I purchased my Jaeger in June 2012 and wanted to wait to review it until I had the opportunity to become comfortable with the boat. After spending some time this summer paddling around Lake George, I cannot say enough about how much I love my Jaeger and about the amazing customer service experience that Walrus Kayaks provided.
I contacted the guys over at Walrus after doing some extensive internet searching for a boat that I would be an upgrade from my old Current Design boat. I wanted a boat that would be easy for me to manage on my own (5'10", 125 lb female paddler). The Jaeger comes in just around 40 pounds which makes it possible to take on and off my car without much help. I was also looking for a composite boat with a sleek design and that would be more responsive than my old boat. After looking through the options on the Walrus website, I was debating between the Griffin and the Jaeger. After talking with Mark at Walrus, he offered me the opportunity to try the Jaeger and Griffin when I was passing through the Burlington (VT) area. I have to say that this aspect of Walrus' dedication to making its customer's happy was key to helping make my decision and made me feel much more confident in my purchase. In trying out both boats, I ultimately went with the Jaeger as I found it was more comfortable for my long legs and that I did not have to compromise speed in choosing a longer boat.
The Jaeger fit all of my design criteria and is, in my opinion, one of the sleekest looking kayaks on the market. I find it very comfortable to paddle in all conditions and that it cuts through any sort of waves with ease.
I felt that the team at Walrus went above and beyond in answering all of my questions (both in person and via email). I really felt as if I was involved in the building process of my kayak. I was able to customize the gel coat color and outfittings to my preference, which made me more confident in purchasing a kayak of this price point. This was a major selling point as I now have a kayak that is a unique robinís egg blue, which, according to Walrus, is more visible on the water than international orange. It is a big plus to me that I was able to visit the shop and support a small Vermont business.
If you are looking for a great, versatile recreational kayak, then I would check out the Jaeger or the other models that Walrus Kayak's offers.I've had my Jaeger for a couple of months now and although I own 3 other kayaks, it's the only boat I paddle. I bought the boat without having paddled it and initially worried about the possibility that it wouldn't fit my needs but these worries went out the window the first time I took the boat out.
The boat is definitely narrower than what I was used to but there's no noticeable loss of stability. The narrower width means the boat accelerates off the line like a drag racer and can keep a very quick pace without much effort. In wind and waves, the boat's unbeatable. I belong to a local paddling club that hosts Thursday night paddles and the boat gets a lot of compliments and everyone wants to try it. The most consistent comment I hear from people trying my boat is that it feels amazingly secure on edge and really doesn't require much course correcting in wind. Having paddled a P&H Cetus for many years before the Jaeger, I definitely agree. Even without the skeg down, the boat never gets out of hand or hard to control no matter how big the waves get or how strong the wind is.
The boat's handling is obviously the most important, but something has to be said about the boat's construction. I bought a pro laminate (carbon fiber) and the matte-finished carbon weave inside the boat looks awesome. The attention to detail put into this boat is obvious the minute you look inside. Everything is perfect. The seams are neat (and fiberglass inside and out!), the bulkheads are sealed carbon fiber, the nuts on the back of the deck fittings are covered with fiberglass so they don't leak and you don't need a wrench to replace them, the gelcoat seems very tough (but I admit I haven't tested it much since I baby my boat and always get in from the water), the hatches are tied in to the boat so you can't lose them, and the outfitting is top notch.
I was initially skeptical about having a hard fiberglass seat, but the guy I spoke to on the phone when buying the boat convinced me to give it a try. His argument was that it'd be more efficient (don't remember why) and more stable because I'd sit lower down. They sent me a foam pad to add later if I still thought I needed it, but they were actually right. The seat is totally comfortable even after hours of paddling. I attribute this to the fact that they offer a bunch of different seat sizes and styles to fit a big range of butts. When I was ordering the boat, they sent me a form to fill out with a bunch of measurements that they used to chose the perfect seat. They nailed it! I liked the seat so much that I bought a spare one from them to replace the seat in my WS Zephyr Pro. It turns out changing the seat isn't as easy as I thought so I'll probably end up having Charles River Canoe & Kayak do the work for me. The only thing I wish is that the guys at Walrus would pay me commission for all the customers I've referred to them!From a distance, the lines of the Jaeger look fairly traditional. Stepping closer, you see what sets it apart. The bow and stern ends are sharp but not upswept, and although sleek, carry a fair amount of volume. A moderate v follows the entire keel line, reducing the volume in the lower half of the boat. Aside from that, the Jaeger is all convex curves, with nary a concavity (or accompanying bulginess) to be found. This gives it clean, muscular look, but more importantly contributes to its predictability and positive handling in rough water.
The Jaeger features a gently arched deck and is overall a medium volume symmetrical kayak that widens slightly above the waterline. For this 5'11" 165 lb. paddler, the cockpit represents a happy synergy of looseness and snugness. The length and shape of the cockpit opening allow for paddling "knees up" racing style. The shape of the deck also provides for solid control when the knees are out wide.
As with many v hull boats, the Jaeger has well-defined edges when leaned -- and the edge is just where you want it. The Jaeger turns easily enough on a lean that it can be used for guiding; when on the level, even without the skeg, it tracks very straight
The Jaeger gets speed from its length, narrow waterline width, and rail-like tracking. It gets its maneuverability from its moderate rocker and medium chine, which make it highly responsive when placed on edge.
The Walrus Jaeger features recessed deck fittings, ample deck bungies (including fore and aft space paddle setup), and perimeter lines. It also includes an adjustable skeg, compass mount, recessed cockpit rim, 3 hatch openings (front round, day hatch, rear oval), snap on Sea-lect Design hatch covers with added finger-loops, and a smooth and durable finish both inside and out.
When paddling the boat in flat water with a wing paddle, the Jaeger felt fast and efficient. It tracked and handled well. I liked that the Jaeger held such a good line, even when being powered by a wing. Also noted that the deck shape in front of the cockpit facilitates good paddle placement at the top of the stroke. Also again appreciated the cockpit shape that allowed me to paddle in a knees up style. The seat is designed to allow for full rotation.
When paddling the Jaeger in waves and chop, I noted that it felt exceptionally smooth and reassuring. Very neutral in the wind. Caught small waves easily when trying to surf.
When I conducted GPS trials of the Jaeger, in flatwater, using a wing paddle, I found the Jaeger easy to bring up to 4.5 knots. 5.2 knots (6 mph) was a fast cruising pace. The resistance curve steepened at speeds above 5.2 knots.
Information on the four different layups, which range from <40 - 46 lbs, is available on the Walrus Kayaks website. Walrus is taking a "no compromise" approach in their layups, utilizing the best materials and latest technologies to build a kayak that is both durable and lightweight.
Overall, I find the Jaeger to be a beautiful, quality-built kayak that offers an excellent blend of flatwater speed and rough water handling.
*Note: I have recently become a dealer of Walrus Kayaks. Importantly, we chose to carry Walrus Kayaks because we like them, and not the other way around.