Submitted: 06-30-2011 by Mykayak
I bought this craft from Frontenac Outfitters in Sydenham ON, Canada I paid about $3250 plus change (cash)
First I have to say that the store is very impressive and I like the fact they have a small calm lake nearby to test paddle what they sell, saying that I was there twice and never saw the owners, you know of those YouTube videos. Oh well. So I had to deal with a much younger man than myself and was a little disappointed as obviously he did not have the experience which is mainly why I traveled over 2 hours to go there for. Oh well.
Anyway I decided to buy this craft, It was a choice between the Caribou from CD and this and I really liked the way this kayak performed although I did not try the Caribou.
I was sold. I own an Essence RM and really liked that but this is not in the same class at all. First the F.G. is lighter and the kayak is a fish form design, it's about 1/2 inch narrower and 6 inches longer but man it performs very well. The rigging is incredible, much better than the Essence and I thought that was hard to beat. The hatches are air tight and the boat just looks really good.
I only had a chance to paddle it 3 times so far including the test paddle and my impression of it's handling and speed hasn't changed. Love this design.
No problem with the skeg and the seat is incredibly comfortable, after a few hours of hard paddling with the Essence I would get a sore back, not with this thing. Although I haven't tried edging it to the point of capsizing yet, mainly because I don't need to, very little edging is required to make this thing respond compared to the RM Essence. The boat makes me appear much better than I am . Very impressed with that.
Speed is also a nice surprise, I read some reviews of the 170 especially regarding speed or a lack of it. Well on my last outing I hit 6.2 miles/hr on a sprint. Avg. of 3.5 miles /hr for 6.1 miles. Against the wind and current I managed 5.3 miles/hr. in a sprint. Could never do that with the Essence.
The boat is lighter than models of previous years and I believe it's due to a reduction of material being used. It feels fragile to me but then again I'm used to a plastic boat... The storage space is incredible, I like to go out with comfort and this will allow me to do that. Just the day hatch is so much more spacious than the Essence and bulkheads are made of F.G. plus the hatch behind the seat is angled which should make for less water if ever I need to do a wet exit and re-enter.
As stated above, this is lighter about 51 lbs as stated by W.S. but it feels more like 49-48 to me. Again maybe that's just because Iím used to lifting a plastic.
The only peeve I have is that the hull seems a little deformed by the skeg. I didn't really get to notice this due to my excitement at the store. And I also just recently notice a little pimple like dent (about the size of my baby fingertip) pushing outward where the day and aft bulkheads are, seems the material at that spot is thinner. Not sure what would cause that but I didn't see any effect on it's performance and it's hardly noticeable, but I know this will keep bothering me as I'm a bit anal when it comes to these things.
I'm about 5'10"+ and about 185-190 lbs (depending on my eating habits) and I can lift this thing strait on my saddles without a problem.
If this didn't have those defects I mentioned above I would rate this boat a 9 -10.
But because it feels fragile and because of the deformities I will still give it a solid 8. I contacted Confluence too see what they recommended for that little fingertip dent protruding outward (It would seem almost as if the pressure of heated air inside that day compartment pushed out the hull at that spot).
Still a very good kayak and I have no regrets in purchasing it. I just need the time now to go out on a multi-day trip and really test it when it's loaded up:)