Submitted: 12-04-2008 by Victus
The Tracer is a great kayak for someone who wants a performance sea kayak but doesn't want to spend thousands of dollars.
I've had mine since May 2007 and have no plans to move into another kayak any time soon. I purchased it in mint condition from a friend who had it for a very brief period of time because he wanted to try it out. I consider myself an intermediate paddler, actively in the sport for more than five years. I upgraded to the Tracer from a Carolina 16.
If you're new to kayaking, the Tracer may not be the most stable boat for you. It's better suited to paddlers looking for the next step in a performance sea kayak after becoming comfortable in their first kayak.
That said, I've read many reviews that criticize the Tracer's tracking. This kayak is maneuverable, considering its size. You can make quick turns, spin around and do many things you can't with comparable sea kayaks. If you want to paddle in a straight line -- and you've got a bit of wind -- drop the skeg to your liking and your so-called tracking problem is solved. Good technique makes for good tracking with any kayak. It's also quite speedy. My wife tells me I have two speeds with the Tracer -- bored and fast.
I've paddled the Tracer extensively in varying conditions in Southwest Florida, both in open water and back waters on short and longer trips. The Tracer's profile makes it well suited to most conditions. It handles big waves well. If anything, the kayak's maneuverability makes it more forgiving in confused seas, sloppy seas or challenging currents and quick-changing conditions. I have not paddled the kayak fully loaded for trips.
The Tracer is relatively light and made of Trylon. I load mine alone with relative ease. The previous owner added a thin foam liner inside the cockpit for additional padding under the deck. I added Wilderness Systems hip pads, which make a big difference in fitting the boat around you (especially if you're a smaller, thinner paddler). The pads help me feel like I'm wearing the kayak, which affords more control.
Overall, the Tracer is a solid, performance kayak for people who cannot afford more expensive brands.