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This kayak can handle quite a bit. We are a family of 4, two kids aged 3 and 6. All 4 of us were able to ride in the Malibu 2 for an ocean paddle in a cove/bay. We bought scupper plugs, which help prevent water from coming into the boat. I saw other reviewers saying this boat cannot handle the advertised weight, which isn't true. You just need scupper plugs to keep the water out. Our family weighs 380# all together, and while the boat was a bear for one person to paddle with this much weight, it handled fine. I wouldn't want to spend the entire day in this kayak with the 4 of us, but it was fine for a short trip. We went in a bay in Cape Cod in it. We kayaked to a private beach.
I like sit-on-tops because of the ease getting in and out, and no fears about tipping. It's also easy to mount to a car, because I thread the winch straps through the scupper holes. There's no way it can fall off the car. I cannot cartop any boat alone (I'm 5'2" and weigh 100#), so that's a non-issue for me. I like the fact that this kayak has attached handles on the side (my old boat just had molded-in handles, which were impossible to grasp when flipping the boat over). My husband and I portaged the boat just fine. We live in New England, so this is a summer sport for us, but I'm considering getting a wet suit so I can extend my kayak season.
If you're looking for a versatile family kayak, look no further. This boat is all a good value for the $, in my opinion. It would be nice if it had a dry hatch, but for the $ you can't expect that option. I may add one to this boat (you can add up to 3 small dry hatches) next season so that I have a dry spot for a smartphone & keys. I have a 22" x 16" dry bag for day items. I'd need a larger one for an overnight trip. The boat would also be perfect for 1 person plus gear for an overnight trip too.
I paddled this alone in the center seat, and it handled nicely in a cove. My husband tried to take it in Buzzard's Bay (large ocean bay) on an 8 mile paddle, and had to turn around because of the wind/rough water. It's not a touring sea kayak, but a great all-around fun family boat.
On the plus side, it is stable as it can be, and my kids enjoyed it very much, hanging off the edge and being able to go in the water and climb back in with ease. I originally purchased the kayak for the safety aspect, as I wanted something stable for them to take out by themselves and didn't want to worry about them getting back in should it tip. For that purpose, I could not have made a better choice.
Solo paddling: The center seat position is the most comfortable for me. This leaves lots of room for gear if you need to carry it. You can lie down on it, you can stand up on it, you can sit sideways with your feet over the side if you want to. It tracks well on slow sounds and creeks. Moderate wind will affect your ability to keep it pointed where you want it to go. It is reasonably quick if you work hard. It is a bit tough to surf because it's so big and heavy - or maybe because I don't know what I'm doing. The nose wants to point down the face of a wave, and if you let it get too far down, it sometimes throws you out over the nose of the boat. I have to lean pretty far back to keep that from happening. It is not a dry ride in the ocean, your butt's in the water most of the time. It can be almost dry on calm water. Fishing is easy, but I have to mount some rod holders, etc. to really make it work for that. Not a great solo boat, but I knew that going in. But it's actually a lot better than I thought it would be.
Tandem: Don't believe OK's weight rating. My son and I are about 420 lbs together. OK says the boat should carry up to 425 lbs. It will, but the center of the boat's awash if you do, making it difficult to paddle. If you can get going at a decent speed, and get most of the water out of the boat, it works better. If, however, my wife and I use the boat, it works much better - we're farther under that maximum weight. The center of the boat stays out of the water. She has had two hip replacements, but loves the boat. The back or middle seats are more comfortable for her because her legs are a bit lower than her hips. In the front seat, your legs point upward, this is uncomfortable for her. The OK Comfort Backrest does not give her enough support, she prefers the Pelican or a new Wilderness Systems seat we just bought. The boat works very well for small kids. I have a niece and nephew who are 8 and 10. One adult in back with the two of them in the middle and front is a blast. The kids love it, especially riding the waves on it. They don't care if you wipe out!
Recommendation: This boat works well as a solo boat that needs to carry some gear. It works well for fishing, touring, and small to moderate surf. It is very stable. It does not work well as a tandem for two large adults. It does work well as a tandem or tri-yak if only one adult is 200 lbs. It is heavy. Don't buy it unless you can try picking one up at your local dealer, make sure you can handle the weight. Overall, I am happy with the purchase.
The pluses are the stability and expandibility to be used as a tandem, but perfectly fine as a single.
The negative is the weight and size! It is a mother load of a kayak to grab on to and transport, and at 61 LBS, although seems not too much, the mother kayak of all will make you get your knees with a back ache afterwards. For single kayaking, you can find a much better and faster kayak for that purpose. But for stability out in the big ocean, trust in Malibu II!
With two adults (about 320 lbs total) it sits lower in the water than I'd like. Because it's a tandem sit-on-top, you'll also want to plan on getting wet when you go out (great in the summer--not so great in the Fall).
My 14-year old son loves to go out in it with me as does my wife.
Do yourself a favor and buy the high-back seats with it. (Your back will thank you!)
When I first saw the yak, my first thoughts were that it would be a bear to paddle. With a beam of 34 inches I knew it would be stable but I also thought it would be a slow barge. Well I was incorrect, after getting it on the water with myself, another adult, and a small child, I could not believe how fast this yak was moving. Very easy to paddle, good speed, decent glide, tracks really well and has great stability. This tandem kayak is also small enough that I can car top it by myself (but see below).
I would give it a 10 but there are couple of things that I thought were needed on this kayak hopefully Ocean Kayak will make these changes. (1) It is difficult for one person to carry or car top this kayak because the plastic is slippery and there is nothing on the sides to hold onto. I fixed this problem by attaching grab straps on the sides, which I made from tubular nylon webbing and used well nuts and stainless steel hardware to attach the straps to the sides. (2 )I wish the kayak came with at least one hatch. OK does sell a hatch kit but I've had problems finding the kit. This kayak is just too much fun, definitely a keeper.
For diving: The Malibu Two was not particularly designed from the start as a dive platform but is easily tranformed into a great dive kayak for the larger diver with the addition of sufficient eyelets, bungies, and tethers for securing all your gear.
For surfing: This kayak is simply more fun than should be legal in the surf! I've had it out in 8' surf paddling tandem and a few times in 7' surf as a solo paddler. Either way it is absolutely a blast to paddle and surf! Paddling tandem, you can litterally catch every wave. Sitting solo in the rear-most seat position, you can take a sideways hit from just about any wave and recover to make several S-Turns on the face. About the only trick you need to know to surf the M2 is to never lean the boat. Stay seated upright with the kayak level in all situations and you will be surprised at what you can do with this most forgiving and easy to surf kayak!
For touring: OK, so there are a few faster boats out there for touring, but none that offer this much stability, durability, and maneuverability!
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