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I think they must have fixed the uncomfortable seat problem many on here talked about, because I have gone 18 miles in a day and been comfy all day.
The only complaint I have is that in a stiff breeze, the Saluda wants to make like a weather vein and point into the wind. Its a bit unruly in stiff winds. Also if you will be hitting waves bigger than 1.5 feet, get a spray skirt!
All my buddies who own Diragos claim their next yak will be a LL Saluda!
I'm very happy with the boat and look forward to many years of paddling. In fact, my wife who owns one loves hers too, although I might end up shortening the seat back strap to give her a little more support.
Now to my only major complaint about it- the seat back. It's awful and causes me lower back pain within an hour or less. Other than that it's a good easy-to-handle, very maneuverable boat for recreational flat-water use, not more. Probably better than most 10-12 ft plastic rec boats, but I’d take a long hard look at Wilderness Systems Pungo 120, and some sit-on-tops (Tarpon 120, Ocean Kayak Scrambler and Mars) before buying a Saluda.
Oh, and I paddled a Necky Santa Cruise before buying the Saluda, and I liked the Saluda better, felt more maneuverable and more stable, for roughly same speed. Though the Necky felt like it would be better in waves.
I have not found the seats as comfortable as say the Wilderness Systems kayaks. However, I recently fixed that problem by adding some removal padding (it looks like a little Thermarest).
Bottom line is I am going to purchase a second Saluda for my wife.
This boat, like all LiquidLogic boats (I own 2 other LL craft) is extremely well built. The plastic is very solid and the design is bomber. The stern hatch fits very well, and is as watertight as the hatch on a plastic boat gets. Through many a roll the hatch has stayed on and kept most of the water out. The rigging of the boat is very solid; I had no trouble practicing a self-rescue. The seat is extremely comfortable and I can paddle 6-8 hours without getting “boater’s butt”. The boat’s foot pegs are very solid and have more than adequate range of adjustment. I also like the large cockpit opening, I can easily stash my niece in my lap while we go puttering around the lake. My only complaint with the boat is the way that the seat back adjusts; it is a little tough to make the seat adjust comfortably for upright paddling. If I put my back against the seat I feel like I’m in an easy chair and not a kayak, leaning back on the seat when paddling aggressively easily rectifies this. I outfitted the boat with some heal pads and some minicell on the coaming for "thigh pads" to facilitate in rolling the boat.
As far as handling goes this boat is in a class all its own. I can easily out paddle all other paddlers in equivalent plastic boats. The boat turns like a dream when up on edge, and it tracks amazingly well due to the keel line skeg. I doubt you’ll find a boat that handles this well in its price range. The bow does have a tendency to submarine when it gets choppy or you paddle fast. I’ve found that a plastic milk jug filled with water and securely attached in the stern hatch trims the boat out very well. Overall this is an excellent recreational boat, it is fast, agile, and very easy to paddle. I doubt you will find a boat of this caliber in its price range.
The Saluda will rip into a corner if you put her up on edge and handles the waves just fine. The footpegs are primo and I for one like the foam in between my feet. No different than a WW kayak. Besides unless you have Shaq like feet there is plenty of room to move around. I paddle mine in hiking boots and have yet to feel cramped. Anyway If you are looking for a camping, fishing, fooling around boat, get the Saluda.
Climbing in was easy for my 5’-11” - 212 lbs. thanks to the nice 43”cockpit opening. The rear storage compartment was well designed, roomy, and within comfortable reach from the seat.
The seat base is stationary and comfortable with a molded beverage holder. All three models have a two way adjustable backrest. Its height can be set to three positions by removing a steel pin from vertical rows of holes in the seat post and backrest. The highest setting could be compared to the Old Town seat (just under my shoulder blades), the lowest would probably be just above the hip. Although the backrest wouldn’t need adjusted all the time, I found getting the support pin’s retainer ( key-ring style) hard to get off without fingernails. After I got it off, lining all of the horizontal holes up to get the main pin back through the new location was somewhat difficult too. Tilt is changed by a plastic “notched” strap and latch located beside your left hip.
The feature I disliked the most about these kayaks is a rigid foam block they install between your legs. This three inch wide vertical block goes from the top to bottom of the hull interior and extends from the front edge of the cockpit toward the bow for at least a foot. The dealer told me that this is placed there for hull rigidity and should not be removed. If that’s the case, they should build more stiffness into their molds, not this way. After the first ride, I know what I’d do with it….
I can’t give you a performance review because the demo was a washout. A major “hurricane-like” storm hit just when we got to the lake. I hung around for a while watching tree branches snap and rain go from left to right. Testing under these conditions would have been tough. While I was helping them hold their tarp down, I asked another salesman how he would compare the Saluda to my wife’s Old Town Loon 111. His response was that he thought the performance would be improved, but not a huge step up. After an hour with no storm letup, we left for a long (wet) trip home without a test ride.
Summation: The cost of this kayak is too high for me. I priced the Saluda at two different stores. This dealer picked his boats up factory direct. His cost was $699 without a paddle. Another store wanted $100 more. I can purchase an Old Town Loon 111 with a Bending Branches 230 cm paddle locally for $530 out the door. My wife and I both like that idea better. For now, I have decided against a Liquidlogic until they drop their prices, remove the foam block, and make some minor accessory changes.
The negatives - The very sharp bow entry cuts the water, maybe too well, as even in mild chop the bow has no bouyancy and gets buried under any sort of wave. This boat is not chop or wave friendly! The adjustable seat back needs to be reworked and made larger [more area] to provide more back support. The rear hatch fits poorly and is a pain to firmly fit on the boat, and it is not attached to a deck cord or bungee which means it is guaranteed to get lost on the water or the highway.
Would like to see Liguidlogic come out with a 12.5 to 13 footer with a more upswept bow suitable for more choppy conditions.
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