Submitted: 07-19-2012 by BDS
I just bought a used Necky Manitou 13 and took it out for the first time last weekend on a flat water reservoir with the occasional 1-2 ft. swells from passing watercraft. You would think that I would have kayaked a bunch while growing up on a lake but sailing, swimming and fishing took precedence. I worked at quite a few camps in the summer while in college and had the opportunity to take a kayak out once but I haven't been back in a kayak in over 20 years. I have a bunch of friends who have kayaks of their own and have been holding impromptu events over the summer. I started thinking about getting one for myself (my wife isn't a big water person) around Memorial Day and then started getting really serious about a month ago.
I went to the local outdoor specialist store (NOT a box store) and told them my requirements - something that I won't want to upgrade within a year, light and portable since it's just going to be me, tracks well and easy to maneuver. They sold Wliderness System and Perception kayaks (to name two in particular) but I didn't want to spend the money they were asking for a new one. The one thing I DID get from them was to not settle for something less than 12' in length (although I looked at quite a few smaller ones anyway). I started to look at Craig's List and then checked this site for reviews of the kayaks that were being sold. On a drive by, one of the smaller outfitters had a kayak on a saw horse. Called and found out it was the Necky Manitou 13, it was used and was still for sale. Almost every review was a positive one (8 or higher) so I pulled the trigger and bought it.
I took it out for an almost 9 mile paddle for my first trip out (and second time ever kayaking) and really enjoyed the experience. I'm glad that I ended up with this one but I'll start with the negatives first. Also, I'm just shy of 6', have size 10 shoes and weigh 175.
1. The neoprene cover for the hatch is a bear to put on. This has been mentioned by multiple people. Once I get the hang of it I'm sure it will be easier to deal with but that first time was a struggle.
2. This is probably due to me being new to kayaking but the rear storage hatch, while great for putting stuff into isn't the most easily accessible thing while in the water. I ended up keeping my drinking water in front of me the entire trip (it was a larger 2 liter type).
2A. Lack of a small front storage area. Me nitpicking but it would be nice to put the keys there instead of in my pocket. I ended up buying a small Pelican watertight box this week with a carbiner to attach to my webbing so it can hold my phone, wallet and keys.
3. No drain plug. I never capsized but I did get in and out a few times. I turned it over and lifted either the bow or stern and got most of it out but a plug would make it just that much easier I think.
4. The rear paddle "storage" area isn't really that user-friendly while in the water, although for dry storage I'm sure it would be great!
That's it. Mostly small things.
Now for the positives.
1. Extremely light for it's size. I helped some others carry their kayaks down to the launch and I could tell the difference between the weight of theirs and mine. At 13 feet this weighed less than all the 10 footers (with the exception of one). It was a breeze to carry by myself, although my arms, tired after the long paddle, protested the lift up to the roof rack!
2. The seat was great! I got it as upright as I could but even after four hours I felt no discomfort. I had been told that you'll want to move around a bit to keep your butt from being uncomfortable, but I never had to. My back never complained either. The only issue I had was that my left leg started to fall asleep at the end of my paddle but I'm attributing that to the fact that the leg usually doesn't stay in that position for that long a time.
3. Maneuverability/tracking was great. After the first ten minutes it was pretty obvious that my right stroke is the stronger of the two but it still tracked pretty straight. Small corrections were quick and easy. There weren't that many tight turns involved but the few turns I did make were pretty easy to do I watched some of the smaller kayaks (but much wider ones) and they were struggling to turn around. There was only one place where wind was a factor but I had no issues whatsoever. Some of the other ones did. The couple of touring ones on the water in the paddle were fine as well.
4. Stability - The kayaker that put this event together was concerned that I might capsize since my kayak was one of the narrower ones and I had only been out once before. It was never an issue, either on the water or getting into or out of it from the shore. I never felt concerned about going over, even with the occasional 1-2 foot swells from the passing motorboats. It cut right through the chop when I met them head on and I never wobbled when they caught me from the port or starboard sides.
5. Foot braces were easily adjusted while in the water. The first setting I had them too far and getting them to the length I needed was easy and fast. My size 10 feet never felt cramped.
6. Speed. I never had to strain to keep up with the more experienced and/or faster paddlers. The boat seemed to glide over the water. I never really tried for top speed but the GPS I had with me had me just over 5 mph a couple of times on a few of the longer straight-line stretches.
I'm very thrilled with my purchase. I don't know if I'll ever use it for camping excursions or not, but I'd feel pretty comfortable with the Manitou as my kayak for the tour should it happen. Storage and comfortability seem more than adequate. There seems to be room in the bow leg area for extra gear should I need it. I highly recommend this kayak for beginners as it's stable, lightweight and easy to maneuver.