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Submitted: 02-10-2009 by Bart

I had the Nigel Foster Shadow fiberglass for five years. I am 6'1", 195 pounds of solid muscle.
    What I love about this kayak:
  • It is a solid EXPEDITION kayak. The storage capacity. My buddies and I would go kayaking along New Foundland, and Labrador. I could load up the Shadow with a tent, sleeping bag, cooking stove, inflatable mattress, food, and extra clothes. My buddies would joke that I always had the most luxurious campsite accommodations.
  • Solidly built. This kayak is built like like a barge. And I never once questioned itís seaworthiness.
    What I donít like:
  • This kayak is HEAVY. I work out 5 days a week with weights. Yet to pull this kayak from the storage slot at shoulder height and bring it to the dock was a chore. I would remove all three hatch covers in an effort to reduce the weight by even a couple of ounces.
  • This kayak is not easy to roll. The cross section of this kayak is roughly a rectangle. So when you are upside down underwater you really have to muscle through the roll. Because this is a large expedition kayak, you canít really lean back from the roll without lifting your rump from the seat. So to roll you have to time perfectly the transition from when you are squeezing against the sides of the kayak to when you pop out of the water, lift your rump and lean back against the back deck.
  • Some kayakers like myself love to roll. Yet I didnít feel comfortable with my ability to nail the roll with the Shadow. As a solution I bought Sea Wings. They are inflatable sponsons that help to stabilize the kayak. They provided me the peace of mind to know that if I failed the roll, I would have a better means of kayak reentry than the regular paddle float.
  • This kayak also weather cocks in strong wind. Even if you tilt your hips, the weather cocking is often too strong. My favorite paddle is my Lendal bent shaft. During strong winds I would have to sweep stroke on one side and paddle regular on the other side. During a major crossing this can be tiring. My solution was to get a very long paddle. I think it was 240 cms. I would shift both my grips to the left or the right so that one side was getting more of a sweep stroke. This shift in hand position, perhaps four inches, allowed me to paddle for a long time and counteract the effects of a strong directional wind. The longer paddle also helped in general steering and rolling (although it was still difficult)
  • And this kayak was not fast. It wasnít slow. But during group paddles, and I would be paddling with good form, torso rotation, and see people with bad form, no torso rotation, and all arm movement keep up with me.
So if you want a high quality expedition kayak, and are a larger paddler (6 foot + and over 200 pounds), this is a kayak for you. If you want a kayak to paddle for daytrips and are smaller than 6 feet and 200lbs, do yourself a favor and get a smaller kayak with much less storage capacity.
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