Submitted: 06-06-2007 by Michael
I bought the Safari online without any previous experience kayaking, so I don't have much of a basis for comparison. However, I'm 100% happy with the Safari, and have yet to discover any major flaws.
Set-up/tear down: Takes me about 15 minutes to go from in the car to in the water. Carrying the kayak in the bag is easy, and I've comfortably carried it down mile long trails to reach inaccessible parts of the lake. The bag has an outer pocket for storing accessories (tracking fin, etc.) but the seam holding it on has begun to tear. The integrity of the main compartment seems ok. One downside to the inflatable-- if you pack it up before letting it dry out, it might stink next time...
Durability: I've taken the kayak through some shallow creeks where I dragged over a LOT of rocks, which only resulted in minor scuffs to the plastic.
Handling: With the tracking fin, keeping the boat going forward is easy. Without the fin, you can turn on a dime. How does it compare to a hardshell? Your guess is as good as mine...
In the boat: The backrest doesn't do a lot other than keep you positioned in the middle of the boat... don't expect to lounge. The inflatable butt pad keeps you up out of the puddle that will develop on the floor, but also raises your center of gravity a few inches and makes the boat feel a little wobbly. Gear space is alright -- you could fit a small backpack up front and maybe a sleeping pad and a few odds & ends in back. Unless you're more flexible than me, don't plan on rummaging through your gear on the water. I might try an overnight trip this summer, but packing would be a real challenge.
Stability/ease of use: I've shared this boat with friends, & the only one who had issues with the tippiness of the kayak was the one who has some sea kayaking experience. In other words, it feels like what I (and everybody else) always expected a kayak to feel like, but is apparently much less stable than a sea kayak. That being said, people have fished out of it without incident, so it definitely can handle some movement without getting wobbly.