Submitted: 01-27-2009 by motofish
I bought my Swifty about 2 years ago, from Dicks Sporting Goods. Like many others, I purchased it because it was very inexpensive, not knowing anything about choosing a kayak. Boy did I get lucky. This has been a great little kayak, and will continue to serve me very well. I've taken it on slow rivers, lakes, and even out in the Gulf of Mexico (10,000 islands/ everglades national park). I have since learned a lot about kayaking, and wanted to wait until I knew more about kayaking before submitting my review.
I am by no means a small person, at 6'3" and 250lbs. I can attest to the 300lb capacity stated upon purchase at Dick's. I've even exceeded that a few times on calm water. My size 12.5 feet don't fit perfectly, but if I wear aqua shoes or no shoes, and with the foot braces forward (not all the way, surprisingly) I am very comfortable, and can put effort into paddling. It's also quite comfortable with my feet against the foam block in the center of the bow.
I'm still working on my paddling technique, but I routinely get 3.5 mph in no wind conditions with sloppy (relaxed) paddling. When I pay attention to technique and really paddle hard, I see 3.8 - 4 mph tops. Tracking is also very good with little to no wander when easily paddling, and slight wobble of 4-6 inches (approx), when paddling hard. Naturally that is with little to no winds from either side or current.
The seat is pretty comfortable, but the backrest is the weakest point (I feel) with the boat (A regular old square rowboat cushion behind you fixes it though). The boat is very stable, I've done a lot of fishing from it, and I've fished in 1-1.5 foot swells, as well as currents, and it performs well. Waves higher than 1 ft occasionally come over the coaming, but less than 1ft, and you hardly notice them. Lighter paddlers may have different results (for the better I would think). FYI for those who lean towards fishing, the harmony fishing deck fits like it was made for this boat, while adding a place for a scotty fishing mount (it's one of my favorite accessories now). Makes for a nice setup.
As would be expected with a short rec boat, it turns on a dime, but with pretty good tracking. It has good speed and a high weight limit as well as good, solid construction. On top of these other qualities, the stability is excellent. I've never rolled it (on purpose or by accident) so I can't tell you about secondary stability... I'm not that skilled yet. This boat is hard to beat, especially considering the price. Fits nice in the back of a pickup too, and at about 35 lbs, is easy to get in there.
Upgrading to a 14' Cayuga for longer trips, but the Swifty is going to stay on as the one that gets thrown in the back of the truck for the quick fishing trips, as well as a spare for guests.