Submitted: 08-03-2006 by yanoer
I test paddled a white 2005 Carbonlite 2000 with drop down skeg, non-flush rubber covered hatches and clear plastic bulkheads that let a lot more light into the hatches. It is supposed to weigh about 50 lbs and it felt like that was about right.
I paddled it in two sessions for a total of about 45 minutes to an hour (I also test paddled a Dagger Sojourn solo canoe and a Wenonah Sandpiper solo canoe).
I'm 5'6" and about 150 lbs with size 8.5 shoes and the cockpit on the Nighthawk 16 fit me GREAT! I didn't make any adjustments. The keyhole shape allows for easy entry and exit. The boat can also be shoulder carried on both shoulders by sticking your head through the narrow part of the keyhole (facing the stern) and resting the sides of the keyhole on your shoulders. The thigh braces and footpegs were especially pleasing. The thigh braces make a lot of contact and seemed to be placed perfect for me. The foot pegs are nice and big and positioned well for me and didn't feel any pressure points and they felt solid. The seat and back band felt great too. I was amazed how well this boat fit me and how comfortable it felt. I wasn't in it very long today, but it felt like I would be comfortable in it for several hours.
Test Paddle on a small lake with flat water and light breeze: Speed: I was pleased with it's accelleration and cruising speed even though I didn't have any other kayaks there to compare it to. I was using a 220cm Bending Branches Spirt carbon paddle with Day blade and it seemed to be a nice match for the Nighthawk 16. My expectation is that it would be fast enough to allow me to keep up well enough with my paddling partners who paddle 16 and 17' kayaks. Surprisingly, when I got out of the Nighthawk and into my Lotus BJX 16'6" solo canoe, I was able to move it along almost as fast as the Nighthawk, but the Nighthawk is much more maneuverable and secure feeling. Handling: The initial stability may seem a little twitchy to some paddlers, but it felt fine to me (about the same as my Phoenix Isere) and the secondary stability seemed very solid and I was able to carve turns quite nicely with it on edge. I found it to have a very nice combination of tracking and stability. In the conditions that I was paddling, the boat didn't need the skeg and I liked paddling it better without it deployed. The skeg deployed smoothly and the slider was easy to reach and operate.
I really like the fit and handling of this boat.
Outfitting: I didn't have much time to pay attention to the fit and finish and outfitting other than the cockpit and footbraces. The hatch covers on this model aren't flush, so you'll probably get spray in the face when waves come over the bow. The footpegs adjust very easily while in the boat and feel very solid and comfortable. The backband felt great. The hard molded seat seemed contoured nicely seemed like it would be just fine as is or with a thin foam pad. The clear plastic bulkheads are a nice touch and let a lot more light into the storage area. I didn't think there was a kayak out there that would fit me this well right off the shelf.
The Nighthawk fits me much better than my Phoenix Isere and Old Town Castine and my friend's Prijon Kodiak and Barracuda and I think I prefer it's handling to those boats as well.
I am really tempted to buy one of these now, but I'm going to test paddle some other models first for comparison. Also, I'd have to sell three or four other boats to afford it.