Submitted: 08-07-2006 by Alan_Gage
I suppose that I should get out of the way that I'm about 6'1" and weigh about 165 pounds.
I got my Loon 138 a little over a year ago and have put a lot of time in it so far. It was my first kayak and I wanted something I could fish out of and also cover some water if I wanted and to take on smaller rivers and lakes. It's fit the bill very nicely and then some. The large cockpit makes it VERY easy to get in and out of and it's very stable. I can easily reach behind the seat to get things out while out on the water without feeling tippy at all. I've even stood up in it in calm water, and although it was tippy it was definitely doable. I've even taken people (and my big fat toad of a springer spaniel) along with me and it still performs well on short trips.
The boat tracks well and turns decent. It's no speed demon but it's no slouch either. Last night I went out with someone in a Prijon Capri, which isn't known for speed either, but it is quite a bit narrower and lighter. We switched back and forth a couple times and I wasn't able to paddle the Prijon any faster then my loon. When trying for absolute top speed the Loon does kind of feel like a toad but I couldn't keep up paddling like that for more then 100 yards anyway. I have no problem moving it at a decent clip for long periods of time.
In the time I've had it the Loon has seen a little of everything. It spends some time on local lakes (all smaller) and a lot of time on our local river, which is usually on the smaller side and slow. My normal routine is to paddle upstream a few miles before turning around and coming back down. Even this spring when the river was well over flood stage I was able to do this; though it was quite workout.
Last fall I drove from Iowa out to Maine on a 2 week camping trip and strapped the Loon to the top of my car. It saw everything from deep clear rocky rivers to the ocean and handled them all with out problem. Since I was alone I had no one to drop a vehicle on the rivers so I was forced to paddle upstream and many times had to paddle up rapids (smaller ones); which the Loon was able to handle.
I can't really think of any downsides for the kayak, taking into consideration what it's designed to be. I think it does a great job filling double duty between a little puddle jumper and something that can handle bigger water. I've never been in any really rough water with it so I don't know how it would handle it for sure.
Today I entered my first kayak race on our local river and won the whole thing with the Loon. It was a fairly short run and many people weren't that serious about it. But there were a few other people in Prijons and Daggers that were going for the gold as well and the big fat heavy Loon beat the closest one by 3 1/2 minutes. Not that the kayak is what makes all the difference of course. Much of it was knowing the river better then anyone else there.
All that being said I'm thinking of getting rid of the Loon next season. I want something a little lighter for car topping it on trips and fishing gravel pits and what not. But I also want something a little faster and sleeker for when I just want to get out and cover a lot of water. The Loon does them both decent but I think I'll be replacing it with 2 more specialized kayaks. But who knows, maybe I'll end up keeping it and using it for double duty afterall.
I couldn't have asked for a better first kayak for me. I really didn't know what I wanted when I bought it but it hasn't disappointed. It's given me a lot of pleasure and helped me see what I want and don't want in a kayak.
Definitely a kayak worth considering and not to be sneezed at. I'm giving it a 10 rating but that's taking into consideration where it fits into the grand scheme of things. There are faster, smaller, lighter, and more manueverable kayaks; but I can't imagine one filling the middle of the road any better.