comfortable. Two other good selling points of this kayak is it is made with the use of recycled polyethylene (fancy word for plastic) - which makes it environment friendly, and also one of the lightest kayaks available! (41lbs.)- and the last but not least thing - It looks good! So with all this, I purchased it and so far... so... EXCELLENT!!!
As far as the speed - it's there! As far as stability - it's got that too! As far as maneuverability - turns on a dime! I'm a beginner at this kayak stuff - and it's perfect for me. I also don't see myself "growing" out of this when I get real good either. And at 41lbs. it's a breeze to carry. And I failed to mention the most appealing thing about the Vista - it's price!
One last footnote, I had a question for the Walden Paddlers e-mail team - They responded quickly and answered my question accurately. Bottom line: The Vista is an excellent product from an excellent company with an excellent team at an excellent $.
100,000+ 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!