Submitted: 07-26-2012 by jbessman
I just bought a used 2004 CD Extreme kayak for exercise paddling on a local river. I currently own a Cape Horn 170 pro and a CD Solstice GTS, but was looking for something a bit faster. After going through many reviews I wanted to provide a summary of my observations relative to these other boats:
Overall, all three are great boats from great companies. For me personally (largely from a speed standpoint) the Extreme is my favorite, the Solstice GTS is 2nd, and the Cape Horn 3rd. This said, my visitors and guests get to use the Cape Horn due to its stability and ease of use, so my preference for my use should be noted for what it is.
- All three are excellent kayaks, all three are from 2004/2005 and outfitted with the fiberglass layup.
- My Solstice GTS is the only one that I find water seepage through the bulkhead into the rear hatch. I attribute that to its prior owner, not Current Designs. One of these days I will reseal...
- The hatches have been watertight on all three boats for me. The required liner on the Cape Horn and the buckles instead of levers makes the CD boats rate higher. All have large openings and a nice flush look, unlike earlier models or the rotomolded version of the Cape Horn.
- Car topping any of the three is easy. I have racks that are set high on top of my truck and can still load any of the three easily by myself. All are relatively well balanced on the cockpit to pick them up.
- For stability I see little difference between the Solstice GTS and the Extreme. The Extreme might be a little tippier on the primary, but its secondary is better. I would consider both boats "stable", but this is a relative term to my high performance racing boats. The wider width of the Cape Horn and its harder chine provides the highest initial stability of the three. This is the boat I put visitors in for this reason.
- Tracking is more difficult to compare. With the rudders down (there are lots of tubers and sporadic paddlers to dodge on my river) all three will hold a straight line with only the most minute adjustments. With the rudder up it gets more difficult to compare, because while the Solstice might hold a straighter line, once it gets off that line it's the most difficult to get back on it. It simply does not respond as well as the others to edging or sweep strokes; once it has a path it likes to keep it. For me the Extreme really wins in this category as it is by far the most responsive.
- Speed. I track all my runs using a Garmin 410 GPS watch. I have a set 3.3 mile course (loop, so equal upstream and downstream), and I typically use my Epic wing paddle. For a relative comparison, my Cape Horn gets me about 5.2/5.3 mph on average over the course. With the Solstice GTS I've gotten as high as 5.7, but am generally between 5.5 and 5.6. With the Extreme (only one run so far, unlike the others) I'm at 6.0 mph. So, the Extreme is my fastest about 13% faster than a Cape Horn Pro and probably 5-7% faster than the Solstice. Lots of factors here that I'll gloss over, but hopefully the relative comparison helps.
- Comfort: All three are comfortable, I actually prefer the unpadded seats in the CD boats. The Cape Horn Pro is a fully adjustable padded seat and so very versatile. I don't typically go beyond 5 miles at a time and all suffice just fine for this shorter length.
- Footpegs: I am 6'-1", 200 lbs, size 12 shoes, and fit well with plenty of margin in any of the three. So does my 5'-4" and barely more than half my weight wife. The one note is that the Cape Horn rudder adjustment is a buckle-type, so not as easy to fiddle with as the CD design that can easily be done from inside the cockpit.
- Entry. All three are pretty easy to get inside of, higher stability of the Cape Horn makes this the easiest. Bungees on the footpegs to keep them forward would be nice, none of the three have them. The Extreme is easier to get my legs in than the Solstice, feels like a longer but narrower cockpit opening but I would have to check the dimensions to be sure.
- Storage. Often overlooked, most standard garages are 18 feet wide. The Extreme is 18'-10", the others are just below 18 with the rudders. The Solstice/Cape Horn can easily be hung sideways under the garage door, the Extreme has to be hung at an angle or along a wall. The raised loop on the CD boats is better for cam straps at an angle than the flat bar on the Cape Horn Pro as they stay off of the glass and on the metal, not an issue if you use wall brackets.