Submitted: 08-02-2008 by kozmikarl
Most reviews here compare Impex (favorably) to less sophisticated boats so I'm going to reveal a big secret: there's not much difference between Impex and several similar marques. That isn't lukewarm praise. It's a terrific line with all the right features, intelligent design and seemingly excellent workmanship. Like Valley, like Necky, like (older) NDK, like CD, like P&H, like Boreal… The beautiful thing, though, is that Impex is made in Canada, distributed from NC. They make small hulls for slim paddlers, as do the Brits, but without the jaw-dropping exchange rate. Many North American boats are reasonable and available but built for bloated North Americans. They run from too big to ridiculously too big. There are exceptions that I would have jumped on if they had come up first, but it was a Montauk on craigslist, rather than an Avocet, Romany, Ellesmere, Chatham or Capella, so that's what came home.
Those are all topline boats. This is a topline boat. She won't win any races (at my mass that would take a pencil) but she's equivalent to the others with some extremely nice touches (carry handles! adorable! a locking loop! finally! bowed bulkheads! genius!), yet because of her modest price she's usually compared to boats nowhere close to her quality or performance. So let me just say this: She goes where you head her. (Equivalent to the others doesn't mean like the others. Montauk has quite a taut keel. Impex seems to think, and I agree, that with a waterline <4.5 m rocker isn't such an advantage.) She edges reasonably well, catches waves with aplomb, responds appropriately to the skeg but rarely needs it because the decks are low. She does everything well and has no discernible flaws. Best of all, she fits. I can get the Montauk down in the water where she belongs, even unladen, which is rare, and Montauk is not their least displacement. I'd also like to mention that while Impex offers a healthy range of sizes and styles, they do not offer a range of quality. They do not make plastic surrogates, they do not make cut-corner look-alikes. They make nothing but top-drawer, precisely designed, carefully engineered composite boats. If they make the shape you're looking for, I don't think you can do better.
They also offer wild color combinations. When you see mango yellow decks, burnt orange coaming and rails and a green hull, you can be pretty sure you're looking at an Impex.