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Reviews for Elaho Kayak by Necky Kayaks


Rated: 8.29/10 Based On: 17 Reviews

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07-02-2014
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     The Elaho is my favorite plastic sea kayak. It is fast, predictable and stable. It makes a great second boat if you move on to a lighter racing boat as your skill develops. The only negative is the weight. I would recommend it to friends. If buying a used one be aware that hatch covers are in good shape and are expensive.
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06-10-2014
Submitted by: AcewraySend Email
Rating: 7 of 10

     The Good:
A very user friendly poly boat that tracks, hold speed, and is comfortable for multiple hours - it is just as fast as my WS Tempest 170 Pro!
Roomy cockpit provides ample wiggle room with easy entry/exits so no shoehorn required.
Lots of storage space makes it ideal for multi night camping.
Hard chines provide good initial and secondary stability with well defined limits before passing the threshold.

The Bad:
A big boat that may be too much for a smaller person.
Not a good ocean surfer, tends to get wave driven very quickly and before paddler input can control direction - no whitewater or narrow rivers please.
Sadly the forward port started to crack and fail early - it basically became brittle, not dry rot. (Replacement ports are readily available and common)
Oilcanning and ripples along the belly even with the hard chines.

The Other:
This boat would be a solid 9+ had the body held up longer. FYI all my boats get 3 point suspended strap storage in the shade/dry. You would expect memory loss on a boat stored in the sun, water, or on the belly. I feel thin poly is the culprit and limits the lifespan. It's still a great design though.
I've had this one on the Gulf, rivers, and to the Apostle Islands.

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05-19-2014
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     Wanted to post this while it was all still fresh in my mind. My wife and I are just coming out of Rec boats. I just purchased a 2006 Necky Elaho that had been well taken care of. At 22" across the beam it is definitely the narrowest kayak I have paddled. When we took our kayaking lessons last summer I was in a 14' Wilderness Systems Tsunami. Found it to be not much less stable than the Rec boats we had purchased. Picked up the Elaho one week ago and today was the first time on the water with it.

Wind was high and water was rough on the lake, not the kind of conditions I was hoping for to undertake my first outing with the Elaho and frankly I was a little apprehensive. My wife was in her Jackson Ibis and launched without issue.

Coming out of the 29 inch Ibis I found the Elaho a little tippy trying to get in and get it launched, but managed to get it done and keep the dry side up.

Turned it into the wind and discovered a whole new world of kayaking. After a few minutes of paddling I looked around to discover my wife, who has paddled that ibis in some pretty stormy conditions, to be struggling with the quartering wind. Never deployed the rudder until my wife reminded me to try it out. Didn't like the fact it made the boat hard to turn.

Like many folks on this site have stated before after a few minutes I didn't think about the stability issue any further. It was interesting to learn to trust the secondary stability and not over react. After a little while I was liking for rougher water. As I don't have anything to compare it to I still have to say I can't believe how much faster it is than our Rec boats.

After the paddle I discovered a leaky day hatch but discovered it was the bulkhead behind the cockpit. This was also my first experience with a spray skirt. This one must have been left over from the Carter administration. It was in decent shape but the seam at the waist leaked like a screen door and hi could feel it running down my sides. At least the water wasn't too cold.

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09-18-2013
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     Good boat. A tad heavy but well behaved.
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07-17-2013
Submitted by: Bill RSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     At 190 I thought the kayak felt a tad unsteady at first, but after two trips I was very comfortable in it - it turns decent for the length if you edge it, and I think it's pretty fast, if I really dig in, I can go about 6mph a slow moving river.
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08-13-2012
Submitted by: WoodySend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     Early this year I bought a carbon fibre Elaho and have paddled it many times in rivers and in small bay chop (sea). Like others have commented, I do find it a bit twitchy if hit by a side chop but so far that hasn't caused any major problems. It is a fast and roomy kayak and fairly comfortable. The seat isn't as good as some I've paddled in but like the stability, so far it hasn't caused any problems.
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06-22-2006
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     Me- advanced beginner level,6'1'' 180. Kayak-Necky Elaho Rudder(must be a 03-04 model) I bought brand new for a nicely discounter price.

The Good: Very versatile-it'll carry a week's worth of stuff easy if you pack relatively light. Speed(not loaded) I do just over 4 mph average touring pace,top speed sprint i managed about 7 mph, maintainable fast pace(for a mile or so) about 5 mph. Unloaded it is very manouverable, loaded still manouvers decent, without using a rudder. Edges nice,very solid when leaned over. Strong secondary stability, in flat water i can put cockpit rim ~3-4 inches under water and still feel in control Handles chop good. I had it in ~1.5-2 ft steady chop with 3 footers mixed in and boat wakes up to 5-6 ft. Stays stable and bow will NOT pearl. Rolls easy. Hatches stay bone dry.

The bad: #1 it weathercocks significantly in quartering seas,though most kayaks do. #2 Quality is questionable-In first couple paddles, all the tethers came untied, neoprene hatch cover split a seam, factory forgot to put nuts on half the rudder mount bolts. The minicell foam glued to the underside of the seat was a bit too much, pushing the hull out a bit and the seat mounting nuts really chewed into the seat plastic.

My modifications to the boat: Got rid of the stock rock hard backband and replaced with a Prijon whitewater backband i picked up at a gear swap. Adressed the seat mounting and foam issues. Installed Seaward gas pedal rudder controls-solid footing is a night and day difference but i had to cut a good chunk out of the pedals to fit, all n all great footing but very mediocre rudder action-tradeoff i was willing to do. And outfitted cockpit with some foam.

All n all-it is good. By no means perfect so it gets 8/10. If i had the money i'd seriously look at the Seaward Cosma, or the fiberglass Elaho, maybe Prijon SeaYak.

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07-06-2005
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 8 of 10

     I have a one year old plastic Necky Elaho with rudder. I bought a boat for myself and my GF so I have this boat (hers) and an Elaho HV that is my boat. The boats were both slightly used Demo boats. I'm getting rid of the HV because it's too big for me but I've been paddling the Standard Elaho when she's not around and I really like it. I'm 5'11" and 190 and a fairly new paddler. I had to remove the thigh braces to fit well in the boat but the underside of the deck is padded and works very well for knee-bracing without the thigh supports. The Elaho is stable but also maneuverable and it edges and responds to corrective strokes very well.

The boat also rolls well, I actually watched a kayak rolling video and tried to learn to roll in my HV (a barge that doesn't feel anything like the standard Elaho) but never completed a roll. I tried it in the standard Elaho yesterday and got up on the first try. I rolled 12 times yesterday and the last 5 were consecutive. If a novice can teach themselves to roll a boat the boat MUST be easy to roll. The cockpit is very adjustable and comfortable once you get it right, however, it never stays that way for long. The backband gets in the way and tends to get knocked out of adjustment and twisted over very easily during rescues where you reenter the boat. I have this same backband system in my Elaho HV and I hate it. The adjusters get in the way. Why not just put the adjusters behind the seat where they are out of the way and stay put? Usually you just adjust your backband and leave it anyway.

My boat also has 2 other problems. My Elaho HV has very dry hatches but the standard Elaho has a day-hatch that leaks like crazy. The bulkhead behind the seat that separates the day hatch from the cockpit is the problem. The main hatches stay dry. The forward flush-hatch cover doesn't fit right and won't lay flush at the back end. I'm not sure that Necky's quality control is as good as it should be. I would give the boat a "10" if it weren't for the defects and cockpit outfitting.

All in all, this is a great little do-it-all boat that handles a variety of tasks well. I'm looking to replace my Elaho HV and a composite Elaho is one possibility. I'm also considering the P&H Capella, CD Andromeda and Gulfstream and the QCC 700. The lousy cockpit outfitting may steer me away from another Necky boat.

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04-02-2005
Submitted by: DBSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     In writing this review I hope to clear up some of the confusion about the two different Elaho boats that have been reviewed here, as well as their attributes and deficiencies.

I was first drawn to the Elaho DS (drop skeg) a 15’ 9” long Poly boat as an alternative to destroying my “glass” Greenland style boat on the limestone littered rivers here in Florida. (Unlike the smooth texture of rock found in northern rivers, the limestone here erodes in a fashion that leaves the texture of a cheese grater, which will cut through gel coat and glass fibers in one swift sickening crunch.) Both my wife, (5’5” 135 lb.), and myself, (5’-10” 165 lb.), are fairly small, and finding longer boats with a small / shallow cockpit was also a concern.

The first Poly boat acquired in 2003 was what was then called the Elaho Rudder at 16’ 4” long. This boat gave the secondary stability I had become accustomed to with the Greenland style boats, was long enough for a good turn of speed, and tracked well without ever deploying the rudder. However the “spongy” foot controls were most distracting for me, having never had a boat with a rudder. My wife on the other hand, was used to ruddered craft and loved the boat. (So I lost that one to her.)

The next boat acquired in 2004 was one of the last of the Poly Elaho DS models. This boat has noticeably more rocker, is slightly narrower, solid foot braces, and the same excellent secondary stability. The increased rocker required judicious amounts of the skeg to be used for flat-water travel, but was quite maneuverable when retracted. Quartering winds require a little more skeg. But this is where trick is. If you allow the skeg to hang too low it conspires with the now empty skeg box to become a sea anchor. Marking the skeg cord prevents inadvertently lowering it too far and watching your paddling partners disappearing into the distance.

Never satisfied, I have now picked up what is now just called the Elaho, 16’ 4” long in Poly with the rudder, (The DS model is no longer made.), with the intention of installing the Seal Line Smart Track rudder controls. At first glance it looks like Necky had “cheapened” the boat up some from its original form, but most of the changes seem to be for the better. The seat is no longer the air adjustable model, (Which always leaked down on longer runs.), but a comfortably contoured foam seat with adjustable hip pads and thigh braces, which are a nice addition. The back band is now ratchet adjustable with two rather bulky levers and the back shock cords are attached through the cockpit top lip. The ratchets work ok for now, and the new higher cockpit mounting does prevent the back band from sliding down. However laying back is somewhat encumbered. The only disappointment is that the first boat had nicely made ABS bulkheads surrounded by a foam ring, (To allow for the dimensional changes of a Poly boat.), while the newer ones have minicell foam bulkheads surrounded by the same style of foam ring.

So buyers beware! There are two very different boats out there.

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11-02-2004
Submitted by: GarySend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     Here's the short story, I bought a Elaho for my wife, she loved it, I keep demo'ing countless kayaks, and bought another Elaho. The handling is no less than fun, stable until to the point you're putting water in the cockpit, handles the rough water very well, and has decent speed, and with the flush decks,it makes for easy re-entry, even for a beginner and makes for a nice sleek look. This is not an expedition boat, but a great all around kayak with plenty of room for a weekend adventure. Our boats are fiberglass with rudders, but the rudders are seldom dropped , it tracks well without them.
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10-21-2002
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 9 of 10

     I had a chance to paddle a large number of different composite kayaks recently over several days at the Southwest Kayak Symposium. One of those that really stood out was the Necky Elaho. While I prefer faster, narrower and longer kayaks with greater speed, I was very impressed with the Elaho. It is much better than the Looksha IV series and a truly great all around kayak for it length. I think both a beginner and an advanced paddler could easily enjoy the Elaho. It has good stability, speed and maneuverability. It tracks well and feels very solid. It also has a decent turn of speed when paddled harder. It is comfortable. It is a real stand out and a fine kayak. The kayak that comes to mind for comparison is the KajakSport Viking. If I were buying a kayak in this length, I would have to think hard to say which I liked better, but I think the Viking is faster by a bit. Both are terrific kayaks.
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10-17-2002
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     The Elaho is the next generation. The Looksha IV is a good boat but the Elaho is better. I spend a lot of time rolling and doing Greenland skills and the Elaho is the best off the shelf boat I have ever paddled for this stuff. That does not mean that it will fit you the same as it does me (Greenland boats are custom fit and Greenland rolling boats are very low volume).

As far as sea kayaks go the Elaho is not a fast boat. It just does not have the length. Necky makes some very fast boats (Looksha II and III). What the Elaho does better than any other boat I have paddled of yet is perform well when it is not right side up.

The edge is rock solid, slightly more stable on an extreme edge than a Romany. Paddling 4mph I have turned this boat nearly 180 degrees with only an initiating stroke at the beginning of the turn. One stroke and and an extreme edge takes it around.

It also has a very low (for a stock boat) rear deck which makes lay-back maneuvers much easier on the back and more effective. I can easily fist roll this boat (closed fist)

The biggest criticism I have of this boat is the persistant bulkhead leakage. Plastic boats are a pain in the butt for manufacturers because nothing sticks to plastic well so foam bulkheads never stay sealed. Everyone seems to put up with plastic boats that leak but this is problem that should be solved. I have not purchased a plastic Elaho for this reason.

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09-18-2002
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 9 of 10

     Purchased the Rotomolded Vinyl Necky Elaho in July of 2002. Have been paddling Vinyl Kayaks for four years, first the Necky Gannet later the Pereption Captiva. Principally paddle in Hudson River, but have also some ocean and surf experience. I am a larger paddler, 6' tall, and 190lbs.

When buying the Elaho I compared it to the Necky Looksha and the Looksha Sport, both great straight tracking boats. The Elaho is a very sleek looking boat, and with its graceful lines and pronounced bow and stern rocker begins to approach the look and feel of a fiberglass boat.

The Elaho is a very playful boat, turns readily, leans well, sits low in the water and feels slightly tipsy at first. It is harder to paddle straight than more traditional Sea Kayaks such as the Looksha, but the retractable skeg compensates for this.

The guide who sold me this boat described it as a "surf zone" boat which is a very good description. The Elaho with Fore and Aft hatches plus a day hatch is capable of holding a fair amount of gear. Due to the thickness of the vinyl needed to support its complex shape it is somewhat heavy, weighing in at over 60 lbs. The only negative I see is the drop skeg sometimes sticks and its easy turning ability demands more paddling skill when trying to hold a straight course in windy conditions.

I paddled this boat for several weeks in the Hudson and have loved it as well as everyone who tries it. In addition it turns so easily, it is good for creeks and marshes. Had occasion to take it surfing in the Atlantic and it handled superbly, both in riding the waves and punching through on the way back out. It turning ability really helps when both catching and avoiding waves.

In short this is a great, fun to paddle, adventureous all around boat, but best suited for day paddles, short to medium excursions and surf conditions. Highly recommended for a paddler looking for a boat they can grow with.

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08-05-2002
Submitted by: ---
Rating: 9 of 10

     My wife and I have recently spent a week with the Elaho (drop skeg) paddling mostly flatwater. We also spent some time in the Elaho in light swells (1-2 feet). We compared the Elaho head-to-head with the Necky Looksha IV, Wilderness Systems Cape Horn 15 and Dagger Magellan. We didn't want to review the Elaho until we had more than a few days with the Elaho. I paddled a total of 15 hours over the space of a week. My wife paddled a similar amount of time in the boat and her comments are also in this review.

Fit: The Elaho seems to have the best fit of any of these boats. It has a relatively low volume cockpit with enough room for my feet and a comfortable backband which is adjustable while paddling. The Looksha IV had a similar fit but with a slightly higher bow coaming and deck. The Cape Horn and the Magellan had a very sloppy fit. My wife had the same observations about the fit. I am 5'10" and 180 pounds and my wife is 5'6" and 150 pounds. One thing we noticed about this backband was that it had a tendency to slip and become looser. I attributed this to the fact that it was a rental that probably saw a bit of abuse.

Performance: The only faster boat was the Looksha IV. The Elaho accelerates well maintains speed reasonably well. We were not sure whether or not the Elaho was pulling right, but the effect was subtle. We thought it might have been a bent skeg. As for maneuverability, the Elaho excelled. The Looksha IV was far less maneuverable as well as the dagger and WS Cape Horn. The Elaho is easy to lean while inspiring confidence. If you want to spin the Elaho, you can quickly and easily raise the skeg and spin it on its axis.

Other Comments: We did some re-entry practice and found the re-entries in the Elaho to be very easy due to solid deck rigging and a smooth rear deck. The recessed fittings make it easy to climb on without snagging.

The deck on the Elaho was low enough that you would want a spray skirt in all but the smoothest conditions. It is easy for a quartering wave to wash a bit of water into the cockpit. I felt that the low center of gravity helped its stability. The low deck made it easier to maintain a low paddle stroke.

Stability: The initial stability is fair to good. The secondary stability is excellent. My wife and I felt very comfortable (as beginners) leaning this boat. It performed predictably. At one time when I was pushing the limits of the boat a wave hit me while I was leaning and rolled me over, but it was a classic case of a following wave knocking you over and I was paddling carelessly/playfully with the boat.

The Elaho displayed a little bit of weather helm (turning into the wind). It was easily manageable with sweep strokes or by manipulating the skeg. The low profile of the Elaho is very attractive. When cartopping the boat using stackers, we had a little bit of oil-canning where the bar wasn't resting against a bulkhead. The Elaho we had was orange and seemed to attract dragon flies.

When trying to get water out of the cockpit, we had trouble because merely turning it over didn't get all the water out. The hatches, on the other hand, were very dry even after some play with wet exits and reentries. The drop skeg makes a bit of noise as it moves side to side in the housing (see tracking and pulling right above).

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05-13-2002
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 6 of 10

     Ignore the number, just threw that in for fun. Paddled it 6 miles with 15mph breeze on fairly flat water, some little waves. Moves very easily at touring pace, everything about it looks good, low aft deck, skeg line is secured in the recess that the coaming lies in on the left side, nothing to break off or catch. The deck looks clean with flush hatch lids over neoprene covers. Weathercocking characteristics were a little odd with the skeg deployed, I was expecting a more distinct resistance to weathercocking with it deployed but it's not as distinct as other boats. Tracking improved significantly but it was though the tendency to weathercock was still there, it just didn't swing up wind as quickly into the wind so one still worked sweep strokes in nearly as much. It seemed to work best with just a slight deployment than a lot so one could still swing the stern with a sweep. It feels like it should be out amongst waves and shoreline than flat traveling.
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04-09-2002
Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     Don't worry about the rating number. I don't give 10 because rating is too subjective. Because Elaho is a recent model and there's not a lot of reviews, I'll give my impression from one time out. I was in the poly version. It's a touring playboat, so don't buy it just to cover miles. LOA 15'10", but the waterline looks shorter than my Wilderness Systems Alto has at 15'8". However, it's an interesting tool with a range of adjustability to conditions. With skeg up, on flat water, I could paddle it directly sideways like my river boat, and spin it in its own length without leaning at all. Leaning actually seemed to stiffen it up. However, I could paddle a fairly straight course with the skeg up, probably because of my experience in my river boat. The wind was light to moderate and the waves were small to nonexistent, so it wasn't a full test.

The skeg is simple. I like that it sticks out the stern a bit, so a helper can coax it down without reaching under the boat (maybe) in the event of a pebble jam after a beach launch. The skeg drops by gravity, so it has to be a bit of a loose fit. I had to waggle my hips almost every time I deployed it, to get it to release from the skeg box. It dropped readily after the shimmy. At partial levels, the skeg clunks as it shifts in the box. At deeper levels, this one buzzed with a harmonic vibration as speed increased. I've encountered the same thing in sailboats with flat metal centerboards rather than streamlined shapes. I did notice drag from the skeg and a peculiar feel compared to my Alto, which has no rudder. Adding lateral plane aft does stiffen the tracking, but it also moves the center of lateral resistance, contributing to the feeling that one has suddenly hopped into a completely different boat. Depending on how far down you drop the skeg, the boat responds differently to lean because the fin is still in the water. Elaho owners might want to mark the skeg cord to correspond to different depths for different conditions.

I'm 5'8", 160 pounds, with "bike legs." Getting into the cockpit was a bit like putting on snug trousers. My feet were a bit cramped and my thighs were forced down and out, but I might have improved things by scooting the footbraces one more notch forward. The tight fit is great for the more dynamic uses of the boat. Also, someone with skinnier legs might not notice the boundaries as much as I did. With air in the low 40s at best and water only recently returned to liquid state (this written in early April in NH) I did not try any rolls, but I expect no difficulties. The deck profile is low and flat. Aft of the cockpit it's easily low enough for the paddler to lie right flat. Even I might manage a layback roll recovery in Elaho. And I have to say I'm far from expert at rolls as yet.

Necky's flat-bottomed hull gives an interesting stability profile. Initial stability is fairly solid, but the flat section is narrow enough that it doesn't inhibit the first lean. The low deck line allows even cautious paddlers to dunk an ego-boosting amount of cockpit rim while still supported by the secondary stability. But, as I said above, leaning is not needed and maybe not even helpful with the skeg up. That leaves all that stability for leans you might need in surf or peeling out of eddies when playing in current.I have yet to see what the low deck and all the doodads on it (hatches, deck lines) do in larger wave action. Recessed hatches mean those little neoprene berets will be working hard to keep things dry inside. All in all, it looks like a fun little package, though.

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08-01-2001
Submitted by: no name
Rating: 8 of 10

     I've only been paddling for about 4 months on weekends. I've been paddling fairly close to shore in Santa Barbara, so I've not experienced very heavy seas. I'm 6'0" and weigh 175 lbs. I've gone to a couple of demo days and tried every kayak that I could get my hands on - all the Necky models, Wilderness Systems, Perception and Prijon. I've spent most of my time in rental Zoars and plastic Looksha IVs.

After demoing all of the above, I felt most comfortable in the Zoar and Eskia (very similar handling). I liked the Looksha, Eskia and the Elaho. Even though I was zig zagging more in the Elaho than in the Zoar, I decided to order the Elaho, figuring that as my paddle stroke improved, the zig zagging would diminish.

It took about 8 weeks to get the Elaho (due to some snafus in the ordering). Due to this mixup, my kayak shop (PaddleSports of Santa Barbara) generously loaned me a Looksha IV for a while. During my 8 week wait, I improved a lot. I really got attached to the Looksha.

Now my Elaho is here and I've had a chance to paddle it a couple of times. I'll compare it to the Looksha. The Elaho seems to turn much better than the Looksha but doesn't track as well. However, dropping the skeg helps the tracking a lot. At my low skill level, I can't feel any difference in drag with the skeg down. Both initial and secondary stability seem about the equal on both kayaks. The Elaho cockpit is a tighter fit, but very comfortable. (I really like the Bomber Gear back band.) I have adequate room for my size 10 feet. The Elaho hatches are a bit smaller, but there are 3 so I guess it's not much of a tradeoff. The flush mounted hatch covers are very nice. I haven't rolled it yet to report on how well they seal. The finish on the Elaho is actually nicer than on some other Neckys I've seen. It seems very well turned out.

The regret that I'm feeling is due to the fact that I just don't seem to glide as well in the Elaho. I feel too big for it now that I've put some miles on a Looksha. This is not surprising looking at the differences in length and volume. The score of 9 is probably not fair to the Elaho since I can't really knock it on any count. I knocked the 1 point off since I'm not totally thrilled with it (yet). Admittedly, this is my own fault for buying the smaller kayak.

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