Submitted: 06-19-2006 by erd
I've owned the Walden Passage for about four/five years. It's a fine workhorse of a kayak, although hardly elegant. I love the fact that it has a skeg (I don't like rudders). This makes life easier in certain conditions, though I don't resort have to resort to it as a general rule. I dislike the cockpit design, which makes outfitting with knee bracing rather awkward (but not by any means impossible). The foot braces are perfectly acceptable, at least in my model, though the seat could certainly bear improvement (I've been meaning for two years to put a back-band in). The hull will oil-can when on top of a hot car--best to carry it keel up in such conditions. Still, the plastic corrects easily with the addition of some weight, and I've never had a hint of this problem on the water. The rear bulkhead leaks, which is an almost universal issue with plastic boats. That's what Marine Goop is for!
I've never taken the boat into blue water (i.e. full ocean, exposed), but I've had it a mile or two offshore in the bays of Maine without incident. I've used it for touring in the Adirondacks (up to five days), and for hopping islands off Norwalk, CT a couple of times. I'd not hesitate to do the cross-Sound paddle in this, though I'd use my flotation bags for and aft, for safety.
For the length, if paddled well, I can keep up (or surpass) a 17 foot Necky sea kayak, tolerably well paddled, or indeed most kayaks. I don't know how this can be (speed is proportional to hull length) but it is--maybe I have good technique, or perhaps it's some nuance of the design, or maybe both. Best of all, I can bring the boat through fastwater bumping the occasional concealed boulder, over scratchy rocks for seal launches, etc. There are probably little bits of red plastic from the boat all over the NE, but the hull integrity is still just fine. I just can't see treating a lovely composite or fiberglass sea kayak (much as I occasionally crave one of these) this way. The fact that the Passage was inexpensive lets me do this with a clear conscience.
Secondary stability is OK. I have tipped the boat once leaning it, but I don't think I was bracing carefully. I've never attempted to roll it--come to think of it, I've come out of it precisely twice.
I believe the boat is no longer being made under this name, as Walden went out of business.