Submitted: 03-21-2011 by bezzantine
My only kayak is the Solar II (original model) I got in 2005 through The Boat People. Add my outstanding impression of that company to the others. Lee took his time and was incredibly helpful. I got it with the foot pump. It blew out, and I didn't like it much even when it worked. Lee applied the cost of it toward a marine-style PVC pump. That thing is awesome. Extremely durable, and faster than you'd think. I use a cheap low-pressure electric pump at the car to get each chamber basically filled, then top each off with the hand pump, which I keep in the yak.
As for the Solar II itself, I love it. I've taken it down class 3 rapids, beach camping and spearfishing in the Sea of Cortez, and fishing along the TX coast. It handles great solo, but I almost always have someone with me. With two sub-200 pound guys in it, I've been able to compactly pack all the camping and fishing/snorkeling gear for overnighters.
I'd call myself a low-intermediate skill paddler, but this yak handles well. Nice straight line with the fin on. Very stable and easy to get in and out of while snorkeling. Doesn't feel lightning fast, but quicker than sit-on-top hardshells I've rented.
Impressively tough construction. I use a couple of basic crazy creek chairs instead of the stock cushions, and never inflate the foot pads - way more room this way for 2 passengers. Cut a cheap plastic cutting board in half and slid the pieces into the seatbacks to hold the sidewalls apart. Hold the chairs in place with quick-release webbing belts. The chairs of course double as beach chairs and under-tent-floor (soggy!) sleeping pads when camping.
I got the 4-piece carbon (no corrosion issues) paddles from the boat people, so the whole thing is airplane-checked-baggage-worthy. If you want one kayak to take anywhere and do about anything, this is it!