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The more I paddled this boat the more I understood what a practical design it is. It is the biggest 17 footer I have owned in fact it holds as much storage as some much longer kayaks I have owned. It is the fastest plastic boat I have been in. The HTP material is the hardest and the stiffest plastic I have seen on a kayak. No fear of ending up on a rocky beach or worrying about oil canning in the sun.
Regardless of my initial capsize, this kayak has good primary and secondary stability. The gas pedal steering is excellent and it has a comfortable seat for long hours of touring. I have several glass kayaks but chose this kayak for a planned winter trip. Like I say, you can drag it up on a rocky beach without worrying about damaging the bottom. It has a large cockpit to make it easy for a big guy to get in and out of and lots of room for big feet. It rides the trough well as well as a following sea. It even handles the nasty quarter stern waves. That's it. This kayak get's a ten!
The boat tracks well, but tends to weather cock a little in strong winds. It is a large volume boat and you would expect it to be affected by the wind. The seat will adjust a little back and forth and the seat back will adjust a little. The seat is comfortable but could provide some more thigh support. The original neoprene hatch covers did not last long, but the replacement covers from wild water were much better than the original Prijon covers.
Here are positives and negatives, with what I didn't like first:
– Pretty low initial stability.
By no means the worst I've encountered (something like the Current Designs Scirocco is considerably worse on this), but low enough to be very annoying. Nor is it a case of 'yeah, it's twitchy, but you'll get used to it in no time'... more like, you'll put up with it and it'll feel a little bit less twitchy after awhile, but still pretty darn twitchy. This was surprising to me considering the Kodiak's width, which is a reasonable 23". My guess is that the hull is pretty rounded, a la something like the Nordkapp. Whatever they did, the boat doesn't let you fully relax, ever, which is a bummer. Not confidence-inspiring.
Uhh... there is none. The Kodiak turns like a tank, especially without rudder, and even the rudder is a bit undersized/not up to the task. I went mostly w/out rudder because I wanted a challenge, and boy oh boy, did I ever get one. Only way to turn this beast was with front and rear sweep strokes, and a whole lotta brute muscle... and even then, the turns were wide. Maybe if I edged hard it'd be a bit better, but the low stability makes you not want to try that too much.
- Main hatches.
These are fussy affairs with dual belts and buckles and a sprayskirt-like liner underneath. Quite cumbersome and slow, you really wish they'd gone for KayakSport or Valley-type 'tupperware' hatches instead.
- Deck hatch.
This is a small screw-top hatch placed right in front of the cockpit. You think it's convenient and neat, until you realize that it isn't waterproof.
- Deck rigging.
Would rather have deck lines than the front and rear nets... they just feel more secure.
At this point, I almost have to wonder if Prijon is being 'different just to be different' in order to differentiate itself from other kayak manufacturers.
- It does fit large paddlers pretty well.
I'm a fairly big boy and it felt plenty roomy to me, and had enough room for my feet (size 10s) which, shockingly, even some fairly big boats don't always (the Etain RM 17-5 for example).
- TONS of cargo room. It is an expedition boat, for sure.
- Handles small waves well.
This is the plus side of the poor initial stability... the rounded hull shrugs off small waves pretty well. However, I wouldn't want to deal with large waves in this thing, because I prefer a more stable platform to brace from than the Kodiak provides. With the Kodiak, you're not sure where the tipping point is, so you don't feel confident leaning hard into a wave and bracing.
The Kodiak has above average speed (probably due to its length and low rocker). It's no super-speedster, but it'll get up and go.
Overall, I'd say the Kodiak might make a decent loaded expedition boat (it's probably more stable with a bunch of ballast weight sitting down low) for large paddlers who are of the mindset that they're willing to learn the boat's quirks and put up with them.
But as a day boat (i.e. 'get in and go'), it would be pretty unwieldy/sub-par for most anybody, and I do think it suffers from a big dose of 'being different just to be different' syndrome.
I hear that Prijon doesn't make this boat anymore, and it's probably just as well as even large paddlers who are expedition-focused can likely find better options out there. But to those out there who might buy one used or rent one, well, you've been warned.
The time in which this kayak was made (about 10 yrs ago) makes it a little on the aged side. The most notable flaw I noticed in the design of this kayak has to do with the seat. The seat is installed into the kayak using a set of runners and a adjustable shim-clamp. It may be hard to visualize, but the clamp is very prone to slippage when using cross-extensor paddling techniques causing the seat to become misaligned. This combined with the flimsy-possibly-aftermarket rudder system made it a frustrating kayak to use for a while.
After I fixed the seat issue this kayak was a charm to ride.
The Kodiak is a big, fast gear hauler, suitable for going from point A to B. It is not playful, but it handles loads and rough water well. It is rudder dependent in wind. The rudder pegs are the gas-pedal type and work well. The neo + plastic hatch covers are very water-tight and absolutely cavernous: lots of room to swallow gear. The boat rolls fine if you pad out the cockpit with foam.
Conclusion: if you are looking for a big tripping boat to cover long distances under load, the Kodiak should be on your list. If you want such a boat in quality plastic, then the Kodiak should be near the top of your list.
So, now the seemingly not so good. I will start with the mini hatch in front of the cockpit, which by the way, according to Prijon, is not water tight. Why? Who Knows. Yeah, why would you put a hatch in a spot that potentially gets mass water, and not make it water tight? The positioning of the mini hatch is ridiculous. It is placed out in front of you about as far as the average human can reach, right where your deck bag SHOULD go, if you carry one. Because of this hatch, your deck bag/boat tie down connections don't even start till forward of this hatch, which is, as stated, now beyond normal reach. As if the hatch takes the place of a watertight deck bag. I suppose I can add some worm gear aft of the hatch on the sides, but then my deck bag will sit on top of the hatch cover, which is bulky and raises off of the deck. Just not smart.
People have seemed to like the "gas pedal" style rudder pedals. I think they are a poor design. I like the KISS principle, pedal, cable, rudder. The Prijon design has too many moving parts and adds strap and cable situated around your feet where it is already busy. When my feet are situated where I want them, heels on the floor of the cockpit, the fulcrum point for the pedal is above the ball of my feet, and I wear a size 11. This means you have to actually lift your foot a bit to push and activate the rudder. Not a huge deal, but not to ergo either. Also, with this design you almost have to push the pedal straight on, like the gas pedal in your car. This is difficult because of the angle that your feet meet the pedal, coming from the thigh braces. I adjusted till I was blue and still could not get it comfortable. You have to pull a knob to adjust the pedal position, then pull a strap to adjust the pedal angle. The strap is attached to the upper outside of the pedal, which as stated, makes it too busy by the feet. Why so many moving parts just to steer a kayak? Who knows.
The seat is ok. I don't care for how it adjusts, if it slips off its track, it can be cumbersome to re-attach. Again, not huge, but a little tic that in my humble opinion, does not need to be. The hatch covers seem sturdy and well made. They fit tight and conform well to the shape of the boat once tightened. Prijon uses a plastic clip to restrain the excess strap after tightening. This clip is poorly designed and has no place on a expedition sea kayak. The clip actually falls off the strap when moved aggressively and it WILL break or be lost your first trip out. I know I know, not huge, but why even put it there?!
I returned a new Necky Looksha 17 before buying this boat. It was more comfortable in the cockpit, but the design flaws were so glaring that I could not imagine keeping it. That might be another review. Living in Las Vegas does not make it easy to buy a kayak. I just go off of reviews and others experiences and hope for the best. I am hoping the paddling experience in this boat is so good that it trumps the bad...I'll let ya know.
One of my kayaking buddies calls it the Hummer of kayaks. It's big, it's tough, it's not as elegant looking as a composite sea kayak and it can carry a ton. The plastic Prijon uses is incredible. It can take any abuse a paddler could dish out. The plastic has a matte finish that takes some getting used to. I had intended to upgrade to a glass or kevlar boat, but my finances didn't allow it. I am glad I decided on the Prijon. The composite boats may be cooler looking and lighter, but when the going gets tough (and rocky), they can't compete.
I would recommend the Kodiak to any skill level paddler and whatever you do, get the rudder.
After tons of research I decided on the Prijon Kodiak and the Necky Chathem 17. I am 6'0 and 220 lbs. Size 11 feet. I am hard on gear and usually test the limits as far as durability. My requirement's were...
e) Price (we had to buy 2 boats)
I bought the Prijon over the Necky simply because I hadn't had the opportunity to sit in, touch or feel a new Chatham 17 and the 16 didn't fit well. The Prijon also seemed significantly more rugged.
I couldn't be happier with my choice. Every time I paddle I think that I have the perfect boat. It was a little "tippy" at first but that was gone in about the first 20 minutes of the first 3 trips. I played in our pool with it and it's much more stable that it seems. I highly recommend testing the limits early on if you're a newbie like me. It gave me tons of confidence. The only reason I didn't give it a 10 is that I haven't paddled everything out there and I probably wouldn't give anything a 10 anyway. I can't think of one single thing that I would change. I've practiced rolling it (unsuccessful in our pool but, I'm new to the sport and I have never had any rolling training. It was a whim one day. I was very close to being successful. With a rolling lesson or two, I think I have it. It's certainly not the boat's fault). I love this boat and I was worried about buyer's remorse. No remorse at all. I can't recommend the Kodiak highly enough. Customer service from Prijon was also very attentive when I contacted for info re: Kodiak before purchase.
I hope this review helps someone as much the previous reviewers helped me. Especially if you can't try a ton of boats.
This is by far a great kayak for the oversize paddler. I couldn't ask for a better fit. The performance is much more than I expected. Turning in a lean turn is exceptional and much better than I expected for a 17 foot boat. The initial stability was tippy at first, but in a short time all was well. The primary is great. I have been out in it at least 30 time and it shows not a sign of wear on the hull. The HTP construction lives up to it's name. I have only one problem and at the age of 63 the kayak is a little heavy for the old man, but I manage and will continue.
I really love the Kodiak and I'm sure this will be my last kayak purchase. Be sure to try one if you are looking for that perfect sea kayak.
The good - It's a durable Kayak with a type of air induced plastic manufacturing that creates a stiffer and more durable kayak. It doesn't scrape or scratch half as much as my wife's Venture Easky 15. It's a heavy kayak, being about 66lbs. This seams to help in the water, allowing for better secondary stability. In fact, when paddling into the wind or through some choppy water, this yak seems to hunker down and carry you through like a champ! It's a fast boat for such a big kayak, and I can out-paddle just about everyone on the lake except for the racing kayakers.
The bad - Primary stability was a little less than I had expected. In truth, I tipped the yak in 6 inches of water on my maiden voyage when trying to shove off a low grade boat ramp in a dry entry (darn bow hung on the ramp). I'll admit that I was a fool, not to mention being a novice. Wet entries are much better for me. Also, it took a while to understand what a tri-hydral hull handled like. It was different than the Easky 15 and the Necky Zoar I had tried. You can lean this kayak a bit more than you would think, and when I finally get a rudder, I think I'll even learn to edge it through turns.
Overall, I'd give it a 10! I love this yak! Its got great storage space. Its got a very comfortable seat and thigh braces that are fully adjustable as well. You can't go wrong with this one!
The only problem I have found is that the rudder release system, which is made up of a line with two plastic spheres and a hook for attaching the line at the side of the paddler, sometimes falls off when you pull to drop the rudder. I have had the release line drag behind me in the water for the entire duration of the trip, picking up kelp and stuff. This is a minor nuisance and I have learned to be more careful when dropping the rudder.
The speed is good, and I have recently had the opportunity to test it - I fell in with a group of paddlers going full tilt in their sleek touring kayaks and their huge, shovel-like wing paddles. I wasn't quite able to keep up with them, but almost...
I am 6'3", 225lbs, size 14 feet. The Kodiak has more that enough room. I do not have to have the seat all the way back and the foot pegs are still not all the way forward. I test paddled and looked at as many boats as I could and finally settled on the P&H Capella 173 with a skeg. In the end I did not want to spend $6,000 for 2 Capellas and instead took a hard look at the Prijons. I am really glad I did.
I kept hearing about the light weight and speed of fiberglass vs plastic. But the 17' Kodiak weighs only 4 lbs more that the 17" Capella. Also, the Prijon's blow mold process produces a very stiff plastic boat. With the Prijons I don't have to worry about dragging them over rocks on shore. They will stand up to anything. They are beatutiful, very durable, high quality boats at half the price of fiberglass.
I originally was looking for a skeg, but the Prijon balance rudders are much more versatile in all conditions. We have been out in 20 Knot winds with 4' seas and these boats handle beautifully.
Anyone considering a sea kayak should definitely take a look at the Prijons. Depending on size and what you want do with it, either the Touryak, Seayak or Kodiak should be on a short list.
I'm a big guy at 6'3" and 240lbs yet I found the Kodiak fit me very nicely and easy to get into to boot. My size 13 flippers also fit into the cockpit too!
I rented the Kodiak for a weekend just to play with it and test it's abilities (and mine). My test were done on a small lake with calm water and a slight breeze. The first tests I did where just me and the boat, the second test the boat was loaded with two rocks (1 front 1 back) that totaled 110lbs. Please note that the loaded boat with me in it was 345lbs and over the rated capacity of 330lbs. I did this intentionally as I know from experience that a 10 day trip will probably see that much weight in extra food/gear.
I found the Kodiak much faster than I thought it would be and would guess that 6 or 7 kph would be easy to maintain without a lot of effort. The initial stability for me wasn't too bad empty and improved a lot when loaded. I didn't find the secondary stability as good as others have described, but that is probably due to my inexperience. Secondary stability got better when loaded.
I have never done an eskimo roll before and this weekend was no exception. I tried numerous times with no joy - again inexperience. The boat definitely turns better when leaning over; when empty however it became quite clear that I would need a lot more practice before I would find turning acceptable. Loaded I found the turning to be less than desirable and likely to get me into trouble if I need to negotiate any fast moving water.
The seat was comfortable and nicely adjustable for big guys like me. Testing the rudder I found the cabling and adjusting straps rubbed against my legs at times. I would have thought the rudder to be more effective but it is a 17' boat after all and the rudder doesn't go very deep into the water.
The quality and workmanship of the Kodiak is outstanding and the HTP plastic is a lot more rigid than the regular polyethylene. I also read somewhere that this type of plastic is field repairable where as polyethylene is not.
The bad- Size/ Remember, this boat is a beast, 17' and 62lbs. This boat was designed for long trips and to be loaded with a lot of gear. This is not a boat that I would recommend to someone just to take out for a day paddle or to use as a "light
touring" kayak. This is an expedition kayak.
The ugly- The size and weight of the Kodiak combined make this a hard boat to store and transport as I quickly found out. The heat especially is bad for this boat as if it is not evenly distributed, will warp or dent severely either on its side or when setting flat. The only good thing is that if this happens, applying heat with a heat gun or a hair dryer will "pop" the dents out and the plastic will return to its original form as plastics have a "memory".
Bottom Line- An excellent expedition kayak especially for the bigger paddlers. The quality is top notched and a high level of detail went into this boat at all levels. The Kodiak by Prijon has set the benchmark for plastic kayaks and will be a classic boat for a long time....
I immediately felt right at home in the kodiak. Once I adjusted the seat, foot pegs, and thigh braces to my personal preferences... it fit like a glove and for a moment I forget I wasn't in my Sea Yak. For a heavy boat (62lbs) the boat is extremely fast and tracks well. I took it out into some 3-4 swell and white caps on the chesapeake bay and it handled beautifully. I'm still getting used to the extra legnth which is a factor in heavy swells and cross currents. But that is not the boat as much as me needing to remember it is 11 inches longer than my sea Yak.
The inital stability is excellent, secondary stability is very good. The boat rolls easily as well. I have not used the rudder yet, and I doubt the rudder will get much use. I am a semi retire(shoulder injury) white water paddler and rely heavily on corrective stroking and leaning to keep the boat tracking. The kodiak also looks great. I got the mango with black outfitting. The new day hatch is very useful... especially being right in front of the paddler as opposed to behind... which was hard to access in my capella. The only downside about the boat thus far is that it does not surf as well as my Sea Yak... but again it is a much longer and heavier boat.... A great overall kayak for general paddling... particularly for a larger paddler.
Stability- standing still you have a tippy feeling beacause it moves from the center stability position to the side stability position so easily, but once you get a feel for that it is quite stable. When moving it feels very stable and once you get used to leaning it into its side positions you can turn smoothly and rather nimbley for such a long and great tracking boat.
Fast- a great top speed. Gentle strokes give an easy 4-5 knots and a good hard paddle gives about 7 or so sustainably for me. Very efficient and quiet on the water. This boat likes speed.
Manuverable- I have not yet put on a rudder and while I had planned to add it quickly last year, I found I really didn' need it. This boat has rapidly become a mindless extension of my body so I really don't have to think about turning, it just moves with me. Very nice in a long boat!
Tough- the platic is very rigid. I have managed to scratch it from rocks and dragging but it is a very durable and much stiffer than normal plastic boats.
Comfortable- the padded seats are very comfortable for long trips, there is enough room in the cockpit for you to move your legs around and strech out a bit.
Storage- the storage is very good! Big compartments that seem tight fore and aft and a handy easy access watertight compartment right in fromt. Bungee nets on top. Nice appointments on boat.
Looks great- I saw one once on the water and was impressed. Now I am doing that to people. It is a cool looking boat, I have had a number of other paddlers single me out of a group of boats to complement. (Not me I think, just my boat, but still, it feels good!)
This is a good a boat as you are likely to ever need. I give it a solid 10!
The performance of the Kodiak is stellar, and in wind-whipped chop it seems to stay steady and straight thanks to the 17 foot one inch length. This length compensates for the weathercocking that is famous for shorter Prijon models. I have no rudder, and find that the boat seems to edge well; I have not yet been in conditions that warrant a rudder, although I am a rudder advocate when necessary. This boat appears to do well without.
The Kodiak’s speed is better than fair, but it is with a 24 inch beam. It is, by reviews I have read, the second fastest Prijon. It would likely not be as fast as a 21-22 inch sea kayak, and if shear speed is the goal, try the Prijon Barracuda (see my review on that boat). If longer treks, distance paddling, especially if on stumpy, icy or rocky waters, the Prijon Kodiak rules over fiberglass and Kevlar. If one were paddling in debris-clear water, a very long distance, on low to middling chop, another 21-22 inch yak would likely get you from point to point quicker. The Barracuda should be considered in those cases, esp. as it can handle some abuse.
In summary, the Kodiak is a workhorse of a sea kayak, favored by expedition kayakers like Renata Chlumska and Jon Turek. It holds loads of gear (but not startlingly more than the Prijon Barracuda). Please note that, although I am below the height and size that is generally thought of for the “big man’s boat” Kodiak, I feel perfectly confident and comfortable in this 2004 model year boat. It paddles like a charm, has high initial and secondary stability. It has a generous cockpit opening that allows great leg stretch, and requires an XL Wildwasser or Snapdragon sprayskirt. The boat performs well with a 220 cm or 230 cm paddle length. The quality control at Prijon is exceptional.
I'm not sure I like the seat back adjustment? there is a small cord between you legs you pull and push into a slot to grip it which moves the back forward. You have to really push it down in to get it to stay and it loosens up.
It moves along real nice! I dont have anyway to see how fast though. If you want a boat to take out on anything from rivers,lakes or ocean and load down with a lot of supplies for a trip this is a good choice, Big hatches and plenty of room. Plus the nets and straps on top as well as the paddlefloat tiedown.
Rudder control footbraces are nice, easy to adjust and offer good support and plenty of area to keep your feet from sliding off. The plastic used is blowmolded and tough but you do have the 62 pounds to deal with. Good handling and stability to me and Im new at this!
I'm real happy with it I give it a 9 for being a real solid boat with quality features designed to be used and not just appear useful. except the seatback adjustment Im sure they will change that!
The Kodiak is a sturdy, trusty and seaworthy kayak. It is reasonably fast and rollable. It handles well in surf and chop. Storage space is voluminous (I'm getting spoiled). The kayak holds up well to the inevitable knocks against rocks and sand abrasion. The fittings hold up well. The hatches keep the storage areas dry even after extensive rolling and surf work/play.
Some day I may trade up to a glass or kevlar boat for day trips, but I will continue to use the Kodiak for multi-day trips.
I'm very tall, and it is so refreshing to have a kayak in which I can fit comfortably. The Kodiak is a great choice for tall/big people. I wouldn't recommend it to smaller folks, who would rattle around in the cockpit.
The downside to the Kodiak is the flip-side of its many virtues. This is not a kayak that you wear like you wear a low volume, narrow beam kayak. Nevertheless, for its size the Kodiak is surprisingly agile.
In sum, this is a great kayak for people ranging from beginners to those planning extended trips in rough conditions. The Kodiak may be the best combination of speed, durability and versatility that you will find in a plastic kayak.
As others have noted the Kodiak is a fast kayak with a great deal of storage that really loves rough water. I've had my boat in 5-6 foot surf and it broached only slightly. It weathercocks slightly, but only in the heaviest winds. With the rudder down, it is unmovable. It slides effortlessly over the face of almost any wave. In confused water, when other boats tend to bob, the Kodiak cuts right through, as if it is unconcerned with either chop or current.
While it is a bit on the heavy side, the boat has been very durable and has been used two to three times a week for over four years, and even more often in the summer. The hatches are cavernous almost 10000 cubes and the boat gains a great deal of initial and final stability as the weight sinks it into the water. The boat is easy to maneuver for a boat its length, and can be held on edge, while standing still, quite easily.
On the down side- I have had trouble with the thigh braces and after trying to fabricate my own, eventually ordered a set of customized replacements from Prijion (this has only become available this year, at a low cost). I have talked to many other Prijion owners who have had problems with the hard, brick-like braces. I also replaced the backband, as the original was little more than a piece of Styrofoam covered in fabric. I have resealed the bulkheads and they stay relatively dry save a few tablespoons of water but the old-style plastic hatch covers have both been replaced as they broke quite easily. The new ones are much better.
The buckles have also been replaced several times. I have also had to replace the deck nets every other season as they loose their elasticity.
One benefit I was especially interested in was the ability to repair the plastic. This promise, however, has proved to be disappointing. After purchasing half a dozen different consumer and commercial glue guns, and two soldering irons, I can safely say that using the repair sticks is minimally effective and does actually bond with the plastic to make one cohesive piece. The repairs fall out quite readily and are difficult to shape. The rudder lines also cut your legs if you are not careful, although it does not require the rudder very frequently.
Prijion customer service has been excellent. I can say they have been more prompt and courteous than any other customer service department, regardless of product or field, than any other I have ever dealt with. Ever problem I have encountered has been quickly responded to and successfully addressed. For this alone, I will probably purchase additional Prijion boats in the future.
Overall, while not a novice’s boat, this boat is comfortable.
The most often comment I receive is "that is a fast boat". And I would agree. I am not an athletic paddler but I have no problem keeping up with others or I end up in front of the pack. The Kodiak just seems to glide further than other boats with every stroke. I paddle less often and with less effort.
Stability is not an issue with any reasonable usage. Storage is voluminous. And the quality of the fit and finish is great.
I have not tried rolling and I suppose there are some details I would change but there is no doubt in my mind that I bought the right boat for me. I am 74 inches tall and weight 240 lbs. I have paddled the Buffalo River from Ponca to Hasty, the Little Buffalo from Jasper to Hasty and the Missouri River from Fort Benning to Kipps Landing. The Kodiak is built for expedition kayak camping.
If you are considering this kind of kayak I strongly urge you to check out the Kodiak.
Firstly, I bought the rudderless version, as I am new to paddling sea kayaks and wanted to learn how to handle one without a rudder. However I would have liked the option of a retractable skeg as an alternative, for those rear quartering sea days and longer journeys.
Secondly, I am a bit of a fanatic about rolling - and I mean not just a flat water roll but being able to roll any boat I paddle in heavy seas or surf. To me this is an essential kayaking skill, though I know not everyone agrees. I found that the thight braces in the Kodiak were inadequate in this respect, so that whilst the boat rolled well in calm seas, or even facing into the waves, it was too easy to get twisted out if you tried to roll in surf or a beam sea. I have replaced the rather small side braces with proper thigh braces from a white water boat and am pleased to report that it now rolls a charm in the above conditons, and now I can just focus on my set up and sweep, without worrying about being rocked or twisted out of position, and be confident that I can get myself the right way up again should I ever need to.
Thirdly, I found the tow lines fore and aft top be a real hazard as, unbekownst to me, the rear one worked loose whilst I was paddling recently and when I treid a practice roll I discovered that my paddle had gone through the post capsize free floating looped end and pulled it tight, preventing me from completing my sweep, and having to try and free the paddle underwater. I'm glad I discovered that one in shallow waters during a practice and not in deep waters when I might have really needed my roll! It may have been a freak accident, but I have erred on the side of caution and removed the tow lines. I can live without being able to tie the kayak up using them, but can't live with the thought that this could happen when I least need it to.
So, great boat, I would recommend it, but if you're anything like me you may need to do a bit of customisation to bring your boat up to the highest sea kayak standards.
Kodiak - I am 6'4", 220 lbs, size 14 feet. The Kodiak fits. With the footpegs on the last holes my knees pop nicely under the thigh hooks. I can only wear neoprene booties with a thin sole though. The cockpit is big enough where I can lift my knees one at a time to stretch. Getting in bottom first then tucking my legs in doesn't work real well because of my long legs.
The boat weighs 57.5 lbs empty. I can pick it up and use the cockpit/shoulder carry method comfortably. The stern toggle is too close to the rudder to be comfortable. The hatches are watertight and well designed. The neoprene covers are difficult to get on and off. The rudder mechanism works very well. The deployment line is a bit farther back toward the stern than I like and I have long arms. The gas pedal foot controls allow strong braces and sensitive trimming of the rudder.
The boat edges nicely although the limit is elusive. It takes seas on the bow or stern well. It weather cocks enough that I would rather rely on the rudder than edging and correcting. The seat and backband are "okay." They adjust easily but aren't real comfortable. I would like to adapt the Wilderness Systems' Phase III seating, but haven't yet.
The deck netting works pretty well. The forward net should extend back closer to the cockpit. The rear net is effective for carrying "stuff" but isn't great for holding a paddle blade during a self rescue. The cross straps on the hatches work well for holding spare paddles. The D-Rings are very useful. The boat accelerates and glides well considering its design. It is comfortable to paddle and I could carry a month's supply of "stuff" into it.
If you're serious about paddling, don't base your purchase off looks, base if off functionality, comfort, and features. There's no other plastic Kayak out there that has the features of the Kodiak, but again, if you're looking for a touring "play boat" look elsewhere.
So, if you are looking for the most durable, longest lasting and a super performing kayak that you will not have to upgrade in a couple of months and you are willing to take a couple of hours to learn how to kayak, get the kodiak(if you can fit, if not go on a diet). If you are into your into kayaking because it is the latest fad and looking for a kayak that looks good to your friends as it hangs in the garage, get into anouther sport.
Prijon's touring boats are also very accommodating. Considering its size this kayak is rather light at 58lbs. The Kodiak is equipped with an adjustable seat and thigh braces. A great feature for getting proper fit and function out of the kayak and especially a nice feature if more than one person uses the kayak. The gas-pedal type foot braces are a very nice touch and are extremely comfortable to use with or without the rudder. Prijon has one of the best rudder systems on the market. The optional rudder is easily deployed and control is both effective and comfortable via the pedal system. You can't beat it! The rudder system is simple but practical, and I installed it myself with no experience, just the directions, in a little less than an hour.
Other useful amenities are the recessed deck-fittings, deck pack nets, a safety deck line, and fore and aft "tow-lines", or mooring, lines. The Kodiak provides ample storage for multi-day trips. The hatches are a combination neoprene cover with a hard plastic shell covering the hatch. The web straps hold well, even under intense conditions, and so far I have not had any water leak into the hatch. And I've been in some intense conditions. One feature that Prijon does not advertise well is the mooring lines. The lines are secured to the deck but can be easily released. They come in handy for two reasons. One, when you're in shallow water you can easily disengage the lines and pull the kayak along. A very practical advantage! Two, if you pull up to a dock you can easily secure the kayak.
While I find the deck netting very effective, some people are not crazy about it. The netting in front of the cockpit is a little far forward and some paddlers might not like that. I've considered placing some extra shock-cord a little closer to the cockpit. The back brace has received some criticism, but I've found it very practical. It provides excellent comfort on extended trips. Some criticize the overall design and colors, but Prijon maintains its own unique style and design. And it's a style and design that definitely performs.
Whether is the fish-form design, the trihedral hull, or the Kodiak's contours, this kayak is a true performer. The Kodiak cuts through the water like a glass or Kevlar boat. And it's fast! It accelerates quickly and maintains speed with little effort. In heavy boat wakes, chop, and fetch, the Kodiak handles extremely well. The fish-form design allows for very specific boat control in regard to edging and bracing in extreme conditions. The trihedral design allows for a smooth transition from initial to secondary stability. The Kodiak does not have an upturned "Greenland" bow like the Sea Yak, but it does quickly shed water from the deck and efficiently cuts through waves. I've had this kayak out in a variety of places and conditions, from wide rivers, large lakes, marshlands, open bays, and even in the turbulent Atlantic Ocean in windy conditions. The Kodiak met my expectations in every condition. As an intermediate kayaker I felt very comfortable even in very rough conditions with the Kodiak. And I feel this kayak will serve me well as I advance my skills. The only thing I haven't done with the Kodiak is a roll, but that's more because of my lack of skill rather than a fault of the kayak (I keep lifting my head up). With proper outfitting and skill, this kayak can be rolled. The one relevant issue people have with the Kodiak is turning. It should be mentioned that this kayak was designed specifically to track well. And it does track well. It takes some serious gusts of wind to weathercock the Kodiak. The Kodiak will make efficient, sharp turns if you combine good sweep strokes with slight edging.
This kayak is ideal for a larger paddler. I'm 6'1", 250lbs. I've modified the cockpit with closed cell foam to increase comfort and paddling efficiency, but otherwise I required no special modification to the kayak's design. After test paddling several models, I chose the Kodiak and have enjoyed it ever since. I'm giving the Kodiak a 9, but only because of my limited experience rather than because the Kodiak's excellent performance.
Then there's the fit and finish. For my money, I want a boat that not only paddles well but also is aesthetically pleasing. To MY taste, Kodiak was not. The matte finish was not appealing to me. The boat I paddled was multi-colored, and looked a little as though it was unintentionally so. She was NOT graceful looking. The deck rigging can only be described as cheesy. Now I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but it just didn't do it for me.
The first thing I want to mention is how great the material is for a plastic boat. The blow molded manufacturing process really does yield a more dense, stiffer, thinner and lighter hull. The Kodiak, at 58lbs, is one of the lighter plastic boats of its length and only about 5 lbs heavier on average than fiberglass boats of the same length. The large keyhole cockpit is easy to get in and out of even with my 36" inseam. The seat contour is good and the seat is comfortable for me without padding. There's a cup holder in the seat like on typical rec boats and that has come in handy on lazy river paddles without a skirt. The back support is low, soft and comfortable and adjusts in angle easily with one hand while seated in the boat. The seat adjusts fore and aft a few inches and the thigh braces also adjust fore and aft a few inches making it easy to "fit" the cockpit. The adjustments are made using an allen key which is conveniently stored in a little socket in one of the thigh braces. All of the boat's hardware seems to be good quality stainless steel that holds up to lots of adjustments. No deforming of any screw heads or allen sockets yet. I found the thigh braces to be just a tad aggressive for me, the edges dug into my thigh a tiny bit but they are easily removed and filed or sanded since they are solid blocks of plastic. Additional braces can be ordered from Prijon's web site so you can have a go at reshaping them without worrying about wrecking you boat. I purchased the boat without a rudder. The footbraces are easily adjustable and generous in size but are really designed for use with a rudder. The rudder is controlled using the pedals in a gas pedal like fashion rather than sliding back and forth. If you want to get a boat with a rudder, seriously consider the Prijon boats for that feature. The cable ways and rear mounting block are stock so adding a rudder later is a no brainer. One downside to the rudder design is that it does interfere slightly with the rear carry toggle when stowed. The Kodiak has handy safety lines all the way around the perimeter laced through recessed plastic hardware that also act as places to attach additional rigging or lights or a compass. There are bow and stern mooring lines which can be reached from the cockpit to toss to someone already on the dock or to grab upon exiting the cockpit. Carry handles are sturdy plastic handles attached by a loop of nylon webbing. The webbing is short stiff enough to keep the handles from clunking on the hull while bouncing around in waves. The hatch system is nice too. Almost flush mounted thin thermoformed plastic covers over tough neoprene inner seals with 3/8" bungee rands have kept my compartments bone dry even through lengthy self rescue classes. The thin plastic covers appear to be high impact ABS or similar material and are held down by nylon webbing with fastex buckles. The covers are captured by the webbing on one side so they don't blow away when you take them off. Where the webbing attaches to the deck there are D rings so you can lash additional gear on top of the covers using rope, bungee or webbing. The rear hatch opening is huge and the compartment is too. Large enough to fit my cart (model name: Pop Cart) without breaking it down. The front hatch opening is much smaller but still larger than most other front hatch openings. Bulkheads are well sealed and keep water out. The Kodiak comes with stretchy netting type of rigging fore and aft of the cockpit. I found the netting a little difficult to quickly get things in and out of so I removed it and replaced it with the typical bungee deck rigging laced through pad eyes (inchworm eyelets) that I mounted with SS hardware. The flat part of the deck around the coaming resolves in an upward scoop toward the rear deck. While it's not likely that this contour was designed to do so, I find it helps steady the paddle during a paddle float re-entry which I've begun practicing without rigging the paddle to the rear deck. The coaming on the Kodiak could be taller and deeper. The Wildwasser skirts made from Prijon stay on just fine but I've had trouble with a couple other brands with heavier rands slipping off. Luckily the Wildwasser skirts are very nice skirts so this is only a minor negative. A more serious negative is the undesireable flexibility of the deck next to the right thigh brace. The boat could be stiffer there. I think my boat might be an exception in this case as the left side seems plenty stiff.
The boat paddles very nicely and is very easy to keep on track. The trihedral hull does what it is supposed to. Getting this boat up on edge is easy without going over too far and once on edge it stays there until you are ready to put it back. Edging to stay on track and turn the boat is not difficult and works well. Turning without some edging is a chore. This boat has little or no rocker when flat in the water and was designed to go straight. Initial stability may seem to suffer a small amount from this trihedral hull design but I have never felt uneasy in it. It's fast. Keeping up with more experienced paddlers in glass boats is no problem. Recently I paddled with 5 experienced paddlers all in glass boats on Lake Michigan in 3 foot waves plus serious powerboat wake and I could see in their eyes that they were surprised that I was staying on course and at one time was leading. One of these guys didn't want me to go due to my lack of experience but the boat and I together were up to the task. I would not have tried to go out that day without the others and I was impressed by the performance of the boat and proud of myself as well. The lack of an upswept bow does not seem to hinder the boats ability to ride over such waves. Weather cocking is noticeable in stronger tail winds but edging a little combined with one or two corrective sweep strokes keeps in on track but does slow me down a bit. I have not successfully rolled this boat (or any other for that matter) but have seen other class members do it successfully in pool sessions learning the C to C roll so I'm not giving up!!! Also, it's a very handsome vessel. Since I don't have even a full season in this boat and I'm not ready to take it out in really challenging water, and there are some things that could be improved I can't give her a 9 or 10 just yet.
To summarize, in my opinion the Kodiak is a fast, comfortable boat with good tracking ability and the capability to carry an expedition size load. On the down side, both initial and secondary stability are at best moderate for such a beamy boat, and turning ability is only fair. This certainly isn't the worst of the boats I've paddled recently, but after my day-long tryout I've decided not to purchase one
When I entered the water I immediately noted that it tracked very well and was exceptionally swift. It seemed that I could almost relax between strokes because it cut through the water very rapidly. This is a fast boat. I felt that it was very good in the primary stability department, and acceptable in secondary stability. It did not turn on as short a radius as the shorter kayaks paddled by the other classmembers, but in the open water they could not keep up with the Kodiak. During a water entrance using the paddle float, the netting was strong enough to secure the paddle during the entry. I really like this boat, because it is reasonably stable, tracks well, and paddles effortlessly. The hatches are exceptionally roomy, and will hold tons of gear. It looks good, and has nice detail. The only draback is that it is a bit heavy at 58 lbs, but considering that it is 17'1" long, this is to be expected.
I purchased this boat and am just as happy as when I first demonstarted it. It is very durable, continues to track better than most, even without the rudder in the water. The hatches keep the interior contents dry. I found that a spray skirt with a zippered pouch makes most essentials accessible. This kayak does very well in rough water, and it was not substantially affected by winds. The 24.5" width did not seem to make this kayak any more tippy than others of the same width. I would give this kayak a rating of 9.5 out of 10.
The boat has full perimeter line with recessed fittings. It uses shock corded nets to hold deck gear which is a feature I like. The netting is very strong and works very well for a paddle float re-entry... it holds the paddle blade very tightly so it doesn't scissor.
The grab handles are excellent and the painters are adjustable and use recessed cleats... very nice touch. There is plenty of room just behind the forward cargo hatch for a nice Ritchie Kayaker compass or Nexus 85 or whatever your preference.
The cockpit is a super keyhole... very spacious. Seats are adjustable with adjustable backrests... great feature! The solid plastic thigh braces can be removed, augmented or carved to suit. There is a drink holder on the seat which is nice when the sprayskirt is off. The Prijon sprayskirt with the Sure Rand is VERY tight... maybe too tight if you are not pretty strong... but that is not part of the boat purchase. It is an accessory.
I added some items to customize the boats. I added waterproof U bolts to fasten an aircraft cable to lock the boats to the T-Rac. I added medium Cam Cleats with fairleads to use with a tow line. I added Ronstan cheek blocks for better line control. I also added some low profile 3" brass cleats to quickly fasten lines to the boats. Oh yes... we use Current Design paddles with the beautiful yellow blades... two different models.
The bottom line on the Kodiak is performance... several times we have had these boats (as configured above) out on Lake Michigan in 3-4 foot seas (plus powerboat wake) and they performed brilliantly. They can take much more. We landed in moderate surf with no problems whatsoever. We paddled back out through the surf easily. On calm water, they are a pure delight to paddle. Another bonus... they are really pretty (or handsome if you prefer) boats... good lookers. I say get one... it's good!
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