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Unfortunately, I believe that the textured surface makes it slow. It seems that the second I stop paddling, it wants to die in the water. Like I am pulling a sea anchor. I am always playing catch-up to the people I am out with. Also seems a little unstable and doesn't like to track real well, but that may just be my lack of experience. May try installing my own keel. I got around the lack of a water tight compartment with a 1-quart dry box from Wal-Mart for $8 (vs. $15 at Dick's). If nothing else, it's a good learning boat.
Last I am 6'2" and the edges of the kayak cockpit are very tight, upon rolling from white-water and exiting the kayak the cockpit edge acted like a knife and it shaved about 1/8" depth of skin off my shin. The scrape was 1-1/2" long and about 1/2" wide. This was three weeks ago and it still has not healed.
It does float and track fine for us, we have some experience in canoes and kayaks. The cockpit is very tight to get in and out of, my very athletic, trim, 18 year old (6'0") had some trouble tucking his legs inside. The life vest is good quality, ditto paddles and the kayak body. I am going to smooth the edges of the cockpit and forget about the foot pedals because after sitting down our feet are near the edges given the width of the kayak is not very wide. I won't take it on a river only lakes and ponds.
In a nut shell: handles poorly, top heavy, unstable. The good is that it is lightweight and cheap. Also, I can't complain with the seat. We ended up picking up the FutureBeach Fusion 124, and are much happier. It has its cons, but overall much more stable and quick!
Tracking is decent not great, it seems I spend a lot of time correcting my path, like a car with a loose front end. As for Speed/Glide it seems I have to dig quite a bit to keep up with my in-laws, but for most practical purposes it works, the high boards make it very susceptible to wind drift, so you will need to outfit it with a drag sock if you want to stay in one spot very long even on a calm day.
The seat is very comfortable, I have been out in this for an 8 hr fishing trip and no problems. I plan on using this a bit in a river, so I thought it would be a good idea to practice getting back in, the stern flotation bag fits so loose it is impossible to dump the water without bringing it to the shore and the lack of a bow bag makes it very difficult to get back in without it sinking... with the help of a couple foam blocks I have hopefully solved this problem! (keep an eye on e-bay if it works I might make them to sell way cheaper than the universal air bags) The cup holder is so big and shallow about the only thing that will fit securely is a canned beverage with a kooze.
All this being said I would recommend this to a friend looking for an entry level boat. In fact I have just bought a second one for my wife.
P.S. adding rod holders for my next trip
Relative to other cheap kayaks, the seat in this boat is great. It adjusts easily, and is very comfortable.
The weight - At 37ish pounds, it is reasonable to carry a couple hundred yards if you're dropping in at a spot that doesn't have convenient parking.
Again, the price - Let's be clear, this is a lower-end kayak. But, it is at the very bottom of the price spectrum, and performs like a kayak a good bit above its price point.
The PFD doesn't seem to be designed for kayaking. It is a bottom of the line, just satisfy the law type of thing. If you're not going to wear it, it is fine. If you're planning to head in to hazardous waters, and will need to wear your life vest all the time, plan to buy something else. With that said, you pay damn near nothing for it, so it is acceptable for an entry-level kayaker like me.
Tracking - I'm not super experienced, but I have been in a few other kayaks. This one tracks well enough to be usable, but not great. Again, if you plan to use your boat on calm water, it is totally fine. If you're heading out into 2 foot swells, it will still work, but plan on some extra elbow grease.
Storage - This boat does not have a dry storage compartment. That didn't matter to me, but maybe it does for you. I prefer the pretty good access that this boat allows to the area behind the seat. More importantly though, the bungee tie-downs suck. The way they are designed simply isn't good. It is too hard to explain here, but if you need to attach much gear to the top of your kayak, plan on doing some modifications. Those modifications won't be difficult, but still...
Not to keep harping on the price, but if you're looking at buying this boat, I'd bet it is a concern to you - just like it was for me. So, for $300 or less, I'd say this kayak is great. More than that, ehhhh... It is a great way to get going without spending a bunch of money.
On calm water, the Rebel is excellent, and you'd be a fool to spend more. On serious rivers, it will do the job, but may leave something to be desired.
Reading over my review you may think that my 8 out of 10 rating doesn't jibe with what I've said. And if this kayak package were $400, I'd say you're right. But again, remember what you're buying. This is an entry level boat, with a basic paddle and PFD. Given this criteria, I'd advise you to buy one. If you're just looking to cheapskate your way into serious kayaking, it ain't gonna work.
I am very impressed with this kayak. I have paddled before in both very cheap and expensive kayaks. This kayak acts like a middle of the class boat. It tracks well, glides beautifully, and is quite comfortable. The seat is very comfortable and easy to adjust. The foot pegs can be moved aft just by pulling on the with your toes. I love the paddle groove. I take a lot of photos so this will be a great help.
I do wish there was provision for forward flotation, but I know how to fix that. (Thus the 9 instead of a 10)
All together, at $249, the Rebel is a great deal.
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