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Reviews for Shadow 16.5 Kayak by Perception


Rated: 8.38/10 Based On: 26 Reviews

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02-06-2012
Submitted by: CVSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I bought my Shadow 16.5 new in 2000. Twelve years later I still love the old girl. I do feel that the seat is a bit uncomfortable as I've become older (I'm 50 now) and heavier (5'7" 180lbs). My teenage son has a Wilderness Systems (WS) Tsunami 14.5 Lite that is unbelievably comfortable and stable, but not as fast as the Shadow. I should probably get a new WS Tempest 16.5 or 17, but it's hard to let go of the old Shadow. It does weathercock a bit in the wind with the rudder up, but I compensate by edging the kayak in a strong wind. It also tracks very well. The guy at the kayak shop wanted to sell me a new WS Zephyr 15.5, but the Shadow does everything I need.

I paddle mostly in Everglades National Park and go anywhere from 10 to 18 miles on a good day. It's not easy to maneuver in the tight turns of the mangrove tunnels in the Everglades, but does well in the bays and ocean. Car topping her alone on top of my pick up truck is difficult since she weighs @58 pounds, but I usually go with someone else who helps out.

Overall, a really good kayak that can do almost everything. I would recommend the Shadow for a smaller paddler. It's a tight fit! For more comfort, go with a Wilderness Systems.

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06-15-2010
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     Had my plastic Shadow for 8 yrs. Used it almost daily on a slow river while living in the midwest, now primarily in large mountain reservoirs. I chose this kayak because my narrow hips "shucked" in many others. Unpracticed friends find dock entry challenging, but I don't like sharing it anyway! I am 5'6" and 130 lbs with very long legs and big feet. It has been comfortable to sit in for 6-8 hrs at a time without a break. While dinged, it is very sturdy! Only negative is full skirt can be challenging to get on ... half skirt goes on easier.
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04-02-2010
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 7 of 10

     I got my plastic shadow a month or so ago and paddle it mostly in the Laguna Madre (bay) and offshore some. I'm 5'3" at 165 lbs, 34" waist, with a size 8.5 shoe and I find this a very tight fitting boat, especially for my feet with water shoes on. I got a good (great actually) deal on this boat and it even had a serviceable spray skirt.

I'm planning on doing a long trip with it soon, 400 miles along the Texas ICW, the bays and offshore, It's a tight fit but all my gear and food, including 7 gallons of water, all fits in the boat and it still floats! I'm sure I'll have more to say about it after I do this trip, but all in all I feel this boat is up to it, now I just gotta get over this nasty cold I got! more to come ...

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07-20-2009
Submitted by: Eli HickeySend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     The Shadow is a great boat. It tracks great and is fast
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11-22-2005
Submitted by: DWHSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I purchased a heavily used (and abused) ex-rental 1998 plastic Perception Shadow 16.5 in December of 2003. In spite of its age and high miles the boat was still in good usable condition. I discovered the front bulkhead to be leaking a bit, but it was easily sealed with Marine Caulk. If you want a tough, mid-volume boat for the smaller paddler that won't hold you back on learning new skills - you should look at the Shadow.

The first day or two in the boat I thought it was tipsy and wondered if I should have bought a wider boat. Within a week it felt fine and after only a few more outings I was very comfortable in it. In comparison to other mid-volume boats I've tried I think it has a very good combination of moderate initial stability; substantial and predictable secondary stability; speed; and maneuverability. Keep in mind that this is a boat that is designed to carry up to 250 or so pounds so it may need some ballast if you are under 150 and not carrying gear. I am six feet tall and 170 pounds and the boat is too small for me in only one way: I don't have enough room for my size 11 neoprene booties to stretch out. I've paddled it with full camping gear and it still had reserve buoyancy.

I've read reviews that say these boats don't track - and I firmly disagree. With proper paddling technique the boat tracks very well with the rudder out of the water and enough ballast in the back to trim the boat. With me - around 10 pounds of day gear pushed all the way to the back of the rear compartment puts the boat into perfect trim. I can sit sideways to a current with a breeze blowing the opposite direction and the boat doesn't weather cock at all. I never use the rudder and will buy a boat with a retractable skeg next time. The boat responds very well to lean and sweep turns - much better than most boats over 16 feet with rudders. I've used it on lakes, rivers, creeks and protected bays. I've done no surf zone or open ocean with it, but the classic Greenland design hull will probably rise to the challenge when I do.

I did not find the original rigid plastic seatback comfortable and replaced it with an adjustable backband - big improvement! The molded seat itself has been very comfortable - I've added some hip padding.

I find the boat easy to reboard front or back after a practice wet exit - and I can plunk my butt down into the seat and still pull my legs into the keyhole cockpit (remember I'm taller than most people who will use this boat.) The rear deck is rigged for paddlefloat support - which is far more important to a beginner than the hull's rolling ability.

All in all I think this is a great beginner's boat that can take you much further along in skill development than many others. I have only one criticism of the construction - all of the reinforcing washers for the deck fittings in this 1998 boat were non-anodized aluminum - which are somewhat salt corroded now. Hopefully Perception changed this in later boats. Even so, they have stood up fairly well and have years of life left.

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08-25-2005
Submitted by: MCAASend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I've owned a plastic Shadow 16.5 for nearly two years. I have read reviews that comment on the difficulty of rolling this boat and have to disagree. Within two days of trying to roll the boat, I was able to roll it almost every time. If the Screw roll fails, the Steyr roll always works. In fact, the boat can be rolled with one half of a detachable two bladed paddle in the Steyr position, i.e. lean back and use the half paddle like a propeller. The boat can also be rolled using a foam cushion paddle float (no paddle) with a hip flick. I'm 5'5" 130 lbs and the boat fits me well. I haven't tried a hand roll with this boat; my guess is that this might be hard. All in all I'm happy with this boat though having had limited experience with other kayaks I can't make a qualified judgments.
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06-20-2005
Submitted by: Toni ASend Email
Rating: 5 of 10

     I had a kevlar shadow. If you are going to be a serious sea kayaker, don't buy this boat. It is a good boat for casual paddles. I went on many week trips in this boat and although it is light weight, it doesn't track and always requires a rudder. Get a real sea kayak if you are going to do trips. I now have a current designs solstice GTS and never need a rudder. I am a smaller paddler and it is true there aren't many kayaks for smaller people. But please don't settle for this kayak.
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06-29-2004
Submitted by: silbsSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I have a + and a - on the shadow. 1. 2months after taking ownership of a new composit shadow, the deck seem opened and the front compartment took on water at the deck line. Perception replaced the boat. They were fair with me and easy to work with. 2. It doesn't roll, at least not very well. My instructor can't roll it and I can't roll it. There is one man in our group with the same boat who can roll it sometimes. It took him 3 years to achieve this. In other review sites I see those who say they can roll the boat all seem to have the plastic version.
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04-26-2004
Submitted by: Josie T
Rating: 5 of 10

     The tracking on this boat is non-existent. If there is even a slight wind, you have to use the rudder to go straight. I had a kevlar Shadow for 3 years went on a lot of long week trips. For a better boat for smaller paddlers -check out the Wilderness Systems 16.5. The only reason the Shadow is so popular is that they are big at places that rent kayaks. It is the first kayak that many people paddle. Same with the Perception Eclipse. Before buying this boat, make sure you paddle a lot of different boats. It is very light in Kevlar and attractive. But so what? Don't be fooled! It also isn't very fast. The Wilderness Systems is much faster.
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12-29-2003
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 9 of 10

     I proudly own a Kevlar Shadow (red), this boat was produced in 2002. This was an Ebay purchase, bought for $1397.50 plus shipping from S. Carolina, NEW. I got this boat online due to the great price and the lack of good service in the Inland Empire. I did not paddle this boat before buying it. I read alot and tried some other boats when and wherever I could. I like the Current Designs Caribou, and suggest anyone try these boats also before a purchase if you are looking at the Shadow or the Eclipse.

I am 5-10.5 and was 188 lbs. when I got my boat, and I loved the fit. I lost 15 lbs over the course of the summer and fall and still feel good about the fit. I was never clear on what the dimensions of a large paddler were or where the breakoff point existed to be a small paddler, so I figured out I really just wanted a boat that was easy to load solo, that I could maneuver with ease and would allow for an areobic workout for 2-3 hours at a time (fast). The boat had to be able to allow me to grow my skills. The Shadow has answered all my needs. I live in a area with 4 very good lakes in Northern Idaho, this boat has allowed me to see alot of shoreline. I seldom ever load the hatches with much more than jackets and shoes, however I do plan to try camping this coming season and I belive this boat will carry more than I can use in 2-3 days.

This boat is fast when the rudder is up, there is a definite drag felt when the rudder is in the water, however there is alot more stability too. I have paddled in high winds (20-35mph with higher gusts) and felt very comfortable with the boats stability. In choppy waters the boat is great. I appreciate how well this boat tracks at speed. I have had some issues with the edging too, I have practiced turning around markers and have found with a strong lean, while using the rudder and sweep stroke, I can get a pretty good turn out of the boat. I really enjoy surfing in the Shadow. This boat gets alot of attention too, I have come to my car when the boat is on top and had people just looking at it and asking questions. I can one hand the boat out the water which gets noticed and I always get compliments on the looks of the Shadow. I did not intend on buying a high profile boat, I like to paddle by myself and prefer to enjoy the outdoors quietly, but this boat is a great conversation piece to most people who appreciate what it is.

I put two dings in the boat which cracked the gel-coat and flexed the Kevlar weave(I really thought the hull was breached on one hit). They were easy to fix and are barely noticable. The material is awesome and super strong.

This boat may not be for everyone at first, but over time it grows on you, my family members that have not paddled had alot of stability issues at first, those that had paddled love the boat. My 8 year old daughter can move this boat around with ease in calm conditions. My 6'1" cousin fit in well too.

I give the boat a 9 outta 10, no boat is perfect or can do everything, but this one is close and has certainly met my expectations.

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10-23-2003
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     Itís been a year since I bought my Perception Shadow and I am very pleased with it. I padded out the cockpit a bit this season and that enabled me to try new things, like rolling. This boat DOES roll. Even the layback roll works. It rolls up flawlessly in seconds. My rolling skills are still somewhat lacking (50-75% of the time), but maybe next season I'll be more proficient.

Edging is a problem, but I am sure itís more of a skill issue to be addressed next spring. Bracing and sculling are fine. The fact that my boat is plastic is fabulous. I am pleased that, while I still want to be careful, I don't have to worry about cracks and gelcoats.

The seat back is a little bit uncomfortable, but as I'm not leaning against it very much, it's not a problem at the moment. And it's easy to fix if I ever want to.

The hatches are very roomy and hold more than I imagined. They are somewhat hard to access while on the water, but a little planning eliminates the need. I discovered that there's quite a bit of space directly behind the seat. Miscellaneous items can be easily stashed there with knots to hold them in.

All in all I am very pleased that I purchased this boat a year ago. This has been a great paddling season and I look forward to many more, in the Shadow. Now, how to get through winter...

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07-28-2003
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 5 of 10

     This is an update to my review of the Perception Shadow posted on December 23, 2002. My Shadow remains an overall well-performing boat after two years, but the weave of the kevlar fabric has "printed-through" to the surface of the hull. Instead of a glossy smooth surface, a checkered pattern is very visible and can be felt, especially on the flatter bottom of the hull. This print-through increases frictional drag, but the main problem is cosmetic and it is difficult to correct.

The standard Perception warrantee requires the owner to pay 50% of the recommended retail price, plus shipping, to have a boat repaired or replaced after two years (25% after one year) even if caused by a manufacturing defect, and this is not practical with my boat.

Due to the quality problem and the weak Perception warrantee, I have lowered my rating on this boat.

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05-13-2003
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I've had my plastic Shadow for about 4 years. I used to paddle a full-sized Sea Lion which I loved, but it was too big for me (I'm 5'4'', 140 lbs)- I had to put a cushion behind my back to reach the pedals. I wanted a boat that would fit my short legs but still have enough speed to keep up with my husband, and the Shadow fit the bill. I do have a problem with it weathercocking in the slightest wind, making it necessary to use the rudder almost all of the time - I wish it came with a skeg instead. Manuverability is good for swamp-poking. Handling is squirrely in following seas, with the bow tending to toss back and forth even with the rudder. Storage is more than adequate for overnight camping. All in all, a pretty good boat. I just got a fiberglass Currituck, but I'll be keeping the Shadow for a guest boat.
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02-17-2003
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I've had the plastic version of the Shadow for 2 and a half years now. Here are my impressions.

Pros: feels very comfortable for the smaller/lighter paddler although the cockpit may need more padding to get better contact if you want to learn any skills; - its plastic, takes lots of abuse; - easy to roll, especially with the low back deck; - have not noticed any weathercocking and I've paddled it in winds up to 20 mph; - has a rudder if you need it, but I've only had to use in strong following seas; - large hatches and the neoprene inner covers work very well if they are on just right; - if you don't have a roll this boat is fairly easy to do a cowboy scramble if you're by yourself and don't want to use a paddlefloat; - the extra straps above the rear hatch are perfect for a foam paddlefloat which I always have with me.

Cons: it's plastic, making this boat heavier; - it doesn't like to be edged very far compared to most other boats, so an edged turn is not as quick and I'll never be able to do a balance brace in this kayak; - the stock seatback is too high and interferes with putting the sprayskirt on, but I noticed that perception has fixed this problem in the newer versions; - the cockpit required quite a bit of padding for me to get a good contact fit.

I've seen many comments (usually bad) about the metal bar that runs along the inside along the keel. Yeah, it's there but I don't think that its presence automatically makes this a bad boat. It hasn't bothered me and I don't worry about it.

Overall, this boat has done most everything that I have asked it to do and done it well. I'm 5'6" tall and weigh 140 lbs. It can be difficult to find a kayak designed for the smaller paddler but this boat is fairly common. Would I buy this boat again today? Maybe. There are newer boat models designed for the smaller paddler that I haven't tried yet! And of course if you increase how much you can budget for a kayak your range of choices also increases. Buying used can help too. Above all, try before you buy. I assume that you are reading this because you are considering a purchase so I'll list other seakayaks that are designed for lighter or smaller paddler: CD Squamish, CD Squall, Perception Solť, Perception Avatar, CLC 16LT, P&H Vela, Prijon Catalina, Wilderness Systems Tempest 165, Necky Looksha IVS, Impex Montauk, VCP Avocet. I'm sure there are others I've missed or don't know about. Good Luck!

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12-23-2002
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I've been paddling the Kevlar Shadow regularly for about 18 months and it is a joy on both open water and protected bays. It handles waves well with my 160 pound weight, but larger paddlers in mostly open water would probably want a little higher bow volume. Good initial stability for its width, due to a fair amount of volume fore and aft of the cockpit.

Great SmartTrack footbraces allow controlling footpeg position easily while sitting in the cockpit. Very comfortable seat bottom. The waterline length is significantly shorter than the overall length in the composite layups, with a lot of stern above the waterline.

My only complaints are:

(1) The seat back, which is too high for layback rolls (can be modified). It didn't fit me well, either, without shaving some of the some foam.

(2) The weight, which as advertised as 42 pounds (Kevlar) at that time but really weighed in more than 10% higher, at 47 pounds. Perception has since increased their spec weight a little for this boat, but plan on a higher actual weight or demand delivery of spec weight when ordering.

Overall, high quality manufacturing throughout. Many compliments on its appearance when paddling.

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11-27-2002
Submitted by: R.S.
Rating: 10 of 10

     Well here it is 2002. And you probably read my review on this page already. I just have to say that I still have my Shadow :) This is really a great Kayak. I'm 5'7 and 160lbs. And the shadow fits me well. I tried the Eclips before I bought the Shadow, but that Kayak was too much Volume for my size. I also tried other Kayaks before I bought the Shadow. It was kind of like tring on new shoes,you have too find the right fit and comfort. If you are in the markit for a Kayak, believe me when I tell you this.

shop shop shop try try try. If anything, try the shadow before you decide on a Kayak. Their's nothing worse then buying a Kayak, then trying a different Kayak and liking the one you tried over the one you bought.

I bought a few Kayaks before I landed the Shadow. Just Think, all that money that I spent on the other Kayaks. Feels like a wast. Thats what I get for not taking the time to test. TRY THE SHADOW!!!.

PS. The best time to buy is in the fall or winter. The prices are usually cheaper.

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10-14-2002
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     I just bought my Perception Shadow this weekend at Collinsville Canoe & Kayak in Collinsville, CT. This boat is fantastic. Excellent tracking, turns on a dime when I edge, totally manueverable, and is the PERFECT size for me. Being only 5;3" and 115, size was definitely an issue. I LOVE this boat. And the service at Collinsville is unmatched anywhere else. The salesman spent FOUR hours with me on Saturday. A huge thank you to Perception for making this exquisite boat, and a huge thank you to CCK for taking the time to go over ALL the boats with me!
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06-11-2002
Submitted by: KBSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I have a composite shadow that I bought almost a year ago as an upgrade from plastic. I LOVE this boat. I've tried many boats in many conditions and this ranks far and above as my favorite. It's a great boat both for beginners and more advanced paddlers. I have put friends in it who have hardly paddled, and others who have more experience than I do, and they all found something to like. It's versatile, fast, and yet not so much built for speed that you lose maneauverability. I highly recommend that you add this boat to the list that you test paddle when considering buying a kayak. (I upgraded to the smarttrack rudder system and rudder- improves the boat a lot).
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05-10-2001
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 9 of 10

     If you look below you will see my unfavorable rating due to the quality of assembly of the top to bottom seam. Perception agreed with me and provided me with a new kevlar boat. The seam on this boat is up to par with alll other composite boat manufacturers. Actually this is my wife's boat and she is in love with it. It has a new foot pedal rudder technique. With dual pedals on each side there is now a way to lock the foot pedals equivalent to those found on a non rudder boat.
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03-20-2001
Submitted by: R.S.Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I bought a used Shadow, and I have to say that I am very pleased with the performance. The Shadow tracks very well. I only used the rudder to test it. The hull speed is very good.I had no problem keeping up with my friend and his Kevlar 17.1 Kayak. :)) For me this Kayak was a good choice. And believe me I've been in plenty of other types Kayak's. My advice is go and try other Kayak's then try the Shadow. PS. The Shadow is a lower volume for the smaller paddler. I'm 5'7 150lbs.
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03-19-2001
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 6 of 10

     My wife just got a Kevlar composite shadow and is extremely happy with it's exterior finish and handling. I am very unhappy with the finish on the inside and the dealer we picked it up from agreed and we will take it back for repair. The problem is with the seam that attaches the top of the boat to the bottom. When the seam was sanded smooth that process opened up large air bubbles. Some 1/4" by 3". The bubble holes were not filled in. The edges are so sharp that fingers can get cut on the edges when feeling the seam. This defect is so obvious that it indicates no or very poor quality control.

I have a Current Design Gulfstream and there is NO comparison between the two. The Gulfstream inside is very smooth. See many pictures of the Shadow interior at http://www.toytrains.net/SHADOW/ To tell one side from the other I used a different color measuring tapes as a reference. I'll write another note after the repair is made. By the way, I'm an engineer who works on boats (SSN 688's).

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12-11-2000
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I took my Shadow to Georgian Bay for a week of camping. Plenty of room for everything. Was able to tow a disabled powerboat in need of assistance in a high wind/rocky situation. Surfing six foot waves on Lake michigan is great in this boat. Is easy to roll. I put a Dagger rudder on for better cross wind paddling control. Only negative is the storage space taken up by the wide foam floatation walls. Overall a great boat!
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10-11-1999
Submitted by: G.L.Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I paddled a Shadow in both plastic and composite. In the semi calm waters of the intercoastal and lake area, I found that both tracked extreamly well without a rudder. However other boats have felt less good in the tracking department in these same conditions. The initial stability of the plastic version is slightly less than the fiberglass, the fiberglass being about perfect and the plastic version being somewhat sensitive to placing your hips in the exact center of the seat to keep from an inadvertant but miniscule lean. The miniscule lean will not affect the boat in any way but a small to moderate lean will initiate a small to moderate turn. This is about as one would hope. The boats are both rather fast and responsive to the first stroke unlike some longer boats that dont get under way untill you really start paddling. Be carefull with these boats if your feet are long. My feet are size 9 and if your feet are any bigger than 10, I would test the boat carefully. The cockpit!

is good and snug, letting you feel that you are really wearing the boat. I am 5'9" and 155 lbs and the cockpit is perfect for me. Another paddler was about 5'10" and 170 and he told me at a symposium that the boat was just about perfect for him too. If I could afford the composite I would be confident that there are not many better boats, nor more attractive. The plastic version is also attractive for its niche, and the addition of a metal pole, running down the length, seems to make the boat faster than other boats with similar dimensions. I am not sure how tall would be too tall for this "smaller persons boat" but I suspect it would be about 6 feet tall or over 185 lbs. Your hips could be quite wide as in a medium tall woman with very wide hips and you would still enjoy the boat. All in all a very good effort by Perception that I am told has changed little in 15 years.

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08-14-1999
Submitted by: BenSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     Just bought a Shadow, and its awesome. Tracks great and is spectacular looking. The only problem is the foot pedal mechanism and sometimes the feel of the seat back. Other then that its the best kayak I've ever paddled.
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07-28-1999
Submitted by: PGSSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I recently bought a kevlar Shadow - for me a great boat. I'm about 5'6" 140. I paddled a rotomolded Spectrum for about 4 years and although stable, wanted something lighter and faster.

I test paddled about a dozen boats and chose the Shadow because it was fast, comfortable, tracked well, easy to turn, had good secondary stability, lots of storage capacity, quality construction and it looked great! I read reviews in Canoe & Kayak that said when you paddle enough different boats you'll know when you find the one that's right for you. Sounds corny but true - best to go to demo days so you can compare models side by side.

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06-30-1999
Submitted by: Kayaker
Rating: 9 of 10

     I test paddled many different makes & models for for several seasons before falling in love with the Shadow. I don't believe I could be qualified as a "smaller paddler" as it is marketed to, but I could be qualified as a "novice". I wanted a kayak that felt comfortable (read stable), tracked well and looked good. I have all three. I don't see me outgrowing this kayak as my skills/need increase. It has a large cockpit, tracks very well and is very quick (considering it is a fairly heavy rotomold). I will recommend this kayak to anyone.
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