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Reviews for Shadow Kayak by Nigel Foster Kayaks


Rated: 8.71/10 Based On: 7 Reviews

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02-10-2009
Submitted by: BartSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I had the Nigel Foster Shadow fiberglass for five years. I am 6'1", 195 pounds of solid muscle.
    What I love about this kayak:
  • It is a solid EXPEDITION kayak. The storage capacity. My buddies and I would go kayaking along New Foundland, and Labrador. I could load up the Shadow with a tent, sleeping bag, cooking stove, inflatable mattress, food, and extra clothes. My buddies would joke that I always had the most luxurious campsite accommodations.
  • Solidly built. This kayak is built like like a barge. And I never once questioned itís seaworthiness.
    What I donít like:
  • This kayak is HEAVY. I work out 5 days a week with weights. Yet to pull this kayak from the storage slot at shoulder height and bring it to the dock was a chore. I would remove all three hatch covers in an effort to reduce the weight by even a couple of ounces.
  • This kayak is not easy to roll. The cross section of this kayak is roughly a rectangle. So when you are upside down underwater you really have to muscle through the roll. Because this is a large expedition kayak, you canít really lean back from the roll without lifting your rump from the seat. So to roll you have to time perfectly the transition from when you are squeezing against the sides of the kayak to when you pop out of the water, lift your rump and lean back against the back deck.
  • Some kayakers like myself love to roll. Yet I didnít feel comfortable with my ability to nail the roll with the Shadow. As a solution I bought Sea Wings. They are inflatable sponsons that help to stabilize the kayak. They provided me the peace of mind to know that if I failed the roll, I would have a better means of kayak reentry than the regular paddle float.
  • This kayak also weather cocks in strong wind. Even if you tilt your hips, the weather cocking is often too strong. My favorite paddle is my Lendal bent shaft. During strong winds I would have to sweep stroke on one side and paddle regular on the other side. During a major crossing this can be tiring. My solution was to get a very long paddle. I think it was 240 cms. I would shift both my grips to the left or the right so that one side was getting more of a sweep stroke. This shift in hand position, perhaps four inches, allowed me to paddle for a long time and counteract the effects of a strong directional wind. The longer paddle also helped in general steering and rolling (although it was still difficult)
  • And this kayak was not fast. It wasnít slow. But during group paddles, and I would be paddling with good form, torso rotation, and see people with bad form, no torso rotation, and all arm movement keep up with me.
So if you want a high quality expedition kayak, and are a larger paddler (6 foot + and over 200 pounds), this is a kayak for you. If you want a kayak to paddle for daytrips and are smaller than 6 feet and 200lbs, do yourself a favor and get a smaller kayak with much less storage capacity.

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08-19-2008
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 7 of 10

     I just finished my first camping trip in my Shadow and am very pleased with how it behaved with a full load of gear. I am 6'4" and about 225 lbs, the boat settled down well, better initial stability than when empty and a joy to paddle. 6-7 km/h was no problem and even fully loaded I was able to surf the local ferry wake. Yee-haw! I am still learning a lot about how to paddle this boat, but I am really happy with my purchase.
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04-28-2008
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 7 of 10

     I have paddled my fiberglass Shadow now for about a year. I am 6 foot tall and 230 pounds, with shorter than normal legs so I am somewhat top heavy. I have paddle the boat for over 500 nautical miles and on one two week trip on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.
    Cons:
  1. The boat weathercocks in light to strong winds, particularily if you let your speed drop below 3.5 knots. Although if the seas get rougher it is not as noticable.
  2. The skeg is too small. With full skeg down and a strong side wind it barely will turn downwind. You can use the skeg on my wife's explorer to steer to boat.
  3. The cockpit could be lowered slightly and made about 1.5" longer. These changes would make it easier to roll, balance brace, and just get in and out.
  4. The day hatch and day hatch bulkhead have leaked from day one. When Seaward was contacted on this I was told to put more silicone on, not the response I was looking for. For comparison my wife's explorer has airtight hatches.
  5. The bulkheads are made out of a thin clear fiberglass that looks very fragile. The boat I demoed had much stronger bulkheads. I don't know why they changed.
  6. I have a rust mark on the skeg lever that is due to something in the skeg assembly. Again the explorer is totally clean here.
    Pros:
  1. This boat turns very fast for a boat nearly 18' long. Put it on edge and away you go.
  2. The seat is surprisingly comfortable. I have paddled in it for 8 hours with no breaks and the only issue was my bladder.
  3. The fiberglass hull work is done very well. Unfortunately it is now a little scratched.
  4. For me it has little primary stability (A lighter person would have a lot more) but the secondary stability is very good. The stabilty and rolling ease was improved when I cut down the seat back by two and a half inches. Don't get the back rest get the back band. The backrest tends to make your upper body follow the slope of the waves.
  5. This boat surfs better than any sea kayak I have paddled. I have managed a 100 meter surf on a two foot high tug wake. In normal small surf conditions you can feel the hull start to plane and slide down wave. It can start surfing backwards as well if you are not careful and this is not as fun.
  6. The boat seems to handle eddys and tide rips well although I have yet to take it into anything better than 7 knots.
Overall I really like the boat, it is not as fast as an explorer but for touring it is more comfortable. The weathercocking, I believe, is the tradeoff for the better handling. I was pleased with Seawards service before I got the boat, they lent me a shadow for about a month on the off season while they built mine, but the couple of times I called after I got the boat their service was not so good. Other than the bulkhead leaking there is nothing really wrong with the boat. I would recommend this boat for a larger paddler looking for a playful boat they can tour with. I do not give it a perfect rating because of Seaward's response to the leaky bulkhead, I ended up reinforcing it myself, and because there are other minor issues.

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05-19-2006
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I've had my Shadow for 5 months now and have found that I really love the boat. It is much faster than my other 17' Brit style boat and surfs better as well. Turning is easy with just a lift of a knee. The boat has a slight tendency to weathercock in strong winds, but the skeg easily corrects for that. It took a while to get used to the lack of initial stability, but the secondary is awesome. I rated the boat 9 out of 10 because no boat is absolutely perfect. Seaward did a great job building this boat and the quality certainly shows. If you are a bigger paddler, definitely check this boat out.
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03-16-2005
Submitted by: HKSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     An excellent kayak for the expert paddler. An acquaintance of mine who knows Foster says he thinks Foster designed this boat to show off his own unique paddling skills, 'cause no-one else can handle it. If you're under 5í 10Ē and talented, it's a great boat. Fast. Turns on a dime. Tracks reasonably well and the recessed rubber hatch covers securely contain an immense cargo space. But that virtually flat bottom wants to follow the face of a beam wave so, if you're taking beam or quartering seas and are taller than the average pygmy, best ride the chine and be prepared to brace. Exceptionally well made and comfy.
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08-22-2002
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 10 of 10

     Superior design combined with the best craftmanship and production standards in the business makes this an outstanding boat! Seaward uses only high quality materials and accessories on this 23" beam boat. The formed plastic seat is very comfortable. The back band is a little tall, but very supportive and doesn't interfere at all with lay-backs to do EASY Eskimo rolls. The chined hull makes for maneuverability that rivals any 16 foot boats, yet this boat can take any expedition that mere mortals might attempt. Extremely stable; the deck layout is 'clean' and functioal for a very dry ride. Quick acceleration and good speed. Lots of storage room accessed by LARGE, completely dry storage hatches front and rear. This boat has a sense of 'lightness' and responsiveness that equals a Pygmy Artic Tern. The skeg isn't really necessary, but operates flawlessly and is very effective when deployed. If a Greenland-style, chined hull boat is what you seek, I don't think you can find a better line of boats than the Seaward/Foster series.
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01-03-2000
Submitted by: Simon Jackson
Rating: 10 of 10

     This kayak is the big brother of the Legend kayak, it has a wider beam with great initial and secondary stability, this kayak is fast, tracks great and will turn easily if put on edge, weathercocking is minimal and easily corrected with paddle strokes or a slight lean.

I have used mine on a 1 week trip in Scotland and on various day trips in a variety of conditions and can find no fault with this kayak. try one and then buy one !!

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