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Very stable boat, tacks beautifully even without the rudder down. And, with the rudder down it takes away the need to edge constantly to stay on track. Although I hardly ever use it, I'd rather have it and not need it than to need it and not have it, I've got the best of both worlds with this boat.
I would not mind if it was a few pounds lighter, however the weight is not a big concern, as I am able to carry and or lift it without any problem. This is my first kayak, and I don't see having to purchase another for 10 years or so. This may be my one and only boat, very happy with this choice.
With no sprayskirt on my 6yo daughter can sit comfortably between my legs and we have a great time together on short paddles.
This kayak holds a ton of gear, I usually end up carrying friends gear...(mmm maybe not a plus point). It’s a "floating backpack" that can carry enough gear, food and water to be self contained for a weeks trip as recently completed in the Seto inland sea here in Japan. Empty or laden the boat handles and tracks well. I have a rudder which is a must, especially laden.
This yak is so stable that you can relax when paddling even in waves or chop. Other boats I have had/used in the past were more "nervous" feeling adding to your fatigue level.
Past reviewers have said that the boat is slow. I have not found this to be the case. Compared to my friends sea kayaks it is NOT any slower. Once moving, it’s quite easy to maintain speed. Empty, I won both the informal point to point races we had between friends recently. They were paddling a WS Tempest 165, a Cobra Expedition SOT and an Adventure 445. I’m not saying that this is a raceboat or anything but for the job of extended or day touring it is a very comfortable, stable yak and would recommend to the bigger/taller kayaker.
First off, the Captiva is a good boat. It's not a great boat. It looks snazzy and such. I've gotten comments on how sharp it looked, setting on my truck rack. The paddling is where differences of opinion occur...even with me. I frequently paddle it with friends who borrow my Acadia. If you paddle a strong and relatively fast stroke, the Captiva is the faster of the two, simply put. But, if you paddle slow and easy, I've had canoes run off and leave me. That said, if you are going down a river on a weekend camping trip, and you want to be able to take most of the fridge, kitchen, bedroom, etc. with you, this is the boat to do it in. The boat is pretty darned stable, holds a lot of gear, and then holds a lot more gear. I've had both hatches full, gear crammed between my knees, behind the seat, and under both bungees, and the boat was still as stable as a barge. It was slow and took effort in calm water, but in a creek with any current, it's reasonable. A good paddle and good technique will make some difference. The lighter the boat is, the less draft, i.e. the faster boat as it will have more freeboard. As I don't do any demanding water, I took off the thigh braces to give me more room to wiggle into the cockpit. I kept skinning my knees and even capsized a couple of times trying to get in the boat on slippery banks and boat ramps.
I'm a big guy, and admittedly, paddling the Captiva gets me tired after a bit. But then, don't we all get tired after a day of paddling?
I just bought a W/S Tarpon 160 and WOW! I had been concerned if it would be fast and how it would handle. It's wider than the Captiva and the same hull length, but it could outrun the Captiva with half a paddle, and turn twice as quick. Do I still like my Captiva? Yes, I do. The boat has its merits, which other paddlers have noted in previous reviews. However, if you don't mind a sit on top, look at the Tarpon. There's no skinny cockpit to wiggle into, and you can move around freely. For bigger paddlers, the Captiva is a pretty good boat. You feel safe and all, with the cockpit around you, sprayskirt fastened. However, even with my 250# butt, I felt very good paddling a Current Designs boat at a paddle day last year. So...look around before you buy. If I had it to do over, I probably would try and get something other than the Captiva.
My single complaint has been the seat which seemed to be related to my feet and legs going numb. I found gel seats were good for this but inflatable seats were even better. I just took this boat for nearly 300 miles down a river in the heat. it caried all my junk, and performed perfectly. Mine is yellow and red, i would have prefered less loud colors.
Trips have been anything from 5 - 25 miles, in mild conditions and 4-5ft swell with winds up to 20mph or so, it handles them all really well. In real heavy aft/quartering winds over a long crossing I put the rudder down, technique can cut it, but after a few miles it gets a little annoying! All in all, this is one of the best kayaks out there, particularly if you cant fit that easily into some smaller kayaks.
In my experience the Captiva is like paddling a concrete block through honey. I was tired and sore after each paddle. (yes, I will blame a % of that on technique) But even so this is a slow, lumbering boat. I dragged that thing through the water for about 2 months before I could not take it anymore and traded it back in.
If you are bigger don't get talked into a barge. Test paddle a bunch of boats. Personally I found the Cape Horns by Wilderness Systems to be perfect for me. We have a 15 & 17. Remember if you are new to the sport, don't buy a boat you can't test paddle!
I may be big but I love to kayak!!! The Captiva gets me out there (even in wild weather). I definitely recommend the expedition version with rudder as it does whip around in medium to high winds (why fight it with "technique" when you can just flip down the rudder?) The seat is very comfy even if I can't use the "cup holder" as it is under me... somewhere (who thought of that idea?). The stick-on "seat pad" comes loose when wet (duh?) and can move around (no big deal). The quality and finish is typical Perception: top-notch. The bulkheads are huge and holds lots of stuff (all the big stuff was put into my kayak during our Florida Keys trip).
The bad? Heavy and slow!!! At +70 pounds, it is work to get it up into a cradle by yourself without denting your vehicle or what-not. I strong as well as big so it was not too bad. Anyone less strong... better have two people.
Slow? Yes, it is slow.... like a ferry, barge or Queen Mary. (What do you expect when a kayak is big enough to carry a guy like me and not sink?) My wife (4'-11" and 115#) in her little Wilderness Systems Piccolo "needle" is like a bullet compared to me. I have to work the paddles pretty hard to keep up (did I mention I was strong....) This is the price I pay for being as big as I am (I am losing weight though...).
Believe it or not, the two-person Wilderness Systems Pamlico Excel I owned before the Captiva was faster. It was also as easy as falling when I wanted out (the Captive requires I lift myself out...). However, the Excel is an open cockpit design and I was doing Intercoastal & Ocean at the time and got tired of fearing every big wave or chop would swamp me (try pumping out a Pamlico a 1/2 mile from shore some time.... no thanks!!!) Now I live in North-Central Florida and we mainly do Springs and Rivers now days so I wish I had my Pamlico back...
All in all, it is just what the Doctor ordered for a big person! Get out there.... paddle hard and lose some weight!!!! Then, trade into a sleeker kayak...
I've paddled the Captiva on the ocean, large lakes and bays, in small marsh areas and in a variety of weather conditions (including heavy wind gusts) and found the Captiva to be a reliable and efficient kayak. While I amusingly refer to the Captiva as the "fat ass" version of Perception's Carolina, I mean this with all due respect. I'm 6'1, 255lbs, and find myself extremely comfortable in this kayak (even after 8 hour endurance paddles). I've noticed some people complain about control, handling, speed and tracking with the Captiva. If you have this problem, you're probably too small for the boat, or your paddling inefficiently. Any complaints about room for feet can be handled with a little outfitting and adjustment of the foot pedals coupled with a good pair of ergonomic river shoes. While I had some problems early on paddling the very large Captiva, I found using a 260cm paddle did the trick. With a 260cm paddle, my control, handling, speed, and tracking dramatically improved. It's a big boat for a big guy or gal, so it requires a little more paddle to maintain control. Another plus to using the longer paddle is speed.
While I've read a lot of complaints about the Captiva being slow, I do not have this problem. With a longer paddle and a good technique you can really move in the kayak. I have never had a problem "keeping up with the crowd" with this kayak!
On large ocean swells (10-feet or above) the Captiva has surprising secondary stability for its size. The Captiva punches through waves effectively as well. If you utilize proper technique and handling, the Captiva has little or no problem with wakes and turbulent water. I've been out in some heavy wind and chop on large bays and still maintained good stability. But I wouldn't recommend it for surfing; unless you're an expert at touring kayak surfing, it requires good skill and nerves for surfing. Even more surprising is the Captiva's endurance in windy conditions. While subject to substantial weather-cocking without the rudder, with the rudder the Captiva slices through wind like a hot knife through butter and maintains its tracking even in an aggressive cross wind.
This kayak was definitely made for an expedition. The front and rear bulkheads maintain more than adequate space for camping and cooking in the outdoors for weeks if necessary. Because of the Captiva's size, the fully packed Captiva is actually more maneuverable. The large rear hatch allows you to pack everything but a kitchen sink (perhaps even a toilet for the porcelain- challenged outdoorsmen). Although, with all the other luxuries, I personally would have added a day hatch (like on the Vizcaya) to this kayak if I worked at Perception. Overall, if you're a big guy or gal, enjoy long camping and kayaking trips and need a kayak that can overcome obstacles, the Captiva's for you. I've owned mine for four months now and have no complaints. And I would definitely recommend the expedition w/rudder model; it's worth the extra money because of the comfort and maneuverability offered by the expedition/with rudder model.
Overall, this boat is an eight. One, because it's my first, so I don't have an extended frame of reference like some other long time 'yakers. Two, because of the size of the Captiva, it is a little difficult to perform J-leans and rolls. Although with a little more experience and outfitting I'm sure it is possible. Any large person, looking for an accommodating, yet maneuverable and stable kayak with good storage capacity will enjoy this kayak.
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