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First, the good... the seat seems decently comfy, the footrests and hull in general seem good and sturdy. The bad, no one can get this thing to track straight! It will wander all over the lake without any wind, add wind and it's another story! It's relatively unstable as far as rolling is concerned. Her first time out our friend dumped herself just making a minor seat adjustment (wedgie). Later on I offered to swap kayaks for the rest of our paddle about an hour or so and she couldn't believe how stable they were while I paddled her kayak around in circles (not quite)!
This may make this a better whitewater boat but I wouldn't recommend this to beginners!
I have taken this on Eagle Mountain Lake Near Ft. Worth TX numerous times. It performs fine for what it is. Please do not expect 12' performance.
I have never paddled anything else so I can't compare it to another kayak. It does get water inside when I'm in small rapids without a skirt, but with the skirt on I have run class II and mild class III with no problem. I have to say it is pretty comfortable. My back and legs do begin to tire after a while...but when you are sitting in one position for over an hour or so, what can you expect?
I recently bought a WW kayak and now realize just how stable the Otter Sport is. My Otter is tough too..it fell out of the back of a pickup truck, slid down the highway, and barely had any damage. Just a small flat spot near the nose. She's been good to me for many years, so I'm going to keep her around as long as she'll stay.
Being 6'4" and 230 lbs, the cockpit of the Old Town Otter was initially hard to get into; although, the leg room was fine. So, the seat assembly was unbolted so it would slide wherever it was needed. When pushed way back, climbing in and out is a breeze. On calm water I use my body weight to shift the seat forward so the back slants to 45 degrees; stretch my legs out-forward all the way; and totally relax. It's way cool.
During times of hard, fast paddling, the seat is shifted/slid backwards in the kayak; so that the back-of-the-seat angle is about 90 degrees; like a regular chair.
It has been found that bolting the seat in one stationary position in the Old Town Otter is not necessary. To get out of the kayak when it is beached, the seat is just slid partially under the back deck so a guy has room to roll over on hands and knees where he can then easily stand up; even when on a steeply-inclined, uphill beach or mudbank.
It's totally "in-the-zone".
Next, carrier strap anchors were installed via pop-rivets to the front and back decks in order to load the kayak down with gear. In that regard: 1.) a dufflebag with water-proofed-bagged clothing and extra food for a day trip (including thermos' of hot soup and coffee) was placed under the back deck behind the seat; 2.) two folding lawn chairs that fit into the "long" bags were strapped on top of the back deck; and, 3.) a large knapsack with water, snacks, binocs, camera and notions was strapped to the front deck.
When stopping for a break at a beautiful spot along the river; why not be comfortable? After all, it is an "off-road" vehicle; able to get away from the destinations of mass-transit; in all forms.
Loaded down with me and all the gear above and below decks it handles like a leopard through the jungle; agile and fast. It tracks great, too; but that may be attributed to the ability and finesse of someone who has been dipping paddles for 54 years. And, in having acquired that ability to track a short kayak, a "long" kayak just isn't needed merely for "trackings" sake.
Sure, a longer Kayak will go "proportionally" faster; but why go even one mile an hour faster on a river? If a guy is in that big a hurry, why be on the river at all.
The thrill of kayaking rivers is in taking the narrows and rapids with control and confidence; and, in watching carefully for the easily-missed wildlife. And, when "beaching" to stretch-out and relax; why stand around on the sand or in the grass with a cold sandwich and a cookie in one hand and a luke-warm bottle of water in the other? Why not pull up a chair and have some hot soup with a garnish; and, top it off with pudding? Why let our complex, third-millennial, hurried-life-style take over our "wilderness" time, too?
I throw the Old Town Otter kayak on the dinette table inside my camper van and just take off whenever the Kayak Klub has a get-together at some river every week or two. It works perfect. Great on the river and great for hauling the gear I need to have a super-mini-vacation on some remote riverside paradise.
At 39 pounds, it's terrific. It does everything I need.
The cockpit is wide and comfortable, which gives the paddler plenty of room for water bottles or a stuffpack behind the seat (some have wells). However, the width can be frustrating if the person is somewhat short in stature (kids), because they have to hold the paddle higher than is comfortable in order get it over the gunwales of the craft and into the water. There is not a defined keel, so it does wander a bit, especially with beginners.
On the whole, this is an excellent kayak for the price, and my kids (both were around 8 when they got their kayaks) love going out in them (now 10 and 13). I'm writing this review based on observations of my children - at 6'3" and 200 pounds, I've not squeezed into one myself.
Reading the other reviews I see that most of the Otters that others have are bare bones kayaks. Mine has foot pegs and bungee cords. Don't know if my Otter came with them or if the previous owner added them.
My first time out I got out after an hour of paddling and my legs collapsed under me. Short posterior leg syndrome (tight hamstrings). Stretching helped. Don't know if this is the result of the hard seat. One review recommend the Harmony seat pad. Sounds like a good investment.
I admit to being envious of the longer, sleeker, prettier touring kayaks and may get one for other types of paddling but will probably hang on to this one for its maneuverability and convenience of throwing it in the back of my short box pickup and heading out. You sure seem to see more touring kayaks on Craig's list then smaller kayaks. There must be a reason for that.
I would highly recommend this to any newcomer or someone that is looking for a bargain!
In summary, I wanted to introduce my daughter to kayaking and give her a positive experience. She has been enjoying her little Otter for two years now. The Otter is perfect for young paddlers. Safe, fun, and durable. The reasonable price makes it a 10 out of 10!
These are good little boats but do check them out thoroughly before you take them home. Access to the rear compartment by folding the seatback forward is very small. For their length they paddle respectably but no sub-10' boat's going to be fast. If you will be traveling in company with longer boats you may be frustrated until the going gets twisty. Tracking and stability are good for the length. You can take pictures and shift around without fear of toppling over (unlike some of my boats.) The foot braces and padding of the XT model are probably worth it, I added both to mine from stuff I had. We just got back from a week in the Adirondacks, using them every day. Only complaint was the hard seat.
I canít believe Old Town let that first boat pass quality control. Another SW salesman said that that was the second one heís seen like that. If this was a factory second, Old Town and SW should have labeled it as such. Old Town is now owned by Johnson Outdoors. They are a conglomerate who bought out many small sailboat manufacturers in the 1980-90ís (Sunfish, Vanguard, etc.). They have a reputation for "cheapening" the products to increase profit. Maybe this boat was just a fluke or maybe it wasnít. Just a word of warning to check EVERYTHING before handing over your cash.
I have paddled a few other kayaks but I still think the OT Otter is one of my favorites, it tracks well for a short boat if paddled correctly, and it turns very quickly when needed. Indiana is known for downed trees and strainers in the rivers so quick turns are important. After the first 2 years I made some modifications to the Otter after paddling some other kayaks. I added footbraces which made a huge difference, also added a Harmony 1" closed cell foam seat pad. The seat pad was "self stick" but the Otter seat is rough so I used plastic automobile rivets to secure the seat in about 5 places. This helped prevent my legs and rear end from getting numb so quickly.
The rounded deck on the Otter makes it difficult for a smaller person to roll efficiently so I added some PVC tubing to the inside of the rim to act as knee braces and rolling is very easy now.
Overall the Otter is very versatile and I would recommend it as a good value. The only drawback is if you are paddling with touring kayaks on larger lakes you may get worn out as speed is not one of the attributes of this kayak. (I paddle it about 4 MPH)
It's good for fooling around for a few hours, and a great starter boat, but if you want to go on day trips, are bigger than 6', weigh more than 200 lbs., want to go out in bad weather, and don't want to be the slowest boat on the river/lake you might want to look at another boat.
I am 6'2" and around 215... so it may just be too small for my frame. Anyone purchasing should either upgrade to the XT or at least plan on installing some sort of foot rest. It would definitely make the boat more stable (by making you more stable) and give you something to push against while paddling. I don't find the seat to be too uncomfortable without padding -- but for longer trips the padded seat on the XT would be a plus... but again you could install something yourself probably for less than the price difference in the kayaks. Each time I paddle the boat turns a little in the direction opposite... which is kind-of annoying--constantly correcting course. Maybe this is the way all kayaks are?
Overall, I would like to try a nicer kayak--if this is as stable as they come--then I probably won't continue with this endeavor for long. For the money, it was a good experiment... and I do plan to use it a few more times with installed foot rests before passing final judgment.
All I can say is that this boat has got to be one of the best values for the money I've ever had. I've probably paddled it more than 200 miles on flatwater to Class II rivers. A couple of years ago, I upgraded the seat to the new version that folds down, so I could have some storage behind me. My guess is that I've got about $350 in it.
Whenever anyone asks me what kind of first kayak to purchase, I always tell them to buy an Otter to get their feet wet. There are quite a few competitors these days, but I'll take my Otter over any of them.
If I ever upgrade, I'll probably buy an Old Town Otter Sport -- available thru Dick's Sporting Goods only. It has a high cockpit that'll keep waves out, and has a little more maneuverability.
You can take my original Otter when you pry my wrinkled wet fingers off of it!
First of all, it tracks amazingly well (for a 9 foot boat). Even though I had never paddled a yak before, I had no trouble whatsoever keeping the thing on course. The slight "V" in the bottom seems to do the trick, keeping the boat straight without the need for constant corrections. Even in a 10-20 mph breeze, the boat stayed on course, and went where I told it to go.
Secondly, it handled moving water just as well as the slower stuff. Just playing around, I stuffed the bow into an eddy to see how well it would "eddy turn", and the boat ending up turning so fast that it almost tossed me out into the river (my fault, not the boat's; I was expecting a much slower response. After all, my Grummies never turned like that!).
Thirdly, the boat was very stable. I leaned it over to the edge of the cockpit, and it came right back up when I wanted it to. I was easily able to do some fishing and some bird watching, without having to worry about flipping.
All in all, it was a very fun first ride. Even the seat was comfortable (especially when compared to the solid aluminum seats that I am used to).
Is the boat perfect? Of course not; No boat is! I am not overly large, just 175 or so, but the boat felt a bit crowded. I have read the other reviews, and have noted the many references to foot braces, but I don't think that there would be enough room for them in the bow in my case. The bow seems to plow through the water more than I am used to, and the boat truly is slow. The most serious fault, from an open boater perspective, is that the boat doesn't have any storage capacity. Thereís hardly enough room for a lunch and a change of clothes. This is not the boat to take on a week end camping trip (unless you have some canoes along to carry all of your stuff, like I do).
But all in all, the yak IS absolutely perfect for what I need. I am thinking that I just might need to get three more of them in the near future. It sure is a lot of boat for a very a small amount of money.
Now you must understand: this is a really basic boat - there are no bungee cords on the deck, no storage hatch, no foot pegs...just a hull and a seat. Personally I don't like paddling it - it doesn't track as well as my Acadia and I really miss having those foot braces. Our daughter loves her little boat though, and can keep up with Mom and Dad pretty well in it. So for now this is the perfect kayak for her - it's small and easy for us to put on the car, it fits in the garage well (we can just stand it on its end in a corner), it seems to resist dirt better than the Acadias with their somewhat textured finish, its price was certainly friendly, and it came in a pretty color (hey, for a 9 year old girl this is an important feature!).
You can add footpegs to this boat, by the way; I priced them at around $25 at the local store. If I were going to be paddling this kayak much, I'd definitely install them.
All in all, if you're looking for a small inexpensive first-time kayak that's strictly for flatwater use, and you're not too concerned about speed or tracking ability, this is a fine choice. You may eventually want to move up to something with a few more features and better performance though.
1)Affordable! Don't let kayak snobs keep you one more minute from becoming a kayaker by trying to convince you that you must have something more expensive (which you can't afford). You will get your money's worth ten times over with this boat!
2)Size. Short and wide has many advantages beyond stability. It easily cartops and fits folks of all shapes and sizes. You will use this boat much more frequently than you would a larger boat because it is SO EASY to throw it on top of your car and head out for a quick paddle after work! Go on E-bay and look at how many really big used yaks are for sale that say something like "only used four times!" Why? Because they are a pain-in-the-neck to transport. People don't use them on the spur of the moment! You won't find this description for a used Otter, because it will get used all of the time. My wife and son are interested in kayaking only about once a week, but my Otter is pretty much a permanent fixture on my car top--I use it after work or early in the morning four, five, even six times a week.
3) Size. Okay, more on size. This short, squat boat goes where few other boats will go. If you're a nature lover, this boat will take you places only you and your Otter can get to--in water just a few inches deep! Glide up to deer, chase beaver around the shallows, get closer to bird nesting areas. Explore tiny creeks with bends and twists. Cant' do that in a 16 foot boat.
4) Durabilty. These boats are basic, but indestructible. My three Otters, veterans of several seasons as rentals, are not dented, warped, or misshapen. They take lots of unintended hits from sharp submerged rocks and stumps, but nothing is going to pierce this shell.
In sum, the Otter will give you the pleasures of kayaking at a per-hour cost infintessimally smaller than any bigger more expenisve boat. Because you will pay less in the first place, and I guarantee you will use it more. Everyone in the world should own an Otter.
They are SLOW though, especially if you're going against any wind. But they are DURABLE and CHEAP and EASY to use, so I have to say that we are thrilled with it so far and plan on upgrading later when we get better at the sport. Another nice feature is they draw so little water. I can float anywhere with about 2.5 inches or more water! The kids love them and the boats are hard to damage, so if you have kids this is definitely the way to go. I'm trying to think of something negative...I guess the main thing is the lack of foot pegs, which we heard could tire your back after a lot of paddling. We plan on stuffing some styrofoam into the front of the boat until our legs can comfortably push against it while paddling. Anyway, if you want a quality, cheap boat for a beginner, you can't go wrong with the Otter.
We have 2 Otters, for our 2 girls, aged 8 and 15. We get out fairly often and paddle for hours on end enjoying the many lakes, ponds, and flatwater rivers of Maine. The Otters are recreational boats....which is exactly what we bought them for. For the price, its a great little boat.
I offered the 15 year old a choice of any boat she wanted (she's been paddling for several years) and she decided on a new Otter. The boats are light in weight, tough as nails, and came in "girl friendly" colors...LOL...we have a pink one and a purple one....the girls each picked theirs out!!! We bought them at the Old Town spring sale, and both are "regrind" colors which mean they are "seconds" and not sold in regular retail outlets.
Sure at some point they may want to try whitewater or sea touring, but for now, the kids are superbly happy with their Otters. Thanks Old Town !!!!
I am now looking to add a sea kayak to our inventory (I'm ready for overnighter/extended camping trips), but for overall family fun, short 1-2 hours trips or day trips and the price, these are very good.
It took only a couple of times out to realize I should have invested a couple bucks more and gotten the Otter with 'pegs so I ordered a set and installed them along with a paddle hold and bow deck cords. Ah, like was grand after.
Since then I've owed a Castine and now have an Adventure XL. However, the Otter is still in my possession and several friends have borrowed it for their "first time out". In all cases they enjoyed how it was "user friendly" with the last two borrowers buying their on 'yaks.
See now why foot pegs are so important. The small of the back takes the strain where the foot pegs would let the entire muscle system in the legs take it. I recommend a seat cushion, too, if you have arthritus in your hips like I do. Foot pegs and a couple of paddle hooks to hold the paddle while I fish are my next purchases from Old Town.
For a first time purchase of a small kayak (9' 4") for getting into back waters where low tree limbs and thick overgrowth occurs, I recommend the little Otter. I took the Otter below the spillway and was soon manuevering between the half submerged willows and cypresses like a pro. Did some fishing and the Otter remained balanced as I cast the line.
For the price, I bought a good little kayak that I hope lasts for years.
I liked it so much that I went out and bought another kayak - a Perception Carolina - to be able to have company. Bad idea! Both my son and I like the Perception so much better, I am now building another touring kayak.
But this boat is everything it is designed to be. It fits inside the bed of my pickup truck with the gate closed. It is easy to carry to the river. It is fast enough to outpace canoes. Are there better kayaks out there? Sure! Most are better. But this little $250 gem got me started and will always hold one of my heartstrings.
But a word of caution: we both outgrew these boats very quickly. After paddling a couple of "real" sea kayaks on a guided day trip (and realizing that they were not prohibitively difficult to control, etc.), we simply could not go back to the slow, calm, Otters. I now paddle an 18 footer and my wife a 16'. And our Otters sit unused (except by the occasional novice guestóand they always love them).
The long and the short of it is this: if you are the type of person who "gets the hang" of things pretty quickly, you might find yourself bored in this boat after a short time. I would recommend holding off, saving up, and buying a longer boat (at least 16'). Youíll enjoy the extra performance. Old Town sells several longer boats, and they are relatively affordable.
If you want to kayak once a month or so and donít expect to go beyond your local lake for exercise/fishing/etc., you can get a lot of years of use out of the Otter.
=If kayaks scare the you-know-what out of you and you aren't sure you will be interested in continuing, an Otter will make you feel at home on the water. But in this case I would recommend renting before buying.
If you want to start kayaking today, and you are short on funds, an Otter is a fine choice.
This is a kayak that is very good at it's intended use, and not much else. I wouldn't dream of taking this boat on a rough river, or in open water, but it's not designed for that anyway.
Although unsuited for anything other than protected waters, the Otter tracks very well well, has very good initial stability, and will turn quite well if leaned to the outside of the turn. She also will cruise along at a good clip if paddled briskly. Keep in mind, however, that her short waterline causes her to squat at the stern when paddled hard and this is not the sort of boat you'd choose to set a new speed record getting from one end of your 3 mile long lake to the other.
Creature comfort wise, the molded seat is extremely comfortable, and paddling effort is quite modest unless you try keeping up with longer, sleaker boats. Unless you are going to limit your outings to a mile or two I would highly recommended purchasing the optional footrests however, as it is difficult to put much umph into your strokes unless you are able to brace your feet against something solid. Quality wise? Well poly boats just don't compare to fiberglass when it comes to construction details and the Otter is no exception. Fittings are so so, screws don't stay screwed for long, and the boat just screams Pop Out Mindset.
Still, if you'd like a handy little boat to be thrown on the roof or back of the pickup just in case you spot an intriguing gunkhole while on the way home from work, the Otter will definitely fill the bill.
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