The blackwater 10.5 is a very good, versatile boat. I paddle a number of waters; lakes, ponds, swamps, rivers, and some whitewater.
On flat water the blackwater may not be the fastest boat but it tracks well with the skeg down and is very stable. With the skeg up the boat becomes very maneuverable and responsive.
I've taken this kayak on class II, and II+ waters with no incident, but I wouldn't take it down anything more than that. If you plan on doing any class II, do yourself a favor and pickup a skirt. The boat will take on water from waves splashing over. I ran the boat with a skirt, and felt confident and safe on the ww.
The seat is comfortable,is foam padded, and adjustable. The dual density dry storage stayed dry.
All in all the blackwater 10.5 is a boat you won't outgrow quickly, and can be taken on a number of different types of water. Not the fastest, but very stable, tracks well with the skeg down. Being a shorter boat it is easier to maneuver, and is responsive with the skeg up, which is great in mild white water. I have had my Blackwater 10.5 since 2003. I have really enjoyed this boat, and think it was a good purchase. Over the years I have outfitted my boat to make it more functional in regards to fishing. I have added rod holders, anchor trolley, depth finder...etc. I have caught a lot of fish from this boat, and have a lot of miles under my belt as well.
They gave it a perfect name, because it performs best in blackwater. I have explored swamps, blackwater creeks, slow moving rivers, ponds and smaller lakes. The boat tracks very well with the skeg down. The boat doesn't perform very good in windy choppy conditions, but the boat wasn't made for those conditions.
My biggest gripe with the 10.5, is the seat. The seat becomes very uncomfortable after 45 minutes. I made some modifications and now I can fish/paddle for hours in comfort. Keep in mind that I have an older model, I'm sure they've made the seating more comfortable. I have really enjoyed my Blackwater for many years, and plan to enjoy it for many more to come.This is a very good boat for lazy rivers. I added mine to an Approach, which is far better in faster, trickier water, but horrendous on slower stretches. The Blackwater 10.5 does not turn easily compared to the Approach, but glides far better. I do not take it on open water, as I have a Current Designs Caribou for that.
I can get comfortable with the adjustable seat, and the only downside I can mention is the lack of thigh braces, and the fact that the footpeg adjusters get in the way of adding these. The padding on the cockpit rim is nice, but I don't really want my knees that high, so something inside to rest thighs/knees on would be nice.I didn't really know what to expect due to the fact that its been 14yrs since I sat in a yak. Rented a few SOTs to get me interested in it again. I initially bought the yak to get back into the sport living in S.FL. The gentleman asked me to take it out of his store with skirt and paddle for $700, it wasn't a cheap rec paddle or skirt either!
Initially I had problems tracking it due to improper forward paddle technique... and yah it does sorta plow water a lil bit until I got it on the open water with gear and water/food. The extra weight does seem to help the boat for some reason and have had no complaints. My boat is the 12.0 not the 10.5, so the extra length might be what I have to smile about. Oh and yes, if you purchase one, just buy a paddle pad ($9.99) and it will solve your seat problems... other than that it's ready to go!