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Reviews for Piccolo Kayak by Wilderness Systems


Rated: 9.59/10 Based On: 17 Reviews

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09-23-2014
Submitted by: SCSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     First off, I am 50 years old, 5'11", 132 pounds, size 9 (women's) shoe. I paddle year-round in all kinds of conditions, mostly coastal tidewater and lakes. I have a lot of back problems and a serious shoulder injury that is not going to get better.

My go-to boats are my Emotion Bliss (a recreational boat designed for paddlers <150 lbs.), a Current Squall GTS (pre-2012 version, with the lower deck and more rocker), and a Yostwerks-designed Sea Otter R skin-on-frame Greenland. I love the Bliss for its light weight, short length, and super stability, but the wide-open cockpit and basic rec design are not safe for rough conditions.I love the Squall for its safety and handling, but it is too heavy for me to load by myself. I love the Greenland for its light weight and quick responsiveness, but I find it virtually impossible for me to re-enter in deep water because of its small cockpit (I can't roll due to my shoulder injury). I have been looking for a boat I can easily load that would handle well and be safe in windy conditions. I wanted it to be short, low-volume, and stable. I found the Piccolo.

This boat is everything I hoped it would be, only it's faster and more stable. The rudder works very nicely, but I have yet to be in a situation where I need it; the boat responds quickly to a lean or paddle sweep. I can drop one side clear up to the coaming without feeling the slightest loss of stability. It is amazingly quick and even paddles well without a paddle, using just my hands (I try to practice for any situation!). The deck is super low, which makes the boat handle like a dream in windy conditions. I moved the seat back a little to make room for my long legs, and it actually seems to have made it faster (perhaps because of the weight of my legs, and also my aggressive, forward paddling style). This boat is easier to cowboy rescue than anything else I have ever paddled. The low deck has very few nasty sticky-outy things to catch on, and the cockpit is just big enough for me to get my legs in easily.

This boat has been out of production for a number of years (WHY???), so if you find one for sale, be aware that the plastic has a limited lifetime left. Mine was very well-loved by a teenager, but I feel that on a cost-per-use basis, I will get my money's worth.

Be aware that this boat has no bulkheads. It needs to be paddled with float bags installed. I intend to use mine as a daytripper only, but speaking as a backpacker, I think it would be possible to camp with this kayak. The floatbags could be replaced with inflatable drybags. I have those in my Greenland and they work very well. The only other issue would be weight, keeping the boat in proper trim.

I can't recommend this boat highly enough for a smaller paddler who wants a kayak that fits. It may not be the best for long expeditions, but it does everything else very capably.

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12-03-2009
Submitted by: Lee ChamberlainSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     The Picolo by Wilderness Systems was and is one of the finer boats. The one here was originally purchased for my son when he was four years old. For a while the boat sat under the house as my son is now 6 feet tall. I have often paddled this boat on day trips and agreeably the lack of a rear hatch does establish limits. The boat handles well, turns smartly and runs water sweetly.

I weigh in at 164.4 and am 5'8" and sometimes my friends scoff at the little boat as I paddle it. However they rarely scoff after seeing it perform. As the owner of 11 sea kayaks it's one of my favorites. I have used it in just about every paddling environment - found it to be responsive and will heel well, rides a wave very well and has no problem on a carve down a wave face.

At 13'3" it's a keeper and a real shame it's no longer made. Over time some fading has shown but then again so have most boats as they grow older. Its lightweight and smart lines make this boat one for the records. I have actually used it on paddles overnight traveling extremely light, sleeping bag, bivy sack and heater meals tucked in a waterproof drybag. Used it for getting into tighter areas of the wetlands and actually deck mounted a camera.

It's a great little boat that gives a lot, weighs little and has provided me with some of my best paddling memories.

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04-29-2008
Submitted by: Ryan C.Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I am about 5 foot 6" 115 pounds and pretty skinny and it fits me fine. The boat is nice and light weight with decent tracking. A really good boat for it's price.
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04-01-2008
Submitted by: JASend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I love the Piccolo. I have 3!
My boys and I are outgrowing (Boys are 5'8") them, however my girlfriend LOVES the boat too. She is 5' and 110lbs. I bought them used and one of the previous owners misses hers so much she wants to buy it back! Hydrodynamically speaking, this is a very efficient boat. Without expending much energy you can cover a lot of distance. I am not aware of any plastic boats of this length that come close to touching the performance of the Piccolo. The Alto is the 17 ft version of the Piccolo. I have that and love it too. I'm 5'6" and 175lbs I am not comfortable in the Piccolo after more than 30 minutes. I have 6 kayaks. The Piccolo and the Alto are my favorites. Sadly, I have yet to see any production plastic boats with the same hull design being manufactured at this time. Simple and fast is a good thing:-)

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06-12-2007
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Awesome small person boat, especially for flatwater! That's what I originally bought it for. I sold mine and now I REALLY want to buy another one -- for river running. If anyone has one for sale, please contact me.
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01-22-2007
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     Why is that some of the better performing kayaks get the axe from the manufacturer, while other models that don’t perform continue to show up on the showroom floor for years to come? I’ve heard it said, more than once… “Why did they stop making the Piccolo?”. People say that this is great kayak for kids and for petite adults, and I know they’re 100% correct. I bought our used Piccolo for my daughter who had been paddling an Old Town Otter previously. She really liked the color of her Otter, which is more important (for a 9 year old) than say… something I like called “tracking”. This boat performs very well, not heavy, decent speed, tracking, fairly nibble. The day hatch behind the cockpit is nice for small items that she feels a need to carry along. Both the original front and rear floatation bags still hold air and provide decent flotation. The seat is simple, but no complaints about comfort. Front and rear deck bungee lines allow her to stow a jacket and such. The black trim around the cockpit (like Old Town) would fall off or come loose until I re-attached it using some Aquaseal. The drain plug in rear comes in handy after she’s done practicing wet exits. If you’re looking for a used Piccolo, you may find we I did; most are well (and I mean very well) used. All those scratches on the hull of the boats you’ll see came about because kids were having fun, lots of fun. If you can’t see past the scratches and want something nicer, keep looking and you’ll eventually find a decent used one like we did.
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10-30-2005
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I'm a solid intermediate and I love this boat - fast for racing, goes swiftly against current, I'm had it through class 3 whitewater. I weigh 155 lbs and I'm 5'5" with a 32" inseam. My only drawback to the boat is there is no real rear hatch so getting stuff into the back (for day tripping) is a pain. Other than that, this is the #1 boat I take out of my fleet...weight at 45 lbs beats out my 57 lb seayak any day unless I'm going to be out for more than 12 hours, or have a friend or two along.
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06-21-2004
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     We bought touring piccolos for our two children they paddled for many years on local lakes and rivers, they are great kayaks. These were their first kayaks and they never had any problems with paddling or turning. Outstanding performance and stability. Their father would often paddle with one child and the kayak handled just fine for short runs, he's 5'9 and 175 lbs - his only problem was being a little tight in the feet area, he wears a size 12 shoe! They are made for a smaller adult.
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07-14-2003
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     This is the best boat for kids to learn to kayak in. At the company that I teach for we have a fleet of mainly piccolo's and the kids love them.
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09-16-2002
Submitted by: ChapinSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I purchased the Piccolo for my 10 year old nephew who loves to follow me around in all the outings I do. He started out using my 17'-2'' Perception Sealion and was able to handle it. I rented him the Piccolo and he fell in love. The day I bought the plastic Piccolo we went out on an area lake and he was just about able to do an Eskimo roll in it only failing because he slid to the side since we had not put in hip pads. Hip pads are on the way and I feel that he will enjoy paddling the Piccolo for many years to come. He was able to handle a 2-3 foot wake that came at us too. I would recommend the Piccolo for anyone who wants to introduce kids to the sport of Sea Kayaking.
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10-11-2001
Submitted by: sfc
Rating: 8 of 10

     Great boat for small adults or children. I am 5'2" and weigh 126 and find this kayak easy to maneuver and am able to develop my skills much quicker than in a larger boat. The boat moves nicely through the water and I've handled 2-3 foot wakes on Lake Champlain with no problems. Lightweigh and easy to put on top of a car, but the plastic is not quite as sturdy as my other boats.
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09-04-2001
Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     We bought this boat for our kids and Mom. In our opinion it has a weight limit of about 125 pounds. If the paddler is heavier than that it becomes cramped with a low waterline. For the person under 125 pounds it seems to be great. My son is 115 pounds and loves it but he does complain about a constant left turn during a glide. It has a stiffening bar on the inside on the keel line. It didn't seem to bother anyone though. So far we really like the boat but just be warned that it is for light weights only. If you buy it for the light weight you can't go wrong. It is a performance boat for kids and there aren't many others out there. $500 aint bad either.
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08-20-2001
Submitted by: SISend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I am 5'0" 115lb female and have a bad back. My rotomolded Piccolo has never stopped me from putting in. My kayak has been to the Everglades and the coast of Maine and lots of ponds and the lake (the near great one) in Vermont. It fits me so well that the workout I get can be in the stomach or the legs. Whenever I get into another kayak I say wait a minute I can only use my arms in here! The other great thing about it is I can't fit any thing more on it which is great for my budget and my desire for the simple life. However, I have been considering this sailing feature (umbrella thing) I have seen. I hope they never stop making the Piccolo!
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05-22-2001
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     The Piccolo is an outstanding small sea kayak. It is designed as a scaled down version of a sea kayak. It is short, light weight, and the overall performance is excellent. Very good initial and secondary stabilty, quite fast for its length, and the tracking is great. I had done some research and asked a number of experienced kayakers before buying the Piccolo. All of the responses were the same, this is one of the best (if not the best) kayaks for children (or even a small adult). I have taken it out for a few short trips to the ocean in moderate wind and waves and the performance was great. I feel very comfortable having my children in with me in this kayak. They do not have any trouble keeping pace with us, and they really enjoy it. This one will be around for a long time. The kayak is reasonably priced, comes complete with two floatation bags, additional padding and a small day hatch. Overall a 10.
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03-12-2001
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 9 of 10

     Great boat for kids. My 5 amd 7 year olds have really picked up some excellent skills with this boat and have used it in small creeks as well as open bays. Plastic is a bit on the flimsy side but the light weight is nice.
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09-14-1999
Submitted by: SteveSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     Superior boat for introducing kids to kayak touring. I recently purchased a Piccolo for my son and he is rapidly learning new skills. One of the best things about this boat is that, by design, it permits new paddlers to improve and refine skills, offering new challenges not available in recreational kayaks often marketed towards children and smaller adult paddlers.
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08-17-1999
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     Great boat for introducing kids to boating. My daughter easily picked up paddling it when first introduced to it at age 8. Has excellent final stability, tracks well, and is fast.

Although a sea kayak, we have used it on overnight and day river trips with my wife and I in the tandem canoe while my daughter paddled the Piccolo. She has paddled it on up to Class II water.

My daughter has also taken it out in the ocean and she had no difficulty handling the big swells out there.

All in all a very versatile boat for introducing kids to boating as it can be used in a variety of water and learning to paddle is a breeze as it tracks well and is very stable.

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