Submitted: 06-16-2006 by Vince
I've paddled all kinds of boats and had a sea kayak for many years. With two people, the boat really works much better with canoe paddles because it is much easier to steer. If I were alone I would use the kayak paddle. BTW, the first thing to do is cut off the rear carry handles because they are terribly in the way of paddling. You'll hit them constantly. The easiest way to carry the boat is from behind anyway (like a stretcher) so we never did use the handles.
The boat handles about like the average family canoe and is about as fast (which is quite good for an infaltable).
Stability is very good (better than a canoe) You'd probably fall off before you'd tip it. It feels better with two people because it's more balanced and "bites into" the water better.
The seats that come with it are OK but here's what you do. Buy some folding
"bleacher seats" (look sort of like a giant wallet with a strap to support the backrest) then buy a couple of generic 3" thick boat "throw" cushions. Cut the straps on the throw cushions and use them to secure the seat and
cushion together (longer dimension goes crosswise to the boat). Then get some
extra nylon strap and attach that to the boat's D-rings and put the lower half of
the backrest buckle on that strap.... so it is arranged like the original seats
were. Now you've got some very comfortable seats for $20 each.
Another thing I did was to put some 4"x6" plywood "feet" on the ends of the aluminum thwarts so they don't dig into the pontoons so much. That was making me nervous.
We have also tried a Seylor SVX200 which is a more conventional inflatable kayak but with the high pressure floor. While the Sevy is a very nicely made boat, the 435 rides drier, is much more comfortable (with our seats) and is faster. The 435 is a great inflatable substitute for a canoe. The Sevy would be the choice for whitewater.
The concept of this boat is good and it performs very well for an inflatable. I only wish Sea Eagle would have done a better job thinking it through. It is basically well made (heavy material, good valves) and it has never leaked but the D-rings, for example, appear to be plated brass and should be stainless steel on a boat like this. Anyhow, I do recommend this boat and considering it's an inflatable I would give it a 9.5 on performance but more like a 7 on the details. I would take this boat over a lot of canoes out there. After working out the bugs I really do like this boat.